Sidelines: This week in sports

USP NFL: LOS ANGELES RAMS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS S FBN OAK LAR USA CA

This is it, we’ve finally reached Super Bowl week. There have been 21 weeks of football leading up to this, but only two of the NFL’s 32 teams remain standing. We have the Los Angeles Rams representing the NFC and the New England Patriots representing the AFC. Both teams entered the postseason as number-two seeds in their respective conferences but up-ended their number-one seeded counterparts in the Conference Championship games on January 20.

The 53rd edition of the most watched television event in America will take place in Atlanta, Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019, with one team emerging with the Lombardi Trophy in hand.

Los Angeles Rams:

The Rams finished the regular season with an impressive 13-3 record, another improvement on their 11-5 record from a season ago, which helped them snap a 12-year playoff drought. They once again claimed the NFC West, but this time around earned a bye through the first round of the playoffs. They proceeded to defeat the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints on their way to reaching the Super Bowl.

The Rams are a star-studded bunch, led by numerous familiar names on both sides of the ball as well as the league’s youngest head coach, 33-year-old Sean McVay. The Rams have made it this far mostly on the backs of their balanced offensive talent, as they accounted for the second most yards per game this season and top five in both rushing and receiving yards. A lot of that can be attributed to their young, pro-bowl quarterback Jared Goff and arguably the best running back in the sport, Todd Gurley. Gurley had three more touchdowns than anyone this season (21) and the emergence of veteran C.J. Anderson behind him has created a two-headed monster at the running back position. Goff had the eight best passer rating in the league in 2018 and one of his favourite targets, Brandin Cooks, will be facing up against his former team from a season ago after he was traded in the offseason.

On defence, the Rams certainly know how to create turnovers as they were third in the NFL with 30 of them this season. This shouldn’t be a shock when NFL sacks leader Aaron Donald is breathing down the quarterback’s neck. The Rams were +11 in terms of takeaway/giveaway in regular season play and I think they’re going to need to find themselves on the positive side once again on Sunday in order to have a chance.

New England Patriots:

What a surprise, the Patriots are back once again. Just when you think they may finally be taking a step back, they prove that you are a fool for doubting them for even a second. This marks their third consecutive appearance and ninth since 2002. No other team in NFL has more than eight appearances in Super Bowl history (Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver).

The Patriots have arrived after posting an 11-5 record in the regular season and once again sat atop the lowly AFC East division. They earned a bye through the first round of the playoffs, and plowed right through the Chargers and Chiefs on their way to the big game.

41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick are leading the way once again. The Patriots ability to run the ball well and finesse their way through defences with short passes has always been a big part of their success. With endless options out of the backfield and an almost uncoverable target in Rob Gronkowski, the Rams are going to have their hands full in this one.

Picks:

The Patriots are listed at -2.5 on the betting line and I’d say that’s probably a safe decision to make. I think the over 56.5 total points makes sense too. The Rams are prone to getting involved in shootouts against good teams and you know the Patriots won’t back down to that kind of game. Admittedly, I bet on the Chargers against the Patriots back in the divisional round. I thought this was finally the year the Patriots stumble, yet here they are again. You just can’t bet against them. I hate to say it, but I think they’ll claim their sixth Super Bowl championship.

 

The Brock Press Staff Picks

Brendan: Patriots

Izzy: Rams

Jonah: Patriots

Holly: Patriots

 

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