Pats Rams battle in Super Bowl

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

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This Sunday at 5:30 p.m., the New England Patriots will battle the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta at the biggest game of the year. This game holds so much media attention that it has been analyzed in every angle possible. How the team’s jersey selection affects gameplay, along with the altitude, weather and humidity and how that’ll affect the field of play. How the long half-time show affects players’ health and their abilities.

Only two of the 32 teams made it to the Super Bowl and no matter what team you route for, the Super Bowl will shape the NFL. So whether you route for the Bills, Packers, Bears, Steelers or either two of the Super Bowl teams, let’s take a look at what we need to know to enjoy the game.

Coming out of the NFC, the Rams conquered the Cowboys in the divisional round, 30-22. They then traveled to Louisiana to take on the New Orleans Saints and had a controversial win 26-23 in overtime. NFL referees have confirmed a blown pass interference call that benefited the Rams and ultimately helped them get to the Super Bowl.

Doubting the Rams win in the NFC Championship game won’t matter because I have no doubt in their offense. Led by running back Todd Gurley, this offense can dominate any defense. The former rookie of the year and 2017 offensive player of the year has put on another dominant campaign earning himself and his team All-Pro and a Pro-Bowl selection. He has rushed for the most touchdowns in the NFL at 17, and ran for 1251 rushing yards.

Gurley’s elusiveness as a runner makes him deadly, something head coach Sean McVay has taken advantage of. Running screens and pass routes makes Gurley an elite talent, with all his career matchups and constant attention.

Streaking down the sidelines the Rams wideouts will be Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. Each player has around 1200 yards and they combine for 11 touchdowns. The former Saint, Cooks, is a threat that can beat you downfield or find some open field making a double move. Goff will have options. He used his options to take third in the league for yards per game and first for first downs per game.

McVay will have his hands full trying to keep his young quarterback calm along with the rest of his team. He will also ready his players, and call a game in the biggest event of the year. As the youngest coach in NFL history to make the Super Bowl, his even younger team is looking up to him to get the job done.

On defense the name to watch is Aaron Donald. Over the summer Donald pulled a gamble. He sat out of team events to force their hand. It worked and on Aug. 31, Donald signed a six-year $134 million contract extension. Not only did his pockets grow, but so did his trophy wall. This year Donald led the NFL in sacks, added two player of the month awards and cemented his name at the top of the nomination list for defensive player of the year, an award he won a year ago. His talent and presence will be something the Rams will lean on to win this game.

The Ram’s game plan will be simple: dominate on offense. The Rams can win a shootout. If they can garner a lead and hold on to it, they stand a chance against the other sideline. It will be about running up the score for them, so if you want to bet over, it’s not a bad idea.

The New England Patriots are in their 9th Super Bowl in 18 years. Head coach Bill Belicheck obviously knows what it takes to get and be in this moment. There is no doubt he is ready. Tom Brady is the greatest football player of all time. In the AFC Championship game, the world was against Brady. You could feel the country routing against the dynasty, and yet as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan I knew what was going to happen. I have seen Brady crush many dreams in a two-minute drill. If he has the ball there is no hope. His talents are overwhelming for this league. He has won a handful of Super Bowls in his career and is eying more. He can establish his prominence as the greatest of all time and continue the New England dynasty for many more years to come.

Other than the obvious, the Patriots will look at the running game to help bring the attention off of Brady and his attack. Sony Michel leads the team with just under 1,000 rushing yards, but James White leads the team in overall scrimmage yards for the year. Two years ago, White challenged Brady for the game’s MVP posting a box score of 114 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. These two running backs will be Brady’s anchor to move the ball.

On the receiving end of the ball are Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Gronk has had a quiet year as he recorded only 600 yards and three touchdowns this year. Wide receiver Edelman acquired 850 yards receiving and six touchdowns in just 12 games. Both of these players have proven that they can be dominant. Edelman even has one of the greatest Super Bowl catches under his belt. There is no doubt that Brady will use these two to shred the defense.

On the Patriots defensive side they will look to hold Gurley and stop the big plays. Keeping the game low scoring will help the Patriots chances. Safety Patrick Chung will be in charge of the long ball. He has been apart of two Super Bowls and is considered a top safety; however, the leader of the defense is Kyle Van Noy. The 27-year-old linebacker led the team with 92 tackles and scored his first touchdown of his career in week 17 returning a fumble for 46 yards. It has been his year. He is looking to lead his team to a win on Sunday.

The Patriots will be methodical in their approach. Their game plan will be about eliminating the deep ball and mistakes. No turnovers and penalties will help the Rams play a perfect game. Against Brady, I would put my money on him to find the holes in the Rams defense to win the game.

This game means everything for these teams. Every NFL player, coach, associate and fan looks for his or her team to be in this moment. If you do not have a horse in this race, relax and enjoy the show. If you do, I wish your team the best of luck.

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