It should not surprise many that Super Bowl LIII involves the New England Patriots. It seems like the Pats play football in February every year.
Yes, the Patriots are back in the big game and are set to face the franchise they defeated 17 years ago to start their historic run, the Los Angeles Rams. This will mark the Patriots’ 11th Super Bowl appearance all-time, ninth since 2001 and their fourth trip in the last five seasons.
It will be interesting to see what gives in this matchup. There are similarities between the teams. There are also stark contrasts.
Hence, something has to give.
First of all, it is the young versus the old. New England quarterback, Tom Brady, was winning championships when Rams quarterback, Jared Goff, was in elementary school. And did you know that Brady is close to 10 years older than Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay? And Brady’s head coach, Bill Belichick, is twice as old as McVay.
So, who wins, the young or the old?
One similarity between the teams is that both have moved through the playoffs behind their running games and their rush defense.
Sony Michel of New England is off to a hot start in his first postseason. He has 242 rushing yards in two games, making him the leading rusher in the playoffs. The Rams defense, in the playoffs, are allowing just 49 rushing yards per game.
The Rams’ running attack is led by Todd Gurley, but veteran C.J. Anderson has gotten into the mix in the playoffs. The Rams are averaging 175 rushing yards per game in the postseason after rushing for the third most yards (139.4 per game) in the regular season. On the flip side, the Patriots run defense has only allowed 60 rushing yards in two games for just 2.7 yards per carry.
So, who will run the ball best? Whoever does will control the game and keep the opposing offense off the field.
It is not a secret that you have to put pressure on Brady if you are going to beat him. Saying that, the New England offensive line has yet to allow a sack in the playoffs.
The Rams have Aaron Donald who led the league in sacks (20.5) this season. Can the Patriots’ offensive line contain him? What will give here?
The difference may come down to the quarterback position. It usually does.
Goff finished the regular season fourth in passing yards (4,688). He goes up against a Patriots pass defense that was below average, ranking 22nd in pass defense (246.4 yards allowed per game).
Brady will play in a record-setting ninth Super Bowl. He holds a 5-3 record and has 2,576 passing yards, 19 passing touchdowns, five interceptions and a 98 passer rating in those eight games.
Though it is likely the league will never see another run by a quarterback or franchise like we are seeing in Brady and the Pats, they have lost three Super Bowls. They can and have been beaten. It just does not seem like they have.
Teams that beat New England run the ball well and pressure Brady. I see Gurley and Anderson having big games offensively and Donald having the game of his life while pressuring Brady.
Rams by 10.