The Los Angeles Rams are one step away from completing their championship mission. In May 2018, I wrote that the Rams would win Super Bowl LIII. Despite facing a team with more Super Bowl experience, I still believe they will bring the Lombardi Trophy to the City of Angels for the first time since the Raiders did it in 1984.
The Rams boast a star-studded team, which was only enhanced diamond in the rough C.J. Anderson, who bounced from the Broncos, to the Panthers, and finally to L.A in December. With the Rams he has been stellar, racking up 422 yards and four touchdowns in three games. Not only is he making his case as a star of the offense, his role is even more important because it lightens the workload of Todd Gurley, allowing the feature back to shine.
The Patriots' defense thrived at the point of attack this season, both rushing and hitting the quarterback. How can a team counter that success? By utilizing the best offensive line in the league. The Rams' front five started off on fire, was in a rut toward the end of the regular season, but has delivered big time for the run game so far in the playoffs. That line has also kept Jared Goff off the ground, only allowing two sacks so far this postseason.
Goff had a Pro Bowl regular season, but recently he has surpassed even his own high standards. Goff’s decision making under pressure in the playoffs has been veteran quarterback. He undoubtedly will continue to take shots on the successful play-action game with deep throws to Brandin Cooks, who average 15.1 yards per catch this season. But also expect to see Goff take advantage of the Todd Gurley v. Dont’a Hightower matchup. If Gurley gets matched up against slow-moving Hightower, as is expected, the Rams stud running back will get opportunities in open field.
Although the Rams are boasting a talented offense, remember the old adage: “Defense wins championships.” No team has a better defensive player than Aaron Donald. As a defensive tackle, he had 20.5 sacks in the regular season, an all-time NFL record for the position. Donald has been a dominant turnover force with four forced fumbles and many interceptions caused after knocking the quarterback to the ground during the throw.
If there’s a weakness for the Pats to exploit, it is in the Rams’ secondary, which has not met expectations. But cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the lineup from injury a few weeks ago, and he’s already settling into McVay’s defense and making a difference. Remember, too, that Talib has playoff experience as a former Patriot and Bronco.
Bill Belichick is a legendary coach. But McVay has a strong bond with this team. From my firsthand experience watching McVay at practice, his players treat him more like a highly respected team captain.
The Los Angeles Rams stellar offense, disruptive defense, and winning mentality will lead the team to hoist the Super Bowl LIII Lombardi Trophy high this Sunday!
(Photo credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)