After the dust settled in the NFC and AFC Championship, the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots were the last two teams standing in the NFL. It’s a controversial matchup, there is no denying that. Controversial in the sense that the Rams caught a huge break with the no-call on the pass interference late in regulation in the NFC Championship.
There isn’t anyone, even the most biased of fans, who believed it wasn’t pass interference. The officials could have also thrown a flag on the contact to the head. At any rate, the call was missed, and they also missed calls that should have been called against the Saints, albeit not as clear and at a critical point in the game as the no-call PI. The whole thing typifies just how bad NFL referees have been this season. It came to a head in the NFC Championship.
We can only hope that there isn’t another officiating controversy in the Super Bowl. There will undoubtedly be calls that are going to enrage one side, though. Fingers crossed it isn’t anything like what happened between the Rams and Saints. In any event, this is quite the matchup, as the Rams and Patriots vie for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
As the season progressed, and people were watching the Rams dominate, I don’t think it’s any surprise that they are playing in the Super Bowl. It was a tossup in many cases between the Saints and Rams, and in the end, their showdown in the NFC Championship ultimately developed into a tossup.
The same could be said for the AFC Championship. Although, confidence in the Patriots getting back to the Super Bowl was not as high. They seemed to be going through the motions in the regular season, but finished with the second best record in the AFC at 11-5.
For a team like the Pats, that is what going through the motions means. Brady slowing down? Well, he’s one win away from winning another Super Bowl, so what he did earlier in the season is pretty irrelevant now. The world seemed to be on the Chiefs last week, but I wasn’t ready to fade Brady and Belichick.
For the purposes of this article, we are handicapping the Over Under in Super Bowl LIII. You can find a pick for the spread on our NFL picks page this week. Along with the total and spread, there are a multitude of ways to bet on the Super Bowl. If you are not confident in traditional bets, there are other options like prop bets from just about anything going on in this game. Head below for our free Patriots vs. Rams Over Under pick in Super Bowl LIII.
New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl LIII Betting Odds:
Super Bowl betting odds provided by bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Rams Pick:
I said the same thing in the Divisional Round against the Chargers and AFC Championship against the Chiefs and I will say it again. It’s necessary to generate pressure on Brady or you’re setting your team up for failure. The Chargers and Chiefs failed to do just that and look at where they are. Just one or two timely sacks by the Chiefs may have changed the dynamic of that game in a big way.
The New England offensive line has been critical in their quest of getting back to the Super Bowl. A question mark has suddenly turned into an MVP unit for the Patriots. Plenty of credit should be given to Dante Scarnecchia for getting the Patriots’ offensive line playing at this level. Belichick talked Scarnecchia out of retirement and it’s paid off in New England.
With that said, here we are at the Super Bowl, and it’s going to be the same narrative for the Rams. They must get Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh disrupting their offensive line from the get-go. They cannot allow Brady to get into a rhythm, which is easier said than done.
The Eagles were fortunate to win the Super Bowl last season despite Brady passing for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns. I don’t foresee the Rams getting out of Sunday with the Vince Lombardi Trophy if they allow something like that to happen.
The Patriots are not stupid and are aware that holding Donald and Suh in check upfront is a key to this game. I expect the Pats to utilize quick passes often to limit their ability to make plays in the backfield. The Rams were killed last week by Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. He caught 11 balls for 96 yards receiving. It’s certainly worth noting against a Patriots team who is one of the best in the league at getting running backs involved in the passing game. The Rams like to play a zone set defensively, but if they continue to get worked underneath, they may have to adjust.
The Patriots have more than one option in the backfield to get involved in this game. Along with James White, the Rams will have to keep tabs on Rex Burkhead and Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is not a natural running back, though the Pats like to use him in screens, flip passes, and sweeps. Along with his ability to return a kickoff, I think he could develop into an x-factor in Super Bowl LIII.
Gronkowski has had a down season, but you can’t ignore him either. He proved to be valuable with clutch receptions in the AFC Championship. Then there is Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Philip Dorsett to keep an eye on, too. Without one single target for the defense to zero in on, it makes this Patriots’ offense dangerous without an immense amount of flash.
The Rams head into the Super Bowl as the 7th best team out of the 12 playoff squads against the pass. They allowed 250 yards per game against the Cowboys and Saints. It was a nice showing against the Saints, but the Patriots are a totally different offensive system to prepare for. They can attack a defense from anywhere on the field. Note that Brady went 6-0 with a 71% completion rate against teams that went to the playoffs this season. Despite some duds against teams like the Lions, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Titans, Brady always seems to get up for the spotlight.
Jared Goff has ample talent around him to move the ball as well. Losing Cooper Kupp has hurt, but there is still more than enough in the offense, including former Patriot, Brandin Cooks, who is going to have a little more motivation to impress in front of his old boss. Cooks led the Rams with 107 yards receiving in the NFC Championship.
His speed should be able to give the older legs of Devin McCourty difficulty deep. While Patterson may be an x-factor for the Pats, look out for Josh Reynolds emerging as a viable option in this game for Goff. The presence of Reynolds and Robert Woods should give Cooks room downfield. Todd Gurley had just 4 touches for 10 yards against the Saints, but has stressed that he is healthy. The Patriots have allowed 29.5 points per game in the postseason for 12th, though they were underrated with 20.3 points allowed per game in the regular season.
The way this game plays out could very well be similar to what happened in the AFC Championship. A slow first-half which leads to an explosive second-half. Maybe not slow enough for only 2 touchdowns, but I expect fireworks after halftime. The Pats and Rams are likely to feel each other out early and then things will open up. While the Eagles beat the Patriots last season, their good defense had no answers for a Belichick led team with two weeks to prepare.
They will find holes to exploit in the Rams’ defense. For how long can the Patriots contain the Rams, though? I think they can manage a timely turnover against Goff, but not before he does some damage to their defense. Sean McVay is going to have two or three things up his sleeve in this one. I like a 36-27 final score in Super Bowl LIII. That would ultimately provide enough points to land on the OVER in Atlanta.