The Patriots and Rams are still a couple of days away from arriving in Atlanta but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to dive into the matchup in Super Bowl LIII. Both teams are playing excellent football and have plenty of positives going for them.
Los Angeles has been explosive on offense all season with young Jared Goff operating Sean McVay’s offense with great efficiency. He has a couple of effective wideouts in Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, and the Rams also feature a two-headed backfield combination of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson that has been productive as well.
Defensively, the Rams featured presumptive NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald on the inside and he no doubt will occupy plenty of attention from the Patriots offensive line. They also have a pair of ball-hawking corners in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, so it’s not a one-dimensional opponent.
The Patriots story is well-known. After struggling for large portions of the regular season the offense has been balanced and dominant in the postseason. But can they keep that going for one more game?
This week’s Samsonite Make Your Case question focuses on how New England might be able to do that. What is the key for the Patriots to the beat the Rams in Super Bowl LIII?
PFW’s Andy Hart says …
The big guys up front have been the key to success in the playoffs so far, so why stop now? The combination of pass protection and run blocking has been absolutely superb in the first two games, and that was going against talented players such as Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Chris Jones. It won’t get any easier against Los Angeles’ fearsome inside duo Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
Donald will win his second straight NFL Defensive Player of the Year award with good reason. He led the league in sacks with 20.5, an absurd number for an interior pass rusher, and he also is as disruptive as any defender in the league against the run.
His quickness will be a huge test for interior guys Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason, but the way they’ve played thus far in the postseason should provide lots of confidence for Patriots fans. The line has been disciplined and tough, barely missing any assignments or committing any penalties in two games.
If that continues, the Patriots will return with a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
PFW’s Paul Perillo says …
STOPPING THE RUN
Bill Belichick is often credited with taking one thing away from an opposing offense and making them live without one of their staples. To me that means stopping Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson to make the Rams one-dimensional.
The Rams may have one of the most explosive offenses in football, but since Cooper Kupp was lost for the season with a knee injury they haven’t been quite as dangerous. Kupp’s loss has hurt the passing game, and Jared Goff now relies more than ever on Gurley and Anderson to get things going on the ground.
The Patriots run defense has been stout in the playoffs, and that will need to continue. Gurley is coming off a terrible performance in the NFC title game and he’ll be looking to redeem himself in Atlanta. If he can’t get going, that will put all the pressure on Goff. If that happens, the Patriots defense will be in a great spot.
Stop the run, and the rest will follow.