Photo via Ticketmaster under Fair Use
Super Bowl LIII is set to be the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams versus the AFC champion New England Patriots, a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI where Tom Brady and his Patriots bested Kurt Warner and the Rams 20-17. In 2002, the Rams were the 14-point favorites, and Brady was the youngster at quarterback. However, in the last 17 years, times have changed: Brady has risen to the top, now in his ninth Super Bowl and the Patriots are the favorites in this one. With the big game occurring in two days, there are three things I believe will be key in dictating the outcome of the biggest game in American sports:
It is no secret that the Patriots do have the major edge in terms of experience, not just overall but in Super Bowl experience as well. Tom Brady has been to nine Super Bowls on his own (including the last three) and a title this year would give him six Super Bowls, –the most by any player in league history. Head Coach Bill Belichick has been to 11 Super Bowls, if you include his assistant coaching days. If we were to compare the roster as a whole, 38 New England players have been to the big game (27 have been to multiple) while the Rams have had a grand total of 4… In the NFL, experience can often be the difference in big games and there is no question the Patriots have the monstrous advantage in this category. They’ve been there, know how to carry themselves throughout the week, what to say to the media and most importantly, how to get the job done. Experience goes to the Patriots, and it’s not even close.
2. Front 7 Pressure
Yes, pressure from your front seven is impactful and important in every game; however, I think it is highlighted in a game featuring two quarterbacks in Goff and Brady who like to sit in the pocket and pick the defense apart using their mind and arm instead of their legs. Additionally, both teams have run the ball incredibly throughout the playoffs and the front seven that can manage the run may be the one to win the game for their team. The star-filled front line of the Rams tallied 41 sacks, though 20.5 of those came from Aaron Donald, arguably the best defender in the NFL right now. In terms of rushing the Rams defense struggled all through the regular season however have held the Cowboys and Saints (two top 5 rushing teams) under 100 yards during their Super Bowl run. The Patriots tallied 36 sacks, however, their team defense style of play gives them no single dominant player for the Rams to key in on, but rather 11 men. Under the genius of Belichick, I expect the Patriots to come out with pressure and a solid run scheme. However, in this category, I would have to give the Rams the edge due to the pure talent they possess in this aspect of their team.
3. McVay Vs. Belichick
A 66-year old Bill Belichick, with arguably the greatest legacy of any coach in NFL history, is set to face off against 33-year old Sean McVay, the youngest coach ever to reach the Super Bowl and one of the greatest young minds in football. What a matchup. With McVay calling the shots for the LA offense and Belichick scheming the plans for the New England defense, we will see this ultimate matchup play out directly. It’s going to come down to which coach can come up with the perfect formula for success while also rallying their troops. Though McVay is rising in this league, Belichick has simply been around so much longer and has proven himself over and over to be the one to come up with genius ways to win. Belichick also has a much older team to deal with, full of vets that have been to this game before. Meanwhile, McVay will be dealing with a young squad (an average age of 25.5) and that can be a load to deal with, especially for a 33-year old coach.
All in all, I expect Brady and Belichick to continue the legacy and take home the sixth Super Bowl for the New England Patriot dynasty. I think their smarts and experience will be more than enough in this game. Belichick will come up with a plan to hold the L.A. offense in check, Brady will cut down a bottom half defense and the Patriots will secure the Lombardi.
Patriots 31, Rams 20
To read the full playoff recap, click this link to view the presentation.
*Under copyright law, the images in the presentation were used under Fair Use.