The Super Bowl is headed to Atlanta where we will see the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams take on the AFC champion New England Patriots. Both teams are rather polarizing with viewers, as Sean McVay and the young Rams have been one of the favorites for a lot of the media all year long. While obviously the Patriots and Tom Brady are a very divisive bunch. I assume Atlanta would have preferred the Saints from a rooting and economic interest, but I believe that 7th-row seats just sold for close to $25,000 a pop. Both teams got to this game through grueling overtime games in the conference championship games that may provide some insight into how they will play in the Super Bowl against similar, offensively dominant teams.
Rams Looking to Leave Controversy Behind Them
The Rams got here in a more controversial way, eventually winning the game on a field goal in overtime after forcing an interception by Drew Brees to begin overtime. Obviously, the controversy stole the headlines. The Saints had the ball driving down the field when TommyLee Lewis was almost killed by Rams slot corner Roby-Coleman. In theory, this gives the Saints the ball with a first down on the goal line where they could run down the clock and kick a chip shot for the win, but we all know that didn’t happen. The Rams have started to play better over the past 4 games than they did in the middle of the season, which is similar to the Patriots story.
The Patriots’ offense was incredible on third down and in time of possession. I assume that those were two key parts to their game plan and they were both clearly very important. We saw Tom Brady and the Patriots drive down the field twice to win the game on a defense that just seemed out of gas because the had been on the field so much. The Chiefs’ offense is really good, but they can give up the ball quickly whether that is a 3 and out, a deep pass, or a hurry-up touchdown drive. The Patriots were exceptional at staying on the field and keeping the other offense off of it.
I believe that the biggest unit on the field will be the Patriots’ offense. Like I just mentioned, they were incredible at tiring out the Chiefs’ defense and also keeping Patrick Mahomes off of the field. I think they will also want to tire out Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh while keeping Jared Goff off of the field. They were exceptional on 3rd down, and I don’t think that can expect to do something similar again simply because of how incredible it was. If they want to do similar things here, they need to get the ball and score early and often.
Talented Matchups Abound
The matchups on this side of the ball are also more interesting to me. Roby-Coleman will be on Julian Edelman for a lot of the game out of the slot, and he is a great but undersized corner. I believe that he will win more battles vs. Edelman than the Chiefs did, but I still expect Edelman to get his. Both Rams corners are talented, but you would much rather target Marcus Peters because he makes mistakes. I am curious to see what the Patriots do to exploit the weaknesses of the Rams. The Saints did not do this as much as I think they could have, which caused their best players to struggle more than the would have liked. Talib and Peters rarely move around the field, so you can really pick and choose who you want covering who. If I had to guess, we see Edelman line up outside more than usual, and we see Dorsett try to beat Peters deep when he is in man coverage. The biggest question mark is Rob Gronkowski. The Rams don’t have the ability to stop him if they try to force him. Gronk should be allowed to run more routes with the Rams pass rush generally focusing on the interior. If Gronk is used as a pass-catching TE in this game, I expect him to eat here.
Patriots vs. Rams Prediction
At the end of the day, I know the Patriots are going to put themselves in an optimal situation to win the football game. They constantly come out with elite gameplans and they constantly make the big play. In a game that projects to be very close and high-scoring, give me the team that I have more confidence in driving down the field late to win the game. I’ll take the Pats (-2.5).