Submitted by Jim Feist on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at 12:00 AM
The NFL brings us their big show and it will be a great one for 2019.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick bring us the 2019 version of the New England Patriots and they are good - as usual. We all heard from the beginning of the season how this is the end of their run. Sure, the end is coming, it's just not this season. This year's edition of the Patriots team took its time to get serious about putting all the pieces together, make them fit and work well. That is not unusual for a Belichick team, as he treats the month of September as an extension of the preseason. The important thing for "Hoodie" and I agree, is to be playing your best when you get to the playoffs. And that is certainly the case for this year's Patriots team.
We all know that father time is undefeated. We also know that youth will inherit the earth, so to speak. The Rams are an example of that youth movement, led by HC Sean McVay, who just turned 33 years old, and a young QB in Jared Goff. McVay was the youngest head coach in the league this year. Moreover, McVay is an Atlanta native, so that makes this Super Bowl somewhat of a homecoming for the coach. The matchup of the Patriots vs the Rams is a mismatch, at least where experience counts. However, if that were the only handicapping factor, we would all be lining up on the Pats for an easy win, which might trigger Bill and Tom to hang it up for good.
Experience is not the only factor and certainly not the most important in this Super Bowl. Belichick and McVay might be 35 years apart in age, but they are not nearly that far apart in skills. This game will come down to who comes up with the offensive and defensive schemes to take advantage of their opponent. A majority of those schemes will come from assistant coaches and their meetings with the head coach during the two-week break. When it comes to game time, which QB do you want to be making critical decisions in split seconds while the pressure is on? What QB, Brady or Goff is most likely to be able to read defenses and keep from making big mistakes? I think most would answer Brady is best suited for the job. In my opinion, the Rams have the better overall roster, but the Patriots have the edge in scheme.
The way the Patriots control the clock and time of possession with the short passing game and runs will cut off one of the Rams strengths, the pass rush. No one can argue with the talent the Rams have on the defensive line, with Dante Fowler Jr, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Even "Hoodie" says Donald is impossible to block. (A little head game I suspect.) McVay, of course, is too smart not to anticipate what the Patriots will be doing and making solid adjustments as the game progresses. He will bring up his defense to cut off the short passing lanes. However, by doing so, some deeper plays will be available to the Patriot wideouts.
On offense, McVay will first try and protect Goff by utilizing both of his running backs and attack with the rush, which will be a handful for the Patriots to stop. The Saints did a great job cutting off the running lanes in the Championship game, but will be challenged here with Todd Gurley and monster C.J Anderson. I'm sure Belichick will have watched how effective the zone blocking was in that game. The game is being played indoors and in perfect conditions, so I expect both teams will be very efficient on both offense and defense with no weather to worry about. I expect a very strong performance by both defenses. These teams know what the other is capable of doing and expect both coaches to add a few new wrinkles that the other has not seen as of yet.
History of Patriots Super Bowls lean to very close games. The line on the game opened the Rams pick or minus one. Since then, the money has flowed in on the Patriots and the line now is New England minus 2 or 2 ½. The total was 58 and is now 56 ½.
Good Luck and Enjoy the game.
by Jim Feist