It really sounds like a broken record, saying the Patriots are in the Superbowl again. The Tom Brady/Bill Belichick combo will be entering their ninth game vying for the Lombardi trophy and NFL supremacy. They will have their toughest matchup probably since their first time in the big game and ironically both times it will be against the Rams. Can the Patriots knock of the Los Angeles version the sane way they did the St. Louis edition?
Keys To The Game:
The Patriots station to station style where they pick up first downs and then another first down works fine and shouldn’t be altered. At least not too much. The Methodical style of short passes and run plays will tire out the massive front line if the Rams and keep those secondary players closer to the line of scrimmage.
When that happens New England and Tom Brady needs to turn back the hands of time if even for a couple of plays early. The Patriots should use a couple of their wide receivers (Like Chris Hogan) and take some shots deep downfield. It’s a formula they used to employ in the past but not so much this season.
They obviously want to run the ball with Sony Michel and company but it’s the type of runs that will count. They should go off tackle and outside more, while trying to get their linemen pushing the defensive rush off balance. The fact that they can use two or three guys should bode well for them keeping their backs fresh and the defensive lineman fatigued.
Defensively they have to find a way to spread their coverage to avoid massive amounts of double teams. The Rams deploy a plethora of wide receivers with two very good ones in Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. I asked Patriots’ Linebackers coach Brian Flores what he thought the best way to approach the Rams skill position players: ” It’s gonna take a total team effort. From rush, to coverage, to disguise, we are gonna have to be on top of our game.”
The Patriots will not only have to stop the run but they have to find a way to make Los Angeles abandon the run all together. Even if they’re not gaining big chunks, the Rams will keep coming at them on the ground if it’s a close game, so they should try some run blitzes to blow up some plays in the backfield.
X-Factor: Running back James White should be pretty active in the passing game especially on third downs. I asked Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips about defending White here’s what he had to say : “We have different coverages for different players in different situations, but James White can take over a game receiving the ball.” If white can take over, it will go a long way to another Patriots title.
Prediction: The one constant theme I learned from talking to both the Patriots and the Rams personnel was that they expect the Bill Belichick scheme to come into effect. With all that being said, I think the Patriots fall in this one 27-23. I see it as a close game that could be an instant classic.