Predicting the play

The Chronicle sports staff members make their predictions for Sunday's Rams-Patriots Super Bowl

By on January 29, 2019

Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots is set to kick off on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in Atlanta. The Rams, led by quarterback Jared Goff and coach Sean McVay, are in their first Super Bowl since February 2002 when they lost to…the Patriots. New England is now in its fourth Super Bowl in the past five years, including three in a row and its ninth since 2002. Here are some predictions from The Chronicle sports staff.

Bryan Murphy, Sports Editor

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and once again, the beloved New England Patriots will be partaking, going up against the Los Angeles Rams. Everyone was doubting the Patriots coming into the postseason, saying Brady is too old, Gronkowski isn’t a threat anymore, Edelman isn’t good enough. Well hate to tell you, but as long as it’s the playoffs, the Patriots are contenders.

The Patriots won a real tough game in the AFC Championship against the Kansas City Chiefs and for me at least, that should’ve shut the haters up. Brady was throwing darts out into tight windows (@ Max Kellerman), Edelman was all over the field and even Gronk added a nice 6 catches for 79 yards, including one to complete a third down in OT.

But the biggest takeaway from that game has to be the offensive line. Brady’s jersey looked brand new at the end of the game. That’s because the Patriots offensive line stopped the likes of Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Chris Jones from getting to their QB and allowed him time in the pocket.

On the other side is the LA Rams. It has been a dominant team all year long. The Rams have arguably the best running back in Todd Gurley, a formidable defensive line and a head coach who isn’t afraid to expand the playbooks and take risks.

The Rams did not look their best to start against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship, falling in a 13-0 hole at the end of the first quarter. But Jared Goff began slinging it and the defense came up big when needed most. And that defensive line caused big trouble for the Saints.

That is exactly what is going to be the difference maker in the Super Bowl. Can the Patriots’ offensive line play even better against the Rams’ more dangerous D-line. The Chiefs had more of dominant edge-rushers. The Rams have guys like Aaron Donald who can shred you up the middle.

I will never bet against Tom Brady in a Super Bowl. I don’t see a situation where the Patriots lose back-to-back Super Bowls. The Rams are inexperienced in the postseason and that will influence the outcome. 

Prediction – Patriots 31, Rams 27

Logan Reardon, Web Director

This Super Bowl holds a special place in my heart. Bryan just mentioned all the stats and narratives surrounding both sides, so here’s a little personal note before diving into the game. The year is 2002, Feb. 3 to be exact. Head coach Bill Belichick, 49, and quarterback Tom Brady, 24, win their first Super Bowl together against the high-powered St. Louis Rams. In a small town near Foxboro, Massachusetts (the Patriots’ home), a four-year-old boy watches it happen. Granted, I don’t remember much of anything from this game. My first memory of the Patriots run came two years later, on Feb. 1, 2004 when Belichick and Brady won their second Super Bowl. They have added three more since, and are now going for their sixth on Sunday against – who else – the Los Angeles Rams. Now, a 21-year-old man will watch the same coach, 66, and quarterback, 41, play on the same stage against the same franchise that started it all. Outside of family, Brady and Belichick are the two most reliable and consistent people in my life – and I’m sure anyone my age from Massachusetts would say the same.

If you’re still with me, I’m going to talk about the game now so buckle up. The final four featured the four best teams, and I think the final two teams alive feature the two best coaches out of that bunch. Bill Belichick and Sean McVay are both masterminds. The 33-year age gap between the 66-year-old and 33-year-old is the largest in Super Bowl history. The 17-year age gap between Brady, 41, and Rams quarterback Jared Goff, 24, is the largest in Super Bowl history. I tend to lean toward experience in big games, and it’s never a good idea to bet against Brady and Belichick. The Rams weak linebacker group leaves them vulnerable against the Patriots’ tendency of quick passes, and I think that’s where Belichick exposes the Rams. If the Patriots can keep Brady protected from Aaron Donald, I see New England getting its sixth.

Prediction – Patriots 34, Rams 28

Jared Penna, Associate Sports Editor

Throughout the regular season, the two teams in this year’s Super Bowl had two different narratives. For the Rams, it was one of success and growth. After signing big name free agents and making some key trades, the Rams put themselves in great position to make a return to the postseason, and for the first half they looked like the best team in football, starting the year 11-1 before finishing 13-3. The Patriots instead faced adversity and doubt. After starting 1-2 and suffering back to back losses, the critics couldn’t be happier. The Patriots dynasty was finally over. They somewhat managed the season around, finishing 11-5, the team’s worst record since 2009. Despite the popular thinking that Brady had grown too old and Gronk had nothing left, they found their way back to the promised land and secured their ninth appearance in the Super Bowl.

These two teams finished second and fourth in scoring on offense, proving that they’re capable of putting points up on the board. The Patriots finished seventh in scoring defense, while the Rams finished 20th. When it comes to this time of the year, the saying is always the same: “defense wins championships.” The Rams played a tougher schedule, facing a playoff team seven times compared to the Patriots four, so it’s difficult to put too much weight into the defensive scoring statistic. Still, Belichick and the Patriots are known for their “bend don’t break” mentality, where they allow offenses to gain yards but force red zone field goals as opposed to touchdowns. With the aggressive play calling of head coach Sean McVay on the other sideline, the Patriots might find it trickier to live by this mentality, but my faith goes to the man who’s been doing this for over twenty years (that’s Belichick, if you couldn’t tell from previous sections). This game is unique in that it could go either way: a shootout that comes down to one defensive play like last year, or a defensive battle that could see neither team reach 30 points. My guess is it’ll come down to the final minutes, and with Bill Belichick’s masterful clock management, I’m putting my faith in the Patriots to win its record-tying sixth Super Bowl in franchise history. 

Prediction – Patriots 30, Rams 27

Brendan O’Sullivan – Associate Sports Editor

Throughout the regular season, the two teams in this year’s Super Bowl had two different narratives. For the Rams, it was one of success and growth. After signing big name free agents and making some key trades, the Rams put themselves in great position to make a return to the postseason, and for the first half they looked like the best team in football, starting the year 11-1 before finishing 13-3. The Patriots instead faced adversity and doubt. After starting 1-2 and suffering back to back losses, the critics couldn’t be happier. The Patriots dynasty was finally over. They somewhat managed the season around, finishing 11-5, the team’s worst record since 2009. Despite the popular thinking that Brady had grown too old and Gronk had nothing left, they found their way back to the promised land and secured their ninth appearance in the Super Bowl.

These two teams finished second and fourth in scoring on offense, proving that they’re capable of putting points up on the board. The Patriots finished seventh in scoring defense, while the Rams finished 20th. When it comes to this time of the year, the saying is always the same: “defense wins championships.” The Rams played a tougher schedule, facing a playoff team seven times compared to the Patriots four, so it’s difficult to put too much weight into the defensive scoring statistic. Still, Belichick and the Patriots are known for their “bend don’t break” mentality, where they allow offenses to gain yards but force red zone field goals as opposed to touchdowns. With the aggressive play calling of head coach Sean McVay on the other sideline, the Patriots might find it trickier to live by this mentality, but my faith goes to the man who’s been doing this for over twenty years (that’s Belichick, if you couldn’t tell from previous sections). This game is unique in that it could go either way: a shootout that comes down to one defensive play like last year, or a defensive battle that could see neither team reach 30 points. My guess is it’ll come down to the final minutes, and with Bill Belichick’s masterful clock management, I’m putting my faith in the Patriots to win its record-tying sixth Super Bowl in franchise history. 

Prediction – Patriots 30, Rams 27

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