Super Bowl LIII Preview and Prediction

Does a Rams vs Patriots Super Bowl sound familiar? It should because this was the Super Bowl matchup in 2002. The Patriots won that game 20-17 on a game-winning field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri. What’s funny is that the two most important people in the Patriots organization, quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick both took part in that 2002 Super Bowl and have continued their success together from 2002 to the present. On the other side, the Rams are led by head coach Sean McVay, who in his first two years as the Rams head coach has completely changed the culture and vibe of the LA Rams. At the astoundingly young age for a coach at 33, McVay has received so much praise in his first two years for making the Rams’ offense so innovative, led by the resurgence of quarterback Jared Goff.  This should be a great game because of the chess match coaches Belichick and McVay will be playing during the game. Now, I’m going into the key factors that will determine this game.


The LA Rams Run Defense


One of the big questions for the Rams heading into the postseason was their run defense. Their run defense ranked 23rd in the regular season, which had many people doubting their ability to get stops in key moments on defense. For their two postseason games, the run defense has been excellent. Against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, who are both two of the top rushing offenses in the NFL, the Rams held them to 50 yards and 48 yards in those respective games. Stopping the run against the New England Patriots will be very important because they will need to make the Patriots offense more predictable. When the Patriots played the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game, the Patriots were able to control the line of scrimmage with the run game, which neutralized the Chiefs pass rush. If the Patriots can’t run the football as effectively as they want, it will put more pressure on quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots offensive line as a whole. This will allow the Rams pass rush led by star defensive tackle Aaron Donald to put pressure on Brady.


Todd Gurley and James White in the passing game


It may seem rash that I’m discussing two running backs while discussing the passing attack of both the Rams and Patriots, but I think these two players will play important roles in the Super Bowl. Rams running back Todd Gurley had a day to forget against the New Orleans Saints, but he will be a key player for the Rams if they are to win this game. He has had a terrific season and was playing at an MVP level before he was injured in early December. On the other side, running back James White for the Patriots has been very reliable this year. Both of these players can exploit both defenses weakness for covering running backs in the passing game. In the Rams vs Saints game, Saints running back Alvin Kamara was open on every play until the Rams started putting two guys on him, essentially taking him out of the play. But I don’t think Patriots running back James White will be afforded the luxury of having two guys on him the entirety of the game. Brady should be able to find the openings in ways that Saints quarterback Drew Brees could not two weeks ago against the Rams.


The Patriots were able to successfully shut down the Chiefs running attack in the AFC Championship game. However, Chiefs running back Damien Williams had a huge day in the passing game as he caught 5 passes for 66 yards which was the second-most in both receptions and yards for the Chiefs that day. Rams running back Todd Gurley is one of the league’s most dangerous running backs coming out of the backfield, and if he is fully healthy, should have a big day against the Patriots. The Patriots secondary is underrated, so I can see Rams quarterback Jared Goff throwing short passes to Gurley a lot this game.


Can Tom Brady do it again?


Despite having a lack of offensive talent around him, Tom Brady is back in a familiar spot: the Super Bowl. If Tom Brady wins this game, he will have twice as many Super Bowl wins as losses. A 6-3 Super Bowl record in Super Bowls looks really good on paper but I think if he wins this Super Bowl in particular, this might be considered his biggest challenge he has conquered. Mainly because if he is able to beat both Rams and the Chiefs (who they played in the AFC Championship), he will have beaten two teams whose rosters have much more talent across the board than his. In this game against the Rams, Brady will have to be at his very best to beat them. The Rams defense poses a much bigger challenge than the Chiefs did in the AFC championship game. This is because I don’t think the Patriots will be able to run as easily on the Rams as they did against the Chiefs. Therefore, Brady will have to throw the ball more. In that game vs. the Chiefs, Brady was never put under much pressure, but when he threw incomplete passes, it was mainly due to the fact that his receivers could not get separation from their respective defenders. Brady will have less time to throw and find receivers this game so running back James White will play a big role in the short passing game if he is under pressure.


How will Jared Goff play?


After the first quarter of NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints, I was really impressed by the performance of Rams quarterback Jared Goff. In the hostile environment of the Superdome, where the Saints play, it would have been easy for Goff to fold mentally. However, he showed great composure after the first quarter. For a young quarterback in that big of a game, that is not easy to do. It will help Goff that he will be playing within a neutral zone for the Super Bowl and the Rams need to be able to run the football in order to set up their play action passing game. Goff has been excellent this year when he’s had time to throw with a good running game. With Tom Brady on the other sideline, Goff will have to be excellent in order for the Rams to win this game. Last year, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had a career game against Brady and the Patriots. I think Goff can do the same.


Prediction: Rams 28, Patriots 30


This is a really tough game to predict. The Patriots are currently 2.5 point favorites according to most sports betting website. I think is fair given the Patriots experience in this big game. I think this will be a game in which whoever has the football’s last possession will win the game. I have liked the Rams all year because their offense is so fun to watch. However,  it is hard to pick against Tom Brady and the Patriots. It is impossible to say the Patriots are ever out of a game, given their history. This should be a high scoring game, with both teams potentially going over 27 points. I think Brady wins his sixth Super Bowl in a really fun and exciting Super Bowl.


Catch the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (Feb. 3rd) at 3:30 p.m. on CBS!