…layaction and downfield passes once they overcompensated to address the poor run D? You guessed it. The Patriots are going to move the ball because defenses can’t take everything away in 2019, and New England has built their offense around players flexible enough to take whatever’s there. If the Rams put extra defensive backs on the field to cover the slot, the Pats will run at them. If…
Actually, Brady was awful throwing passes longer than 15 yards downfield in the playoffs. I think he was 2 for 8 with one touchdown and one interception.
The Rams defense shut down the Cowboys and Saints on the ground (98 yards combined), so I think this game will be won and lost on how well the Rams contain Edelman, who made so many huge catches against the Chiefs to keep drives going.
Also, the inside rush of Donald and Suh is a key to the game. If they can get pressure, all those inside routes in the short passing game become more dangerous with the possibility of poor vision or tipped passes leading to turnovers.
On defense, New England got shredded by Kansas City in the second half. Mahommes and Reid just had a horrible first half, and they were still one overthrown pass from being 7–7 at halftime and winning the game comfortably when their offense clicked in the second half.
If New England starts out really strong on defense, look for McVay to use a two-tight end formation like he did against the Saints for a short time to stabilize the offense. New England’s defense might or might not be able to stop the run. They got such big leads against the Chargers and Chiefs neither team ran more than 10 times. If the Rams run 25–30 times, they will be the ones to control the clock and wear down the Patriots at the end.
Finally, I think the Saints were the best team in football this year. Kansas City had the best offense, but the worst defense, and the 4th best coach of the Conference finalists.
As we discussed before, the Rams overcame the most difficult playing environment, equipment malfunctions, the best team and their own problems with missed calls.
I don’t think New England is better than New Orleans or Kansas City, so the only question is if McVay can match Belichick in preparing his team, making adjustments and not making the clock management mistakes made by both Payton and Reid that cost their teams the game.
I think a lot of questions will be answered at the coin flip. If Belichick defers, he thinks he is going to win the game the usual Patriots way. If he takes the kickoff, he is worried that the Rams could get out to a big lead.
If McVay defers and the Patriots score the first touchdown, I will be worried, as the Rams have been barely over .500 in these kinds of games over the last two years. If he takes the opening kickoff and the Rams score the first touchdown, they’ve won close to 90% of those games.