This coming Sunday, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams will travel to Atlanta to face off in Super Bowl LIII. After some controversy in the conference championship games, the stage has been set for the biggest sporting event of the year. Will the Brady/Belichick legend grow with a sixth Super Bowl victory? Or will the youthful Rams prove that the NFL is ready for a new era? Here are the predictions from the Gavel sports section:
Patrick Carpenter: The Chiefs came within a coin toss of taking down the Patriots two weeks ago. Now, it's the Rams' turn to take their shot at the big dogs. And the Rams have something that the Chiefs didn't: any semblance of a defense. In a Super Bowl of old vs. new, present vs. future, McVay vs. Belichick, the Rams will prove that the future of the NFL is now. With Suh and Donald on the defensive line, they'll take care of the Patriots' running game early and find a way to contain Tom Brady. I have a feeling that neither team will be their normal, overpowering selves on offense. But I think the Rams will do just enough. It's time, Patriots fans. The Rams are going to bring this one back to Los Angeles.
Prediction: Rams 34, Patriots 24
Tommy O'Brien: History says don’t pick against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I’m going to do it anyway. Aaron Donald won’t win the league MVP because of the position he plays, but he’s going to show why he’s the NFL’s best player on Sunday. The Rams strong defensive front will disrupt the Patriots offense long enough for Sean McVay’s genius to build a cushion. A late Patriots attempt will come up short.
Prediction: Rams 31, Patriots 27
Andy Towriss: Blitzing is just about the only way NFL teams have been able to consistently disrupt Tom Brady the past few seasons. For the Rams to pull this off they’ll need their pass rush to step it up. While Aaron Donald could sack Brady a few times, it’s hard to imagine the rest of the D-line gives the superb Patriots offensive line too much trouble.
Prediction: Patriots 35, Rams 28
Ellen Gerst: All I have to say is that Aaron Donald is so massive. And I'm really hoping Brady's age starts to show after a few sacks.
Prediction: Rams 31, Patriots 28
Matt DeMerlis: What Tom Brady has done is nothing short of incredible; Super Bowl 53 will be his NINTH, yes ninth, career super bowl appearance, more than any other football team in the history of the league. In the last two Super Bowls, he has combined for 971 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception. He is quite possibly the greatest quarterback of all-time (but not the most talented, in my opinion). The Patriots have one of the league’s best secondaries, led by Stephen Gilmore, that I think will be able to shut down a Ram’s offense with no one dominant wide receiver. I will be rooting for the Rams because I am a Redskins fan and want to see former offensive coordinator Sean McVay succeed, as well as to see former BC safety John Johnson III get his first ring. But it’s hard to bet against the Patriots, as much as I want to, and I think they will ultimately beat the Rams in a close contest.
Prediction: Patriots 30, Rams 27 (Final - OT)
Emma Twombly: As a New Englander, obviously I’m rooting for the Pats in this one. However, this should be a close game. Both the Patriots and the Rams have elite offenses so it’ll come down to whoever is able to create and capitalize on the most scoring opportunities. If there’s one thing Brady, Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots have proved time and time again, it's that you can't count them out to pull off a big win.
Prediction: Patriots 28, Rams 26
Sean Rietzke: For the third year in a row, the Patriots will take on an upstart NFC team in a battle of youth vs experience. The Patriots’ offensive line has done an incredible job keeping pressure off Tom Brady so far, but they face their toughest test yet with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh lining up across from them. I predict that the Rams defense will make life uncomfortable for Brady all night long and force him into a key turnover down the stretch.
Prediction: Rams 31, Patriots 28
Joe Birdsall: In the first Super Bowl which does not include at least one No. 1 seed since 2012, the Los Angeles Rams seem to fit the description of a team capable of taking down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. With an offense that assuredly gives most fans flashbacks to the “Greatest Show on Turf” days, the Rams should have no problem putting points on the board. Wunderkind head coach Sean McVay looks to be the NFL’s next offensive mastermind, and his scheme has given opposing teams fits all year. Ultimately, the key matchup will be in the trenches, as the Los Angeles pass rush, led by Aaron Donald, needs to apply consistent pressure and overpower a criminally-underrated New England offensive line. As much as I’d like to pick the Rams, nineteen years of NFL fandom have taught me never to doubt Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who know how to succeed in these situations and have an inexplicable knack for finding ways to win.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Rams 24
Lillie Clifton: For the past four years my fantasy football team has been the “Gronquistadors”, so it’s fair to say I’m rooting for the Patriots in the upcoming Super Bowl. I do think that the Rams will put up a good fight due in large part to their incredible defensive line, led by Aaron Donald. However, I feel like the Patriots offense and their veteran leadership will give them the leg up in the fourth quarter. Brady, Gronk, and Edelman may prove to be too much for the Rams.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Rams 27
Terence Flaherty: Things are flipped in this Super Bowl meeting between these two teams. This time around, it was a no-call in the NFC Championship game that will go down in NFL History along with the tuck rule game. The lack of a call has been beaten to death all week and overshadowed an overtime interception by Boston College’s own John Johnson III. Johnson and the Rams defense are certainly better equipped to slow down the Patriots offense than the Chiefs were. But as long as the offensive line keeps protecting Brady, who is yet to be sacked this postseason (knock on wood), the Pats should make it six.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Rams 28
Brennan Rietzke: The key for the Rams to beat the Patriots is far simpler than analysts make it out to be. Brady has been among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL under pressure this season. The defensive line trio of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler Jr. must continue, even improve, their excellent play for the Rams to have a chance. The Patriots offensive line has been incredible this postseason, evident by Sony Michel’s brilliant play and Kansas City’s failure to sack Brady. The game will be decided in the trenches. In a close one, New England’s offensive line will contain LA’s rush just enough for Brady to have time to find White and Edelman over the middle constantly.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Rams 30
Jake McNeill: The Los Angeles Rams have the best running back in the NFL today in Todd Gurley. They have a trio of top tier wideouts in Cooks, Woods, and Kupp. The dominance of their defensive tackles is unparalleled. Even their punter has made his fair share of big plays. They can run the ball, throw it deep, rush the passer, and play great man coverage. The Patriots, however, have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Rams 23