Another great weekend of playoff games is behind us. Conference championship weekend ended giving us 2 great games, but also a lot of controversy. One of the worst no calls in NFL history that would’ve all but secured a Saints win, questionable calls in the Chiefs vs Pats and everyone, including me, calling for the OT rules to change. But all that is behind us now so let’s not dwell on the past, let’s look to the Super Bowl matchup we have in front of us: the Los Angeles Rams vs the New England Patriots.
Lets take a look at both of these teams:
Los Angeles Rams
Coming into this season, the expectations were for the Rams to be a defensive juggernaut. They had players like Donald, Suh, Talib and Peters on there defense, making them pretty loaded. However, the defense was not too good all this year. They were 14th in the league in passing defense and 23rd in the league in rushing defense. The rushing defense has improved in the playoffs, going from allowing 5 yards per rush to 2 yards per rush. They held Ezekiel Elliot to only 47 yards on 20 rushes in the divisional round and held Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to 46 total rushing yards. The rushing defense will be looking to continue its good play against a scorching hot Patriots run game led by rookie Sony Michel. They will also be looking to Marcus Peters and Aquib Talib to step up in coverage and make Brady hold on to the ball so the Rams incredible defensive line, which consists of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler Jr, can put pressure on Brady and get some sacks. Offensively, the Rams were great this year, 2nd in total offense. Jared Goff finished the year with 4,688 yards, 32 TDs, 12 INTs and completed 64% of his passes. For the early part of the year Goff was one of the top MVP candidates, but he fell off in the later half of the year. Todd Gurley was the best RB in football all year, finishing the year with 1,831 total yards, 21 total TDs and only fumbled 1 time. About midway through the year the Rams WR Cooper Kupp was injured and that was a huge blow to the team. However, Brandin Cooks (1,204 yards, 5 TDs) and Robert Woods (1,219 yards, 6 TDs) have both stepped up in his absence. The late season addition of RB CJ Anderson has proven to be a good one. In their first playoff game against the Cowboys, Anderson rushed 23 times for 123 yards and 2 TDs. In the NFC championship he only had 44 yards but his presence helps balance the run game with Gurley. In the end the Rams finished 13-3 with the second seed in the NFC. I think the key factor for the Rams to win it all will be the D Line. If they can get pressure on Brady and stop the run the game will be in their control.
New England Patriots
The Patriots came into this year off a Super Bowl loss the the Eagles and many people thought it would finally end the dynasty. For some reason expectations weren’t that high for the Pats this year but boy did they prove the doubters wrong. The Patriots finished 11-5, one win back from the 1 seed, and racked up 2 wins over the Kansas City Chiefs, one regular season win and the AFC championship. Tom Brady had another great year, throwing for 4,355 yards, 29 TDs, 11 INTs and completed 65% of his passes. Brady led 2 clutch drives at the end of regulation and OT in the AFC championship to secure the win. Tom continues to dominate and thrive in big moments. Also you have to mention the fact that Tom has yet to be sacked in the playoffs, the Patriots offensive line has stepped up massively and Brady has taken full advantage of the great blocking. The biggest surprise for the Pats has been rookie RB Sony Michel, he had 981 total yards and 6 TDs in the regular season. Michel has been even better in the playoffs rushing for 129 yards and 3 TDs against the Chargers and 113 yards and 2 TDs against the Chiefs. Julian Edelman missed 4 games due to suspension this year but still caught 850 yards and 6 TDs this season and had 151 receiving yards against the Chargers and 96 against the Chiefs in the playoffs. Rob Gronkowski has been somewhat of a disappointment this season, catching 682 yards and 3 TDs. Against the Chargers he had only 1 catch for 25 yards and against the Chiefs he actually had a good game with 79 yards on 6 catches. He really needs to make his impact felt in the AFC championship. The Pats defense is always good in the regular season but improves greatly in the playoffs. And of course I have to mention Bill Belichick. In order to beat the Patriots you have to out coach him, is Sean McVay ready to do that? The Patriots are used to this stage and that experience will show. The key to victory for Patriots is obvious, Tom Brady. Super Bowl 52 he had 505 yards and 3 TDs, singlehandedly keeping his team in the game. His experience and poise in these big moments will shine through and be the key.
I think this Super Bowl will be a good game. The Pats run game and O-Line vs the Rams D-Line will be a great matchup to watch out for and it will be interesting to see how Goff and McVay handle this big moment. It will be very telling of how far this QB/Coach duo will go in the future. Another loss for the Patriots would surely fire up talks of the dynasty ending yet again.
I’m picking the Patriots to win this game and Tom Brady to take home Super Bowl MVP. I think the experience of the whole team will push the Patriots past the Rams. I expect it to be a close game but the Patriots to dominate the end of the game like they always do.
Hopefully no matter what we get a good game.