This year’s Super Bowl Prediction has me in a quandary. On the one hand, I very much want to see the McVay led Rams show up the Patriots because McVay’s offensive system just landed in Green Bay this off-season in the form of Matt LeFleur. On the other hand, I don’t feel it is wise to bet against the Patriots and their experience in the Super Bowl is going to be a significant advantage. So this year’s Super Bowl prediction may sound more like a “Path to Victory” for the Rams. Here are my thoughts:
The Patriots’ short passing game is a huge danger to the Rams in my opinion. Tom Brady standing in a clean pocket delivering darts should be the Rams’ biggest nightmare. Enter Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. If Donald (just named Defensive Player of the Year) and Suh (hated in Packer Nation) have a big day, then Brady won’t have a clean pocket. The Achilles heel of Tom Brady is pressure. His passer rating in the Super Bowl when pressured is barely over 60% when facing interior pressure. When facing outside pressure it is over 118%. The defensive key to this game is the interior pressure. I have been saying for years that interior pressure is the key to defeating teams led by elite quarterbacks and if the Rams want to have a chance in this game, Donald and Suh need to come up big.
The Rams’ running backs coach Skip Peete has made clear that the Rams will operate as a running back by committee in the Super Bowl. While I have an inkling that this could be smoke and mirrors, the fact that remains regardless is A. The Patriots are going to scheme to shut down the run like they did against the Chiefs and B. The Rams must run the ball effectively to have a chance in this game.
The Rams running game is key to Jared Goff’s success. Whether it be Gurley or CJ Anderson, the Rams need to have some clock management in this game and keep it out of Brady’s hand for long enough to keep themselves in position to win. If they run the ball, they will have an effective passing game and Goff will be able to keep the Rams in it perhaps scoring a late TD to win it all.
While it goes without saying that the team that wins the turnover battle usually wins the game, for the Rams I think it is critical that they get that one turnover, perhaps late in the game, that gives them the edge. Without it, the Patriots just are too methodical and I doubt if in the end they will have enough to get the win.
While I would love for Tom Brady to begin to show his age and throw a pick, I think the best bet for the Rams is to get a strip-sack by Donald or Suh to turn the tide. I believe that the Patriots will have taken note of the way that Suh has come on in the playoffs and will have a plan in place for him. But with both of those guys in the middle, the Rams should be able to get to Brady and hopefully get that critical turnover.
If the Rams can run the ball against a Patriots team that no doubt will be hell-bent on forcing Goff to throw, and the interior pressure of the Rams gets to Tom Brady, I think the Rams can pull off the upset even though they are currently 2.5 point underdogs.
My prediction: Rams 31 Patriots 28