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Super Bowl by Numbers

Story By: Ben Hensley and Conner Stevens

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New England Patriots by the numbers

 – Won the AFC East with an 11-5 record (5-1 division)

 – Wild card round – Bye

 – Divisional round – Defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 41-28

 – AFC Championship – Defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 37 – 31

 

Back to Where it all Began

Coming off a season that saw them take an uncharacteristic step back from the number one seed, the New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, this time against none other than the Los Angeles Rams.

Facing the Rams for the first time, since the hiring of head coach Sean McVay, the Patriots look to capture their sixth Super Bowl championship for the third time in the past four years.

After a season that saw the elevation of the Rams on both sides of the ball, the Patriots will have to be on their game to bring the championship back to Foxborough for a league tying sixth time.

Running Back By Committee:

With all eyes on Tom Brady on Super Bowl Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams need to focus on the impressive depth that the New England Patriots have in the running game.

Sony Michel alone has had quite an under-the-radar rookie season, but has been great nonetheless. More importantly, Michel has broken off back-to-back 100+ rushing yard games, including the 129 yards rushing against a Chargers’ defense who ranked ninth in rushing yards allowed this season.

The Rams were ranked third in rush yards per game in the NFL this year and are going to have to get that push on the line to shut down any tricks Belichick might have up his sleeve.

That being said, the Patriots also have ground weapons in Rex Burkhead and James White. Burkhead, who is a great goal-line and short yardage back, can keep the chains moving on those third down conversions. While White acts as another receiver when in, giving Brady the option to just dump it off if under pressure.

Super Bowl Experience:

Though it may not be a factor, one should look at the playoff experience of these two teams. On one side, you have Jared Goff, a third-year quarterback who has had an outstanding year but no playoff experience, and a team with a total of four players who have been to the Super Bowl.

On the other side, you have Tom Brady who has been to eight Super Bowls, winning five of them and winning the MVP award four out of those five times. To make it even worse, the Pats have an unbelievable 38 players who have been to the big game already. Once the whistle blows on Sunday, the amount of experience each team has is thrown to the side, but it makes the difference between the two teams staggering.

Leave It to the GOAT

It’s been talked about for years that “Brady is done” or “He’s too old,” but year after year, he continues to prove the haters wrong. He seemed immortal after a subpar year of flaws. Now he has flipped the switch and become the great quarterback that everyone hates once again.

This postseason, Brady has added six points to his completion percentage (71.1) and bumped up his quarterback rating another 14.8 points (83.6). Although everyone will continue to say he has nothing left, you can’t count Brady out.

 

Los Angeles Rams

– Won the NFC West with a 13-3 record (6-0 division)

 – Wild card round – Bye

 – Divisional round – Defeated the Dallas Cowboys 30-22

 – NFC Championship – Defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23

 

Full Circle

The Los Angeles Rams haven’t been to a Super Bowl since their 17-20 loss to the New England Patriots in 2002.

All that changed following the controversial non-call in the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints. Fan of the team or not, the Rams punched their ticket to Super Bowl 53 – their first appearance in 17 seasons.

On the other sideline, the New England Patriots are back again for the eighth time since their 2002 victory.

For the Rams to secure victory on the largest NFL stage, many things have to go right:

Don’t focus on one man:

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is a master at many things, but one of those many things is the ability to take away a specific player for the duration of a game. Keenan Allen recorded only two receptions in the divisional round on January 13 – following a season in which he caught 97 passes. Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs was limited to a single reception after hauling in 87 passes during the regular season.

The Rams have the perfect system to win, as the three headed monster of Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley II have spread 225 catches among the three of them, let by Woods’ 86 receptions, and Cooks’ 15.1 yards per catch. If the Rams hope to win, they have to be able to spread their focus not just to their leading receiver, but to multiple threats on offense.

Pressure Tom Brady:

Pressure on a quarterback has a historical tendency to cause mishaps in the passing game. After struggling through the regular season, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense has been the most prolific passing offense in the postseason, checking in with 511 total offensive yards – nearly 100 more than the Rams. Credit for this goes to the Patriots offensive line, allowing only one quarterback hit over the past two games, and zero QB sacks.

In order for the Rams to win on Sunday, they have to pressure Brady. The Rams were a middle of the league team, coming in 15th with 41 sacks on the season. In order for the Rams to come away with the win, they need to get pressure on Brady. With Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald on defense, the potential to get to Brady is there, but the Rams have to perform well as a defensive front to stand a chance at stopping Brady from getting his sixth Super Bowl win.

Spread the Ball:

The Patriots have excelled offensively this postseason, but contrary to their late game performance against the Chiefs, the Patriots have been giving up over 280 yards per game through the air – a statistic that pans out well for the Rams with the threats of Woods and Cooks.

The Rams have to get the passing game working early however, with the Patriots stingy run defense giving up only 30 yards per game on the ground this postseason. With the notable absence of Gurley, the Rams may be in trouble if they cannot move the ball through the air efficiently.

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About the Writer
Ben Hensley, Sports Editor & News Editor

Ben Hensley is a journalism major with an aspiration for sports and live sports broadcasting, along with analysis and commentary. Living in the Fresno...

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Super Bowl by Numbers