I am assuming the majority of these will be biased Patriots analysts claiming they will win solely on the fact that Brady is the GOAT but are they remembering the two “fluke” losses to Eli, or how about the “illegal” Philly special play which propelled the Eagles into victory? Well, obviously not because Boston fans are so obnoxious, only acknowledge how great their teams are and claim that every player on each team is the GOAT in some way or another. However, I believe the Rams can take down the Patriots, but it will take some work, and more importantly, the Rams cannot beat themselves. Like a lot of us Patriots haters, I am so sick of Tom Brady’s greatness (disregard my rage against another human) and every single big win circling back to him being the GOAT, disregarding strong defensive performances and lucky plays. Before I get into the stats that show that the Rams have an advantage, the most important aspect is that they cannot have a Dee Ford type neutral zone infraction to blow the game and they cannot let the Patriots convert on three 3rd and 10s in overtime. OK, now that that is out of the way and I am finished speaking the obvious, let’s get into some statistics.
Patriots Defensive Vaulnerability
The Patriots are known for their intense man-coverage which they use on 54.6% of their defensive snaps, the highest rate in the NFL. New England is first in the NFL in completion rate, third in yard per attempt and fifth in passer rating in their man-coverage. When they play zone they are in fact very beatable, posting a 30th hurry rate and 31st sack rate. The Rams have thrived on deep crossing routes and stretching the field sideways with their speed which could overwhelm veteran corner, Stephon Gilmore. If Cooks and Woods are able to beat them downfield, then the Patriots could be very vulnerable just as they were against the Chiefs.
McVay Is a Genius
The football world knows Sean McVay is a gridiron genius, but so is Belichek. The advantage is in his new offensive installation. This year McVay has installed condensed formations, putting receivers in tight alignments which allows receivers to be involved in the blocking game as well. On play-actions this also allows the receiver to block the defensive end in order for Goff to roll out and have time to throw downfield. This is an area where the Rams potentially have a huge advantage because teams cannot play tight press coverage in these condensed formations, so will the Patriots go to zone? McVay sure hopes they do so he can use his offensive ingenuity to create mismatches.
Stopping Tom’s Dumpoffs
Tom and the Patriots are going to move quickly, most likely going with a run-heavy game plan while mixing in Tom Brady’s otherworldly 2-yard check downs and screens to James White and Edelman. Luckily for the Rams, they did rank 4th in receiving yards to backs in the regular season.
2 Headed Moster of Sue and Donald
Much of the attention has been on Donald and Sue and if they will be able to pressure Brady. While this is certainly a major key to the game, the Patriots O-line does, in fact, protect Brady unbelievably well. Despite this, when Tom Brady was pressured from the interior, he posted a passer rating of 63.1% with two interceptions. Luckily for the Rams, they have posted the highest pressure rate from the interior, 16.6%. Yes, Tom does get it off on an average of 2.61 seconds, but Aaron Donald’s average sack time is 3.6 seconds this season which will pose problems not only for Brady but for the run game and O-line.
Goff Needs Time In the Pocket
The majority of the pressure will be on the young Jared Goff to bolster his Rams offense. While under pressure, Goff’s passer rating is 59.8%, which is not too impressive. Creating time in the pocket will pose a tough feat for Goff because of how quick the Pats collapse the pocket, especially on third down which their pressure rate is 44.9%. The key to their offense is their play-action. When the play-action is on, the Rams are tough to slow down and Goff’s passer rating is 112.3%.
Gostowski Is Not as Good as Advertised
Kicking will play a role in this game. It could be a missed 37 yarder in the second quarter or it could come down to a game winning attempt. Both kickers are amongst the best in the league. Zuerlein has had the most recent clutch attempt when he nailed a 57 yarder against the Saints in the NFC Championship to send them to the Super Bowl. What’s interesting is that Gostkowski’s last clutch field goal in the playoffs was in the 2007 playoffs against the Chargers, when he kicked a 31 yarder with a minute left to send them to the AFC Championship. Pats fans seem to disregard how unclutch he has been in the playoffs. Sure he isn’t always needed because of how good the Patriots offense is in the red zone, but he has had some headscratchers. Gostkowski missed an extra point against the Broncos in 2016 which forced the Patriots to go for two. They didn’t convert. In Super Bowl LI he missed an extra point, and if it wasn’t for Brady converting on two 2 point conversions then the outcome might have gone the other way.
To quickly wrap this up I will say this. As a Patriots “hater”, I will root for the Rams to end the Tom Brady dynasty and end his career on two consecutive Super Bowl losses. Unfortunately, I know just how good and almost unbeatable this Patriots team is, and when they appear down for the count, they quickly create some sort of miraculous play to win. Although they seem unstoppable, in all of the Patriots last eight Super Bowl appearances, they have all been decided by one score. This game will be close just as the last eight have been, and this matchup between two monster teams will not disappoint.