HEAD TO HEAD: Super Bowl LIII Prediction


Photo credit/ Autumn Bohner

Brendan Murphy and Nicolo Manzo go Head to Head over Super Bowl LIII

Nicolo Manzo

Brendan: Rams

Stop the presses. The New England Patriots are going to the Super Bowl again. Never thought we’d see that. The three-time defending American Football Conference (AFC) Champions will take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Let’s take a look at how each team got here.

The Patriots are coming off one of their more underwhelming seasons in Brady’s tenure as the starter, but don’t tell them that. They were the underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. To put that into perspective, Tom Brady hadn’t been the underdog in an NFL game since November 30, 2014 in a game against the Packers. The Patriots took it to heart as they beat the Chiefs in overtime.

The Rams are making their fourth Super Bowl appearance overall and the first since their loss to the Patriots 18 years ago, when the team was still in St. Louis. In the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship game, the Rams beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime, but if it wasn’t for a blown pass interference call, the Saints would likely be in this game.

Now it’s time to talk Super Bowl LIII.

Both of these teams have had great seasons and are more than deserving of being in the Super Bowl. Both teams sport elite offenses and middle of the pack defenses. The biggest advantage that either team has over the other is experience, and the Patriots have a whole lot of it.

The Rams have arguably the best running back in football in Todd Gurley and yet they won the NFC Championship despite the All-Pro only carrying the ball four times for ten yards, although he did score the game’s first touchdown. Gurley and backup C.J. Anderson accounted for over 200 yards on the ground in the divisional round against the Dallas Cowboys. If the Rams want to win this game, they need to attack the Patriots on the ground.

On the other side for the Patriots, everyone underestimates their running game. They don’t have a star running back, but the three-headed monster of James White, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead is very effective. With the Rams sporting the 23rd-ranked rushing defense, a good rushing attack will be a key part into securing a record-tying sixth Super Bowl for the Pats.

The Rams have a great quarterback in Jared Goff, who will need to attack the weak secondary of the Patriots. Receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods will need to spread the field and attack the Patriots deep downfield, which worked well for the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.

The Patriots quarterback needs no introduction. Tom Brady is without question the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady’s top targets, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, have been with him for the last two Super Bowls. Brady needs to let the passing game work off the run game if he wants to take home his sixth Super Bowl ring.

The Patriots are a 2.5-point favorite at the moment and have a great chance to take home another Lombardi trophy. The Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV back in 1999 and will look to bring home their second Super Bowl title.

These two teams are pretty evenly matched, which makes it really difficult to make a pick.

It is safe to say that, as a New York Jets fan, I absolutely hate the New England Patriots, but have nothing but respect for how good they are. As bad as it is to bet against Tom Brady, I’m going with the Rams for one reason and one reason only: Aaron Donald.

The defensive tackle is arguably the best defensive player in football and has the ability to disrupt any passer, including Tom Brady. Brady hasn’t been sacked in the postseason but I expect that to change on Sunday with Donald running after him. Give me the Rams 34-31.

Nicolo: Patriots

Well, here we are again. Another year and another Super Bowl appearance for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. This is the ninth Super Bowl appearance in the Brady/Belichick era.

Now, let’s break down the game.

The first area where the Patriots have a major advantage is experience. The Rams are a lively and motivated team, but experience is something that cannot be taught.

Brady and Belichick have been in seemingly every Super Bowl scenario possible. You’d better believe that they won’t beat themselves. The Patriots’ motto, as always, is a simple yet effective one: “Do your job.” If the Rams are to win, they will have to earn it.

The teams both boast top-five offenses in scoring and yards per game (YPG) according to NFL.com. On the defensive side of the ball, the Pats are 12th to the Rams’ 14th in YPG, but New England sports the seventh best defense in terms of points allowed while the Rams sit at 19th.

The way I look at this game is that Brady and the Patriots are going to score. That seems like a given. It will be up to the Rams to keep up like the Eagles did last year. We all know how impressive the Ram offense has been this year, but this is a new stage for Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and company.

The Rams haven’t been slouches in the playoffs, but the Patriots have put up 78 points in their two postseason games this year.

The next thing is coaching. Sean McVay looks like a superstar coach in the making, but whenever Bill Belichick is staring across the field at you, you are the second-best coach that day.

Timing feels like it has a lot to do with this game as Patriots just look to be on another level at the moment. First, they steamrolled a quality Chargers team with lots of talent on both sides of the ball. Next, they went into Kansas City to do battle with the league’s top offense in a hostile environment and prevailed in overtime. The Kansas City win was a very Patriot-esque win in that when they needed big plays, they got them, especially from Tom Brady. Some haters may say that they got lucky again, but after nine Super Bowl appearances, that starts to get old.

We can look at stats all we want in order to try to compare these two teams. On paper, the game figures to be a close contest with the Rams actually opening as a one point favorite.

However, this is the bottom line: this is the Patriots and Tom Brady (the G.O.A.T.) we are talking about here. If you’ve ever talked football with me, you would know that I have one credo that I abide by above all else– I NEVER BET AGAINST TOM BRADY.

I’ve made some exceptions (like with my Eagles last year), but I cannot bring myself to pick against Brady or the Patriots in this game. That, in addition to the reasons I gave before, is enough for me to feel confident in predicting a 34-24 Patriots victory on Super Bowl Sunday 2019.

Contact the writers: Brendan- [email protected]

Nicolo- [email protected]

Twitter: Brendan- @B_Murphy_TWW

Nicolo- @NManzoTWW