A disinterested prediction for Super Bowl LIII

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By MIKE HERNDON

Who’s going to win the Super Bowl on Sunday? Who cares?

In one corner we have the Evil Empire, a team that will be playing in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in the last five years, a team that has won five Lombardi Trophies since the unholy alliance of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady first formed three U.S. presidents ago.

Did anyone outside of Massachusetts and maybe Vermont and New Hampshire want to watch another Super Bowl featuring the Patriots? OK, maybe Maine too.

In the other corner, we have a team that advanced to the big game thanks to one of the most obvious officiating blunders in league history, a team that has walked out on multiple cities and is, at best, third fiddle in its current one (Lakers, Dodgers … Rams or Kings?).

I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say I have no rooting interest in this game.

But it is the Super Bowl, and I am a football fan. And what else have I got to do, watch another re-run of Impractical Jokers?

The matchups should make for an interesting game. Strong offensive and defensive lines, solid running games and, of course, a matchup between probably the greatest quarterback of all time and a young gun in Jared Goff who appears to be one of the rising stars in the league.

And then Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips shows up like a boss in his dad’s coat, and Patriots receiver Julian Edelman surprises a 7th-grade girl who’s been bullied for playing football with Super Bowl tickets, and they make it impossible to not like them.

History also dictates it’ll be close. No Super Bowl featuring a Brady-led Patriots team has been decided by more than 8 points.

For the third year in a row, I’ll take New England. Why? Because last year notwithstanding, they usually win.

But there are other, more specific reasons as well:

— Before they were done in by the Three Blind Mice who apparently didn’t see Nickell Robey-Coleman hit Tommylee Lewis roughly half an hour before the ball arrived, the Saints were wearing the Rams out with swing passes to Alvin Kamara. Gee, I wonder what Brady and James White are going to do?

And if the Rams overcompensate toward the sidelines take that away, Julian Edelman will destroy them over the middle.

— Todd Gurley clearly wasn’t right against New Orleans. With Brady on top of his game, the Rams’ best chance is to use ball control to keep the ball away from him, and C.J. Anderson, while resurgent, won’t be enough.

— The key to the Rams’ defense is the front four, particularly the interior pass rush they get from Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Brady has been getting rid of the ball so quickly in the last two games, it’s neutralized any rush.

— Brady seems as motivated as ever, and the Patriots have somehow, absurd as it may seem, found a way to play the nobody-believes-in-us card. A disrespected dynasty, however manufactured that disrespect may be, is a dangerous dynasty.

The prediction: Patriots 27, Rams 24. Wake me up when it’s August again.

 



Categories: NFL

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