New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Charlie Riedel

Falcons out to deny Patriots duo a place in history

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: The Atlanta Falcons will be hoping to continue the recent drought-breaking run of professional sports teams into 2017 when they contest the Super Bowl in Houston on Monday morning (AEST).

Their history in the NFL is in stark contrast to their opponents, the New England Patriots, who are gunning for a fifth title in the past 15 years. The Falcons are aiming for a first.

Led by quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots will contest their seventh NFL championship decider since 2002.

The Falcons have made only one other trip to the big dance in their 51-year history - in 1998 when losing to the Denver Broncos.

A win would give Brady five Super Bowl rings, level with all-time leader Charles Haley and surpassing Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw (four each), while Bill Belichick would go to the top of the all-time coaches' list, also with five titles, ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Chuck Noll (four).

Playing at NRG Stadium, it is a battle between the Patriots' league-best defence, which has conceded an average of just 15.6 points per game, against the Falcons' league-best offence, averaging 33.8 points per game.

The Falcons have scored touchdowns on their first possession in eight successive games.

"We're ready to go," Belichick said. "They are a fast-starting team, offensively. So we've got to do a good job of making sure we know what we're doing."

The clash between opposing quarterbacks Brady and NFL offensive MVP Matt Ryan, however, is the showpiece duel.

Ryan's arm was perfect in final practice, with not one of his passes hitting the turf.

"I am so pumped for him, the way he has worked," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Ryan. "It is not surprising the offence feels so good about the plan and has practiced so clean."

Patriots v Falcons, Monday 9.30am (AEST)

News Corp Australia


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