I have taken a few week hiatus from publicly picking the NFL playoff games (some say that is a symptom of post-Parkey depression for which I can neither confirm nor deny…), but since the Super Bowl is quite possibly the biggest sporting event of the year, I figured I would give it one last whirl. This year’s matchup features a team that has been a stalwart in this game for seemingly Tom Brady’s entire career, and a team that has so many weapons I cannot even wrap my head around it.
Yes, it is true, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl. Stop me if you’ve heard that before. However, the regular season for this Patriots team was anything but the “norm” that we have seen develop in the Brady-Belichick era. More uncharacteristic errors, slightly less dominance, and for a few games, visions that Brady was declining rapidly have seemingly gone by the wayside come playoff time. The Patriots beat up on a very good Chargers team, and essentially controlled the entire game at Arrowhead against a very dangerous Chiefs team. The combination of handoffs to Michel, dump-offs to James White, and underneath routes to Edelman and Gronk have the Pats looking like their normal selves. However, the weakest link of that Pats team, the defense, will surely be put to the test against a high-powered Rams offense who, finally, have a 100% healthy Todd Gurley back at running back. Couple that with the emergence of CJ Anderson towards the latter part of the season, the mostly consistent play from Jared Goff, and a defense that has major playmakers at every level, and you have a matchup for the ages. One head coach that has been doing this for as long as the other has been alive, and another who is so hyper-focused that he pays someone to stand on the sideline and make sure he does not run into the ref while a play is happening. This is going to be epic.
As for the pick part, if the Patriots can contain Gurley and Anderson and force the Rams into obvious passing situations, I like their chances. The Patriots will come out and do what they do best; control time of possession, salt away drives, and play good bend-but-don’t-break defense, and Tom Brady will get his 6th Super Bowl title. The Pick: Patriots 27 Rams 20