Butler made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Patriots Key Defensive Players’ Odds: Super Bowl LI

The New England Patriots will face a huge task on their hands to stifle the offensive juggernaut of the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Matt Ryan and company put over 500 points on the board in the regular season and have averaged 40 points per game in their two playoff victories.

Bill Belichick’s men allowed the fewest points in the NFL over the course of the season, allowing an average of just 15.9 points per game. However, their accomplishments have been derided due to the lack of quality quarterbacks they faced in the 2016 campaign.

The Patriots’ defense made a statement in the AFC Championship game, holding the Pittsburgh Steelers to just nine points for the majority of the contest. But, they will know that they will need to raise the level of their performances to hold off Atlanta, with Ryan and Julio Jones lying in wait.

We’ll now break down the three key defensive players that will need to be on form for New England to guide them to the Vince Lombardi trophy for the fifth time in the history of the franchise.

Malcolm Butler

Butler made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history

All Patriots fans remember where they were during Super Bowl XLIX when Seattle were poised to take the lead late in the game, only for Butler to intercept Russell Wilson on the goalline. It’s arguably the greatest play in the history of the Super Bowl and perhaps even the sport as he saved the club from a third defeat on the spin in the Vince Lombardi trophy game.

Butler was fifth on the depth chart of a Patriots’ secondary that included Darrelle Revis. Now he returns to the Super Bowl as the shutdown corner of the defense after boasting the strongest season of his young career.

The 26-year-old has shined for Belichick’s men this term, battling some of the best wideouts in the NFL, including Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship game. Butler held the Steelers’ receiver in check for the majority of the contest, thriving off the competition of guarding one of the league’s elite players.

The cornerback faces a similar test against Jones on Sunday, where he will have to be flawless to stop the Falcons man running riot. Not many players have been able to limit Jones over the course of the season, but should Butler put in a similar performance as he did in his battle with Brown it may be enough to swing the contest in the favour of New England. Shutting him down completely may be equal to his feat in Glendale, Arizona two years ago.

Butler came up with the huge play against the Seahawks and another interception could be just as vital this time around. Therefore backing him with Bovada sportsbook at +300   to pick off Ryan at NRG Stadium could be a wise bet to take.

Logan Ryan

Ryan has been solid player

One of the players Butler rose above on the depth chart to play in the Patriots’ last Super Bowl success was Ryan. The 25-year-old was victimised by Chris Matthews, who came out of nowhere to almost snatch the crown away from Belichick’s men. Ryan struggled to deal with his size and strength and was duly knocked down to be replaced by Butler after he initially came on the field for Kyle Arrington.

New England endured an exodus of cornerbacks in the 2015 off-season, elevating Ryan to the starting spot alongside Butler where he began to grow into his role. By the end of the season he was just as valuable to the Patriots as Butler was on the other side of the field, helping to lock down some of the most potent offenses in the NFL.

Unknown to all he was battling a shoulder injury that required surgery in the off-season, which affected his performances early in the 2016 term. Ryan was knocked down the depth chart into the number three position on the depth chart by Eric Rowe’s arrival in a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles, but has improved as the season progressed and has been outstanding in the playoffs.

Ryan will likely match up against his college room-mate Mohamed Sanu or Taylor Gabriel on Sunday. That contest could play an important factor as should the Patriots succeed in locking down Jones and Matt Ryan has no alternative to turn to then it could knock the Falcons’ offense out of their rhythm.

Tackling is Ryan’s strong suit and backing him to have over 6.5 tackles with Bovada at -115   would be smart option to take.

Trey Flowers

Flowers is a rising star on the Patriots' defense

Belichick made one of the huge decisions that he has been renowned for during his time in New England as he traded away the club’s sack leader from the 2015 – Chandler Jones – in the off-season.

The 26-year-old had notched 12.5 sacks in the campaign, but had a propensity to struggle down the stretch and as a result was deemed surplus to requirements in exchange for a second-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals.

Veteran Chris Long was signed to replacement some of Jones’ production. However, many eyes were on Flowers to make an impact, having missed his rookie year due to a shoulder injury. The 23-year-old had a reduced role early in the term, but following a breakout performance after the bye week against the Seattle Seahawks when he notched two sacks – he has been a permanent fixture in the Patriots’ defensive line.

Flowers ended the campaign with a club-leading seven sacks, but was also a stout player against the run, notching seven tackles to stop Lamar Miller against the Houston Texans.

He was held in check by the Steelers’ offensive line, although it was arguably the most dominant unit in the NFL. Flowers will have opportunities to make plays against the Falcons and he will need to have a strong game to help his team-mates in the secondary with the task at hand.

Pressure could affect Ryan’s performance and Flowers is the best equipped player to become a constant presence in the backfield. Take the over for the Patriots to have two sacks or more with Bovada at -125   as the Falcons will need to pass a lot handing a lot of opportunities for the defensive end and his team-mates.

Tips Summary

Malcolm Butler To Have One Interception
Sunday 5th February 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: +300

Logan Ryan To Have Over 6.5 Tackles
Sunday 5th February 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: -115

New England To Have Over Two Sacks
Sunday 5th February 18:40 ET (23:40 GMT)
Odds: -125

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