By Alex Norman
On Sunday it is the most unofficial of unofficial American Holidays.
The Super Bowl.
The Los Angeles Rams, a team people in their own city really don’t care about, will face the New England Patriots, a team most outside of the Northeast of our nation despise.
We are living in a golden age of great Super Bowls, so the odds are that we are going to have another great game. In order for you to be a hit at your Super Bowl party, I’ve got some key tidbits to pass along that you should include in conversation.
Let’s light this candle.
Two former Tennessee Volunteers are on the rosters. The Rams have rookie running back John Kelly while the Patriots have Cordarrelle Patterson, who is in his sixth pro season. Kelly has only played in four games this season, with 74 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards. He has yet to play in the postseason. Patterson will get his share of work returning kickoffs, but does have 21 catches this season as a wide receiver.
But neither of those guys is going to be in the MVP discussion. Traditionally the quarterbacks have the best chance to win that award. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is looking for his fifth Super Bowl MVP award, which would extend his record. Brady is also trying to become the only player in NFL history to win six Super Bowl titles.
Brady’s legacy is secure, and there has been the question asked… Will he retire and walk off into the sunset if the Pats win? Brady is 41 and while he had some iffy parts to the 2018 regular season, he’s looked terrific this postseason. And while most of us would be content staying in our mansion with a supermodel spouse and kids, Brady will likely be back for a 20th season.
That said, it wouldn’t be a surprise if tight end Ron Gronkowski calls it quits after the game, win or lose. Gronk’s body is breaking down after nine seasons in the pros.
Brady’s safety valve is wide receiver Julian Edelman. He’s been a Super Bowl hero twice before and likely will get his chance to make big plays on the big stage yet again.
The Patriots have had an embarrassment of riches in the Brady/head coach Bill Belichick era. This is their ninth trip to the big game.
For the Rams, third year signal caller Jared Goff has had a breakout season, throwing for nearly 4700 yards and 32 touchdowns. He was the first pick in the NFL draft back in 2016, and has proven why he was worthy of that lofty status.
Running backs Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson will try to soften up the Pats defense. Gurley is not one hundred percent healthy but the extra week off might help him get closer to full strength.
Keep an eye on Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He was a monster this season with 20.5 sacks. He very well might be the best player in this game. If Donald and fellow linemen Dante Fowler Jr. and Ndamukong Suh can get pressure on Brady, the Rams have a good chance to win the franchise’s second Super Bowl title.
So I know what you are wondering. Who is gonna win this game? At last look the Patriots were favored by two and a half points. And while that’s certainly not an indication on which team will win, it’s close enough that the folks in those tall, shiny buildings in Vegas expect a tight game.
The Patriots traditionally play Super Bowls in which the final score is an indication of an evenly matched game, and this should be no different. New England is healthy, motivated, and experienced in games of this nature.
I’ll go with Patriots 28, Rams 21.
Enjoy the game, everyone… it’s the last football of note for about seven months.