Super Bowl LIII: What to Expect, and Who Wins

17 years ago, Super Bowl XXXVI was played between the then-St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots. The quarterbacks were Kurt Warner and Tom Brady. Back then, Tom Brady was just 24 years old and a second-year quarterback, and Bill Belichick was in his second season coaching the Patriots. Now players WR Julian Edelman and TE Rob Gronkowski of the Pats were 15 and 12 years old, respectively, Rams coach Sean McVay was 16, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff was 8. On Sunday, Super Bowl LIII will be played between the now-Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, with players such as Edelman, Gronkowski, and Goff playing, and McVay coaching. Oh, how time flies. But the guys that are still there are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and they are not showing many signs of not showing up to Super Bowls anytime soon. The Patriots are an older, more experienced team, going against a team of young guys who are new to the Super Bowl party, yet the two teams have very similar playing styles, with prolific passing games on offense, bend-but-don’t-break defenses, and big-play special teams units. Here are how the teams compare, and who will lift the Lombardi Trophy.

The Game, The Teams, The Storylines, and The Prediction

The LA Rams started the season 8-0 and looked like the hottest team in the league until they went into the Superdome and got humbled by the Saints. As the season went on, the offense was questioned, as they began to have a dropoff, as shown in games against Chicago and Philly. They finally showed they belonged in the playoffs with wins against Dallas and New Orleans (which yes, they didn’t deserve to win because of the referees, but we can’t do anything about that anymore). Anyways, everyone knows that Todd Gurley is the best player for the Rams by far, but with him not having been 100% the past few weeks, CJ Anderson has stepped in and been their best player ever since. Bill Belichick is known for taking away the best player(s) from the opposing team, so do not expect Gurley and/or Anderson to have the same type of numbers that they have been the past few weeks. Belichick will force Goff to beat them, and with Goff being a young, yet good quarterback, you can bet Goff will get a bit frazzled at times. Sean McVay, on the other hand, will have to take away Julian Edelman, which if you watch the Patriots play in Super Bowls, you know how hard that is to do. Edelman is always the one who comes up clutch in Super Bowls and always delivers for Brady. As far as matchups go, Patriots have the advantage. As far as experience goes, Patriots have the advantage. As far as the stats and on-paper comparison goes, Rams have the advantage. But what is really going to be the determining factor for this game? Which quarterback has the ball last. This Super Bowl will be quite similar to the past two, where offenses fly around the field, but the offense that blinks first is the one that loses. If I had to guess which offense blinks first, I would go with the Rams. I just do not trust the fact that the Rams secondary can do enough to stop Brady from getting the ball to guys like Edelman (who leads the team in receiving yards this postseason with 247), Gronkowski (who had two touchdowns in Super Bowl LII), and James White (leading the team in receptions, and also holds the NFL record for most receptions in a Super Bowl game with 14 in Super Bowl LI). The Rams pass rush simply is not enough to disrupt the Pats offense, and as far as the Patriots defense goes, while they may not be great, they have all been here before, and they have stepped up to the challenge this postseason. I simply do not see a way that the Patriots lose back-to-back Super Bowls as long as Brady and Belichick are present. Another fun fact, Brady is undefeated against non-NFC East teams in the Super Bowl (two losses to NY Giants, one to Philadelphia Eagles). To all the Rams fans and Patriots haters out there, don’t get too excited. Pats win, 38-34.

Conference Championship Weekend: Who’s Going to Atlanta?

The time of year is quickly approaching. The cold nights of January are perfect for playoff football, so we have to preview the games coming up this Sunday and see who is packing their bags to stay home, and who will live another few weeks and go to Atlanta.

AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

So, per usual, the AFC Championship Game runs through the Patriots, as it has for the past 8 years. This time, however, we go from cold Foxborough to cold and possibly snowy Kansas City. With the kickoff temperature expected to be in the 20s now rather than in the single digits, fans going to the game can be a bit more excited about the fact that their chances of getting hypothermia and frostbite went down a bit, but this may be just another thing that plays into New England’s advantage. The Patriots play in these temperatures in January all the time, whether they practice in it, or play in it. Kansas City doesn’t know what an AFC Championship Game is like, it has been over 40 years since that last happened. That being said, soon-to-be NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes will lead his Chiefs in a rematch against the GOAT Tom Brady. The last time these teams played was a Sunday night in October, where the offenses were nonstop, defenses non-existent, and Pats Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was money. The game once again will come down to who has the ball last, and who can make the biggest plays at the right moment. The last time they played, Patrick Mahomes found Tyreek Hill on a huge touchdown play late in the 4thbut left over 3 minutes for Brady to work with to get into field goal range. Mahomes better make sure that if he wants to score a touchdown, that he doesn’t leave too much time on the clock, because Brady will find a way. 3 minutes is an eternity for Brady. Despite Brady being 1-4 lifetime on the road in AFC Championship Games, and his best target Rob Gronkowski being AWOL for most of the season, Brady always finds a way, and against a defense as terrible as the Chiefs, he won’t lose. Oh, and not to mention, the biggest choker in NFL history, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, is coaching the Chiefs still (despite all the leads he’s blown, and the lack of playoff wins before this year), so it is safe to say the Chiefs will find a way to lose this game. No betting against Brady here, Pats win.

NFC Championship Game: New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams

Another rematch of a game that ended up being an absolute thriller, with the Rams being undefeated at 8-0 at the time, and the Saints being the only team that could seemingly stop them. Surely enough, the Saints were able to end the dominance of LA, and neither team has really slowed down since. The two most complete teams in the NFC will meet again in New Orleans on Sunday, yet this time with some more questions to answer. Will Jared Goff play like he did in November when they played New Orleans (he had 391 yards passing and 3 TDs), or will he play like he did last year in the Rams NFC Wild Card Game against Atlanta? Will Sean McVay prove to be the prodigy the world is amazed by? Will Drew Brees cement his place as potentially the Greatest of All Time? Since the last rematch, Goff has been off-and-on, McVay has proven his prodigy-like skills, and Brees has broken records and put up an MVP-caliber season. Since then, the Saints have also been the #1 scoring defense, which will prove to be the difference on Sunday. The Saints defense’s ability to slow down the Rams potent offense will be what wins them this game. Last week, when they played the Eagles, they were down 14-0 after the Eagles’ first 2 possessions, but the defense didn’t allow any points the rest of the game and came up with the game-winning stop on a Marshon Lattimore interception, all thanks to Alshon Jeffery’s ‘best hands in the NFL’. There will be a ton of points scored for sure, but it will come down to if Jared Goff can outplay Brees and if the Saints defense fails to stop Goff and the Rams. I do not see that happening, so Saints win.