Patriots, Falcons are Super Bowl bound

It will be the New England Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Feb. 5. Both teams advanced with blowouts in the conference title games.

The Patriots have earned their NFL-record ninth berth in the Super Bowl by slamming the Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17 in the AFC championship game. Tom Brady was at his playoff best in completing 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He hit Chris Hogan for touchdown throws of 16 and 34 yards before Julian Edelman’s 10-yard scoring grab put New England ahead 33-9 late in the third quarter.

Hogan had nine receptions for 180 yards, while Edelman gained 118 on his eight catches.

It was a tough evening for Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH’-lis-bur-gur), who was 31 of 47 for one touchdown and one interception. Roethlisberger’s lone TD throw came in the closing minutes.

Pittsburgh finished the game without running back Le’Veon (LEH’-vee-ahn) Bell, who suffered a groin injury late in the first quarter.

The Falcons are NFC champions after Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns and ran for another in a 44-21 rout of the Packers. Atlanta dominated the first half, scoring on four of their five possessions to take a 24-0 lead into the locker room.

Ryan was 27 of 38 for 392 yards and no interceptions. His primary target was Julius Jones, whose status was in doubt early last week because of a sprained left toe. Jones had nine receptions for 180 yards and two TDs, including a 73-yard grab-and-run that put the Falcons up 31-0 on their second offensive play of the second half.

Atlanta blanked the Packers until Aaron Rodgers hit Davante Adams for a two-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Rodgers was 27 of 45 for 287 yards, three TDs and one interception.

The Falcons are in the Super Bowl for just the second time in their 51-season history, and the first since their loss to Denver in 1999.

Oddsmakers have installed the Patriots as the early three-point favorites

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