Hey, it could happen…
Let’s start here.
Maroon 5 will be a train wreck.
Fun fact. All Super Bowl halftime shows are objectively terrible. Do you like this song? Awesome, we’re going to play 45-50 seconds of it before mashing it into that slower tune that no one liked in the first place. Do you like the second verse of our biggest hit? Tough, we’re doing only the first and third. Is the chorus your favorite part? Too bad. We’re changing it and adding a guest rapper whose microphone isn’t working. Here’s a giant, dancing robotic football guy and some lame fireworks that cause smoke that keeps anyone from seeing the stage. Are you not entertained???? With that out of the way, let’s get to some football.
The Patriots will run the ball
The Rams were the tenth-worst run stopping team in the league, allowing over 120 YPG over the course of the season. The Patriots were the fifth-best rushing unit in the league. It’s not hard to imagine that Josh McDaniels will keep his foot on the pedal with Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White to control the clock and create downfield opportunities for Brady with play action. The Patriots led the league this season with only nineteen run plays that were stopped in the backfield, per Field Yates of ESPN. If the Rams can’t stop it, New England will keep doing it.
They will also run sideline to sideline
Just because New England wants to run the ball doesn’t mean they’re staying in between the tackles. To keep the Rams strong interior pass rush off balance, the Patriots will use some delays, reverses and screens that will send Aaron Donald and company in the wrong direction. I’m thinking an end around with Cordarrelle Patterson or Edelman will do big damage at some point in the first half, reducing the aggression of the Rams defense for the rest of the game.
The Rams will take chances
Sean McVay has been aggressive, particularly on special teams, so expect to see a fake punt, onside kick, or some other trickeration when the game is tight. The Eagles showed us last year that the Patriots are at their weakest against low probability plays, I’m sure McVay noticed that.
The Rams will hit Brady
They have to. The Patriots haven’t allowed a sack in the postseason this year, but the Rams pass rush is on a different level personnel-wise. Aaron Donald is just a generational player that can’t be contained. How Brady handles that, and how the Patriots respond will be the key to the game. If the Rams can’t get home against this rejuvenated Patriots O-line, the game won’t be close. Tom Brady with time is too much for any defense.
Nickell Robey-Coleman will get burned
After seeing that NFC Championship play, I guarantee that the Patriots have devised a plan to bait him into a costly mistake or penalty. He’ll fall for it. The ex-Bill is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame too much. He’ll get crushed on a double move by Edelman or lose track of Hogan down the sideline. He also stands a very good chance of being cartoon-flattened by Gronk if they meet in the flat.
Ndamukong Suh will sack Tom Brady. He’ll also get flagged
Roughing the passer, unsportsmanlike conduct, helmet-to-helmet. I’m not sure what it will be, but Suh will cost his team some yardage in a high leverage situation. He might have matured from his chest-stomping days in Detroit, but he still plays too close to the edge of violence for the game’s biggest stage and the league will be watching him closely.
Tom Brady will connect with at least seven receivers
Understanding the Patriots offense means understanding balance, and we’ll see a lot of that on Sunday. Brady and crew will keep the Rams off balance by going throwing on running downs and vice versa. They’ll also pass to wide array of guys, at least one of whom will make even die-hard Patriots fans say “huh?”.
Stephon Gilmore will pick off Jared Goff
Goff will wisely avoid Gilmore for much of the contest, but late in the game, he’ll try to catch New England off guard by throwing long to a marked man. Gilmore will see it coming.
Gronk will Gronk-spike a football into oblivion
Gronkowski has been a wolf in sheep’s clothing this season, content to be a diversion. Not in this game. He will overpower and/or drag more than one defender after a catch to find the end zone. The football won’t survive the impact.
The Patriots will win
Per Mike Giardi, Tom Brady has more playoff wins, yards, TD’s and game-winning drives than Goff has in his entire career. That’s too big a disparity. New England has been the playoff’s most prolific offense and they have the top producers at QB, WR and RB, plus the stingiest rush defense. I was super high on the Rams from the end of last season on, but against the Hoodie and the GOAT, I think the Rams come up just short. It will be a close game, like every Patriots Super Bowl that neutral fans claim to hate.
Image Source: USA Today