Let’s take a look at why the Patriots will win Super Bowl LIII
They have Tom Brady, and the Rams don’t
Thousands of words could be written about Brady and Bill Belichick, but we’ll focus on the quarterback here and try to keep things brief. At various points this season, pundits have questioned whether or not Brady was finally experiencing some sort of tangible decline. Those questions weren’t entirely unfounded, either. As great as Brady was at home, he and the Pats were a mediocre 3-5 on the road, and he didn’t look like himself. There were missed throws, sloppy throws, anemic-looking throws — he even lost to the Steelers, something that hardly ever happens. The playoffs rolled around, though, and Brady turned it on. He was masterful against the Chargers and delivered a fourth quarter for the ages against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.
Brady executed a run-heavy game plan to perfection in the first half against K.C. then repeatedly checked out of bad plays and into better ones in the fourth quarter. Oh, and when he had to make throws in several third-and-long situations late in the game, he was firing darts. It was vintage Brady. At 41, he is still the game’s ultimate trump card.
Sony Michel and his merry band
The Patriots had a bye in Week 11. The previous week, the Titans held them to 40 yards rushing and beat them up physically. Post-bye, the Pats have failed to top 100 yards rushing only twice: in back-to-back losses to Miami and Pittsburgh. From that point on, Brady, Belichick and Josh McDaniels have embraced a ground-and-pound strategy that has worked to perfection. New England has rushed for 331 yards in two playoff games. Michel has 242 of those yards and five touchdowns to boot. James White caught 15 passes for 97 yards against the Chargers, and Rex Burkhead sent the Chiefs packing with a walk-off touchdown plunge. The Pats have confidence in all three men, which means they all play and stay fresh, and each brings something a little different to the table. Oh, and the Rams have the worst rush defense in the league in terms of yards per carry allowed.
Gronk and Edelman are still around
As much as the Pats have been all about the running game, they wouldn’t be in this position without the clutch efforts of two stalwarts in the passing game. Julian Edelman was magnificent late against the Chiefs, and Rob Gronkowski, whose statistical downturn this season had some wondering if he was done as a big threat, made arguably the biggest play of the AFC championship by winning a one-on-one matchup down the sideline to set up the winning touchdown. As Tony Romo astutely pointed out, Gronkowski has been selfless all year, blocking effectively despite being a reduced part of the game plan, yet reappearing when the Pats needed him most. New England figures to create some favorable matchups for him, especially if the game is close, late.
They won’t beat themselves
More than any team in recent memory, the Patriots simply don’t often shoot themselves in the foot, and when they do they tend to find a way to recover. One thing they never seem to do is miss out on a second chance. They weren’t perfect against Kansas City, and Dee Ford’s neutral zone infraction saved the day after what would have been a game-clinching interception by Brady. Once the Pats had new life, however, they made the most of it. Chris Hogan made a marvelous one-handed catch, everyone did their jobs, and they took full advantage of winning the coin toss, never letting Mahomes get the ball in overtime.
They have Bill Belichick, and the Rams don’t
See above points on Brady, adjust as necessary to fit the coaching profession. Each man is the greatest ever at what he does.
They’re chasing history
Only one franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers, has six Super Bowls. New England can join them with a win, and if they do, it would have to be looked at as the greatest franchise in league history. Certainly the Patriots’ run in the 2000s is the league’s greatest long-term dynasty. Brady and Belichick already have an unprecedented five Super Bowls as a quarterback-coach duo, and both men are wired such that they’d like to stack several — yes, several — more.