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Outrageous Predictions for Super Bowl LI

Author:
Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman

Super Bowl LI is only a couple of days away, and by all accounts, it should be a big game for the ages.

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The New England Patriots are the standard for success in the NFL. Led by the most decorated quarterback and head coach in the Super Bowl era, they have been serious Super Bowl contenders nearly every season since 2001. The Atlanta Falcons arrive in Houston on the back of an explosive offense with an assist by a young, speedy defense that has been on fire in the postseason.

Related: Super Bowl LI Preview and Predictions

With each team having so many elite weapons and playmakers on both sides of the ball, Super Bowl LI could shake out a number of different ways. Here is some of the outrageousness you can expect.

Outrageous Predictions for Super Bowl LI

Julio Jones does not score

This isn't all on the New England defense. Atlanta has weapons all over the field, but Jones will likely be matched up with Malcolm Butler — the Patriots' best cornerback — for most of the game. New England also will make sure Devin McCourty cheats to Jones' side to guard against his big-play capability. That means most, if not all, of the targets that go Jones' way are going to be risky — especially in the red zone. As a result, look for Ryan to target his other receivers and running backs more often near the goal line.

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Chris Hogan won't catch a single pass

In fact, he'll be lucky if he gets many targets. In typical Bill Belichick fashion, look for New England to line up in similar formations and sets as the ones that had Hogan wide open all day against the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Tom Brady will bank on Atlanta jumping any routes Hogan runs, and instead deliver the ball to the open man — as he always does. Martellus Bennett, Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman will be the primary beneficiaries of the extra attention paid to Hogan.

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Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combine for 250 rushing and receiving yards

Some of this will be by design. Much of it will be by choice — of Bill Belichick. The Patriot head coach has faced two other prolific offenses in Super Bowls during his career. The first time was when he was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. In that game, Belichick implemented a strategy against Buffalo's high-powered "K-Gun" offense where he allowed Thurman Thomas to pile up rushing and receiving yards between the 20's. That strategy shortened the game, thus limiting Buffalo's possessions.

He implemented a similar approach in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. In that matchup, he made "The Greatest Show on Turf" one-dimensional, opting to allow Marshall Faulk to roam free on runs and short pass plays while taking St. Louis' elite deep threats out of the equation and out of quarterback Kurt Warner's reads.

I'll be stunned if Belichick and New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia stray too far from that approach against Atlanta.

Julian Edelman is your Super Bowl MVP

Conventional wisdom says Tom Brady has the best shot at winning the game's MVP award should New England come away victorious. On Sunday, however, Edelman will be stealing the spotlight. The last time the Patriot offense faced a Dan Quinn-coached defense was Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks two years ago. In that game, against a much better secondary than what the Falcons will field on Sunday, Edelman caught nine passes for 109 yards and a score. Look for Edelman to take advantage of the extra attention paid to New England's other targets and best all three of those totals. To seal the deal, he'll return a punt for a touchdown in a high-scoring Patriot win.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.