The New England Patriots will square off against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3 — a rematch 17 years in the making.
This is the Patriots’ third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Two years ago they beat the Atlanta Falcons but lost last year to the Philadelphia Eagles.
This season, the Patriots went 11-5 and captured the No. 2 seed in the AFC Playoffs, where they defeated the Los Angeles Chargers in a blowout and the Kansas City Chiefs in an instant-classic AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots are once again anchored by the future Hall of Fame tandem of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, with new additions Sony Michel and Trent Brown reviving the ground game. The team boasted the No. 4-ranked offense and No. 7-ranked defense in what, compared to recent seasons, was a down year for them.
The Los Angeles Rams built on last year’s impressive season, sporting the No. 2-ranked offense this year in the NFL engineered by offensive wunderkind head coach Sean McVay. The storyline during the off-season for the Rams was defined by their big moves, most notably with trading a first round pick to New England for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, signing notorious defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and trading two draft picks to Kansas City for cornerback Marcus Peters.
These new “Hollywood Heroes” took the NFL by storm, running roughshod through the regular season to a 13-3 record and the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Third-year quarterback Jared Goff improved upon his first season with McVay to turn in a career year, while All-Pro running back Todd Gurley III rushed for a career high 17 touchdowns.
Los Angeles aims to lift the Lombardi trophy for the first time since 1999. To do so, they will have to overcome the most dominant franchise of the decade in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI in 2001, in which New England won 20-17 at the buzzer. Both teams look wildly different than the last time they met on the Super Bowl field, save for Brady and Belichick, and look poised for an exciting match.
The key areas to watch in the game will be each teams’ defensive lines. For the Rams, they will need to pressure Brady from the inside and disrupt the pocket so he’s forced into poor decisions on the field. It’s the blueprint used by the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, two teams who have managed to beat New England in the Super Bowl.
For the Patriots, pressure on Goff is important, but containing both running backs for LA, Gurley and C.J. Anderson, takes priority. In the NFC title game, New Orleans was able to hold both at bay and styme the LA. offense until well into the second quarter. Containing the ground game hurts McVay’s play option decisions and benefits the Patriots.
Either way the game shakes out, Feb. 3 will offer an exciting chapter in each of the teams’ histories.
SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS
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