It’s back baby. From all those terrible Thursday Night Fooball games, to spending seven hours of your Sunday watching Redzone, to staying up until a ridiculous hour on Sunday’s before going into work on Monday feeling, and looking, like a damn zombie – It all comes down to this. It doesn’t get any better than Super Bowl Sunday.
Super Bowl 53 will be a rematch of Super Bowl 36 as the New England Patriots and the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady going for his 6th Championship ring against a Los Angeles Rams looking for their second.
Hopefully, reading this article will ensure that you know what to expect tonight, together with a few bits of info and opinions from myself, along with some betting tips for all those feeling lucky on Sunday night!
It’ll be old vs young.
On the old — or should I say the experienced — side, you have the Patriots. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been together for 19 years and have five Super Bowl rings in their time as Head Coach and Quarterback duo. On the young, you have the Rams – before this season, Sean McVay and Jared Goff had 0 zero play-off wins in their second year together.
The Rams young head coach, McVay, 33, is eight years (!) younger than Tom Brady – whilst Bill Belichick, 66, is double the ageof his counterpart.
The difference between McVay and Belichick is the largest gap between opposing head coaches in Super Bowl history. And with that age gap comes an almost unbelievable experience gap. Here’s some numbers:
Belichick is in his 24th season as an NFL head coach. McVay is in his second.
Belichick has 291 career wins. McVay has 26.
And Belichick is making his ninth Super Bowl appearance as head coach, while McVay is making his first.
Now, let’s break down how Sunday night Patriots-Rams match-up could plays out.
Patriots Offence vs Rams Defence…
Make no mistake about it, the Patriots offence runs through Tom Brady (#12). Although Sony Michel and their ground game will be key if the Pats are going to move the ball, the Rams have been excellent at stopping the run during these playoffs. If the Rams choose to bring extra defenders into the box to limit the Patriots ground game out of heavy two-back sets, this is where Brady operates at his best.
You’re not going to see Tom Brady on a five-step drop back and heave the ball downfield. It’s just not happening guys. But if the Rams do stack the box, expect to see Rob Gronkowski (#87) be the go-to guy in the passing game. He’s not the guy he used to be, but Gronk is still unguardable in one-v-one situations, and the Rams don’t have a guy on their roster who can cover him.
By now, we all know what Tom Brady is capable of. He’s probably the most accurate short-to-intermediate throwers of a football of all-time, and their offence is built and exploiting their opponents weaknesses.
The Rams need to put together the perfect gameplan to stop one Tom Brady. And ultimately, it’s probably going to come down to number 99.
It’s no secret that interior pressure always has been the key factor to slowing down Brady. His passer rating when pressured up the middle this season was way down, at just 63.1. The Rams just so happen to have the best interior rusher, maybe of all-time, in Aaron Donald. How the Patriots plan to stop Donald, and how the Rams adjust to this might be the defining aspect of this game.
Donald will almost certainly have two offensive-linemen blocking him at all times on Sunday. This, leaving Ndamukong Suh (#93) in one-v-one situations with either Patriots guards. If he can take advantage of this and collapse the pocket then edge-rushers Dante Fowler Jr. and Samson Ebukam opportunities to take Brady down.
But not only is the Rams defensive line elite – their secondary is not too shabby, either.
They have a true lockdown corner in Aqib Talib (#21) who Brady knows all about from his time in New England, and playmakers such as Marcus Peters (#22) and LaMarcus Joyner (#20).
Although Peters is an elite ballhawking corner, he plays extreme reckless. Watching his tape from this season, Peters has been somewhat of a liability at LCB at times this season. On too many occasions, he’ll try and jump the receiver’s route and make a play on the ball – this leading to him getting beat over the top. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philip Dorsett (#13) run a few double moves on Peters, to see if he bites.
Another match-up to look out for is Julian Edelman (#11) vs Nickell Robey-Coleman (#23) in the slot. Edelman, who missed last years Super Bowl after rupturing his ACL, will be Brady’s go-to receiver on third down. The Rams have to do a better job of jamming him at the line of scrimmage than the Chiefs did two weeks ago. If you give Julian Edelman a free release, he’s going to get open.
It will be interesting to see how often Wade Phillips dials up a blitz on Sunday. Brady’s numbers have been ridiculously good against the blitz this year, but on this one, you can’t give him too much credit. You’ll see a lot of checkdowns from Brady to the likes of James White (#28), Rex Burkhead (#34) and Cordarrelle Patterson (#84). The Rams linebackers, who are the weakness on their defence, need to be able to make tackles in open field against these three. If they don’t, Brady will dink and dunk all night long.
Rams Offence vs Patriots Defence…
Sean McVay’s offence vs Bill Belichick’s defence – does it get any better than this?!
I’m a diehard Seahawks fan, and I’m not afraid to say that I loved watching the Rams on offence this year. They have been outstanding.
The Rams offensive line has been absolutely dominant all year long, creating huge holes for running back Todd Gurley (#30) to run through – as he led the league in touchdowns (17).
Their ability to run the ball consistently translates to their effectiveness throwing the ball. Defences have been so afraid of Gurley, and now CJ Anderson (#32), pounding the ball down their throat, that they’ll stack the box. This is where the play-action comes into play, thus, opening Sean McVay’s playbook.
When you have receivers such as Robert Woods (#17) and Brandin Cooks (#12), smooth route-runners who can beat you in the open-field, paired with McVay’s play-calling on play-action and Gurley’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, it’s damn near impossible to stop the Rams scoring.
What’s most impressive about this, is that McVay is doing all this with just an okay quarterback in Jared Goff (#16). He’s is not athletic, he’s slow, doesn’t have a big arm and he’s not all that accurate, either.
But he’s good enough to effectively run their offence.
Keep an eye on the Rams’ jet-sweep, motion offence. Their concepts to hand the ball off to a receiver streaking across the formation is mostly designed to toy with a defender’s eyes, messing up their zone coverage. This is how McVay is so successful – exploiting the oppositions zone coverage.
Belichick will need his defence to stay disciplined, stick to their assignments and – as he likes to say – DO YOUR JOB!
The Patriots biggest strength on D is their versatility in the secondary. With Devin McCourty (#32), Patrick Chung (#23), and Duron Harmon (#21) and the cornerback trio of Jason McCourty (#30, Devin’s identical twin brother), Stephon Gilmore (#24), and rookie J.C. Jackson (#27). Their weakness, similar to the Rams is their linebackers.
In his new book, former Cleveland Browns GM, and Bill Belichick’s favourite assistant, Michael Lombardi, stated, “If your middle linebacker is slow, your defence is slow.” This is the case with New England, Kyle Van Noy (#53) and Don’t’a Hightower (#54) are great run-stopping players, but they both struggle in coverage.
The Patriots only really have one good pass rusher. Trey Flowers is an extremely underrated talent on the defensive line. He will line up at the 3-tech and rush from the edge and will likely be effective.
If the Rams are able to run the ball, open up their play-action and run jet-sweeps, the Pats linebackers will need to make plays in open field.
If the Rams start to move the ball efficiently when they run, it’ll be up to McVay to stick with that approach and not chase chunk plays through the air – something he’s been culpable of at times this season.
As a Boston sports fan, I’m rooting hard for the Patriots.
However… I’m going with the Los Angeles Rams to win the Super Bowl.
I think Brady will try to get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible early on, but when the Rams take a half-time lead, he’ll have to hold onto the ball and throw down field. That’s when these two guys will come alive…
The Rams have a better team on paper, than the Patriots. I feel their offensive line should be able to beat the Pats’ defensive line at the line of scrimmage, while the Rams’ defensive line.
It was a roster that was built to win this year, and maybe only just this year as they went all-in with this unsustainable roster. But if they win the Super Bowl, it’ll certainly have been worth it.
After watching everything the Rams did in the offseason, I actually bet a small fortune on the Rams to win it all and I still feel that they’re going to have too much on both sides of the ball for Tom Brady to overcome.
Score Prediction – Patriots 30, Rams 33
First touchdown of the game – Gerald Everett (#81, Los Angeles Rams)
Super Bowl MVP – Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Betting Tips (via SkyBet)…
LA Rams to win match & T.Gurley to score a TD – 2/1
Commentators to say ‘Smashmouth football’ – 3/1
Jared Goff & Tom Brady 300+ Passing Yards Each – 9/4
Donald Trump NOT to congratulate the winning team via Twitter – 4/1
LA Rams to successfully convert a 2 point conversion attempt – 5/1
Nantz or Romo (Commentators) To Say – GOAT, Hall of Fame, Hail Mary, & Run the Clock – 11/2
Rams to Win, J.Goff 300+ Passing Yards, T.Gurley to Score 2+ TDs – 8/1
Any player other than a QB to throw a TD pass – 11/1
Chris Hogan last TD of the game – 14/1
Rob Gronkowski scored 2+ touchdowns – 18/1
Gerald Everett 1st TD of the game – 33/1
Either Team to Win 28-24 – 50/1
Adam Levine to be shoeless during Halftime performance – 150/1
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