It’s gameday folks! The Super Bowl! The biggest television event of the year is here as Tom Brady’s New England Patriots take on Aaron Donald’s Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Who will win? Who will take home the MVP? And who in their right mind is actually sitting through the Maroon 5 halftime show, regardless of political affiliations? Let’s find out.
Super Bowl LIII Predictions
It’s a real shame that Super Bowl Sunday fell on February third this year, because it feels a lot like groundhog day. The charm of winter has worn off, if we squint hard enough, we can see spring, and Tom Brady is playing in the Super Bowl.
This is a great game on paper, as both teams are uniquely talented and well coached. It’s the classic story of the perennial champion versus the upstart defender. Who do I think hoists the Lombardi tonight? Well let’s take a closer look at both teams.
A Case for the Patriots
There’s nothing flashy about the New England Patriots. This is the ninth time that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have appeared in this game together, and they got here doing the same things they’ve always done. Sure, the style of the offense might’ve changed, but the philosophy hasn’t.
These aren’t the run-first defense heavy teams of the early 2000’s, Randy Moss isn’t breaking touchdown records, and while franchise staples Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are still around, it would be unfair to call them dominant after they struggled this season.
They were top ten in points scored (27.3 ppg, fourth in the league), and points allowed (20.3 ppg, seventh in the league) this season, finishing 11-5, locking up their tenth straight AFC East title, their 16th in the last 18 years.
What Do They Do Well?
Quite frankly, everything. They run the ball really well, they can throw deep when they need to, but that’s not their strength. They love to chip away, taking small chunk plays while they march down the field. The Patriots love to exploit match-ups, with their favorites being a tailback vs. a linebacker.
In Brady’s perfect world, he never throws a pass longer than five yards and he dominates the opposition. A hot take? I bet the team of James White, Sony Michel, James Develin, and Rex Burkhead have more catches and yards than Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson do.
What Might Hurt Them?
Just because they haven’t given up a ton of points, that doesn’t mean they have a great defense. They were seventh in points allowed, but 21st in yards allowed. They don’t handle play action very well, and based on what Patrick Mahomes did in the second half of the AFC Championship games, a good quarterback will be able to put points up on them.
A Case for the Rams
The Rams were the darlings of the NFC this year, riding the Hollywood hype and a talented young roster all the way to the Super Bowl. Wunderkind Sean McVay has used both his charm and understanding of complex offenses to take the NFL by storm, and now he has a chance to do something that only 32 other men have done, win a Super Bowl.
They were second in points scored, but they also gave up their fair share of scoring. However, they did win 13 games, securing a first round bye while locking up the NFC West for the second straight season.
What Do They Do Well?
Sean McVay’s offenses are so much fun to watch. Layered routes by shifty receivers, great protection, and explosive plays through the air. McVay will commit to running the ball, especially with the emergence of C.J. Anderson, but he’ll also use it to set up play action passes.
Meanwhile, they generate pressure from inside. Aaron Donald ran away with his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year, and after a disappointing regular season, free agent Ndamukong Suh has emerged in the playoffs, having 1.5 sacks against Drew Brees.
What Might Hurt Them?
They have a good defensive line and good corners, but they don’t have great linebackers. They have struggled against the run, and against tailbacks receiving out of the backfield. In the regular season, they gave up more yards per carry than any other team, and two weeks ago, Alvin Kamara was the only weapon that New Orleans could count on.
Considering that the Patriots have a strong run game and love to throw to their tailbacks, this could be a real issue for the Rams. Don’t be surprised if they come out in multiple two-back sets and run directly at Donald, who, while talented, is underszied.
My gut says the Patriots. Maybe it’s just Pavlov, and I’ve been conditioned to expect the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. I genuinely believe that the Los Angeles Rams have the better roster, and if both teams play their best game, they’ll come home with the win.
But the one thing the Rams have going for them, I feel will be their downfall. That thing? Youth. The Rams are a young, gifted team, and that’s played a big part in them getting this far. However, the downside to youth is inexperience.
Belichick’s modus operandi is playing smart, mistake-free, fundamental football. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but they do roll on perfect circles. I trust the Patriots more to play their game than I trust the Rams to play theirs, so I’m picking the Patriots.
I do think it’ll be a close, high-scoring game. Both teams match up so well against each other, and I like Sean McVay a lot. I’m gonna say the Patriots win 35-28, with the Rams falling just short at the end. My bet for Super Bowl MVP? Sony Michel. I feel like the Patriots are going to run the ball all night, and he’ll get a few catches out of the backfield as well.
And no, I won’t be watching Adam Levine and Maroon Five “croon” for way, way, way too long.