Tom Brady is 41 and other stories - What the media are saying about the Patriots' chances in Super Bowl LIII
29 Jan, 2019
This year we'll be collating the best takes on the Super Bowl into one page for each team. For our Rams page, click here
Below are summaries of the NFL media picks that come in throughout Super Bowl week. We've cut the wheat from the chaff to give you the easy digest of long form articles. This article will be updated throughout the week with new articles, so check back each day for more.
Against Kansas City in the AFC title match, the Patriots went into "turtle" mode, eating up 43:59 of clock time on 94 offensive plays... Consider that, entering the fourth quarter, the Chiefs only managed to score seven points -- or nearly 20 points less than the team averaged in the first three quarters during the regular season (26.9 points).
*Facing a Rams squad that scored at least 30 points in 12 regular season games, the Patriots would be wise to operate at a snail's pace to keep Sean McVay's high-flying offense on the sidelines. *
Since Week 16, the Patriots have run for 735 yards, second only to the Rams. Based on the team's success on the ground in that span, New England should give the ball to No. 26 [Michel] early and often, to see if he can wear down the defense.
Even if Gurley isn't 100 percent, the Patriots had better prepare for Anderson and his bulldozer running style. The Rams' RB2 has rushed for 466 yards since Week 16 (including playoffs), and no player has more rushing yards per game (116.5) and rushing first downs (31) during that span.
The Patriots make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks and pass catchers by utilizing an extraordinary amount of man-to-man coverage... Goff has torched man coverage throughout the season (completing 59.2 percent of his passes with 9.1 yards per attempt, a 10:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 104.1 passer rating, according to PFF)
With that in mind, the Patriots could switch it up and use a little more zone to force Goff to throw into quick-closing windows against defenders playing with vision on the quarterback.
I would look for the Patriots to explore a fake-punt opportunity when they see a favorable look against their punt block or safe formations.
*Since the Patriots' Week 11 bye (including the playoffs, meaning their past eight games), Tom Brady has been sacked a grand total of five times. In New England's two postseason contests thus far, Brady wasn't sacked a single time. Clearly, the Pats' O-line is in a groove. *
With Sony Michel on the field this postseason, the Patriots have run the ball 83.8 percent of the time. Despite having played in just two playoff games (due to the Patriots' bye), Michel paces all NFL rushers this postseason with eight runs of 10-plus yards.
*Both Adrian Clayborn and Dont'a Hightower had 14 quarterback pressures over the past two games, per Next Gen Stats. They are tied for the most of any player this postseason. *
*Julian Edelman has earned 171 of his 247 postseason receiving yards (69.2 percent) off passes caught in the middle third of the field... Edelman's high average in yards after the catch when aligned in the slot (5.8 yards, per Pro Football Focus) could create a mismatch in favor of the Patriots when Nickell Robey-Coleman is assigned to stop him. The Rams nickel corner has allowed just 253 totals yards to opposing receivers this season, but 187 of them (73.9 percent) have come in slot coverage. *
Kevin Patra, NFL.com
*In all three of Brady's Super Bowl losses, defenses have battered the quarterback, sacking him eight times, generating 18 QB hits and 48 pressures, per Pro Football Focus. It's not necessarily getting sacks that effects Brady, but rather forcing him to move off his spot.
In last year's Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady was pressured on 46.9 percent of his dropbacks -- the only sack came on a Brandon Graham (lined up inside) strip to effectively end the game.*
*In two playoff games against teams with good pass rushers -- including a K.C. defense that was tied for first in the NFL with 52 QB takedowns -- Brady was sacked zero times on 90 pass attempts.
Phillips specifically mentioning the use of man-coverage to slow Brady four years ago could be instructive, especially with a player of Talib's caliber at his disposal once again. Would Phillips flip from the zone coverage that worked for the Rams at the end of the season back to a scheme in which they'd struggled, but has proven to be more effective against Brady?