It’s here! I hope you’ve enjoyed the season the twists and turns, 256 regular season games, 10 playoff games, just the final call and showpiece event! This year’s participants are the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots. If this is your first taste of the NFL this year, I can’t wait for you to experience the biggest spectacle in sport!
This article will cover a quick guide to both teams before looking at the keys to victory, who the UK fans want to win and AN ALL32 PREDICTION!
On to the Teams!
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams currently reside in LA, but have only been in LA since 2016, this is however the 2nd stint in the city for the Franchise, the first between 1946 and 1994 so for many, this is the true home of the Rams. For the Rams to reach the Superbowl, you just have to look at the first season the Rams moved back to LA, they approached the NFL draft with an aggressive mindset, trading to move up the draft and select Quarterback Jared Goff, it was a signal of the Franchises sudden intent to go from 7-9 every year to a contender in a new city.
The Coach – Sean McVay – 75% Win Ratio with Rams – Youngest Coach to ever appear in a Superbowl.
The QB – Jared Goff – 24 Years old – 3rd year in the NFL – 1st Superbowl – Pick 1 in the 2016 draft.
To call Goff a game manager would be to do the young quarterback a great dis-service. Goff has demonstrated his ability to diagnose NFL defense’s at the line, see his open receiver and hit them in stride.
- 64.9% Completion percentage – 20th in NFL
- 4688 Yards passing – 4th in NFL
- 32 Touchdowns Thrown – 6th in NFL
Jared Goff’s regular season stats are good, while he may not be getting praise for how well this offense has played, he’s been consistent, shown real progress and looks like the end product.
Top 5 players to watch. – In no Particular order.
- Aaron Donald – DT – Touted as the best defensive player in football, Donald is the monster in the middle of the line, if the Rams are to win this Sunday. Donald will have to be at his disruptive best, put pressure on Brady on every snap.
- Todd Gurley – RB – A quiet post season, possibly due to an injury shouldn’t overshadow one of the games best talents. On his day he can carry an offense. The mix of pure ability, teamwork and work ethic make him fun to watch.
- Brandin Cooks – WR – The former Patriot of a year. Cooks will be eager to earn a Superbowl ring after being traded out of New England during the last off-season. Reliable option for Goff, catching 80 of his 117 targets on the year.
- Cory Littleton – LB -An undrafted free agent from the same draft as QB Jared Goff. Team leader is tackles. A player who won’t show up on most people’s radars but a real story and fundamental reason why since that 2016 draft the Rams have built well not just through free agency, but with young talent.
- Robert Woods – WR -If its not Cooks, its Woods. The beauty of this Rams offense is the riches it possesses. A player who its taken 6 years to truly make a splash has been a fundamental piece of this offense, leading the team, in receptions, yards and touchdowns, Also only 2nd in Yards after the catch showing his playmaking ability.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots as the name would suggest are based in the geographical region of New England, specifically the state of Massachusetts, near the city of Boston. The Patriots are no strangers to Superbowl, this will the Franchises 11th in its history, 3rd straight and 9th since 2000 and the combination of Belichek and Brady begun, the greatest coach and player of all time. Simply there is no other franchise quite like them on the big stage in this era.
The Coach – Bill Belichick – 74% Win Ratio with Patriots– Coach with most Superbowl Victories in NFL History
The QB – Tom Brady – 41 Years old – 19th year in the NFL – 9th Superbowl – 5X Superbowl Champion
A veteran to this stage. To me, the greatest NFL player of all time. He may not look the picture perfect athlete, he may be experiencing gradual decline according to some, but Tom Brady is still doing what he does, win games when it matters, elevating his team around him and giving them the opportunity to succeed. Its hard to imagine the Patriots without him.
- 65.8% Completion Percentage – 18th in NFL
- 4355 Yards passing – 7th in NFL
- 29 touchdowns thrown. – 10th in NFL
His regular season stats don’t scream wow, but Brady has been exceptional in the post season and I fully expect Brady to be the man orchestrating him team victory again this Sunday.
Top 5 players to watch. – In no Particular order.
- Rob Gronkowski – TE – Arguably when healthy the most reliable pass catcher in the game, expect Gronk to pivotal to any success the Patriots may have and feature early and often.
- Sony Michel – RB – Michel has been consistent all year, if it wasn’t for missing 3 games, would have easily broken 1000 yards, is already a fundamental piece of the Patriots offense and fun to watch.
- Julian Edelman – WR – If Tom Brady needs someone to make a key catch at a crucial moment to move the chains, Edelman will most likely be the target, his 247 yards off 16 receptions in the 2 playoff games so far show just how valuable is.
- Stephon Gilmore – CB – Since his arrival in New England Gilmore has been outstanding and a near perfect fit. Over the whole season found himself as the highest graded CB by pro football focus across the NFL.
- Kyle Van Noy – LB – When the Patriots are on defense, if you see a player making a tackle for a loss or in the open field, it will likely be Van Noy, underrated or a complete unknown by the casual observer, he has quietly established himself as a key man every time his team takes to the field.
3 Keys to the Game
In this section, I will look to pinpoint the 3 areas or key matchups in the game, where I think eternal glory could be won and a place in history earnt forever.
1.Rams D line vs Pats O Line
Aaron Donald vs David Andrews will be a key battle in this game, how do the Patriots stop the NFL ‘s sack leader, defensive player of the year(in my opinion) and probably he best player in football at the moment, do you try and avoid Donald completely and game plan around that or do you run it straight at him, try test and tire him?
But outside from Donald, the Patriots will have to find a way to stop Suh, Michael Brockers & Mark Barron, this Rams team have built in the trenches and the D-line in particular might be the best in NFL. How ever the Pats do match up well, if they protect Brady from this wrecking crew they could well be crowned champions, Shaq Mason is about as good as you get at guard and certainly alongside Andrews gives them a strong inside. The two tackles can be exploited though so for the Pats to win the key could be how well Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon step up this week on the biggest stage.
2.Rams receivers vs Patriots Secondary
Stephon Gilmore as highlighted above is a stand out player in the Patriots secondary, but the Rams have so many weapons. Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks will be the 2 main targets but receivers such as Josh Reynolds can step up and the ability to make big plays. If Todd Gurley is fit, he could also be a weapon in the passing game. The Rams offense is one that with the inventive play calling of Sean McVay has the ability to move the ball. They’ve found a way all year to do so.
If the Rams can keep this innovation going on offense and the ball moving in the air they are likely to put up points in a hurry, make it more of a shoot out which could suit them. Its up the Patriots Defense especially the secondary to ensure that doesn’t happen.
3.Patriots RB’s and Time of Possession.
Time of possession is crucial, every single playoff game so far this season has been won by the team that has had the ball the most, while this seems like quite an obvious stat, it’s not always the case, in the regular season teams can frequently go on big drives down the field quite quickly while against better opposition in January(and February) a more measured approach is required, and the main part of that is down the teams RB’s.
How well can they perform, can they make crucial 3rd down plays, or bust a big run that changes the game. The Patriots may not appear to most to have a great running game, but with rookie Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White they find a way to consistently chew clock, adjust throughout a game, make first downs and they get the big plays to boot. If those 3 get touches, keep the Rams off the field, New England will win.
I am going to pick in favour of the Patriots, With a score line prediction of 31-27.
Finally a bit of fun, it was great to see UK fan’s vote in numbers on our All32 Facebook page. With over 1400 votes. It turns out not only will most of America be cheering the Rams, so will the UK! Let us know who you will be cheering for and your score predictions on social media, and hey if you liked reading this feel free to share!
Finally if you enjoyed this piece listen in to the ALL32 podcast here. We talk to fans of each team and get a fans view because the fans know best.
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