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Someone bet $1 million on Falcons in Super Bowl LI 02.04.17 at 4:07 pm ET
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HOUSTON — Underdogs have covered the spread in 12 of the last 15 Super Bowls, so maybe this person knows what they are doing.

According to ESPN’s David Purdam, Sportsbook operator CG Technology took a $1 million bet on Friday for the Falcons to cover the three-point spread. The million-dollar bettor, an account-based customer at CG Technology, risked $1.1 million to win $1 million on the Falcons covering the three points.

As of Friday, 61 percent of the point spread bets were on the Patriots.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Scouting Report: What you have to know about Super Bowl LI at 3:55 pm ET
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Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be going for their fifth ring together on Sunday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be going for their fifth ring together on Sunday. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — Here’s everything you need to know about Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Falcons:

WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL

The Patriots have been able to get good, consistent and (mostly) steady yardage out of their backs all season long, finishing the regular season with an average of 117 yards per game, seventh in the NFL. Leading the way has been LeGarettte Blount, who had career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (18). New England figures to mix in a healthy dose of Dion Lewis (64 carries, 283 yards in seven games) as a changeup presence between the tackles. His make-you-miss ability combined with Atlanta’s occasionally dicey work against smaller backs could mean he’ll get more work that initially anticipated as a runner. As has been the case all season long with Blount, it’s not how many yards he gets; it’s when he gets them. No one is better at closing out games than he is — his work in the second half is a sizable reason why the Patriots ranked fifth during the regular season in time of possession (31:13). If he is able to top 60 rushing yards in the second half, this game won’t even be a contest. When it comes to defending the run, Atlanta was 17th in the league this year, having allowed 104.5 rushing yards per game. Some of the stats have to be placed in context because of game situations and whatnot (there were lots of leads in those games, and they would willingly yield yards on the ground and time at the expense of a big pass play). But in their last nine games (including the playoffs), opponents have topped 95 yards on the ground in eight of them.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL

This season, Atlanta hasn’t faced a combination in the passing game like New England. Tom Brady (67 percent completion rate, 3.554 passing yards, 28 TDs, 2 INTs, 112.2 passer rating) and the Patriots are able to get production out of multiple areas, with wide receivers Julian Edelman (98 catches, 159 targets, 1,106 yards, 3 TDs) and Chris Hogan (38 catches, 58 targets, 680 yards, 4 TDs), running backs James White (60 catches, 86 targets, 551 yards, 5 TDs) and Dion Lewis (17 catches, 24 targets, 94 yards) and tight end Martellus Bennett (55 catches, 73 targets, 701 yards, 7 TDs).

The key here? The Falcons have shown some zone over the course of the year, but they’ll need to play sturdy man coverage against the Patriots. Brady practically salivates at the idea of an occasionally vulnerable 3-deep zone like Atlanta has shown at times this year. The real backbreaker here will be in the White/Lewis combo out of the backfield. The Atlanta is one of the worst teams in the league (26th per Football Outsiders) at defending backs in the passing game. Expect New England to lean heavily on that grouping in the passing game. It’s no coincidence that the Patriots were able to get so much production out of their running back spot in their last game against a Dan Quinn-defense; Shane Vereen set a Super Bowl record with 11 catches two years ago against the Seahawks. Considering what happened down the stretch and into the playoffs, while White will almost certainly get some looks, it’s Lewis who has shown a masterful ability to do multiple things. Bottom line? He’ll get plenty of touches.

One more note that will spell doom for the Falcons: The ability of the New England pass catchers to gain yards after the catch. The Patriots were third in the year at YAC this past season as a team (White and Bennett were both in the league’s top 20), while the Falcons allowed a league-high average of 132.9 yards after the catch per game, an odd stat for a defense with so much speed. If Atlanta can’t find a way to limit the passing YAC ability, it’ll be a long night.

The Falcons pass rush has been better as of late, but the group has to figure out a way to get some sustained pressure on Brady. Do you move around some of your best rushers, like Houston did? Or do you stay static and play to your strengths and hope you’ve prepared to a point where you can out-execute the other side? If Atlanta moves some guys around, rookie Deion Jones is a candidate to try and be that guy who brings some heat up the middle. A dynamic young talent who is capable of blitzing or working in coverage, he’s an X factor for the group. If the Falcons play it straight up, Vic Beasley (15.5 sacks in 2016) will be lining up opposite Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon. Per PFF, Cannon hasn’t yielded a sack since September. That strength-against-strength matchup will go a long way toward determining the overall success of the New England passing game on Sunday night.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dan Quinn, Devin McCourty, Devonta Freeman
Rob Gronkowski: Bill Belichick and I are similar because we both love the beach at 12:17 pm ET
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HOUSTON — On Friday afternoon on Radio Row, Rob Gronkowski did a short Q&A session with fans sponsored by TD Ameritrade. There weren’t too many hard-hitting football questions, though.

The tight end, who is on injured reserve after having back surgery in December, was walking fine and seemed to be feeling good.

One of the questions was how he and Bill Belichick are similar despite their different personalities.

“I really haven’t seen him outside of football that much, but whenever I do, whenever I see pictures of him he’s always out on the beach, or fishing,” Gronkowski said. “I like going to the beach, too. I like doing little activities like that so I would say we’re similar in that way — we both love the beach.”

Gronkowski also talked about Tom Brady and how it doesn’t seem like the quarterback will be retiring any time soon.

“I’m around Tom Brady all the time and he talks about playing forever,” he said. “How can I retire before Brady?”

Local reporters attempted to speak to him afterwards, but he had a busy schedule and couldn’t stop to talk.

Read More: Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl LI,
Patriots list 7 players as questionable for Super Bowl LI, including Martellus Bennett, Dont’a Hightower 02.03.17 at 4:14 pm ET
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Martellus Bennett is officially questionable for Super Bowl LI. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Martellus Bennett is officially questionable for Super Bowl LI. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — There were no changes to the Patriots injury report on Friday.

All seven players who were limited on Thursday were limited on Friday and are officially listed as questionable for the game on Sunday against the Falcons.

Alan Branch (toe) said he will play, while Bill Belichick said on Thursday he expects Nate Ebner (concussion) to play as well.

Here is the complete Patriots injury report, and final one before Super Bowl LI.

QUESTIONABLE

TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
DL Alan Branch (toe)
DB Nate Ebner (concussion)
LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DT Vincent Valentine (back)

Read More: Alan Branch, Martellus Bennett, Nate Ebner, Super Bowl LI
Carl Banks breaks down exactly how Bill Belichick will approach the Falcons: ‘I think you’ll see more in coverage’ at 2:48 pm ET
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Sep 20, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks speaks on stage during half time ceremony honoring the 25th anniversary of their championship at MetLife Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Former New York Giants linebacker Carl Banks played for Bill Belichick in two Super Bowls. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — Expect the unexpected.

That’s been the theme of Bill Belichick defenses in the Super Bowl against high-powered offenses.

As defensive coordinator of the Giants in Super Bowl XXV against the “K-Gun” Buffalo Bills, he featured a defensive line of just two players and dared the Bills to run Thurman Thomas while his linebackers and defensive backs were beating up on Andre Reed and James Lofton. The plan produced a 20-19 win, a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and earned Belichick his first head coaching job in Cleveland the next season.

In Super Bowl XXXVI, he assigned Willie McGinest to trail all-purpose back Marshall Faulk and beat him up as much as possible to take him out of the passing game as much as possible. Meanwhile, he played bump-and-run coverage on Issac Bruce, Az Hakim and Tory Holt. That produced the first Patriots Super Bowl win, 20-17, and kicked off an unprecedented dynasty in the modern NFL that continues today.

So now, 15 years later, Belichick has another huge task – coming up with a plan to contain Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu while keeping tabs on running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Carl Banks was a Pro Bowl linebacker on Belichick’s two Giants teams that won Super Bowls. He has a unique perspective on exactly what Belichick might be planning this time around.

“I think it’s just basically he’s just going to focus on assignment football, fundamentals,” Banks told WEEI.com Friday. “That’s the probably the first thing he addressed. And then he goes in and shows how his team could be hurt by their key players.

“Everyone talks about Belichick taking everyone’s best player away. Well, I think their players take the best player away, and I think that’s going to be the key this time because when you have a player who’s sometimes better than the defense the you’re playing against them, it really comes down to fundamentals at that point.”

How will Belichick pick and choose who to take away Sunday?

“He won’t. He’ll put his defense in place and it’s really going to come down to making tackles. It’s fundamentals because playing assignments and playing fundamentals is what really will help them curtail their best players. You’ve got to make tackles.”
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Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Carl Banks, New England Patriots
Tim Tebow: ‘The Patriot Way’ is actually the truth at 2:46 pm ET
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Tim Tebow said 'The Patriot Way' is a real thing. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

Tim Tebow said ‘The Patriot Way’ is a real thing. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — Although Tim Tebow didn’t last long in New England, he was around long enough to realize ‘The Patriot Way’ is a real thing.

“When people talk about the Patriot Way, it’s not a cliche they’re just trying to use. It’s actually the truth,” Tebow said on “Good Morning Football” Friday. “It’s a different level. It’s a different level of focus, of study, of preparation than a lot of other teams. That’s also another reason why they keep going to the Super Bowl.”

Tebow said the way they do things catches on with players because they see how successful it is.

“When you preach something for long enough, people are going to buy into it,” Tebow said. “They’re going to start to believe in that. I think the leaders so bought into that so many years ago, everybody else is forced to, right? When the culture’s a certain way, the outliers, they’re going to fall in.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Super Bowl LI, Tim Tebow,
Julian Edelman to people who say he copies Tom Brady: Like T. Swift said, I am just going to shake it off at 2:32 pm ET
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Julian Edelman quoted Taylor Swift on Thursday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Julian Edelman quoted Taylor Swift on Thursday. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — The popular narrative is Julian Edelman tries to be Tom Brady.

Both have their brands, both are either married to or dating supermodels and Edelman is always trying to do things like Brady.

On Thursday, Edelman was asked about people who say he tries to copy Brady with what he does.

“What, that we’re both from the Bay Area? I don’t understand,” Edelman said. “If someone wants to hate on that, work hard like another guy and do that then like T. Swift said, ‘Haters are going to hate, players are going to play. I am just going to shake it off.'”

Edelman also revealed a secret about Brady’s “Be like water” social media post. Apparently, Edelman deserves credit for that.

“Tom stole that from me, by the way,” Edelman said. “He stole that from me. I’ve been saying that for like — we have the same agent, so he could have actually gotten it from my agent, because my agent actually told me that.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Super Bowl LI,

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