Three straight Super Bowls. Three. Straight. Super Bowls. Oh, it feels good just writing that. What the Patriots are doing is so insane, so completely unprecedented, that it is hard to understand the magnitude. Nobody goes to three straight Super Bowls. Hell, nobody goes to two. The modern NFL is built to discourage that. Tight salary caps, the frequency of injuries, the unpredictability of single elimination, all of that is supposed to stop this from happening. And yet, it didn’t, so we’re here: Brady and Belichick staring down Super Bowl number nine, trying to win their sixth. Not only that, but they’re favored to win, and, if you ignore the actual rosters of each team, it makes a lot of sense. The Pats took it to the Chiefs and beat them in Arrowhead, and, in my opinion, the Chiefs are better than the Rams, regular season loss or not.
Here’s the thing, though. If you look at the rosters, the Patriots really don’t stack up. The offensive wizard who is Sean McVay at the helm of an offensive juggernaut that boasts Todd Gurley. A defense that was put together for the express purpose of winning the Super Bowl, and I have nightmares about Aaron Donald. What do we have? Trey Flowers? A Gronk who can’t run anymore? Sony Michel? No, we don’t have a loaded roster, but we do have Tom Brady, and that has been enough for eighteen years.
Belichick’s a genius, obviously. Just like we’ve done the previous two rounds, expect to see him heavily feature the run game, and hopefully Michel won’t be gassed in the second half this time. Or maybe Belichick won’t. There’s a good chance he comes out and passes the entire time, destroying the game plan the Rams prepped because everyone in the world thinks the Patriots are going to run. On defense, Belichick is going to jam the hell out of the Ram receivers and force Goff to make reads on the fly and under pressure, things he is not very good at. McVay is really good at his job, though, so the one thing I can say as a certainty is that the game plans are going to evolve rapidly as the two teams respond to one another. From a tactician’s stand point, this game is going to be very exciting.
If I had to pick based solely on roster talent and the way football is supposed to work, it would be a no-brainer, twenty-four year old QB beats 41 year old every time. But the beauty of the Patriots is that they don’t conform to how football is supposed to work, so somehow, after thinking they were going to get crushed in both previous rounds of the playoffs, I have confidence that this is going to go our way. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong, but I don’t think so. No team should go to three straight Super Bowls, but the Patriots did. They do the impossible all the time; no reason they can’t do it again.
Official Prediction: 31-27 Patriots