I have spent a lot of time this week reading, listening and talking about all of the different outcomes for this game. I know that I started out this blog being something for the fantasy football reader, but since the playoffs started I wanted to expand a little bit, hone in on some key points/ factors I thought were truly pertinent to each potential outcome for each game. This NFL playoff period I’m 9-1 in predictions so I hope that in the biggest game of the season I get it right again.
New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams/ Patriots -3 O/U 56.0
Both teams have come out and played their best football the last two weeks, which from a “momentum” stand point is exactly want you want to see if you are a part of either fan base.
There are a billion narratives this week, here are the ones that matter to me and what I think will be parts of the outcome:
The most valuable player, game changer, Todd Gurley. I feel like in the Saints game Todd Gurley was not benched due to performance, he was benched because he is truly hurt. There is now way that I can watch a game or read a summary that looked like this:
Your best player didn’t even have a chance to show you he was ineffective because he wasn’t on the field. I think Gurley was very hurt and he and the Rams did an unbelievable job masking and treating it so he’s able to play each weekend. Has the extra week of rest help him, good possibility? He took three weeks off leading up to the Divisional Round where all he did was help lead back Anderson run all over the Cowboys defense. If the rest has helped and Gurley is at 70% or better, he will make things very tough on the slower Patriots LB group both on the ground and in coverage.
That being said, I think that Bill Belichick’s defense scheme is to focus on that run game. Selling out to be as prepared as possible for both Gurley and Anderson is going to be the focal point for Bill’s defense. That becomes a two-part observation, if Gurley is on the field you need to be prepared for the Rams offensive personnel schemes both running and passing the ball. If Anderson is on the field, playing him straight up is easier because he doesn’t have the hands or route running ability of Gurley.
The Patriots secondary needs to be prepared for offensive mastermind Sean McVay’s ability to create plays using play action and forcing your playmakers to step up. I do think last week’s test in holding Mahomes, Hill and Kelce to zero points in the first half of the AFC Championship tells me Bill can get it done.
Also keying in on last week’s game against the Chiefs and Belichick’s defensive game plan, my major take away coming into Super Bowl week is this: Jared Goff is nowhere near the type of elite offensive talent that Patrick Mahomes is. Goff is very, very good. Goff however showed weakness at the beginning of the Saints game when it came to crowd noise and managing drives, missing plays and not moving the ball. To Goff’s benefit his defense stepped up in the second quarter and the rest of the game so that the Rams could get back into it. Tom Brady will not let you do that. Bress seemed slow and weak coming into the end of the season and the playoffs, he was unable to put that game away. If the Patriots can defensively come close to accomplishing what they did against the most explosive quarterback this season in Mahomes last week in his building, tomorrow, Goff is in for a long day.
Absolutely firing on all cylinders, New England Patriots show up for their 9th Super Bowl in the Brady/ Belichick area. This run that was supposed to end 10 years ago won’t stop. Coming off a Super Bowl loss last year to the Philadelphia Eagles in which, arguably, their best defensive back was benched during the National Anthem forcing 3rd and 4th options to cover players like Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery doesn’t do any team any good ever. Especially in the biggest game of the year. Brady did everything he could last year throwing for 505 yards and being a strip sack away from completing another miracle game winning drive. This year will not be like last year. Those players all walked away from that game angry and those guys that are still here will show you that tomorrow. Tom Brady is a killer. If you think for one second guys like Donald, Suh, Peters or Talibintimidate Brady, you just have a bias and hate New England’s success.
Tom Brady is like Rorschach from The Watchman. The Rams will be locked in Brady’s prison and there will be nothing they can do about it.
Next on my list is Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. The Patriots offensive line is up for O Line of the Year honors. In the last two weeks alone against the likes of pass rushers such as Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Dee Ford and Justin Houston just to name a few, Tom Brady has been sacked zero times, and had have given up one, 1 QB hit. The likes of Donkey Kong Suh, Dante Fowler and DPOY (most likely) Aaron Donald they will be a tall order for the Patriots to try to neutralize. I have heard Suh has turned it on recently, he strikes me as a minimal effort type of guy until there’s a Super Bowl on the line. I think effort like that is too little too late. This offensive line is clicking and they should be able to give Tom the time he needs to get the ball out.
Speaking of Tom Terrific, I can’t imagine a world, where Gronkon the edge of retirement, Edelman getting a year older doesn’t go all out and leave it on the field. That to me is something in these games Tom has always done. I think tomorrow he finds a way to get it done. Whether its attacking admitted DPI offender and bulletin board material creating Nickell Roby-Coleman or lining Gronk up on the outside and looking for single coverage Tom Brady should be able to pick apart a defense that has had its missteps all season long. I also can’t imagine a world were Tom Brady losses back to back Super Bowls.
The seasoned poise of the defensive minded Bill Belichick is something I’m taking over new hot shot Sean McVay. When I saw the role of the “get back guy”, I said there is no way someone who can’t stand on his sideline without hiring someone to keep him there like a 2-year-old with a pack back leash can beat Belichick. I’m standing by that. Belichick did something two weeks ago he hadn’t previously done which was keep Tyreek Hill in total check. One catch with about 5 minutes left in the second quarter for the entire game tells me this coach, his scheme and his team are ready to get one they may have left out there last year.
The pick is in: I am going with the Patriots. SU and ATS. I think the firm of Tom, Bill and Robert take care of business in a way the last 8 Super Bowls have not gone. Leading and controlling the game. Playing on their terms. They have been to this dance plenty of time to have their planning and preparation set. I think the bright lights will be too much for Jared Goff and his wild coach McVay.
Thanks to everyone who’s read my updates and predictions so far since I began a month ago. Full Super Bowl recap and the winner of my Fantasy Playoff League blog next week. Follow me on Twitter at @1MoreLeague for new posts. Thanks for everything!