For the ninth time since 2001 and the 11th time in franchise history, the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl. They withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Kansas City Chiefs and went on to win last Sunday’s AFC championship game by a 37-31 final in overtime.
Up next, the Patriots will look to rebound from a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s big game when they face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. The contest is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Feb. 3, and will be nationally televised on CBS.
But can New England get past the same franchise it defeated for its first Super Bowl 17 years ago when the Rams were in St. Louis? Or will Los Angeles prove to be too much for the Patriots to handle in pursuit of their sixth Lombardi Trophy?
In my opinion, one should never bet against a team coached by Bill Belichick and quarterbacked by Tom Brady. The Rams may be the sexy pick, but the Patriots are old reliable. Despite being rare underdogs against Kansas City, they found a way to knock off the high-powered Chiefs inside Arrowhead Stadium.
On Feb. 3, another upstart, offensive-minded squad will fall at the hands of the league’s modern dynasty. The Patriots will win their second Super Bowl in three years and Brady will collect his record sixth championship ring.
Here are three reasons New England will beat the Rams in Super Bowl 53.
3. They Have an Improved Running Game
Brady and the Patriots’ passing attack may be what gets most of the attention, but don’t sleep on their running game. Rookie running back Sony Michel has been a force in recent weeks.
In New England’s two playoff games, Michel has 53 carries for 242 yards and five touchdowns. That represents the most rushing TDs ever by a rookie in a single postseason. The 23-year-old had his moments during the regular season as well, but not to this extent.
Nevertheless, the Patriots also have other running backs capable of producing. Rex Burkhead had 12 carries for 41 yards and two TDs against the Chiefs, while James White — who scored the game-winning TD in New England’s Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons two years ago — added six carries for 23 yards.
Helping the Patriots’ cause is one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. According to Football Outsiders, they have the third-ranked offensive line in football. And while the Rams are at the top of that list, New England has undoubtedly been trending upward. In the end, it boils down to the old saying, “What have you done for me lately?”
2. They’re Getting off to Hot Starts
Although neither game ended up being a blowout, the Patriots have built sizable leads in each of their postseason contests. In the AFC Divisional Round against the Los Angeles Chargers, they led 35-7 at halftime and 38-14 through three quarters before holding on for a 41-28 victory.
Against the Chiefs, the Patriots led 14-0 at halftime and 17-7 entering the fourth quarter before emerging victorious in overtime. When all was said and done, they came out on top against one of the league’s premier offenses.
While any team would like to continue to expand its lead as the game goes along, the fact that New England has jumped out in front early is a huge deal. When they face the Rams in the Super Bowl, they will look to do the same thing once again.
Doing so could go a long way toward determining the outcome of the game. After all, the Patriots have been here before, while the Rams boast one of the league’s youngest squads. The moment could prove to be too big for them if New England gets out to a big lead early.
1. Their Experience Is Second to None
When it comes to the playoffs, no head coach has more experience than Belichick and no player has more experience than Brady. Belichick has a career playoff record of 30-11, while Brady is 29-10.
Neither shows any signs of slowing down either, particularly the 41-year-old Brady, who continues to set new Super Bowl records. He has been to nine Super Bowls in his illustrious career, which is more than any other franchise besides the Patriots.
Brady also has the same number of wins as interceptions in the Super Bowl (5), according to USA Today. Furthermore, he’s passed for a total of 971 yards in the past two Super Bowls.
All that may not matter in the end. It certainly didn’t for the Philadelphia Eagles last year. But it’s still really hard to argue with the vast difference in experience between the two teams. New England certainly won’t take the Rams lightly, which is something it has learned while posting a 5-3 Super Bowl record over the previous 17 years.
It may not seem like it, but there have been many ups and downs for the Patriots during that time. They have learned from both their successes and their failures, though, and that will ultimately be the difference on Super Bowl Sunday.