Super Bowl 53: Rams and Patriots Clash in Atlanta For Super Bowl
Today is the day as the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots face off in Atlanta, Georgia for Super Bowl 53 in a couple of hours. With that being said, it is time to conclude the year-long picks on MTV's Hot Takes for the NFL season with one more matchup down in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium deciding the champion of the National Football League for the 2018 season. But before we get into the final prediction of the year, let us take a look at how we did during the regular season and postseason this season.
Last Week: 2-0
Playoff Record: 5-5
Regular Season Record: 159-94-2
After a rough start to the playoffs, we bounced back to get to .500 heading into the Super Bowl matchup this evening. As for the regular season, it had a few rough patches to start the year, but we recovered and had a strong finish to the season which led to a .623 win percentage over the course of the 17 weeks of NFL games. But now it is time to get ready for the main event, the final pick of the year, and the most important prediction of them all. Super Bowl 53.
New England Patriots (13-5) vs. Los Angeles Rams (15-3), 6:30 PM EST
Both of these teams did not have a straight shot to get themselves into the position they are currently in. For the New England Patriots, this season was met with lots of adversity after a 1-2 start had many questioning if their reign in the AFC was finally over. However, the Patriots silenced all doubters and went on to finish the season 11-5 with their three other losses coming on the road versus the Titans, Dolphins, and Steelers. Regardless, New England remained supreme in the AFC East, steamrolled over the Chargers in the divisional round and then battled the Chiefs to overtime to make their way into the Super Bowl for a third straight season. Tom Brady will be going for his sixth Super Bowl ring in nine appearances, but it will not be easy against a tough Los Angeles Rams team.
These Los Angeles Rams have had a heck of a season that saw them start 8-0, bring in a veteran running back at the end of the season that brought a one-two punch to the backfield, an benefited from a missed pass interference call to make it here. Now that does not mean the Rams do not deserve to be here considering how well they played throughout the season, but the outcome of the NFC Championship Game could have definitely been different if a flag was thrown. When Todd Gurley was dealing with knee inflammation, the backfield of the Rams was a question mark since Gurley was practically the entire run game for the team. This is when the team brought in C.J. Anderson to take over the spot at lead back until Gurley got healthy and they certainly did not regret it. After starting the season with Carolina then being waived and briefly signed by the Raiders, Anderson was on a Super Bowl contending team and shined. In three of the four games he has played for the Rams, the 27-year-old has rushed for 100-plus yards and has found the end zone four times.
Going against Tom Brady is not easy and with the emergence of rookie Sony Michel in the backfield for the Patriots, we could see quite the offensive showing on the ground for both of these teams. Similar to Anderson, Michel has begun to emerge over the past four games, finding the end zone six times, and recording three games of 100-plus yards rushing. Like the Rams and their one-two punch of Gurley and Anderson, New England has Michel and James White to compliment each other in the backfield and an argument could be made too for Rex Burkhead's role as well. When White is not making plays with his feet, he is making them with his hands and it has showed the past few weeks. In the playoffs, James White has been targeted 23 times by Brady and hauled in 19 of those. He is a duel threat back that can provide Tom Brady with a reliable receiving target should he need a quick dump off pass, check down option, or screen play behind the line of scrimmage. Now as for the aforementioned Rex Burkhead, since his return from injury, the running back has been a good player to have for the run game. During the playoffs, Burkhead has been more reliable for the short yardage game and has found the end zone three times including the game-winning score against the Chiefs. While Michel is the workhorse of this trio, White provides the offense with a duel threat ability, and Burkhead has the short yardage ability to get you the fresh set of downs or short touchdown run.
The big difference maker in this game will be which defense can make more stops. Both of these teams have a good amount of offensive firepower and are bound to go toe-to-toe with each other for all four quarters. We all know how great Tom Brady has been in big moments throughout his whole career and while this will be Jared Goff's first Super Bowl, he has plenty of weapons he can rely on to get the ball to. The pass rush of Los Angeles is of utmost importance in this game with Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler Jr. all eager to get after Brady in this contest. Tom Brady is known for the getting the ball out of his hands quickly, but if Rams' Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is able to dial up some pressure on the 41-year-old this would be a huge advantage for the Rams. During this season, we have seen Brady make some uncharacteristic mistakes and some of which look like him getting rid of the ball earlier than normal to avoid the pressure or because he was anticipating getting hit. If Los Angeles can rattle Brady early and gain some momentum via cashing in on offensive scoring opportunities, then the Rams could take Super Bowl 53 from the Brady Bunch.
So now it comes down to who will win the big game this evening and here is what I think. This is Jared Goff's first Super Bowl and there are sure to be plenty of nerves in the early going of the game. Tom Brady is a seasoned veteran when is comes to the big stage and the Patriots find themselves in front early. But once Goff settles down and is able to make better decisions with his passes, the two teams go back and forth on the scoreboard. The run game sets up the pass for both of these teams frequently and the Patriots are in front by three heading to the locker room. Upon the finishing of the 30-minute halftime break, the two teams emerge for the second half and the offenses pick up right where they left off. This game will come down to the last possession, and it will be up to one team's defense to make that big game-ending stop to clinch Super Bowl 53. Similar to last year with the Eagles, the late-game heroics of Tom Brady are foiled by the Rams' pass rush at the end of the game and the Los Angeles Rams are your Super Bowl 53 champions.
Rams 31, Patriots 27
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