Super Bowl 53: Cementing a Legacy, or Starting One?
Two controversial championship games have given us the most intriguing Super Bowl in years. But for both franchises, a Super Bowl win would mean different things.
There’s a weird feeling surrounding the Super Bowl this year. Both of these teams got lucky getting here: the Los Angeles Rams benefiting from the worst missed call in NFL playoff history, and the Patriots avoiding disaster by a foolish offsides penalty. The week leading up to the big game in Atlanta has been dominated by Commissioner Roger Goodell admitting there was a blown call in the NFC title game, so much so that there hasn’t been the hype we’ve seen in years past. Regardless, the Rams and Patriots will battle it out for the game’s ultimate prize, and for each team, a Super Bowl win would mean something entirely different.
This Patriots dynasty is among the greatest in all sports, and it isn’t surprising to see Tom Brady for his ninth appearance. Though there was talk about the team Brady’s team not having the most talent, they still finished 11-5 with a first round bye. The Patriots will be going for their sixth Lombardi trophy in the Brady-Belichick era and have somehow tricked the public into thinking they’re the underdogs.
Make no mistake, the Pats have found their groove down the stretch. If they want to add another trophy to the collection, the key is for the defensive line to create pressure on Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Over the last couple of games in the regular season, the Bears and Eagles, who beat the Rams created outstanding pressure on Goff, forcing five interceptions in just those two games. Any QB will struggle with that kind of pressure, but in order to bottle up this explosive offense, they cannot give him time in the pocket, or he will pick apart this soft secondary.
Before this season started, the Rams made a series of moves that catapulted them to Super Bowl favourites: signing Ndamukong Suh to pair him up with defensive stalwart Aaron Donald, adding Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to a weak secondary, and all of a sudden, they became the most complete team in the NFL. However, the defense was routinely toasted throughout the year, and though the run defense has become a lot better in the postseason, if the Rams are going to win the Super Bowl, it’s going to be up to Goff to take care of the ball and be spectacular as he was for most of the year.
He threw for 32 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, and against the Patriots weak secondary, the third-year pro can feast all day. Todd Gurley hasn’t been healthy and hasn’t produced in the run game. The Rams have gone to CJ Anderson, who’s been a pleasant surprise joining the team a little over a month ago and rumbling through defenses. If they can establish the run, the play-action will be there and Goff can get Gurley in space and dominate on the outside.
Who will win?
On paper, the Rams have more talent, and coach Sean McVay has already established himself as one of the best coaches in the game. A Super Bowl for Los Angeles would be a great story, especially in their second year in Cali. Yet it’s Tom Brady, it’s the New England Patriots, it’s Bill Belichick. And after seeing what they did to the high-powered Chiefs, it’s difficult to see how they wouldn’t be able to exploit similar matchups. As much as it pains me to say, I got the Patriots winning 28-24 on a vintage Brady game-winning drive.