PFT’s Super Bowl picks

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I’ve already won the regular-season picks contest, and victory was clinched in the postseason version when the Patriots proved everyone in the entire world wrong (except the many who believed they’d advance to the Super Bowl) by beating the Chiefs.

But there’s still something special about nailing the Super Bowl pick, and on that MDS and I disagree. Our selections and our reasoning appear below.

MDS’s take: The Patriots have so many advantages. Experience is the obvious one: Bill Belichick has coached in more Super Bowls (including when he was an assistant) than Sean McVay has spent seasons in the NFL. Tom Brady has played in more Super Bowls than the Rams’ entire roster combined. If experience matters in big games, that’s an enormous advantage for the Patriots.

It’s also worth noting that the Patriots seemed to play their best football as the season went on, while the Rams struggled a bit down the stretch. That’s an advantage for the Patriots as well.

However, I believe the Rams have a better team, top to bottom, than the Patriots do. The Rams have an offensive line that should control the game against the Patriots’ defense, while the Rams’ defensive line, led by Aaron Donald, has the ability to take New England out of its offense. With the men upfront leading the way, Los Angeles has the stronger roster.

It was a roster that was built to win this year, with some key offseason moves. After watching everything the Rams did in the offseason, I said before the season that the Rams would beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and I’m not going to change that pick now.

MDS’s pick: Rams 30, Patriots 27.

Florio’s take: After the Patriots lost to the Dolphins and Steelers on consecutive Sundays in December, sliding out of one of the top two spots in the AFC, I looked at the remaining schedules for the contenders in the conference and thought, “They have us right where they want us.”

Indeed they did. Seizing on the trumped-up notion that no one believes in them, the Patriots handled their final two regular-season opponents, manhandled the Chargers in the divisional round, and then somehow stickhandled their way past best team in the conference on its own field for a ninth Super Bowl appearance in 18 years.

I (and many others) believed in the team no one believed in because of experience. Eight consecutive trips to the AFC Championship means something when it comes to finding a way to advance. Four Super Bowls in five years means something when it comes to finding a way to win it. And losing the Super Bowl last year definitely helps provide a kick in the pants, too.

The Patriots’ 5-3 record in the Super Bowl since 2001 is downright unpatriotic. They could be 8-0 or 0-8 or anything in between, because every game has been excruciatingly close. They’re due for something different. They’re due for an old-school, boring-ass Super Bowl blowout. And they’re not due to be the team on the wrong side of it.

Many thought the Chargers, who were 9-0 outside of L.A., would go to Gillette Stadium and win. By halftime, it was clear they wouldn’t.

It was clear they wouldn’t because the Patriots methodically scored over and over and over and the Chargers couldn’t match. While the outcome is far easier said than done, the Patriots will strive to duplicate the approach, moving the ball consistently when they have it, scoring touchdowns not field goals, and getting off the field quickly on defense by taking away tailback Todd Gurley and daring quarterback Jared Goff to beat them over the top. Barring another inexplicable decision to leave one of the team’s starting cornerbacks on the sideline for the full game, the Patriots’ defense should be able to handle Brandin Cooks (whom the Pats know very well) and Robert Woods (whom they also know well from his time in Buffalo, where he was a teammate of Patriots All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore).

The Pats will do it offensively by keeping the Rams’ defense guessing, on every play. And that inability to know with a high degree of certainty whether a pass or a run is coming will keep an aggressive group of defenders on their heels, fearful to commit to chasing the quarterback due to the possibility that, on third and five, a running back will run right by them.

Then there are the comments Belichick made last week about Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ system. When Belichick praised Wade for having success with the same defense for more than 30 years, some saw that not as praise but as a clue that Belichick will find a way based on years of tape and tendencies and tells to pick it apart, with running back James White potentially emerging as a key contributor through an underneath passing game that could blow open, given the attention that will be devoted to corralling receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Last year in the Super Bowl, the Patriots didn’t have Edelman. The year before that, they didn’t have Gronk. For the first time since Super Bowl XLIX, they have both. That’s a huge plus for the Patriots.

They also have Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest player at any position in league history. After the epic 28-3 comeback in Super Bowl LI, Brady said he’s at the point where nothing a defense shows him can fool him. Two years later, his legs and arm still youthful enough to do what his brain tells them to do quickly and decisively, the former sixth-rounder’s internal supercomputer has even more data for seeing seven steps ahead of a defense, based on what they’re doing before the ball is snapped, where they finally align, and how they move once the play starts.

Which makes the thought of the Pats losing a second straight Super Bowl not compute. Yes, the end of a generation-plus of football excellence is coming, eventually. But not yet. Not on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Patriots could do to the Rams what so many Super Bowl winners did in the years before we became spoiled by the game being a consistently good one. Here’s hoping it’s not a blowout. Here’s one man’s guess that, unfortunately for the Rams, it will be.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 39, Rams 20.

88 responses to “PFT’s Super Bowl picks

  1. The Pats are going to win. Its what they do. Tom Brady is the goat, period. And its not debatable. Ppl hate on the Pats and all they do is win. I’m a Niners fan, but I appreciate the greatness that is Brady and the Pats.

  2. I love the way the Patriots have come out of the gates the past two games. If McDaniels continues to be on his game and aggressive, the Patriots will be in the 30s once again. That should be enough.

  3. “Seizing on the trumped-up notion that no one believes in them”

    Seriously?? I remember 90% of sports media saying that the dynasty was over. Stephen A. Smith saying “THE PATRIOTS WILL NOT BE IN THE SUPERBOWL THIS YEAR…PERIOD!
    Y’all need to wipe the egg of your collective face.

  4. New England will put this away by early in the 3rd quarter. They will coast in the 4th qtr to hoist the trophy and send Brady into retirement a winner.

  5. I said before the season that the Rams would beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and I’m not going to change that pick now.

    ————————————————–

    Nice call by MDS.

  6. 8oneanddones says:
    February 2, 2019 at 9:50 am

    39-20? It that a nod to Belichick’s first Super Bowl winnning team?

    ————————————————

    No that was Bill Parcells Giants team who defeated the Broncos 39-20. Florio has said all week it’s a nod to Chris Simms pops Phil who had a remarkable game that day in setting multiple Super Bowl records.

  7. When Pats lost the last SB some said the dynasty was over. Then when they started 2-2 many said that proved it. And when they lost 2-straight down the stretch some said see, that proves it, they’re finally hitting the buffers. Then Chargers were supposed to oust them, then they were made dogs for their trip to the new heroes of Arrowhead. So yeah, they had plenty of doubters.

  8. “They also have Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest player at any position in league history.” Yeah, the guy who is responsible more than anyone else for turning the NFL into the joke it is today by making it illegal to tackle quarterbacks because he got an owie in 2008 is the greatest player ever in this 150 year old sport. Eye roll.

  9. Patriots 31 Rams 17 I think the Pats cut off throws to Cooks and run right at their defense. Edelman might get a td or 2 but look for James White to be the difference.

  10. Rams win and they are a sham because they shouldn’t even be there at all. Period.

    Patriots win and it’s a sham because they didn’t beat the REAL NFC Champs and benefitted from too many phantom calls in the AFC Championship game.

    Bottom line is it’s the least important Super Bowl in NFL history and should be renamed: *Bowl

  11. I was eagerly awaiting your predictions! Both are bold. I think the result will fall somewhere in the middle, with the Pats winning another drama-filled squeaker.

  12. I say this as a Patriots fan.
    Last year, everyone thought the Super Bowl would be a cake walk against back up Foles. Majority picked the Patriots.
    It seems like this year is setting up for the same outcome.

    The first Super Bowl win against the Rams came after the tuck rule game. The parallel to the outrage of the tuck rule game to this years out rage at the no call New Orleans is so obvious.

  13. I remember the last time I wanted a blowout win…I was staring at a 28-3 score. Doh! It’s the better team (Rams) versus the team that just keeps finding ways to win (Patriots). The Patriots made big mistakes against the Chiefs and still won that game. To win tomorrow, I think their game has to be clean, no fumbles, no picks, and no missed kicks. If they do that, they win. Go Patriots!

  14. Patriots defense last in the NFL against play action.

    Rams offense #1 in the NFL in plays off play action.

    Goff 104 QB rating off play action. #4 in the NFL.

    Patriots defense terrible against runs out of 3 WR sets (+5.0 YPC)

    Rams offense #1 in the NFL in running plays out of 3 WR sets.

    There’s a reason the Rams opened up the favorites.

  15. Patriots 39, Rams 20? If the Patriots win it will be a last minute drive to win by one score as always happens when they win.

  16. Let’s see:

    Belichick vs McVay
    Brady vs Goff

    Let me think about this for about….2 seconds…Patriots 38 Rams 21

    Be over by the time Maroon 5 starts singing

  17. This could be an historic game for the NFL we must prepare for the worst. 34-31 pats, I’m prepared for the rams to lose that’s why I’m planning my vacation early and recording tv shows and thinking ahead to the hall of Fame game.

  18. I am not a Patriots fan in the least, but I don’t know how you can bet against them as long as Brady is playing.

  19. Patriots win. Guaranteed that, in the late third and fourth quarter there will be strategically placed calls against the Rams that will shift the game totally into the Pats favor. Happens in every Pats game that has been played in the last 15 years.
    Bet on it.

  20. “…and daring quarterback Jared Goff to beat them over the top.” I hope that dare comes true, because Goff continues to be a wildly underrated QB, as he’ll be happy to demonstrate to you tomorrow.

  21. I think anyone who picks either team by 19 just isn’t watching football. I like MDS analysis better, whichever way he picked, because experience is one thing, top to bottom talent is another. I like the Rams in a grind out, especially given the Pats have never won anything but a grind out (3-4 points, OT rules against ATL doesn’t count). Never dominated the big game.

  22. It’s a fake super bowl people… thanks everyone knows this! It’s got less meaning than the 4th preseason game…what a shame.

  23. willycents says:
    February 2, 2019 at 11:05 am
    Patriots win. Guaranteed that, in the late third and fourth quarter there will be strategically placed calls against the Rams that will shift the game totally into the Pats favor. Happens in every Pats game that has been played in the last 15 years.
    Bet on it.
    ——
    Because the last 4 years have taught us how much the league loves them
    some Patriots. 🤔

  24. The Rams have an offensive line that should control the game against the Patriots’ defense, while the Rams’ defensive line, led by Aaron Donald, has the ability to take New England out of its offense. With the men upfront leading the way, Los Angeles has the stronger roster.

    ——
    I get that thinking and I agree this game will be won in the trenches. But the Patriots DL is sneaky good and to be honest this may be as good an OL right now as the Patriots have had in the Brady era. Mason against Donald isn’t the lopsided matchup that many think it is.

    This is not even close to the Pats teams in the last decade who were vulnerable up the middle and who had no real running threat. This one isn’t and does.

    Rams are a great team and they’ll be back in this game before long but I believe the Pats OL is the difference in this one. They’re playing way too well right now, Pats by 3.

  25. yodsale says:
    February 2, 2019 at 10:28 am

    The first Super Bowl win against the Rams came after the tuck rule game. The parallel to the outrage of the tuck rule game to this years out rage at the no call New Orleans is so obvious.

    ————-

    Not even remotely similar. Rams benefited from an obvious, egregious non call by the refs. The Tuck Rule was a rule, implemented several times that year, and properly called accordingly. Tuck Rule game was not the Championship game- Pats had to go to Pittsburgh and win.

  26. I remember the Pats-Hawks game. The hawks had not only a ferocious defensive front, but the legion of boom in backfield. Pats got behind because of poor ball security. Eventually, Pats figured out how to mitigate hawks defense…that is, be quick.

  27. Haters all picking the Rams makes me feel warm inside. Go back and look at their KC and Chargers predictions. They’re hilarious.

  28. The final score is up to the Pats. Depends on their game plan. Long, methodical drives, eating up time is my guess. And there’s nothing the LA Shams can do about it.

    Go Pats!

  29. I never predict games, especially football. There’s just too much that can change on a dime. Talent matters, experience matters (but less so, I think) but luck matters, too. A fumble bounces one way, the game turns. A fumble bounces another way, the game stays on the same track.

    As a Pats fan, I predict a really awesome effort from both teams. Obviously, I want the Pats to win, but honestly, if the Rams win, I won’t be upset. I like what McVay and Goff are doing down there, and against any team but the Pats, I’d be rooting for them tomorrow. Blown PI call and all.

  30. thesmartest1 says:
    February 2, 2019 at 11:23 am
    Everyone is missing this game is won in the trenches. Rams are better here.

    3 13 Rate This

    —————————

    Pats oline superior to rams, rams d line superior to pats

    So, you’re wrong. Just because you don’t know about the Pats Oline, does not mean they are not superior to the Rams.

    Hint: Gurley and the ability to get to playaction is why Goff and the Oline appear bette than NE’s.

  31. The Pats always take away your best player in the playoffs. Tyreek Hill flat out disappeared two weeks ago. Tomorrow, Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson will both be neutralized. Belichick, knowing that Jared Goff relies heavily on Sean McVay’s analysis on every play until there’s 15 seconds on the play clock, will make certain his defense is unreadable until AFTER there’s 15 seconds on the play clock.

    The Rams will still move the ball, but I can see them struggling in the red zone. The Pats will convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns.

    There’s no denying the Rams have more talent than New England. But Belichick is simply the greatest coach to ever walk a sideline.

    New England 34
    Los Angeles 16

  32. “No that was Bill Parcells Giants team who defeated the Broncos 39-20.”

    Yes and Belichick was the DC for the Giants and it was his defense that held the Donks to 20.

    ” Yeah, the guy who is responsible more than anyone else for turning the NFL into the joke it is today by making it illegal to tackle quarterbacks because he got an owie in 2008′

    Uh wrong. The low hit rule against QBs was put into place after Carson Palmer got hit low and badly injured a couple years before that. But yeah, its easier to blame mean ol’ Tom Brady for that because you don’t like him

  33. Yep, think Florio is right. Unless the Rams physically whip the Patriots on something like the Giants defensive line did to them twice or the Eagle receivers and passing game did their DBs last year, it’s probably not a safe bet to go against them. Rams got gashed running the ball all year, and I think Belichick will exploit that along with their weakness against tight ends while living inside Goff’s head for 3 and a half hours.

  34. I said before the season started that the Patriots would beat the Rams in the Super Bowl, and I’m not going to change that pick now.

    Seriously.

  35. Only way I can see the Rams winning is if Brady has a historically awful SB performance, and even in the Pats losses in the SB, Brady has never had an awful game. History shows that the Giants had the best game plan. They pressured Brady constantly in both games. Brady wasn’t horrible in those SB losses, but he threw for less than 300 yards and had just three TD passes (total) in both of those games. The Falcons basically had the same approach, at least through 3 quarters of the SB. The Falcons sacked Brady 5 times in that game, the most Brady has ever been sacked in a SB and the Pats could only muster 3 points through almost 3 full quarters. But then in the fourth quarter and OT, the Falcons never touched Brady again. The Falcons defense simply wore down. The Rams have a better defense than the Falcons, but if they can’t pressure Brady the way the Falcons and Giants did Brady will figure out the defense and the Pats will win, probably win big. Rams running game though is the key, since that’s the best way to shorten the game and keep their defense from getting worn down the way the Falcons defense did. Falcons threw the ball way too much in the second half of that SB, and consequently they failed to shorten the game. Rams running game is way better than the Falcons. They should be able to run it well, especially late in the game, should they have a lead.

    My prediction is Rams get to Brady early, sack him a couple times, and maybe even get out to an early lead. But just like Falcons, Rams D will fade in the fourth quarter, and Brady will make the plays he always makes. Pats win it in a lower scoring game than people think.

    Pats 20 – Rams 14.

  36. Saints fan here, nothing against the Rams, but hope the Patriots win as a result of a no call on an obvious PI/ helmet to helmet hit in the waning moments of the game. That my friends would be poetic justice. Rams will then see how easy it is to “get over it”.

  37. One reason I think the Pats will win again is that Adam Schein is once again picking the Pats’ opponent. He picked the Chargers to crush the Pats, all week telling everyone about how this was “Philip Rivers year… his time to shine (no pun intended).” Then when that didn’t happen he told us how KC and “my guy Paddy Mahomes, the MVP of the League” was going to destroy the Pats. Ah, how’d that turn out? Oh yeah… Pats won, again. So now the guy is all in on “his RAMS.” Says their tackle “will be the best player on the field.” Says he and Suh will sack Brady a bunch and “his man Goff” (boy he has a lot of “his” guys in the League) will play his best game. His pick… THE RAMS, of course. Well based on his track record of predictions I’m thrilled he is picking the RAMS. Based on his record of failed predictions I’d say our Pats are in great shape! Go PATS! Give this guy yet ANOTHER losing prediction (how many times did he pick against Foles until he FINALLY got that one right! Ha.)…. Still, I do like his show if for no other reason than to listen to how eloquently the guys eats crow week after week… after week… after…. Pats 24, Rams 13

  38. It is almost like the Patriots idled their way through the season, baiting teams to get over confident by losing games they should win. The Ol’ Master Bill has these boys dialed in and serious. In my heart I hope the Rams win, but my head tells me the Patriots just might score on every possession, except the kneel down Victory formation at the end.
    I honestly haven’t seen any coach keep coming up with new game plans, playing to the strengths, every time a team thinks they have them figured out the Patriots counter them with a different game plan. Nobody plays the game of “Chess” known as football like Bill Belichick. Also no Coach knows the rules even the Ancient ones on the books like Bill and Company.

  39. Since Aaron Donald has disappeared in the playoffs, he won’t be better against a team that is better than the ones played to date. Since the New England Cheaters are more prepared for competition once the playoffs start, I don’t see how the Rams can overcome since they have looked unprepared on several occasions during the season already.

    I loathe the New England Cheaters, but unless Donald stops phoning it in and suddenly earns his money, this game could be one of the Cheaters running the ball with no mercy and Tomasina Brady throwing quick, short passes to neutralize any pass rush from Donkey Kong.

  40. The playoffs Patriots will be the best defense the Rams have faced all year long. If they struggled against the Bears, I don’t see how they have any success against the Patriots. This will be another blowout lopsided SB, a repeat of Denver Seattle SB.

    Patriots 45
    Rams 10

  41. rccltd says:
    February 2, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Jeffries doesn’t drop the pass The Eagles with Wentz or Foles beat The Patriots by 10.

    ________________________________________

    Woulda,coulda,shoulda…Pats 38, Rams 27.

  42. Hmmmm. How did the Giants beat NE in the SuperBowl? Limiting NE offense with pressure up the middle. The GOAT won’t have time to be the GOAT.

    Rams 21
    Pats. 17

  43. Not a pats fan, but this game will be boring. Rams will never even lead. Pats will run constantly to wear out Ram front. Then TB will consistently move the sticks while the tired Rams are looking for the run. We’ve seen this over and over…

    Yawn

  44. Goff isn’t even one of the top five QB’s in the league. No chance. Saints were the only team who might have beaten the Pats.

  45. FoozieGrooler says:
    February 2, 2019 at 2:38 pm
    The Patsies are 5-5 in Super Bowls.
    They’re hardly a lock to win this one

    ———————
    By those numbers they are hardly a lock to lose either. It seems none of us have any idea what will happen. I guess we are just going to have to watch while they play the game.

  46. people!
    “pressure up the middle!”
    “get to brady!”

    Q: How come you just thought of this now?

    A: you didn’t and neither have the Pats seen it before /s

  47. I guess MDS forgot about that preseason SB prediction when he picked the Chiefs to beat the Patriots both in his overall postseason picks on Jan. 4, and in the conference championship feature. Whoops.

  48. This has to be a record for number of non Patriots fans that are rooting for the Patriots and not ‘whoever is playing against the Patriots’. I realize this has less to do with the Patriots and more to do with resentment for how the Rams got there. But still this much rooting for the Patriots shows just how deep the animosity is. We should all remember that however bad it was, and it was, the Rams did not make that call. Be mad at the league if you must, but not the Rams. I expect them to play tough tomorrow and wish them the best. (But I live in Massachusetts so I am still rooting for the Patriots)

  49. pbinpb57 says:
    February 2, 2019 at 9:45 am
    “Seizing on the trumped-up notion that no one believes in them”

    Seriously?? I remember 90% of sports media saying that the dynasty was over. Stephen A. Smith saying “THE PATRIOTS WILL NOT BE IN THE SUPERBOWL THIS YEAR…PERIOD!
    Y’all need to wipe the egg of your collective face.

    192 63 Rate This

    ————————
    Agreed, after all the negativity posted pretty much everywhere this year its almost hilarious to hear all the folks now trying to say nobody questioned them. Unless of course they mean it wasnt so much questioning as everyone pronouncing them dead, buried, and the grave paved over. These same folks do call them done every year, predicting it before any games get played, and jumping back in with it each of the very few times the Pats win. But this year they really committed. “Sure we said it before but this year I can see its different” (ok, maybe that one gets said every year) but then there was the “Brady doesnt look himself”, “gronk lost a step”, “Belichick looks more lost than usual” (“than usual”? When did this guy ever look lost?), “Edelman is noticably slower after his injury”, “they lost all their talent”, “the years of bad drafting are catching up”, and many more of these. And the big one “ the Dynasty is over”. After the loss to Pittsburgh I recall Steelers fans celebrating the success of their season almost like they had forgotten the position their own team was in. After the loss to Miami I recall the predictions not just that the Patriots were about to lose out the year, but also this was Brady and Gronk losing out their careers. And then everyone was poised to Celebrate the Patriots getting killed off in their own Stadium by the Chargers. After that these same people acted all indignant when Brady pointed out all that hate but it didnt stop them from predicting the demise of the Patriots in Arrowhead. So yeah its been non stop declarations the Patriots are “a shell of their former selves” and predictions of their demise “starting now”. And all that came from the same mouths trying to say no one ever doubted the Patriots.

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