“The Rams are the better team — at least on paper. Los Angeles was the second-best team during the regular season according to Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average metric, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent; New England finished at No. 7. The game charters at Pro Football Focus ranked the Rams at No. 1, three spots higher than the Patriots, but there was as much of a difference between the total rating score for the Rams and Patriots as there was between the Patriots and the Houston Texans, PFF’s ninth-best team of 2018.”
“I lean toward the Patriots, ever so slightly. They’re well-positioned to attack the weakest components of the Rams’ defense with their weapons in the slot, as was the case for the Eagles, who scored 66 points on offense in beating the Rams twice over the past two seasons.”
“I’m going with the Rams because they have been the better team over the course of 18 games — it would surprise absolutely no one if the Pats were the better team on Sunday, though.”
“Jared Goff’s struggles over the last two months are hard to hide. The Patriots have the best pass defense that the Rams have played in the postseason. And the clearer matchup advantage comes when the Patriots have the ball. The Rams defense has improved over the same recent two months where Goff has declined, but the Rams struggled both against 21 personnel and play-action.”
ESPN says Schatz has the Patriots winning, 37-34.
“The Pats’ offensive line will match up very well against the Rams’ defensive front. That gives New England the opportunity to run the ball and win by shortening the game.”
“In a back-and-forth affair, there will be a game-changing pressure on Tom Brady that will cause a late turnover.”
“It will be a hard-fought, close game, but Tom Brady is great in the moment and comes up big once again.”
“I’m not picking against Tom Brady. I’m just not doing it.”
“This Patriot team, through its toughness, physicality, resourcefulness and ability to maximize potential reminds me of the 2001 team. That team wasn’t losing when it got to this stage, and this one won’t either, outlasting a game Los Angeles team in a shootout with Brady playing the hero again.”
“I don’t see it becoming the same kind of shootout we saw at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship Game, or many times this season at the LA Coliseum. Whichever way this game goes, I could see both teams being right back in this game next season.”
“After 58 minutes dominated by two strong running attacks, a creative blitz the Patriots will force Jared Goff into one huge mental mistake late on the final drive.”
“It’s utterly impossible to pick against the Patriots. After seeing how their offensive line has dominated, I think it can even handle the Rams. And a clean Brady is a deadly one.”
“There are plenty of logical reasons to call this for the Rams, to repeat what the Eagles did to the Patriots a year ago, even to outgun them in a similar manner with a quarterback (this time Goff) making all the right plays at the right time. Also, the Rams clearly have luck on their side, to the everlasting agony of the Saints. But no. We’re way past conventional logic, except for this: Pick the Patriots, and Brady and Belichick, to win until somebody beats them.”
“I’m just thinking that, based on last year’s Super Bowl, I think the Patriots have something to prove this year,” Rev. Mark Tanner of Skowhegan Federated Church told the Morning Sentinel. “I think it’ll be a good game, but I’m not necessarily thinking it’s going to be a close game. They want to prove that they’re not old, that they’re talented.”
Before the AFC championship game two weeks ago, Tanner put up a message on the sign outside his church that read, “God doesn’t have a favorite team but the pastor does!!” Then he added his prediction: Patriots 37, Chiefs 31, which is exactly how the game ended.
Tony Romo, CBS Sports: Team A 28, Team B 24
He knows. Of course he knows. But he isn’t saying which team will win, because that would just spoil the drama, wouldn’t it. “I’ll go 28-24 and the team that has the ball at the end has 24 and doesn’t score,” he said this week.
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