Super Bowl 53 Position Breakdown
This year’s Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams will feature stars on both sides of the ball. Who has the ultimate edge in the big game? Here is the position-by-position breakdown of the AFC and NFC champs heading into Super Bowl weekend:
The biggest age gap among starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history will feature 41-year-old Tom Brady and 24-year-old Jared Goff.
Goff had the best season of his young career throwing for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, but he did look shaky at some points late in the season.
Brady, considered the greatest of all time by many and looking for his sixth Super Bowl win, had a little bit of a drop-off this year according to typical Tom Brady standards. All the talk about the end of Brady stopped, however, in two masterful performances against the Chargers and Chiefs in the playoffs.
People have learned their about lesson picking against Tom Brady and this year is no exception.
The Rams feature one of the best running backs in the NFL in Todd Gurley who rushed for 1,251 yards on the season with 21 total touchdowns. Gurley was hampered by a knee injury late in the season that looks like it has continued into the playoffs. CJ Anderson has had the majority of the carries in the postseason and has done well, including a monster game over Dallas in the divisional round.
The Patriots feature a three-headed monster beginning with rookie Sony Michel, who has been impressive all year and has five playoff touchdowns. Two other powerhouses have been Rex Burkhead, who has battled injuries but was huge in the AFC Championship against Kansas City, and James White, who was second on the team in receiving yards and scored 12 total touchdowns this season.
The Patriots have become a team that runs the ball and runs it well. Until we know Gurley is completely healthy, the LA run game is less dynamic.
This is a position where both teams are fairly even and have lost playmakers this season. The Rams lost Cooper Kupp to a torn ACL and the Patriots lost Josh Gordon to his off the field demons.
Without Gordon, the Patriots don’t have a true deep threat but guys like Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and James White out of the backfield have stepped up all year. Rob Gronkowski has not looked like the normal Gronk all year, but he came up with some magic in Kansas City and has showed signs late.
The Rams feature lots of speed with Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds. All three have burned defenses this year. However, these are the types of receivers that New England shuts down. Tyreek Hill was a nonfactor last Sunday and, other than broken coverage, Keenan Allen wasn’t much of a factor in the previous round either.
Edelman, Gronk and company have been here before and experience is always an advantage when facing a young team.
Both teams have effective run games and both protect their quarterbacks well. The big uglies up front are not a problem for either team. Andrew Whitworth, the 36-year-old, is still leading the men up front for the Rams and is one of the most productive left tackles in the NFL.
Here’s a stat, though, that will blow your mind: Tom Brady has dropped back to pass 90 times in the playoffs, he has not been sacked and only been hit three times. The Patriots don’t have many of big names up front, but they get the job done.
The defensive line is the biggest talent gap between the two teams. The Rams have the Defensive Player of the Year with Aaron Donald and his 20 ½ sacks. They also have Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler who, even when they aren’t on their game, strike fear into opposing quarterbacks.
Trey Flowers leads the way for the Patriots with 7 ½ sacks, but their defensive line doesn’t match the firepower of the Rams.
This might be the weakest unit on the Rams, although they have been coming on late in the season. Cory Littleton had a Pro Bowl-type season leading the team in tackles, but he’s still looking for that second playmaker.
The Patriots feature Dont’a Hightower, who is a beast when fully healthy, and Kyle Van Noy, who leads the team in tackles and has two sacks in the postseason. The Patriots linebackers are fully healthy and that’s the difference when comparing the units.
Another strength for both teams is the secondary. Pro Bowler Stephon Gilmore, who could cover any receiver, and the always-reliable safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, prove consistent for this Patriots team.
The Rams are equally strong at corner with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The Rams secondary is a different unit when Talib is fully healthy, and healthy he is as he showed against Drew Brees last week. Aqib Talib is the main man in this unit and he could be a difference maker in this game.
This was the easiest one to pick. The Rams are led by one of the best kickers in the league, Greg “Legatron” Zuerlein. Johnny Hekker is also one of the best punters in the league, he might even drop back to pass in this game (anything can happen in the Super Bowl right?).
On the New England side, Stephen Gostkowski has the experience but he’s been a little shaky at some points this season. Also watch out for Cordarrelle Patterson returning kicks, he could be a factor.
The 66-year-old Bill Belichick, otherwise known as the “evil genius” is going up against 33-year-old Sean Mcvay, the “mad scientist of offense.” The greatest coach of all time going up against the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history is a battle of defensive mastermind against offensive genius.
When evaluating these two men, the biggest factor is experience. Belichick is doing this Super Bowl thing for the ninth time and there’s no one in football that draws up a game plan better.
Game prediction: Patriots 35, Rams 31.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast-journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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