Patriots out to run all over Rams

The New England Patriots know the route to the top of mount NFL like the back of their hands, with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick leading them to the Promised Land on five occasions. Last year, they came within a whisker of lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy once more, only for a perfect Philadelphia Eagles performance to deny them.

This year it is the Los Angeles Rams racing them for the summit as the two franchises prepare to clash in Atlanta at Super Bowl LIII. It is being built as the old school versus the new age, with 33-year-old Sean McVay and his quarter-back Jared Goff looking to clinch the second Super Bowl in Rams history.

Pats have peaked at crunch time

New England head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium as 1.83 favourites having hit their stride at just the right time. An 11-5 regular season record was poor by the Pats high standards but have shown everyone who is boss in the AFC in the play-offs, firstly stomping the LA Chargers and then edging out the Kansas City Chiefs in the championship game.

The key to New England’s success has been the strength of their offensive line, giving Brady almost perfect protection, while creating big lanes for running-backs to charge through. Brady has only been touched three times during the post-season, getting the ball out of his hands, on average, in a speedy 2.18 seconds.

Two decent pass rushing teams have not got close to stopping Brady in the play-offs so far but defensive MVP Aaron Donald may have a chance having racked up 20.5 sacks, although none of those have come in the play-offs.

Brady has only thrown two touchdown passes in the post-season with the majority of the damage being done by the running-backs. Sony Michel has five TDs and is 6.75 to get the first score of Super Bowl LII, while Rex Burkhead got the game-winner in Kansas City and is 2.15 to get in the end zone at anytime.

Let’s not forget tight-end Rob Gronkowski has saved his best two games for the play-offs, while Julian Edelman has a tendency to come up big at the Super Bowl, going for 87 and 109 receiving yards on his last two appearances. He’s 1.95 to have over 79.5 receiving yards on Sunday.

Stuttering Rams need early season form

As you can see, there is plenty for the Rams to contend with. They are 2.15 to add to the sole Lombardi trophy they collected in 2000 and avenge their 2002 loss to the Pats, the first Super Bowl of the Brady era.

Had this game been midway through the season then LA would be clear favourites having started 8-0. While their eventual record of 13-3 is hardly disastrous, it doesn’t tell the story of a team who haven’t been explosive on offence since the 54-51 win over the Chiefs.

The biggest concern is the form of star running-back Todd Gurley, who had just four carries in the NFC Championship win over the New Orleans Saints and looked short of fitness. With star wide receiver Cooper Kupp already injured, Goff may need to lean upon late pick-up CJ Anderson and receiver Robert Woods.

Experience could be key as well with only four Rams having been to a Super Bowl, compared to the Pats total of 38.

However, head coach McVay has already proven this year he has the football brain to match the best coaches in the NFL, even Belichick, despite being half the New England coach’s age. He pulled Goff back from the brink against the Saints and will have scheme upon scheme to try to outsmart the Pats, just like the Eagles boss Doug Peterson did last year.

Ultimately, how can you bet against the Patriots? They are playing their best football of the year and have made winning Super Bowls a habit.