It is almost here. Just a few days left and Super Bowl LIII kicks off in Atlanta.
Everything looks like it is coming full circle. The Patriots dynasty began somewhat in a Cinderella mode back 17 years ago when they brought down the heavily favored Rams with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt doing the Greatest Show on Turf scheme having a young quarterback that many felt was in over his head by the name of Tom Brady. Now we are seeing the Rams and the Patriots once again. This time the roles have changed. The Patriots have been the dynasty, winning five Super Bowls and Brady is considered the greatest of all time (no argument here) as his career is winding down. The Rams are the team looking to be that next dynasty as it is a young group with a young quarterback in Jared Goff paired up with a young head coach in Sean McVay. So, who takes home the bacon? Do the Patriots hoist trophy #6 cementing their legacy as the greatest franchise in the modern NFL era? Or do the Rams win one in their third year back in Los Angeles?
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. LOS ANGELES RAMS, 6:30, CBS
PATRIOTS WIN IF:
THEY KEEP PROTECTING BRADY: Kansas City had the top pass rushing group in the NFL in 2018. But if you were able to get the ball out quickly, you didn’t have too many problems. Well, the Patriots really hashed out and protected Brady to the point he was rarely touched by any Chiefs pass rusher. To me that was the most impressive thing I saw out of their win in the AFC Championship. The Rams have beasts on the line notably in the middle with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh while having great edge rushers. To add on, the Rams secondary is one of the best when they are zeroed in and focused. So for Brady to be successful, he can’t be rushed or the Rams will make them pay, even if it is Brady.
THEY ESTABLISH A RUNNING GAME TO KEEP THE RAMS HONEST: The Rams made New Orleans one-dimensional (which when the Saints lose, is the reason why) and forced Brees to pass a bit and he looked worn out. They kept Ingram and Kamara from doing anything running the ball. James White and Sony Michel both will be key in whether New England has success on offense or whether the Rams can frustrate them and give the ball to Goff & Co.
THEY WIN THE TIME OF POSSESSION BATTLE: We think of the Patriots as a team with this high powered offense. And their offense can be that way. However, this team feels different in the sense of they are making long drives, wearing teams down, and making play after play on third down. It is what is breaking teams backs in the playoffs the last few seasons (Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Kansas City). The Patriots will do anything and everything to keep the Rams offense on the sidelines. And they will certainly try.
RAMS WIN IF:
THEY GET GURLEY AND CJ ANDERSON GOING: The biggest mystery in New Orleans before the “no-call” was why Todd Gurley wasn’t in the game. It sounded like he was fine, but CJ Anderson was the go-to guy evidently. It worked on the Saints who missed Sheldon Rankins in that game for CJ Anderson. But the Rams will have to put a steady dose of Gurley here in order for them to come out on top, which means also win the time of possession battle in the game.
SEAN MCVAY IS SEAN MCVAY: The guy is 33 years old and is already known as a genius of the game. He’s that one guy that I think at times can get overly aggressive, but I can see why at the same point. But he is also a guy who knows what buttons to press at what time. I thought he out-coached Sean Payton and it was a key reason why the Rams beat the Saints. People got mad at him for not going for it on 4th and 1, but I thought it was the correct idea and trust his defense. But he needs to be aggressive at the right time, use trickery at the right time, and such. It worked for Doug Pederson last year.
THE DEFENSE IS COMPOSED: McVay did a momentum-swinging fake punt against the Saints. It was perfect because while the Rams stopped New Orleans from getting up 21-0 to 13-0, New Orleans had no trouble moving the ball on them. And you started to sense the Rams were losing their cool and patience. The minute that fake happened and the Rams scored, it got the defense back on track. They can’t let Brady get into their heads otherwise if he is on a roll. They have to play their game with that composure or Brady will tear them apart.
PREDICTION: Honestly, I will probably change this 25 times before Sunday evening. The Rams to me are the better all-around team. But should you EVER doubt Tom Brady? I get it, he has lost 3 games in the Super Bowl, but he is still clutch when he needs to be. IF the Rams get stops on defense and keep moving the chains, then advantage Los Angeles. It will also be dependent if Goff continues to play mistake-free football as well. Can he handle that pressure? He won in a loudhouse 2 weeks ago in New Orleans but it wasn’t easy. He’ll be in Atlanta where it seems like the majority of the fans will be Patriots fans that will pack the stadium. So we will see. My take is he is not yet there. But I think McVay will have a few tricks up his sleeve Sunday to make this a game that will be decided VERY late. But I like the Patriots here because of that experience and ability to play big in key situations. PATRIOTS 35, RAMS 31
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat