This Super Bowl is a matchup of outdated and new: The 66-year-old Bill Belichick shall be educating in direction of the 33-year-old Sean McVay. The 41-year-old Tom Brady shall be starting his ninth Super Bowl, whereas the 24-year-old Jared Goff will play in his first.
A 12 months after being upset in a Super Bowl that set an N.F.L. report for full yards, the Patriots shall be in the hunt for a record-tying sixth Lombardi Trophy, whereas the Rams, having solely not too way back moved once more to Los Angeles, shall be in search of to earn the franchise’s second.
When the Rams Have the Ball
There is further uncertainty to the Rams’ technique to this recreation than you’d depend on, and that uncertainty services on the readiness of working once more Todd Gurley.
No single participant has benefited further from McVay’s tenure in Los Angeles than Gurley — not even Goff. Gurley, a former Georgia star, went from the verge of being known as a bust for averaging an ugly 3.2 yards a carry in 2016 to becoming perhaps the N.F.L.’s most well-rounded working once more.
In 29 video video games beneath McVay, Gurley has 3,924 yards from scrimmage and 40 touchdowns. Quite numerous that is Gurley’s versatility as a runner and pass-catcher, nonetheless he moreover benefits from a system throughout which performs are cleverly disguised. Gurley is surrounded by a steady group of capacity avid gamers, and that helped him face eight males in the subject on solely 8.2 p.c of his carries this season, which was the third-lowest decide amongst licensed working backs, in response to the N.F.L.’s Next Gen Stats database.
But Gurley sustained some knee irritation in Week 15. That compelled him to miss two video video games and most actually torpedoed his chance to be named the N.F.L.’s most useful participant. The Rams wanted to control on the fly in the playoffs, relying an superior deal on C.J. Anderson, a veteran backup who was cut back by every the Carolina Panthers and the Oakland Raiders this season.
Anderson, normally working the ball with security from two tight ends, has already far exceeded expectations, and in the divisional spherical, every he and Gurley thrived. In the N.F.C. championship recreation, nonetheless, Gurley primarily disappeared, blaming his lack of reps on his “sorry” play barely than his balky knee.
The Patriots’ disciplined technique does not lead to a variety of errors, so for Los Angeles to be productive on offense, its success will almost certainly need to return largely from the working recreation. That makes Gurley’s nicely being rather more important.
Belichick has been recognized to focus his safety on eliminating the participant he sees as the largest danger, nonetheless with the uncertainty surrounding Gurley, the Patriots may go in a particular path and work on shutting down the Rams’ prime giant receivers. New England is intimately acquainted with every of them: Brandin Cooks carried out for the Patriots remaining season, and Robert Woods began his occupation in the A.F.C. East collaborating in for the Buffalo Bills.
The Patriots’ safety carried out with fire a bit this season, allowing a imply of 359.1 yards a recreation, which was 23rd in the N.F.L. But they’ve been able to forestall teams from turning yards into elements, allowing opponents merely 20.3 elements, which ranked seventh. That may presumably be a very dangerous technique in direction of Los Angeles when one considers every Gurley and Anderson’s means to punch the ball into the end zone.
When the Patriots Have the Ball
In these playoffs, the Patriots have made a level of starting sturdy. They scored on their opening drive in direction of the Chiefs in the A.F.C. championship recreation, and on their first 4 possessions in direction of the Chargers in the divisional spherical.
New England’s technique for success simply is not exhausting to decipher, however it has proved principally not attainable to stop. It all services on transferring remarkably fast, with Tom Brady alternating between fast throws and handoffs in an technique most interesting described as dying by a thousand cuts.
Numerous situations per recreation an opposing safety will appear to have New England stopped, solely to have a swing go to James White or a second-effort by Julian Edelman protect points going. Depending on one’s perspective, it is each infuriating or inspiring, nonetheless each strategy it actually works.
The variations from remaining season to this one are Brady’s having cooled off some by the use of throwing the ball deep (that’s largely a personnel issue barely than an indication that Brady’s arm has aged) and the Patriots’ having developed Sony Michel, a rookie working once more, proper right into a participant who may be an every-down once more on any workers that didn’t like to mix points up as rather a lot as New England does.
That acquainted technique shall be going up in direction of a Rams safety that produces a variety of game-changing turnovers however as well as has a propensity for giving up massive portions of yards and elements. Wade Phillips, the Rams’ defensive coordinator, has normally confirmed to have a magic contact, and he truly has a proficient group of avid gamers, nonetheless there is a sense that they’ve however to reach their potential. The unit’s reliance on exploiting errors may presumably be an issue in direction of an opponent not recognized for making them.
How It Will Play Out
Thanks to the extended rest, Gurley wants to have the ability to go, and which may make all the distinction for Los Angeles. Establishing his versatility early in the recreation will open up all the issues else and allow Goff to get elements on the scoreboard. That should protect the Rams from falling into the similar hole the Chiefs and the Chargers did.
It is tempting to think about Brady can maintain even when the recreation turns proper right into a shootout, nonetheless Aaron Donald, the Rams’ standout defensive kind out, might be the good disrupter for New England’s offense. If Donald can generate fixed stress up the heart, forcing even delicate errors from Brady, then McVay, a coaching ideas who has already been hailed as the method ahead for the N.F.L., can be capable to be topped king of the league’s present. The recreation will undoubtedly be shut — the Patriots always seem to make it shut — nonetheless the Rams should win.