Russell S. Baxter

Super Bowl LIII Preview

By Julie Voigt and Russell S. Baxter (VIBE)

Special to Pro Football Guru

February has arrived! With that, the groundhog with a name that I could never pronounce is predicting an early spring. But not before the “Big Game” of the year. Super Bowl LIII is finally upon us. And on Sunday, the New England Patriots will face off with the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta! Both these teams were the second seeds in their conferences. And even though earlier in the season some did not see these two teams making it this far, this is still going to be a great match-up.

Many are calling this a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI from 2001, when second-year quarterback Tom Brady and the upstart Patriots surprised Kurt Warner and company, 20-17. Of course, this was somewhat the case a year ago when the Philadelphia Eagles met New England in the Super Bowl for the second time (LII) and got revenge for a 24-21 loss in Super Bowl XXXIX 13 years earlier.

It all adds up to a very intriguing Super Sunday. Hence, here is PFG Vibe’s somewhat-unique look at Super Bowl LIII. Julie Voigt (VI) and Russell S. Baxter (BE) offer their quick analysis on the showdown for the Lombardi. And by Sunday evening, a new NFL champion will be crowned.

Note: Win-loss records include playoffs

Sunday, February 3

AFC Champion New England Patriots (13-5) vs. NFC Champion L.A. Rams (15-3) in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA, 6:30 pm

Patriots’ perspective

VI: The Patriots are on the verge of tying Super Bowl history with in winning a sixth Lombardi Trophy. Bill Belichick’s team got off to 1-2 start and looked shaky doing it. This season, New England lost back-to-back games twice and at times, didn’t look like those impressive teams of the Belichick past. But the Pats are playing their best football at the right time.

BE: The New England running game has been dominant in the postseason and has keyed the team’s offensive success. The Patriots have run a total of 172 offensive plays in their wins over the Chargers and Chiefs, 94 of those in the overtime win in the AFC title game. Can Brady, rookie running back Sony Michel and company take advantage of a Rams’ defensive unit that has been spotty against the run in ’18?

Rams’ perspective

VI: This is a very young team with a 24-year-old quarterback (Jared Goff) and a 33-year-old head coach (Sean McVay). Can the Patriots handle the Rams’ tough offensive line that has pretty much been the key to this team posting a 13-3 record in the regular season? Also, the Patriots will need to protect Tom Brady from two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who led the NFL with 20.5 sacks in 2018.

BE: It will be interesting to see how Rams’ wide receiver Brandin Cooks fares against the team he played in Super Bowl LI with (albeit injured in the first quarter). The real wild card could be Rams’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose defense in 2015 prevented the Patriots from making it five straight Super Bowl appearances from 2014-18.

Julie Voigt (JulieNoted_PFG) and Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) are the co-founders of @pfgVIBE. Julie is also the Colts’ reporter for OurTurf Football while Russell writes for FanSided and NFL Spin Zone*. And check out the “*PFG Vibecast” via Podbean.


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