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Anticipating Super Bowl LIII

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Anticipating Super Bowl LIII

Courtesy of WSTM

Courtesy of WSTM

Courtesy of WSTM

Courtesy of WSTM

Jeff Lembo, Staff Writer

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NFL fans are primed for Super Bowl Sunday this weekend as the league’s ultimate game will take place between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. Fans are descending upon Atlanta, GA in preparation for the Big Game, which will be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons. The city will be hosting festivities and events all week to celebrate.

The Super Bowl match up was not determined without controversy, as the AFC and NFC Championship games were decided in exciting and dramatic fashion.

In the NFC contest between the Rams and Saints, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman of the Rams was not flagged for a blatant pass interference call late in the fourth quarter, which would have effectively ensured a New Orleans victory. Instead, the Rams tied the game late at 23, then won in overtime on a 57-yard field goal from kicker Greg Zuerlein to win the game 26-23.

Saints fans were outraged after the game, and even started a petition for it to be replayed. In the AFC contest, a tight battle between the Patriots and Chiefs was influenced largely by a questionable roughing the passer call against the Chiefs, as well as a key no-call on what could have been a game-changing muffed punt by Patriot Julian Edelman.

The Patriots eventually won 37-31 after two clutch drives from Tom Brady to set up the game-winning touchdown from running back Rex Burkhead in overtime. It was the first time in NFL history that both conference championship games were decided in overtime.  

Super Bowl 53’s main story line will be the vastly different levels of experience of the two teams. At one end of the spectrum is the Patriots, who are playing in their third straight Super Bowl. They previously won Super Bowl 51, though lost Super Bowl 52 last season.

This will be quarterback Tom Brady’s unprecedented ninth Super Bowl (he holds a 5-3 record in Super Bowls), and coach Bill Belichick’s 13th as a coach. Meanwhile, Rams coach Sean McVay, just 33 years old, will be coaching in his first Super Bowl, while quarterback Jared Goff makes just his third postseason start, dwarfed by Brady’s 39. Other highlights include the halftime show, where Maroon 5 and Travis Scott will perform, as well as the fan-friendly pricing on concessions at the game that was announced during the week.

The key to the game for the Rams will be getting the ball to playmakers Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks. If both of these players have over 100 yards from scrimmage, it’ll be a tough game for the Patriots to win. Also, the Rams will need to put pressure on Brady up front with big man Aaron Donald and create a tight pocket.

Meanwhile, the Patriots will look to control the pace of the game and hold the ball for long periods of time. The offensive line will be key in creating time and space for Brady to operate and move the ball to receivers such as Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkoswski, as well as creating holes for running backs Sony Michel and James White.

Despite the Rams exciting and dynamic offense and tough defense, experience matters in the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady and the Patriots have more than any other team in the league.

Our prediction: look for Brady and the Pats to capture their sixth Super Bowl since 2001, taking down the Rams 33-24.

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