NFL

New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl LIII Preview

The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams collide in Super Bowl LIII on February 3 in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, which started it all for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

It was in that game, on February 3, 2002 that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams as 14-point underdogs, pulling off the second-biggest upset in Super Bowl history.

Sunday, February 3 at 6:30 PM ET

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

37°F

Mostly clear

Winds from the E 7 mph

Gusts: 17 mph

Coverage: CBS

Line: Patriots -2.5

Total: 55.5

The Rams look to avenge the setback in what will be their fourth Super Bowl, their first since that Super Bowl XXXVI loss.

This will be Tom Brady's ninth Super Bowl appearance, he's the quarterback with more appearances by far. John Elway is second on the list of quarterbacks with five.

The Rams opened as 1-point favorites over the Patriots but New England has already been bet up to 2.5-point favorites at Jazz Sports.

Stats/rankings: Patriots

Offense

Scoring: 27.2, 4th in NFL
Passing (per game): 266.1, 8th in NFL
Rushing (per game): 127.3, 5th in NFL

Defense

Scoring: 20.3, 7th in NFL
Passing (per game): 246.4, 22nd
Rushing (per game): 112.7, 11th

Stats/rankings: Rams

Offense

Scoring: 32.9, 2nd in NFL
Passing (per game): 281.7, 5th in NFL
Rushing (per game): 139.4, 3rd in NFL

Defense

Scoring: 24.0, 20th in NFL
Passing (per game): 236.2, 14th
Rushing (per game): 122.3, 23rd

Two overtime games saw the Rams and Patriots advance to Super Bowl LIII and set up a clash between an innovative offensive team going up against a team that only their fans like.

The Rams were able to get past the Saints 26-23 on the road in a game in which head coach Sean McVay opted for C.J. Anderson over the league's leading touchdown scorer, Todd Gurley.

As for the Patriots, they prevailed 37-31 thanks to Tom Brady's heroics before Rex Burkhead scored the game-winning touchdown.

 

Keys to the game
The last time these two teams met was on December 4, 2016 and the Patriots won 26-10 in Foxborough. Reading much into that won't help but the Conference Championship Games did provide plenty of takeaways.

Tom Brady's precision in the pocket led to success for a Patriots team that simply ran the Chiefs ragged. New England's deadly trio of running backs, Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead kept Kansas City with their hands full.

The Patriots rushed for 176 yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries against a sloppy Chiefs line. The Los Angeles defense is much more reliable than Kansas City's but overplaying New England would be costly.

The Rams have to stick to what works on defense: forcing turnovers. Los Angeles ranked third in the NFL in takeaways during the regular season and as seen against the Chiefs, Tom Brady showed that he can have a tendency to overthrow his receivers when he's rushed in the pocket.

To me this game will come down to coaching. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson outsmarted Bill Belichick last year and Rams head coach Sean McVay is said to be a genius. Can he turn the tables on Belichick as well?

I said this before here and I'll say it again, Todd Gurley can be a difference-maker, the Rams need to get him involved if they want to win this game.

Targeting former Patriot Brandin Cooks will be vital to their chances as well. Jared Goff is underrated and if he has time in the pocket he can make things happen against a New England secondary that ranked 22nd in the NFL, allowing 3,943 passing yards in the regular season.

The Patriots played an incredible first half against the Chiefs but they blew a 14-0 lead because of penalties and some basic misdirection plays. The Rams ranked in the Top 10 in the league on all major offensive categories this season and we all know what Tom Brady is capable of, so this game has Over written all over it.

NFL Trends:

The Over is:

7-1 in New England's last eight playoff games

53-26 in New England's last 79 games after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game

9-3 in New England's last 12 games after allowing less than 90 rushing yards in their previous game

8-3 in Los Angeles' last 11 games after accumulating more than 250 passing yards in their previous game

5-2 Los Angeles' last seven games on grass

The last time an NFL game had such a high total was when the Chiefs battled the Rams on November 19; back then I took a chance on the Over and it paid off and I'll do the same here. The Los Angeles defense has played better lately but they didn't battle Tom Brady in those contests.

I faded the Patriots against the Chargers and Chiefs and I will not bet against Tom Brady again. The total has been bet down from 59 to 55.5 and I'll take the Over in what could be a high-scoring contest.

NFL Pick: Over 55.5 (-110) at Jazz Sports

Patriots opening drives in the playoffs:

vs. Chargers

Plays: 14
Yards: 83
Time of Possession: 7:11
TD: Yes

vs. Chiefs
Plays: 15
Yards: 80
Time of Possession: 8:05
TD: Yes

Prop bet I like: Patriots to score first -120 at Jazz Sports

Check odds here: http://bit.ly/jazzsportsON

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