HOUSTON -- Let's set the scene from NRG Stadium.
This is Patriots Country. Though the downtown area has been dotted with Falcons fans this week, it's been pretty clear since around Wednesday that this would be a New England-leaning crowd. I've covered six Super Bowls with NFL.com and I don't recall a split that swayed so far in one direction. We're talking 70/30 here.
A good example of this Patriots lean came about an hour before kickoff, when Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett -- New England's three quarterbacks -- came out of the tunnel and the half-filled stadium erupted for the MVP runner-up (or Jacoby Brissett, according to his mom). This increasingly feels like Brady's Super Bowl -- which doesn't feel conducive to a big party in Atlanta tonight.
In other news, we learned that the roof would stay closed for the game. Currently, we have sun coming through the windows at NRG Stadium, but the conditions outside -- a muggy 76 degrees with some foreboding clouds in the sky -- must have led NFL officials to err on the side of caution. Which is fine -- Houston has reminded this SoCal transplant how terrible humidity is.
The End Around comes to you from the eighth level of the stadium in an auxiliary press box that puts us near eye level with the lights that illuminate the field. A little unsettling but I'm a total pro. A lot of hip hop music for player warmups. Currently playing: We Ready by Archie Eversole. That's about right.