Foxborough, Massachusetts - It's that time of the year again. Groundhog Day has come and gone, spring is just around the corner, and the New England Patriots are playing in another Super Bowl. It's their third conescutive trip to the big game and their eleventh overall and ninth since 2002. It's almost like a tradition at this point. But while the Patriots are a constant, the teams are always changing. So how do the Patriots stack up against the Los Angeles Rams?
The Patriots have more experience and they play smarter while committing fewer penalties and capitalizing on other teams' mistakes. But the advantages for the Rams come from their speed, athleticism, and youth. The Patriots still have these elements, but not in as much spades as the Rams do. The Patriots do not have a deep threat on the same level as Brandin Cooks or a running back as fast as Todd Gurley or a young hotshot coach like Sean McVay. But there's no denying that the tried and true Bill Belichick still has a massive advantage and the Patriots have done fairly well with Philip Dorsett as their best deep threat with a running back by committee group of Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead. And certainly, Tom Brady still has an advantage over Jared Goff.
As innovative as McVay can be, Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have shown that they can still come up with plays on the mornings of Super Bowls in hotel ballrooms. These crucial elements are big advantages for the Patriots and while they still have lots of talent in players like Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, who both have the clutch gene, the key to a Patriots victory comes from shutting down the talent from the Rams.
Gurley is not fully healthy and Los Angeles might have to lean on C.J. Anderson to carry their rushing game. The Patriots would hardly be able to contain Gurley, but Anderson would be much more doable. And if Gurley becomes a factor, then the Patriots will have to take away Goff's other options, namely Cooks and Robert Woods. Cooks has a style of play that almost leans toward drawing pass interference calls than making big plays and I think the Patriots can contain him fairly well. By making Goff rely on receivers like Josh Reynolds, the Patriots could completely dominate the Rams' air game.
If the Patriots continue to employ their smash and crash style of football they've played since the departure of Josh Gordon, in which Michel becomes a bellcow for the team, they could have a good chance at controlling the clock.
To me, it seems like the Rams might have peaked too early. And after the AFC Championship Game, I have a feeling that the Patriots have saved their best tricks for last. As evidenced by Nick Foles last season, anything can happen in the Super Bowl, but I'm predicting a Patriots victory, which would be their sixth overall in the championship. Let's go Patriots!