The Super Bowl this year will take us to Atlanta for a battle of Los Angeles and Boston, much like we had in the World Series. It also features two of the leagues top offenses, but also defenses that have been playing pretty well on their road to this game, which included a road win in the conference title game for each team.
Rams offense vs Patriots defense
C.J. Anderson has undoubtedly been the most surprising player on the Rams offense during this postseason run. Todd Gurley barely got any run during the NFC title game, but he was last season NFL Offensive Player of the Year and he is still more than capable of playing at that level because he had another great season this year, but what his role will be in this game will be huge because a lot of what the Rams do is built on the run game.
On the defensive side of things for New England, they do a really good job of playing that bend but don’t break style of defense that allows them to keep teams out of the endzone.
The winner of this battle to me will definitely come down to which team can win up front. I think Jared Goff and his receivers will be able to make some plays and it’ll be important for the Patriots to not give up any really big touchdowns, but regardless of whether they allow a long touchdown or not I think Goff and that passing game will be able to move the ball, but them being able to run the ball and move the ball when they reach the redzone will be huge. That’s because the Patriots don’t have a problem giving up yards between the 20s, but as I already mentioned, they do a good job of being stingy and keeping teams out of the endzone.
The importance of the run game in the Rams offense means that to me, Todd Gurley will need to be a factor in this game because not only is he so good at running the ball, but he plays a big role in the passing game out of the backfield and when he’s really clicking he adds such a difficult dynamic to try and deal with for an offense that is already tough enough to stop.
I think the Rams will be able to put up yards in this one, but the key will be them being able to score touchdowns when they get into the redzone and for them to avoid turnovers, because Tom Brady and the Patriots will take advantage of turnovers.
Patriots offense vs Rams defense
This seems to be the bigger wild card of offenses vs defenses. We of course have Tom Brady, who many view as the best quarterback of all-time, going against a supremely talented defense that has the most unblockable defensive lineman in all of football.
It’s common knowledge that when teams have been able to give the Patriots problems, it’s been when they can get pressure on Tom Brady, and even more specifically, being able to get pressure right up the middle. The other key is being able to get pressure on Brady right away, because he gets rid of the ball so fast because of the way he can read defenses before the snap.
Luckily for the Rams, they have just the duo to be able to get pressure up the middle on Tom Brady. Ndamukong Suh has done a really good job during this postseason run of stepping up and playing to his talent-level after somewhat of a subpar season, and to go with him they have the most dominant defensive player in all of football in Aaron Donald.
Nobody has really been able to block Donald at all this postseason, or really during his career, but on the flip side the Patriots haven’t given up a sack in either of their playoff games so far this season. Something will have to give in that matchup and it’ll be really interesting to see how each side tries to deal with the other side.
What’s new about the Patriots is that they have had a great running game and they have been using a go-to running back, which isn’t something they normally do as they are usually the most by-committee team in all of football when it comes to the running game. Sony Michel has been so good and the offensive line has been amazing at blowing teams off the line and giving Michel huge holes to run through.
I think the Rams linebacking core is the weakest unit on the defense and if the offensive line can block Donald and Suh, they might be able to get up on the linebackers and produce some really big runs, which will make things even easier for Tom Brady, who usually knows where he’s going with the ball before it’s snapped anyways.
Another big thing to watch is the aggressiveness of the Rams corners. Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are about as big of wild cards as you can have on the outside. They are going to try and take away the short routes of the Patriots, which is smart, but they also need to be careful because I could see the Patriots seeing them jumping those routes and taking advantage of that aggressiveness by using some double-moves to beat the Rams secondary downfield. It also could pay off though if they are able to get an interception or two, because in a close game, turnovers will be paramount as usual.
The Patriots are so well-coached and do a really good job on special teams. Stephen Gostkowski is a really good kicker who has made some really big kicks during his career, but I’m going to give the advantage to the Rams here. Greg Zuerlein is dealing with an injury to his plant foot, but he seems to be kicking as good as he has at any other time during his career, and if there’s someone who could steal some points with a 55+ yard field goal, it will more than likely be the Rams.
I feel like we will see a lower-scoring game than last year’s Super Bowl and it’ll be lower-scoring than people think with these two offenses. I trust the Patriots to do a good job on the Rams offense with two weeks to prepare, and the Rams defense is hot right now and even though they didn’t have as good of a season as people thought they would, they are starting to play up to the talent they have on the roster.
Overall I think the Rams have the better roster, but I can’t pick the Patriots to lose the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. I think this will be a tight game that will come down to the wire and the Patriots will find a way to make just a couple of extra plays.
Pick: Patriots win 27-23