One of the biggest spectacles in the sporting world takes place this Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia as around 75,000 fans will pack into the Mercedes-Benz Arena, with a worldwide audience in hundreds of millions viewing across the globe, to watch as the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots go head to head to try and claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Superbowl LIII.
The game is more than a standard American Football match up, with a pre-game National Anthem sung by legend Gladys Knight and a massive half-time show headlining Maroon 5 amongst others to keep fans and those watching in their millions entertained.
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The game itself should be a classic as it is a battle between two teams whose biggest strengths are on offense and who both have a tendency to concede points in games. As such, there is real potential for Sunday’s game to be a lights-out shootout between the two teams as the likes of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman go head to head against the Rams Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks.
So how do both the teams shape up and who will eventually come out on top in what should be a pulsating game between the AFC and NFC Champions? Let’s take a closer look at each team and find out.
New England Patriots
- Owner – Robert Kraft
- Headcoach – Bill Belichick
- Home Field – Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. (66,829)
- Regular Season Record – 11-5 (Won AFC West, 2nd Seed in AFC Conference)
- Divisional Playoff – v San Diego Chargers (W 41-28)
- AFC Championship Game – v Kansas City Chiefs (W 37-31 in Overtime)
- Superbowl Wins – 5 – 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017
- Star Man – Tom Brady (Quarterback)
Patriots in 2018
Pre Season – v Washington Redskins (W), v Philadelphia Eagles (W), v Carolina Panthers (L), v New York Giants (W)
Regular Season Victories – Houston Texans. Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills (2), Green Bay Packers, New York Jets (2), Minnesota Vikings
Regular Season Losses – Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers
Having endured being written off somewhat in the press and by other teams fans, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took great delight in proving many people wrong with their win over Kansas City to claim another Superbowl berth, their fourth in the past five years.
Brady has led the team to all five of its Superbowl victories, as well as three defeats in the final game of the season, and the bookmakers have New England as the favourites to win the game, despite that free-scoring Rams offense looking so potent throughout the season.
Part of the reason for that is Bill Belichick’s brilliant scheming for these games, and the fact that Tom Brady can put those plans into action flawlessly. He may be pushing beyond 40 nowadays, but his arm remains very strong and provided he isn’t asked to use his legs too often, Brady remains an elite player and perhaps the Greatest of All-Time.
If New England have a weakness then it is on defence where the team has shipped points at times and if they are to win the Superbowl, then Belichick and his defence are going to need a way to stop the Rams high powered offense from racking up the points.
Los Angeles Rams
- Owner – Stan Kroenke
- Headcoach – Sean McVay
- Home Field – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, California (78,467)
- Regular Season Record – 13-3 (Won NFC West, 2nd Seed in NFC Conference)
- Divisional Playoff – v Dallas Cowboys (W 30-22)
- AFC Championship Game – v New Orleans Saints (W 26-23 in Overtime)
- Superbowl Wins – 1 – 1999
- Star Man – Aaron Donald (Defensive Lineman)
Rams in 2018
Pre Season – v Baltimore Ravens (L), v Oakland Raiders (W), v Houston Texans (W), v New Orleans Saints (L)
Regular Season Victories – v Oakland Raiders, v Arizona Cardinals (2), v Los Angeles Chargers, v Minnesota Vikings, v Seattle Seahawks (2), v Denver Broncos, v San Francisco 49ers (2), v Green Bay Packers, v Kansas City Chiefs, v Detroit Lions
Regular Season Losses – v New Orleans Saints, v Chicago Bears, v Philadelphia Eagles
The Rams started the season as the team to beat in the NFL, they won all of their opening eight games of the regular season before coming unstuck in their first loss to the New Orleans Saints, a defeat which would ultimately rob them of top seed in the NFC with New Orleans finishing their season on the same 13-3 record as the Rams.
Like the Patriots, the Rams enjoyed wins over Kansas City, Green Bay and Minnesota but unlike the Patriots, they also got the better of Detroit too. They also played four games against AFC teams, winning all of them (Denver, Oakland, Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City).
The Rams offense is a multi-talented one starting with the calming influence of Jared Goff at quarterback. The explosiveness comes from a very talented receiving corp and the pace and power of Todd Gurley at running back, although Gurley did sit out most of the NFC Championship game, perhaps with a slight injury and it will be interesting to see how much he features against the Patriots.
On defence the Rams do concede points mainly through their secondary being poor but on the line they have some top quality players with Aaron Donald, with over 20 sacks in the regular season, the man to watch. If Donald, along with other key men such as Fowler Jr and Suh, can disrupt Tom Brady in the pocket then the Rams chance of success is markedly increased.
Who wins, Rams or the Patriots?
This isn’t an easy one to call as both the teams look well-matched. I think the Patriots have the edge in experience, coaching skill and quality at QB, all of which could be vital but the one spanner in the works is Donald on the Rams defence. If Donald can chew up the offensive line of New England and get at Brady, then the Rams can win this despite being the 23/20 underdogs.