Today’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Defense.
QB – Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
UT – Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
UT – Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
UT – Darrell Henderson Jr – Los Angeles Rams
UT – Rob Gronkowski – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
D – Los Angeles Rams
UT – Josh Reynolds – Los Angeles Rams
Today’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Defense.
QB – Nick Foles – Chicago Bears
UT – Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
UT – Allen Robinson II – Chicago Bears
UT – Ryan Nall – Chicago Bears
UT – Jimmy Graham – Chicago Bears
D – Chicago Bears
UT – Darnell Mooney – Chicago Bears
Tomorrow’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Defense
QB – Ryan Tannehill – Tennessee Titans
UT – A.J. Brown – Tennessee Titans
UT – Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts
UT – Corey Davis – Tennessee Titans
UT – Jonnu Smith – Tennessee Titans
D – Tennessee Titans
Today’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Defense
QB – Cam Newton – New England Patriots
UT – Jakobi Meyers – New England Patriots
UT – James White – New England Patriots
UT – Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots
UT – La’Mical Perine – New York Jets
DEF – New England Patriots
Today’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Flex and Defense
QB – Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers / $8,100
RB – Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers / $7,800
RB – Clyde Edward-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs / $5,400
WR – Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons / $7,000
WR – Marquez Valdes-Scantling – Green Bay Packers / $3,900
WR – Mecole Hardman – Kansas City Royals / $3,500
TE – Hayden Hurst – Atlanta Falcons / $3,900
FLEX – Robert Tonyan – Green Bay Packers / $3,600
DEF – Kansas City Chiefs / $2,000
Salary Cap remaining ($50,000): $4,800
Today’s’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Flex and Defense
QB – Brett Rypien – Denver Broncos
RB – Melvin Gordon III – Denver Broncos
WR – Jamison Crowder – New York Jets
WR – Jerry Jeudy – Denver Broncos
TE – Noah Fant – Denver Broncos
D – Denver Broncos
Tomorrow’s Ultimate NFL Fantasy Picks from QB to Flex – Under $50,000
QB – Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions (vs ARI) / $6,300
RB – Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks (vs DAL) / $6,400
RB – Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles (vs CIN) / $6,800
WR – Terry McLaurin – Washington (vs CLE) / $5,100
WR – Darius Slayton – New York Giants (vs SF) / $5,200
WR – Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons (vs CHI) / $8,000
TE – Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams (vs BUF) / $5,400
Flex – James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers (vs HOU) / $4,500
DEF – Indianapolis Colts (vs NYJ) / $2,000
Salary Cap remaining ($50,000): $300
NFL Top Fantasy Picks from Dolphins vs Jaguars Game
QB – Gardner Minshew II – Jacksonville Jaguars
RB – James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars
WR – DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins
WR – DJ Chark Jr – Jacksonville Jaguars
WR – Keelan Cole – Jacksonville Jaguars
TE – Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins
Since the 2001 season, the New England Patriots have been dominating the AFC East. Will it be more of the same in 2019? What are the other teams looking like as we get set for a new season? Let’s take a look and find out.
2018 Record: 6-10
A year after a surprising playoff berth, the Bills took a step back in 2018. The team would enter the offseason with a clear idea of where improvement was needed. Buffalo managed to check off all the boxes.
Josh Allen has new weapons and better protection. The club has found a potential anchor on defense via the draft in Ed Oliver. Things are looking up for the Bills, but oddsmakers still aren’t expecting all that much in the way of improvement.
John Miller (G), Charles Clay (TE)
Ed Oliver (DL), Cole Beasley (WR), John Brown (WR), Mitch Morse (C)
The Bills looked awful in the first-half of 2018, but it was a different story down the stretch. The tweaks the team has made should lead to improvement. We’ll gladly take the Over on regular season wins and keep our eyes peeled for value in September game lines.
Fantasy Radar: Cole Beasley
Allen now has some much needed weapons in the passing attack. Beasley steps into the safety blanket role for the second-year pro, and he should see plenty of targets. He’s an intriguing player to keep in mind for the mid to late rounds.
2018 Record: 7-9
A rebuild is on the menu in Miami. The Adam Gase era is over, and Brian Flores will be tasked with putting the franchise back together again. Based on the offseason moves, the club is taking a build from the inside out approach.
That could work in the long run, but there will be growing pains along the way. It’s unclear if Josh Allen will be the long-term answer at QB, but it looks this club is going to be in line for an early pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ja’Wuan James (RT), Cameron Wake (DE)
Christian Wilkins (DL), Josh Allen (QB) Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)
The Dolphins have done all but waive the white flag heading into 2019. That doesn’t bolster enthusiasm for much more than a 3-win campaign. We’re not expecting to see them favored often, if at all.
Fantasy Radar: DeVante Parker
Miami should be behind often in the coming year. That means Allen or Ryan Fitzpatrick should be slinging the rock a lot. Parker has disappointed thus far. There’s simply no excuse if he doesn’t rack up some serious yardage this year.
New England Patriots
2018 Record: 11-5
The defending Super Bowl champions weren’t being taken seriously by a number of observers heading into the playoffs. That proved to be a bad call. Another trophy is now in the case, and the club enters 2019 as a favorite to do it again.
There’s always turnover for the Patriots to deal with, and it’s the same this year. There will likely be a bad loss somewhere along the way in 2019. We’ll patiently await the warnings that the sky is falling in on New England afterwards and check back in for the postseason.
Trey Flowers (DE), Rob Gronkowski (TE), Trent Brown (RT)
N’Keal Harry (WR), Mike Pennel (DE), Jamie Collins (LB)
Barring something catastrophic, the Patriots will contend for another ring in 2019. We can’t promise that everything will go swimmingly along the way, but we also don’t feel the need to try and call a shot on an end to a dynasty which has no intention of going away.
Fantasy Radar: Sony Michel
The backfield in New England is traditionally frustrating for fantasy owners. Michel showed a lot in his rookie campaign and earned the trust of coaches. That’s enough to rely on him as a reliable fantasy asset for the new season.
New York Jets
2018 Record: 4-12
Gase proved to be the wrong guy in Miami, but Jets brass thinks he’ll do just fine. The club was quite active in the offseason, and there is a chance that the moves will bear fruit. Le’Veon Bell changes the offense, while Quinnen Williams and C.J. Mosley can help bolster a defense which already had solid pieces in place.
On the down side, dysfunction reared its head in New York once again when GM Mike Maccagnan was shown the door. This happened after he was entrusted with spending a boatload of cash. We can’t guarantee that will impact the product on the field, but it certainly doesn’t help.
James Carpenter (G), Buster Skrine (CB
C.J. Mosley (LB), Le’Veon Bell (RB), Ryan Kalil (OC), Quinnen Williams (DT)
We’re optimistic that the Jets will improve on both sides of the ball this year. However, that’s tempered by the behind the scenes drama and a seemingly lackluster hire at head coach. New DC Gregg Williams will make the defense better, but we’ll see what Gase can do with Sam Darnold and company.
Fantasy Radar: Robby Anderson
While most of the attention will go to Bell in fantasy circles, the Jets passing game should also improve as a result of his addition. Anderson has wheels and can do some damage. He should find even more room to get open this season to boot.
Football fans can start making their couch potato plans and planning their Daily Fantasy Football drafts at Fanpicks.com after the NFL unveiled its full regular-season schedule for 2019.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have the honor of kicking off the new campaign. They’ll meet Sept. 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The dates for the remaining 255 games are available on NFL.com
The key dates are listed below, along with some of the more notable games to kick off your 2019 Daily Fantasy Sports NFL Season.
2019 Key Dates + Games to Watch
Thursday, September 5: Regular-Season Kickoff
Packers @ Bears – This was the Sunday Night Football opener last year and featured a wrecking-ball start to Khalil Mack’s Chicago career in the first half and then one of the best comebacks of Aaron Rodgers’s career in the second half. A full 4 quarters of Rodgers vs Mack is a mouthwatering way to open the year.
Sunday, September 8: Regular-Season Kickoff Weekend
Steelers @ Patriots – If Packers-Bears is the Week 1 appetizer, this is the main course and some. Pats-Steelers has been one of the best regular-season games of the year for two years in a row. Therefore no reason to expect anything less this time around.
Sunday, September 15: Rematch of 2018 NFC Championship
Saints @ Rams – We knew we were getting the rematch, but it is so sweet that it comes so early in the season. The Rams were in the Super Bowl largely because of a refereeing disaster. You can be sure Sean Payton will need to do very little to motivate his boys for this game.
Sunday, December 29: Final Day of Regular Season
Saturday, January 4: NFL Playoffs Begin
Sunday, February 2: Super Bowl LIV (Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida)
Who can you expect to find matched up in Super Bowl LIV? We are leaning Saints vs Chiefs, but honestly who can be sure based on what we saw last season. One thing is for certain, you can experience all the excitement of the 2019 NFL Season at Fanpicks.com. Your home for NFL Daily Fantasy contests.
1-Arizona picked Kyler Murray
If you’re going to hire Kliff Kingsbury as your head coach, you might as well give him the QB he wants to run the system. This selection certainly has a bust factor to it, but he has electric ability that could be a paradigm changer. But Murray had better be good — and relatively fast — otherwise it could be trouble for GM Steve Keim.
2-San Francisco picked Nick Bosa
Arguably the best player in the draft, definitely no lower than third, Joey’s younger brother is a plug-and-play prospect. He may not be as big and athletic as his older brother, but they are virtually the same player.
3-New York Jets picked Quinnen Williams
The No. 1 player on our draft board, Williams is the total package. He’s big, strong, fast and can take over a game. As Missouri coach Barry Odom said, “You have to gameplan around him.” The Jets reportedly tried to trade this pick.
4-Oakland picked Clelin Ferrell
Solid player, military kid, winner, but No. 4? This is the Raiders not using group think and going with who they think is the best player on the board. They’re going to get crushed for picking a player most thought would go middle of the first round. They could have the last laugh. Or not.
5-Tampa Bay picked Devin White
A former running back, White is as tenacious as they come. He is a vicious hitter who flies all over the field, which is his biggest knock: Can he play under control? He has the potential to be the heartbeat of the Bucs defense from Day 1.
6-New York Giants picked Daniel Jones
So Giants fans … here is Eli Manning’s replacement. No. 56 on our board, this is the best GM Dave Gettleman can do? Could have had their choice of QB last year (outside of Baker Mayfield), but instead have opted for a player who didn’t complete 60-percent of his passes in college.
7-Jacksonville picked Josh Allen
Fell right into the Jaguars lap. Allen is a game-changing talent who forces offenses to account for his whereabouts. Allen is a sack machine who will work best if Jacksonville simply lets him loose.
8-Detroit picked T.J. Hockenson
Can catch and block, a rarity at tight end these days. The Lions will rely on him more for the latter to start, with the hope that A) he becomes a playmaker by Year 2 or 3 and B) isn’t Eric Ebron.
9-Buffalo picked Ed Oliver
Rare athleticism for a big man, the 281-pounder’s shuttle time was faster than Saquon Barkley’s. Seriously. The only knock is that he’s a bit undersized for a D-lineman. That said, Oliver’s play did lead the NCAA to make a rule change, so that’s something.
10-Pittsburgh picked Devin Bush
Via a trade with Denver, Steelers get an instinctive playmaker who can cover the field sideline-to-sideline. Bush is a superb leader who can fit in anywhere. Pittsburgh, in an effort to fill the gap left by Ryan Shazier’s injury, gave up their own first (20) a second this year and a third next year.
11-Cincinnati picked Jonah Williams
A detailed-obsessed film junkie, Williams can play every position on the O-line, save center. That gives the Bengals flexibility. Not a sexy pick, but Cincinnati can plug him in for the next eight to 10 years.
12-Green Bay picked Rashan Gary
Good for him, bad for Green Bay. A high-maintenance guy who isn’t a pass rusher. Doesn’t strike fear in opponents. This has bust written all over it.
13-Miami picked Christian Wilkins
Big, big athlete. Wilkins is a high-character guy who will make the Dolphins locker room better Day 1. He’s a versatile guy who will help shore up a bad rushing defense.
14-Atlanta picked Chris Lindstrom
No one moved up more through the draft process than Lindstrom thanks to a solid Senior Bowl. The best pass-blocking guard in the draft, he can step in and start immediately for the Falcons, who have a need at the guard position. Lindstrom may not be special, but he will be very good.
15-Washington picked Dwayne Haskins
Washington gets their QB, as Haskins becomes the third quarterback off the board. Big body, analytical, strong arm … Haskins seemingly has all the necessary tools. The Redskins would be wise to sit him for a year behind Case Keenum.
16-Carolina picked Brian Burns
Just 21, Burns has massive potential (No. 4 on our board) that he’s yet to unlock. The Panthers may need to give him some time to develop, but when he does he could be one of the league’s premier pass rushers.
17-New York Giants picked Dexter Lawrence
Notable: Daniel Jones would have been available with this pick. Lawrence becomes the third defensive linemen from Clemson off the board. Three years ago, he would have been a top-five pick with rare athleticism/size combination, but he comes with a lot of risk (see the PED suspension and nerve damage in his leg).
18-Minnesota picked Garrett Bradburry
He’s not big for an interior linemen, but he’s quick, agile (he is a former tight end) and smart. He has the goods to start immediately for the Vikings and stay there for the next decade.
19-Tennessee picked Jeffery Simmons
Character issues and an ACL tear are definite concerns surrounding Simmons. But if he turns out to be the guy he models his game after (J.J. Watt, sans the injuries), the Titans are getting a stud who can be a disruptor on the defensive line.
20-Denver picked Noah Fant
Second tight end off the board, second tight end off the board from Iowa (the first time that’s ever happened). He’s a better pass-catcher than blocker, but good luck putting a linebacker on him man to man.
21-Green Bay picked Darnell Savage Jr
They had to trade up to 21 to get Savage, who was 89th on our board? A nice player, but this is a questionable move by the Packers.
22-Philadelphia picked Andre Dillard
The Eagles traded up to fill a need, replacing Jason Peters. This is an excellent move by Philadelphia, who need to keep Carson Wentz healthy.
23-Houston picked Tytus Howard
A former high school quarterback who couldn’t bench 175 pounds once when he arrived at Alabama State. Can play both left and right tackle, who swapped between the two in games. Big question: Does the competition at Alabama St. transfer to the NFL?
24-Oakland picked Josh Jacobs
With Marshawn Lynch retiring, the Raiders fill a need at running back. It may have been an obvious pick, but it’s a solid one. He’s elusive and can catch the ball, key in Jon Gruden’s scheme.
25-Baltimore picked Marquise Brown
Lamar Jackson gets his home run threat. Brown, who will replace John Brown, is the first wide receiver off the board. The Ravens can utilize him all over the field: screens, deep, end arounds.
26-Washington picked Montez Sweat
Maybe the biggest question mark in this draft. Sweat’s talent as a defensive playmaker isn’t in question; his enlarged heart is. Some teams took him off their boards entirely. The Redskins clearly did not, trading up to get him. They paid a price (a second rounder this year and next), but they got a top-10 talent late in the first round.
27-Oakland picked Johnathan Abram
He is a junkyard dog, perfect for the Raiders. Hard worker in practice who will bring it every single day. He’s a decent cover player, but he is an enforcer who will make his presence known.
28-Los Angeles Chargers picked Jerry Tillery
A fascinating character, some call eccentric. Some question if he has other interests outside of football, but when he wants to turn it on, he can be a nasty dude. He will complement an already stout Chargers defensive front.
29-Seattle picked L.J. Collier
Some like him more than others. Collier is a rough-and-tumble power end to help replace Frank Clark. It’s an interesting pick for the Seahawks, but it remains to be seen if he can help get after QBs consistently.
30-New York Giants picked Deandre Baker
The Jim Thorpe Award winner brings his shutdown corner skills to the Giants, who are in a division that is looking up at Philadelphia. Baker doesn’t lack in confidence and isn’t afraid to say as much.
31-Atlanta picked Kaleb McGary
Falcons fortifying the right side of their offensive line after taking Chris Lindstrom earlier. It’s a huge win for Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones.
32-New England picked N’Keal Harry
A big, physical receiver who the Patriots have been on for awhile. Harry is a hard-working, high-character player, which means he’ll be perfect for Brady/Belichick.
Breaking down Sunday’s big game.
Back in 2002, the Los Angeles Rams lived in St. Louis, seeking their second Super Bowl title in three years against an upstart New England Patriots team. It was a group of no-name players from the AFC seemingly sent to be sacrificed against one of the best NFC teams fielded this century.
The Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick, was a prodigy who’d failed to deliver in six previous NFL seasons. He had as many playoff victories, one, that equaled what he was really known for: days as head coach of the New York Jets before quitting the job. His quarterback, Tom Brady, was a sixth-round draft pick who had thrown a total of three career NFL passes entering the year; he was pressed into service when longtime starter Drew Bledsoe got hurt.
That left the AFC champs as heavy underdogs against the “Greatest Show On Turf,” a Rams group who had cruised to a 14-2 record and the NFC’s top seed. The offensive juggernaut was favored by 14 points; Kurt Warner and Rams head coach Mike Martz were the ones fit to be football kings.
But something happened on the way to their coronation; the Patriots refused to cede the crown. A late drive by Brady led to a game-winning field goal, producing a 20-17 upset that snuffed out the Rams’ dynasty and started his. Seven more Super Bowls would follow, producing four more wins and turning the Patriots into arguably the greatest NFL team of all time.
So here we are, 17 years later, with the script flipped on Brady and Belichick. It’s a group of young upstarts in the Rams who aren’t supposed to be here yet, led by the league’s youngest head coach, 33-year-old Sean McVay. The quarterback is 24-year-old Jared Goff; he was in second grade when Brady won his first Super Bowl. The Rams come in as the second seed, like the Patriots in 2002, peaking at the right time while persevering through a few lucky breaks. A timely interception preserved a victory against the Eagles, the league’s defending Super Bowl champs. One week later, a no-call on pass interference boosted the Rams in an upset of the NFC’s top seed, the New Orleans Saints.
Now back in Los Angeles, the Rams have a chance to bring the city their first Super Bowl victory since 1984. The Patriots and Brady, meanwhile, are looking to cement their legendary status. A 6-3 record in Super Bowls looks a whole lot better than 5-4; a win also would tie Brady with Michael Jordan’s six NBA titles and break one with Charles Haley for the most rings ever won by an NFL player.
Historically, it would also put a bow on a Brady career most believed would never still be active at age 41. He is the only player remaining from that game on the Patriots, outlasting everyone who stepped foot on the field in Super Bowl XXXVI except kicker Adam Vinatieri. It’s a quarterback that gutted it out on that fateful night, willed his team to the win and hasn’t looked back… for 17 years.
Will Brady refuse to give up, yet again? Or can the Rams usher in a new generation through their collection of young talent?
Super Bowl 53: New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams
Kickoff: Sunday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (Atlanta)
Spread: Patriots -2.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Brady’s big game experience vs. Goff’s biggest moment
There’s not much to say about Tom Brady that hasn’t already been said. His postseason experience includes more playoff wins (29) than Jared Goff’s actual age (24). He enters his ninth Super Bowl with the highest playoff completion percentage of his NFL career (71.1) through two games and a healthy 7.7 yards per attempt. And his three straight third-down conversions on a touchdown-winning overtime drive against the Chiefs? Yet another chapter in a book growing too large for your shelf at home. If you’re looking for Brady to slip Sunday, don’t; it’s a man who’s as battle-tested as they come.
Instead, this Super Bowl becomes all about Goff and his ability to carry the Rams. The first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft took a major step toward stardom this season. His 8.4 yards per attempt ranked fourth in the NFL; a 101.1 QB rating ranked eighth, four notches higher than Brady. And only Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan threw for more yards than Goff (4,688).
For much of the year, Goff lurked in the shadows behind young Mahomes, who set the league on fire with 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdowns. But Goff has had success of his own, in particular in big games. He outdueled Mahomes in a 54-51 win for the Rams in the regular season, throwing for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. He also calmly led the Rams on both the game-tying and game-winning drives last week in the NFC Championship, succeeding in one of the sport’s most hostile road environments: the Superdome.
Through it all, Goff maintained a calm, even-keeled demeanor that’s drawn comparisons to his Super Bowl rival. The question is whether he can continue that in the biggest game of his NFL career. He’s shown inconsistency late in the year, in particular after the loss of slot receiver Cooper Kupp to a torn ACL. He’s failed to throw a touchdown in three of the last five games and had a career-worst four interceptions against the Bears last month.
You shouldn’t expect that many turnovers against the Patriots. But all it takes is one fumble or a pick-six and suddenly momentum turns against you. Goff can’t make that type of mistake against this opponent.
2. Is Todd Gurley healthy? If not, who becomes the star of the Rams’ offense?
Gurley remains the biggest x-factor in a running game that’s been carried most of the postseason by C.J. Anderson. Anderson isn’t a full-time back for a reason; he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in the NFC Championship against the Saints.
But despite Anderson’s ineffectiveness and claims that Gurley was healthy, the Pro Bowl running back rarely spent time in the backfield. Just four carries for 10 yards have everyone scratching their head as to how much time Gurley will play on Super Bowl Sunday.
He was on the field for less than half the snaps, touching the ball just five times for his lowest output of the season. Even worse, the first pass targeted his way bounced right through his hands and into the arms of a Saints defender for an interception. That’s not the way you’d expect a guy who has a league-leading 3,924 yards from scrimmage the last two seasons to perform in your biggest game.
So is a knee injury suffered back in December hobbling Gurley?
“C’mon man,” he said to reporters Friday, adamantly denying it. “If there was an issue with my knee, it would be on the injury report. I’m at practice. I’m playing.”
“You just have to feed off what we are doing, and C.J. was running the ball well,” added Goff to FOX’s Chris Myers after the NFC Championship. “I expect Todd to have a hell of a game in the Super Bowl.”
But will he play well? The Patriots have allowed just 30 rushing yards per game in the postseason, redeeming themselves after an inconsistent regular season. It’s difficult to see Gurley breaking through if he’s less than 100 percent, putting even more pressure on both Anderson and Goff. Gurley’s reduced presence could also hurt in the passing game; he had 59 receptions for 580 yards during the regular season, good for third on the team.
Compare Gurley’s ailment to Sony Michel’s accomplishments over the past two weeks. He’s posted 242 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in the postseason, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and allowing the Patriots to spread the field and open up passing windows for Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald must take charge here and stop Michel or Rex Burkhead from establishing a rhythm.
3. Trench warfare
The Patriots’ offensive line has been the unsung heroes of these playoffs. With a 41-year-old quarterback who’s not as mobile they’ve given up a grand total of zero sacks. The offensive line of the Rams is close behind; just one sack in two games.
So what now? Both teams have used defensive penetration to their advantage; they’ve racked up nine sacks between the two of them. Something’s got to give, somewhere and you have to figure the Patriots have the edge despite the Rams’ Donald. Kyle Van Noy and Trey Flowers have formed an effective 1-2 punch with two sacks apiece. Dont’a Hightower, despite just four tackles in the postseason, has proved generally disruptive.
The key for the Rams is simply to get Donald going. He has just four tackles during the postseason and no major plays of note, at least on paper. Can those three postseason quarterback hits turn into sacks? Contact is more likely to hobble Brady based on his age and current mobility. Getting to Brady is key to getting the Lombardi trophy.
X-Factor: A tale of two coaches
Bill Belichick has done it all. Sean McVay? He’s just getting started. But both coaches benefit from unconventional styles and a penchant for doing things their own way.
The two men met at the NFL Scouting Combine and have texted since, with Belichick taking his time to congratulate McVay after games. The normally tight-lipped Patriots head coach was even willing to compliment the prodigy half his age during Super Bowl media festivities.
“I have a ton of respect for Sean,” he said. “He’s done a great job in the two years he’s been with the Rams. His teams have performed at an extremely high level. They’re very consistent. They’re well-coached. The players execute on a consistent basis on a very high level.”
But for all the confidence Belichick shows in McVay, he also has the experience earned from Super Bowl victories. The Patriots are also coming off a Super Bowl in which the aggressive, youngish coaching style of Doug Pederson kept them off guard. He pushed down on the accelerator and never relented, taking high-risk approaches and offensive gambles that paid off.
One thing about great coaches, they don’t get fooled by the same method twice. Expect Belichick to have learned from that experience and for McVay to be the innocent victim of last year’s frustration.
This year’s Super Bowl line opened with the Rams favored by one. But as game time inches closer, the Patriots have edged back on top and seem to be regaining respect. They’re presenting themselves as a healthy, loose team in position to avenge their narrow loss to the Eagles a season ago.
The Rams, meanwhile, have seen some clouds roll in. The news stories surrounding the pass interference call won’t die; a local New Orleans car dealership has bought billboards all over Atlanta claiming the Saints got robbed. Calls have come from their owner, other NFL players and even Congress itself to change the rules going forward. (Had the penalty been called, the Saints would have run down the clock and attempted a chip shot field goal for the win.)
It leaves the Rams, well, a bit off balance while the Patriots enter the Super Bowl playing at their peak. A motivated Brady is on a mission; one year after losing a step from his MVP status at age 40, he’s out to reinforce his top-tier status at age 41. Add in another week of rest for Gronkowski, the emergence of a rushing star in Michel and it makes the Patriots’ offense seemingly impossible to beat.
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Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defense have dominated the line of scrimmage in their two playoff victories
The Rams are back! While this isn’t exactly “The Greatest Show on Turf,” the Rams are back in the Super Bowl after knocking off the top-seeded Saints 26-23 in overtime in the NFC Championship on Sunday in New Orleans. The win not only marked the franchise’s first conference title since 2001 (back when they were in St. Louis), it also means that for the first time in more than 30 years, the city of Los Angeles will be represented in the Super Bowl.
Even though there was some questionable officiating on Sunday, credit goes to the Rams who overcame a 13-0 first-quarter deficit to fight back, force overtime, and hand the Saints just their third home loss this season. Next up is a date on Feb. 3 in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face the seemingly unstoppable New England Patriots. Los Angeles has already been installed as the underdog, which should came as no surprise since New England will be making its third straight appearance and fourth in five years.
And most of us remember when these two teams met in the Super Bowl nearly 20 years ago when Bill Belichick/Tom Brady were leading the upstart team against the heavy favorites. Obviously much has changed since then but it seems the roles have been reversed. So can the Rams slay the NFL’s current giant and this time take care of business in Atlanta? Here are five reasons to expect the NFC champion to be the victorious team by the end of Super Sunday.
5 Reasons Why the Los Angeles Rams Will Win Super Bowl LIII
1. The Rams’ emerging pass rush
Even with a stout defensive line led by the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Aaron Donald, Los Angeles finished the regular season in the middle of the pack with 41 sacks (15th). But that has changed during the playoffs where the pass rush has already made an impact.
In their wins over the Cowboys and Saints, the Rams have collected three sacks and nine quarterback hits and also have recorded 12.5 tackles for a loss. On Sunday, Dante Fowler Jr. was the one who was able to put enough pressure on Drew Brees to hit his arm which resulted in the interception that gave the ball to Los Angeles near midfield and resulted in the game-winning field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
In the AFC Championship, Kansas City not only didn’t record a sack of Tom Brady, the Chiefs had just one quarterback hit and were flagged for roughing the passer in a key spot. They did have two interceptions but in the end, Brady still threw for 348 yards in leading his team to victory in overtime. Brady is similar to Brees in that he’s not the most mobile of quarterbacks but he gets rid of the ball quickly and the Patriots’ offensive line has done a good job protecting him. The Rams need to keep bringing the heat with Donald, Fowler, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Brockers and other rushers so Brady doesn’t pick them apart from the pocket. Consistent pressure also can force Brady to have happy feet and potentially force some throws or make mistakes.
2. Keep it on the ground
Another thing that Los Angeles has done well in January is run the ball, even if Todd Gurley hasn’t been his usual explosive self. The Rams have put up 350 rushing yards and four touchdowns in their two playoff wins, with most of that damage coming against Dallas in the Divisional Round. C.J. Anderson (167 yards, 2 TDs) has come up huge since signing with the team a month ago, and Gurley will get a little more time to let his knee recover from the injury that caused him to miss the last two games of the regular season.
New England was OK against the run in the regular season (112.7 ypg) but has been very good in the playoffs, holding the Chargers and Chiefs to a total of 60 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Game script had a lot to do with this as both teams were playing from behind for most of their games, but Sean McVay knows he can’t simply abandon the run as much as he may want to air it out with Jared Goff. With two solid options to run the ball with, some old-school football could work in Los Angeles’ favor.
3. The Rams can also stop the run
While Wade Phillips’ defense gave up five yards per carry during the regular season, the unit has tightened things up considerably in the playoffs. Dallas and New Orleans managed a total of 98 rushing yards while averaging just 2.3 yards per carry. The longest running play the Rams have surrendered in the postseason is 16 yards.
For New England, rookie Sony Michel was come up huge in the Patriots’ two playoff victories, as he’s piled up 242 yards and five touchdowns on a whopping 53 carries. He averaged a healthy 5.5 yards per attempt against Kansas City and his effectiveness opened up opportunities for fellow running back Rex Burkhead (2 TDs including game-winner vs. Kansas City in overtime) as well as the passing game (Brady completed passes to eight different Patriots in win over Chiefs).
Brady has proven in years past that he can beat teams even without a strong running game but if Los Angeles can make things easier on itself on defense if the Rams can somehow make Michel a non-factor.
4. The offensive line has stood its ground
Not only have the boys up front cleared a path for the rushing attack, they’ve also kept the pocket mostly clean for Goff in recent weeks. He’s been sacked just once in the two playoff victories and the six hits the Saints got on him in the NFC Championship were the most since the Eagles got seven back in Week 15. Goff also has been sharp with his throws and decision-making with just two interceptions over his last five games.
The Patriots’ defense has wreaked havoc this postseason by collecting six sacks and 17 quarterback hits. Even though New England has able to harass Patrick Mahomes on Sunday, it still took overtime to beat a pesky Chiefs team. If the Rams’ offensive line can do its job and give Goff the time he needs to find his receivers downfield, Los Angeles should be able to move the ball against he Patriots.
5. The Rams have made their presence felt in Atlanta through the years
When the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV at the conclusion of the 1999 season, they’re only Super Bowl title thus far, they did so in Atlanta. Since then the Rams have made six trips to Georgia’s biggest city where they’ve won twice and have scored 161 total points. Those games, however, were in the since-demolished Georgia Dome. This will be the Rams’ first appearance in Mercedes-Benz Stadium where they hope to create some more history.