New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams will meet on Sunday February 3 in Super Bowl 53.
Before you set out to see the Super Bowl, here are seven things you need to know about this year's matchup.
Youth vs. Experience
Jump into a time machine and go back to 2002. The second gene iPod is released with a touch screen scroll wheel. A new music festival called Bonnaroo takes place in Tennessee. Kelly Clarkson wins the first American Idol competition. Two breeders beat theaters, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Harry Potter and Secrets Chamber. In February, the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City begin and a young Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots to their first Super Bowl title over the then St. Louis Rams.
It was the beginning of the patriotic dynasty, showing no sign of slowing down 17 years later. Over the years, quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick have played in eight Super Bowls, winning five. On the patriots' 53-man roster, 38 players have played in a Super Bowl. Ramsna only has four players with Super Bowl experience.
Ramsens coach Sean McVay turned 33 this week. Bill Belichick is 66. Tom Brady is 41 and played in his first Super Bowl when Sean McVay had his varsity jacket in high school. If my math is correct, 24-year-old Rams QB was Jared Goff in second grade when Tom Brady hit Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Experience benefits the patriots, while the frames have young people on their side. And football, it should be noted for anyone living outside New England and suffering from Patriot's fatigue, is a young man's game.
Super Sartorial Bowl
Ramsna first chose which uniform they wanted to wear and they wisely chose their cute blue-and-yellow throwbacks. Ram's normal uniform has a dark blue, gold and white and is almost not so fancy on television as the king-blue and light yellow in the uniform that the team had from 1973 to 1999.
The patriots will meanwhile donate their way white. In the Brady-Belichick era, the patriots have worn their white shirts four times and blue shirts four times in the Super Bowl. The team is 3-1 in their whites, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons, and losing to the Eagles last year. The team is 2-2 in their blue uniforms, defeating St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers lose twice to the New York Giants.
The line was opened with Rams favored by a point, but early money has entered the patriots so Vegas has moved the line to where the patriots are currently a 2.5-point favorite.
What happens to Todd Gurley?
The last time we saw Ram's superstar driving back Todd Gurley, he was riding a stationary sideline in New Orleans. Rams stopped beating the Saints to come to the Super Bowl, but did so with little help from Gurley. He carried the ball only four times in 10 meters and had a catch for 3 meters. He released two passes, one of which went through his hands and into a Saints defender's arms. Journeyman returns C.J. Anderson led the ground attack with 16 bears against the Saints.
Ramsna insists Gurley is healthy, but what will his role be against the patriots? Will he regain his leadership status or do more pedaling sideways than driving between the roofs? It will be interesting to monitor Gurley's use at the beginning of Super Bowl 53.
Can Aaron Donald come to Tom Brady?
Ram's defensive tackle Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the NFL. He can be the best overall player in the NFL. He led the league with 20.5 sacks and is a constant presence in the opponents backfield even though he has seen regular double teams. Can Donald come to Brady to disrupt Patriot's precision transition attack? Or will Brady have time to dissect Ram's defense and find Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and James White for big wins? Los Angeles needs a great game from Donald to get the chance to top the patriots.
What should Pats remove?
Belichick is a champion to remove his opponent's strength every week and attack his weakness. The patriot's game plan varies from week to week more than any other team in the NFL. Has a bad running defense? Then you expect Pats to run and run and run a little more. Have a fast wide receiver – like Chiefs' Tyreek Hill – who makes great playing downfields? Expect him to be double covered so you have to throw the ball somewhere else. Have slow linebackers who can't cover tight ends? Expect Gronk to target early and often. Do you have a nickleback that has a problem keeping in touch with the card recipient? Expect Edelman to have a great day. The patriots don't care how they beat you. They will find your weakness and take advantage of the whole game for a long time and refuse to let you do what you do best.
Ramsna presents a challenge because they are a well-balanced team. On the offensive they run the ball well, and they throw the ball well. And because they do both of these things effectively, they use gambling action more than other teams to create great games. What plan will Belichick and his defense design to slow down Ram's explosive crimes? And how will they keep Brady clean and out of Donald's connections and his friend Ndamukong Suh?
I predict that the patriots will continue with their quick transition attack, which will allow Brady to get the ball out quickly to their recipients, backs and Gronk and let them get a few meters behind the catch. And if they were to find a hole in the Rams' defense defense, expect you to drive back Sony Michel to be urged to set up the running game to keep Ram's jumpers honest, beware of defending against the run.
In defense, I wouldn't be surprised to see the patriots play a lot of sun cover to try and confuse Goff, despite the fact that they mostly played the man coverage for most of the year. The rams drive a lot of moves before the snap, and the game zone will simplify the patriot's presnap defensive directions. Also expect a variety of flashes from Pats to prevent Goff from becoming comfortable and into a rhythm.
Madden simulation predicts Pats
Super Bowl LIII has already been played in one respect. CBS Sports Madden Super Bowl simulation predicts a 38-31 Pats win. This sim chose the wrong team last year, joined Pats over the eagles, but it got it right that the game would be bonkers. And two years ago, the Sim was cursed by anticipating a second halfback from Pats to take down the Falcons.
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