Patriot Talk: Super Bowl LIII Predictions
Super Bowl 53. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick for the 9th time since 2001, fighting for their sixth ring. Is it safe to say we, as Patriots fans, are spoiled? Is it safe to say that this is the single greatest dynasty in all four major sports, due to the longevity and continued dominance? Is it safe to say that Brady is the GOAT, despite everyone saying he’s falling off his own cliff and that he isn’t the same QB he was 17 years ago?
The Patriots haven’t had what us fans call a very good season. Finishing 11-5? Patriots fans wouldn’t stop complaining, and said themselves that the Dynasty was over and that Brady was done. 11-5, a record that the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, could only wish for. Hell, NFL experts and even normal, everyday fans said the Browns had a great season, and they didn’t even make the playoffs. Sure, this season was more frustrating at times than others, most notably the “Miami Miracle” game. But 11-5 is still a great season, and the fact that people had the Patriots written off, including myself, as not making the Super Bowl is, in hindsight, very narrowly minded. But the Patriots blew the 12-4 Chargers out of the water, with a strong running game, due to the fantastic work of the offensive line, paired up with the quick and decisive throws from Brady to Edelman (aka one of the greatest post-season WRs ever). Not to mention, their defense frustrated every ounce of Philip Rivers and held Melvin Gordon, one of the best running backs in the league, to a handful of yards. Then they marched into Kansas City and shut-out the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in the first half. Again, their physical running game and the outstanding offensive line work was paired with the arm of Tom Brady, and his fantastic ability to find the open receivers and manipulate zone defense. Oh, and the Patriots defense that got so much crap all season whenever the Patriots struggled, was stellar early on against the highest scoring offense in the NFL this year.
Now the Rams are up. The Rams are no joke; they earned the trip to Atlanta. Everyone can blame the refs all they want for blowing that game (and I agree it was an awful missed call), but that game should have been over way sooner than it was, and the Saints let it slip away. Jared Goff has been ridiculed by some fans that he isn’t a very good QB. I can understand why: He has Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp (currently on IR, but was tearing it up prior to the injury) and Todd Gurley who is a do-it-all running back and takes most of the load off Goff. But he still threw for 32 TDs (3 more than Brady), 12 interceptions (1 more than Brady), and 4,688 yards (Brady had 4,355). Since Cooper Kupp went down with his injury (week 10), Goff has thrown for 10 TDs, 6 Interceptions, and 1,554 yards, which isn’t nearly as good as he was with Kupp. However, over these last two weeks of playoff football for the Rams, Goff has made some great throws in important situations, and led the comeback win over the Saints. Their running game is also outstanding. Todd Gurley missed the last two weeks of the regular season but still ran for 1,251 yards on 256 carries (an average of 4.9 yards), along with 17 TDs. As stated earlier, he is a do-it-all running back, and also racked up 59 catches for 580 yards (9.8 yards per catch) with 4 TDs. But again, he went down the last two weeks of the regular season, but CJ Anderson was signed and immediately made an impact for the Rams, racking up 43 carries for 299 yards (6.95 yards per carry) and 2 TDs. He also followed that up in the playoffs against the Cowboys with 123 yards on 23 carries (average:5.35 yards) and 2 TDs. However, both Gurley and Anderson struggled against the Saints. The biggest thing with the Rams however is their defense, and more specifically, their defensive line. Michael Brockers, Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald, and John Franklin Myers have combined for 28 sacks, with Donald alone having 20.5 sacks. Suh and Donald are interior defensive linemen, and will be seeing David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney for most of the night. Despite the stacked D-line, they have had their fair share of struggles against the run, but the last two games (against high quality runners), they’ve done a great job. Their secondary is also solid, with Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Sam Shields, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Lamarcus Joyner lining up across from Patriots receivers. That defensive unit is also run by a very familiar face to Tom Brady and Belichick: Wade Phillips. Phillips tortured Brady in the AFC Conference Championship game, which he went on to win Super Bowl 50 that year. However, Brady has still been able to average over 300 yards per game, 21 TDs and 7 interceptions against Wade Phillip-run defenses, per 247sports.com.
Moral of the story is this: The individual matchups in this Super Bowl are intriguing and crucial. Will Brady be able to avoid the wrath that is Aaron Donald? Will the Patriots be able to establish the run game early, as they have in every game in these playoffs? Will Wade Phillip’s solve Tom Brady again, like he did in 2015 with Von Miller? Will the Patriots defense, and more specifically, their secondary, continue their solid play, despite struggling with consistency all season? It is going to be a fun game, and if history hasn’t told enough of the story, we all know that Patriot’s Super Bowls are always close.
Prediction of Super Bowl LIII: 27-23 Patriots win