The matchup for our 51st Super Bowl is set: The Atlanta Falcons will take on the New England Patriots in Houston on the first Sunday in February.
You’ll have an opportunity to read thousands of things about both teams between now and the opening kickoff, but here are some quick basics to get it all started.
1. The Falcons advanced by spanking the Green Bay Packers 44-21.
Atlanta has been to one Super Bowl previously, losing to John Elway and the Broncos in the Super Bowl that followed the 1998 season.
2. The Patriots dominated the Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC for the ninth time.
New England is 4-4 in the Super Bowl, including a come-from-behind win over the Seahawks two years ago.
Quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are looking for their fifth titles.
3. One of the big storylines won’t include Atlanta.
The Patriots are playing for the Lombardi Trophy despite having to play the first four games of the season without Brady.
Their star quarterback was suspended for his role in the “Deflategate” scandal stemming from the AFC championship game two years ago, a saga that ended up dragging on far longer than it needed to and creating a lot of bad feelings between Pats fans and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The makers of the NFL’s footballs, Ohio-based Wilson, might have poured a little more gasoline on the Deflategate fire with a tweet Sunday night.
You can decide if that was intentional or not.
4. New England’s roster includes two players with ties to the Miami Valley.
Joe Thuney is a rookie starting offensive lineman from Alter High School.
Nate Ebner, who made headlines by playing rugby for the United States in the Olympics in August, was a walk-on at Ohio State, and his late father owned an auto reclamation business in Springfield.
Nate has become a key special-teamer for the Pats.
Another former Buckeye, offensive lineman Chase Farris, is on the New England practice squad.
5. The Big Ten team with the most alumni in the Super Bowl might be the last one you’d expect.
Rutgers has four alumni heading to Houston, including former Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu, who signed with Atlanta as a free agent last offseason.
Three Patriots went to Rutgers, and they’re all defensive backs – Duron Harman, Devin McCourty and Ryan Logan.
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