NFL PREVIEW…SUPER BOWL LIII: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. LOS ANGELES RAMS

On Sunday, February 3, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams will meet in Super Bowl LIII (6:30 PM ET, CBS) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Super Bowl LIII will feature the No. 2 seed in each conference – the AFC Champion Patriots against the NFC champion Rams – and is the first Super Bowl matchup of No. 2 seeds since the NFL began seeding teams in 1975. It also marks a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, when New England defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-17 on February 3, 2002.

Here’s what’s at stake in Super Bowl LIII:

With a New England victory…​

The Patriots will have captured their sixth Super Bowl championship, tied with the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (six) for most in NFL history.

New England will have won its 37th postseason game, surpassing PITTSBURGH (36) for the most all-time.

Head coach Bill Belichick joins GEORGE HALAS and CURLY LAMBEAU as the only coaches ever to win six NFL championships.

Quarterback Tom Brady has now won six Super Bowls, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley (five) for the most of any player.

With a Los Angeles win…​

The Rams will celebrate the second Super Bowl victory in the history of their franchise (SB XXXIV) and their first in Los Angeles.

At age 33, head coach Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to win the Super Bowl. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held the previous mark at age 36.

Quarterback Jared Goff becomes the first quarterback selected No. 1 overall to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory within his first three seasons.

The Patriots earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a 37-31 overtime win against Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game. New England, who won Super Bowl LI to conclude the 2017 season and advanced to Super Bowl LII last season, joins the BUFFALO BILLS (1990-93) and MIAMI DOLPHINS (1971-73) as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls. New England advanced to their 11th Super Bowl in franchise history and are looking for their sixth Super Bowl title, which would tie them with the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (six) for the most in NFL history.  ​

The Rams advanced to Super Bowl LIII with a 26-23 overtime victory against New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game. Los Angeles kicker GREG ZUERLEIN converted the game-winning 57-yard field goal in overtime, the longest game-winning field goal in postseason history.

Los Angeles advanced to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history (1979, 1999 and 2001) and are looking for their second Super Bowl title.

Patriots head coach BILL BELICHICK and quarterback TOM BRADY will be making their ninth Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won five Super Bowls together, the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

Brady, who is making his NFL-record ninth career Super Bowl start, is the only starting quarterback in league history to win five Super Bowls and the only player ever to be named Super Bowl MVP four times (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX and LI). Brady set a Super Bowl record with 505 passing yards last year and is the all-time leader in Super Bowl passing yards (2,576), completions (235), passing attempts (357) and touchdown passes (18). He is also the NFL postseason leader in wins by a starting quarterback (29), completions (984), passing attempts (1,554), passing yards (10,917) and touchdown passes (73).

New England rookie running back SONY MICHEL has five rushing touchdowns this postseason, the most rushing touchdowns by a rookie in postseason history. Michel has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his first two career postseason appearances and can join ARIAN FOSTER as the only players in postseason history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of their first three playoff games.

Patriots running back JAMES WHITE, who had a rushing touchdown in Super Bowl LII, has scored four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) in two career Super Bowl appearances. Over the past three postseasons (2016-2018), White leads the NFL with eight total touchdowns.

New England tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI has 12 touchdown receptions in his postseason career and trails only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (22) for the most in NFL playoff history. Gronkowski’s 1,076 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions are the most ever by a tight end in NFL postseason history.

In the AFC Championship Game, Patriots wide receiver JULIAN EDELMAN had seven catches for 96 yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (151 receptions) as the only players with at least 100 career postseason receptions (105). Edelman has recorded at least five receptions in 12 consecutive playoff games, the longest such streak in postseason annals.​

Los Angeles Rams head coach SEAN MC VAY, who will be 33 years and 10 days old on Super Bowl Sunday, is the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. In each of the past two seasons under McVay, the Rams have ranked first or second in points per game.​

Rams quarterback JARED GOFF, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is the first quarterback selected No. 1 overall to reach the Super Bowl within his first three seasons. Four quarterbacks (Pro Football Hall of Famers TROY AIKMAN and JOHN ELWAY, and DREW BLEDSOE and ELI MANNING) each reached the Super Bowl in their fourth season.

Los Angeles running back TODD GURLEY has rushed for a touchdown in each of the team’s two postseason games this season. Gurley led the NFL with 21 touchdowns (17 rushing, four receiving) and ranked fourth with 1,831 scrimmage yards. Rams running back C.J. ANDERSON leads the team in postseason rushing and has 481 rushing yards in the postseason since 2014, the most in the NFL over that span.

In the NFC Championship Game, Rams wide receiver BRANDIN COOKS led the team with seven receptions and 107 receiving yards. Cooks had 80 catches and 1,204 receiving yards in the regular season and became the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,000 receiving yards with three different teams in three consecutive seasons. With New England in 2017, Cooks recorded 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns and added 10 receptions for 155 yards in the playoffs.

Los Angeles defensive tackle AARON DONALD led the NFL with 20.5 in 2018 and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record 20+ sacks and make it to the Super Bowl in the same season. Rams defensive tackle NDAMUKONG SUH recorded 1.5 sacks in the NFC Championship Game and has recorded at least one sack in three of his past four playoff games.

 

TID-BITS:

  1. This game is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI following the 2001 season, a game that the Patriots won, 20-17. The Patriots are looking to become the fifth team to win two Super Bowls against a single opponent, joining the Steelers (over the Cowboys), the 49ers (over the Bengals), the Cowboys (over the Bills) and the Giants (over the Patriots).
  2. This will be the Rams’ first Super Bowl appearance since losing to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI — since then, New England has been to seven other Super Bowls, going 4-3. The Rams’ lone Super Bowl win was in Super Bowl XXXIV following the 1999 season, a 23-16 victory over the Titans.
  3. This is New England’s NFL-record 11th Super Bowl, and with a win, the Patriots would tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins with six. New England is the third team all-time to play in at least three straight Super Bowls, joining the 1971-73 Dolphins (three straight) and the 1990-93 Bills (four straight).
  4. The Rams are the third Los Angeles team to play in the Super Bowl, joining the 1979 Rams (lost to Pittsburgh) and the 1983 Raiders (beat Washington).
  5. Both teams are coming off overtime wins in their conference championship games, the first time both went to OT in the same season. Prior to this season, teams that won their conference championship games in OT went 3-3 in the Super Bowl, with three of the last four coming against the Patriots (2-1).
  6. The Rams ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed per rush (5.07) during the regular season while the Patriots were fourth worst (4.91). Both run defenses have been excellent in the playoffs — the Rams have allowed 2.28 yards per rush and the Patriots have allowed 2.73. New England has allowed 30.0 rushing yards per game in the postseason, which would be the fewest by any team in the Super Bowl era.
  7. New England has outgained its opponents by 198.5 yards per game this postseason, fifth best by any team entering a Super Bowl, behind the 1975 Cowboys (+232.0), the 2000 Giants (+227.5), the 1978 Steelers (+222.0) and the 1967 Raiders (+218.0). Of those four, only the 1978 Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl.
  8. After going 6-for-15 (40.0 percent) on fourth down in the regular season (third worst in the NFL), the Rams are 3-for-3 on fourth down in the postseason, including a C.J. Anderson touchdown run in the divisional round and a 12-yard fake punt by Johnny Hekker in the NFC Championship Game.
  9. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be making their ninth Super Bowl appearance, which is more than any other team has played all-time.
  10. If he wins, Bill Belichick (66 years, 293 days) would be the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl all-time, surpassing Tom Coughlin of the 2011 Giants (65 years, 158 days). On the other side, Sean McVay (33 years, 10 days) will be the youngest head coach, win or lose, in Super Bowl history.

 

GAME CAPSULES
New England Patriots (AFC East – 13-5) vs. Los Angeles Rams (NFC West – 15-3)

Sunday, February 3, 2019 | 6:30 PM ET | Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Referee: John Parry

SERIES HISTORY INCLUDING PLAYOFFS:

LEADER: Patriots lead all-time series, 8-5

STREAKS: Patriots have won past 5

LAST GAME: 12/4/16: Rams 10 at Patriots 26

LAST GAME AT SITE: First meeting in Atlanta

PLAYOFF SERIES HISTORY:

LEADER: Patriots lead all-time series, 1-0

STREAKS: Patriots won only meeting

LAST PLAYOFF: 2/3/02: Patriots 20, Rams 17 (SB XXXVI)

LAST PLAYOFF AT SITE: First meeting in Atlanta

PATRIOTS NOTES:

PLAYOFF RECORD 36-20

LAST WEEK W 37-31 (OT) at Kansas City

VS. COMMON OPP. 6-1 (Chi 1-0; Det 0-1; GB 1-0; KC

2-0; LAC 1-0; Min 1-0)

PTS. FOR/AGAINST 27.3/20.3

OFFENSE 393.4

PASSING Tom Brady: 375-570-4355-29-11-97.7

RUSHING Sony Michel (R): 209-931-4.5-6

RECEIVING James White (RB): 87-751-8.6-7

DEFENSE 359.1

SACKS Trey Flowers: 7.5

INTs Duron Harmon: 4

TAKE/GIVE +10 (28/18)

PR Julian Edelman: 7.7

KR Cordarrelle Patterson: 28.8

PUNTING (NET) Ryan Allen: 45.1 (39.5)

KICKING Stephen Gostkowski: 130 (49/50 PAT; 27/32 FG)

PATRIOTS became 3rd team in the Super Bowl era to appear in 3 consecutive Super Bowls. Have 5 Super Bowl titles, 2nd-most all-time (PITTSBURGH, 6). • NEW ENGLAND ranked 4th in scoring offense (27.3 ppg), 5th in total yards of offense (393.4 ypg) and tied for 6th in scoring defense (20.3 ppg allowed). • BILL BELICHICK has most playoff experience (41 games) & postseason wins (30) among HC in NFL history. Is the only HC in NFL history with 5 Super Bowl victories. • NEW ENGLAND had 2 players named for 2019 Pro Bowl: QB TOM BRADY & CB STEPHON GILMORE. QB TOM BRADY is all-time postseason leader in games played (39), wins (29), completions (954), pass yards (10,917) & TD passes (73). Has 16 playoff games with 300+ pass yards, most in NFL history. Has 2 highest single-game passing totals in Super Bowl history (505 yards in SB LII & 466 yards in SB LI). Aims for his 4th Super Bowl in row with 300+ pass yards & 5th Super Bowl in row with 2+ TD passes. • RB SONY MICHEL (rookie) has 5 rush TDs this postseason, most by a rookie in NFL history. Aims for his 3rd postseason game in row with 100+ rush yards & 2+ rush TDs. RB JAMES WHITE has 4 TDs (3 rush, 1 rec.) in 2 career Super Bowls. Aims for his 3rd Super Bowl in row with rush TD. RB REX BURKHEAD aims for his 3rd in row with rush TD. • TE ROB GRONKOWSKI has 12 career playoff TD catches, tied with HOFer JOHN STALLWORTH (12) for 2nd-most in postseason history. Aims for his 3rd Super Bowl in row with TD catch. WR JULIAN EDELMAN ranks 2nd in postseason history with 105 receptions. Has 5+ receptions in 12 consecutive postseason games, longest streak in playoff history. Has 14 catches for 196 yards (65.3 per game) & TD catch in 3 career Super Bowls. WR CHRIS HOGAN had 6 catches for 128 yards & rec. TD in SB LII in 2017. • DL TREY FLOWERS led team with 7.5 sacks. S DURON HARMON led team & tied career-high with 4 INTs. Had INT in SB LII. CB STEPHON GILMORE had career-high 20 PD, 2nd-most in NFL. Has 2+ PD in 4 of his past 5 playoff games.

 

RAMS NOTES:

PLAYOFF RECORD 21-25

LAST WEEK W 26-23 (OT) at New Orleans

VS. COMMON OPP. 5-1 (Chi 0-1; Det 1-0; GB 1-0; KC

1-0; LAC 1-0 Min 1-0)

PTS. FOR/AGAINST 32.9/24.0

OFFENSE 421.1

PASSING Jared Goff: 364-561-4688-32-12-101.1

RUSHING Todd Gurley: 256-1251-4.9-17 (1L)

RECEIVING Robert Woods: 86-1219-14.2-6

DEFENSE 358.6

SACKS Aaron Donald: 20.5 (1L)

INTs John Johnson: 4

TAKE/GIVE +11 (30/19)

PR JoJo Natson: 10.8

KR Blake Countess: 24.6

PUNTING (NET) Johnny Hekker: 46.3 (43.0)

KICKING Greg Zuerlein: 116 (35/36 PAT; 27/31 FG)

RAMS won NFC West in consecutive seasons for first time since 1973-79. • LOS ANGELES led NFC in total yards per game (421.1) & points per game (32.9) & ranked 3rd in conference in turnover differential (+11). • SEAN MC VAY has guided Rams to playoffs in each of his 1st 2 seasons as head coach. Became youngest HC in NFL history to lead team to Super Bowl (33 years old). • RAMS had 4 players named to 2019 Pro Bowl: DT AARON DONALD, QB JARED GOFF, RB TODD GURLEY & ST CORY LITTLETON. • QB JARED GOFF ranked 4th in NFL in pass yards (4,688) & was 1 of 3 in NFL with 4,500+ yards & 100+ rating (101.1) in 2018. In his past 8 vs. AFC, has 2,287 pass yards (285.9 per game) with 18 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 108.9 rating & has rush TD. • RB TODD GURLEY led NFL with 21 scrimmage TDs & ranked 4th with 1,831 scrimmage yards this season. Had rush TD in NFC Champ Game. Aims for his 3rd postseason game in row with rush TD. Has 1,250 scrimmage yards (156.3 per game) with 7 TDs (4 rush, 3 rec.) in his past 8 vs. AFC. Has 120+ scrimmage yards in 6 of his past 7 vs. AFC. RB C.J. ANDERSON has 172 scrimmage yards (86 per game) & 2 rush TDs in 2 games this postseason. • WR BRANDIN COOKS had 80 catches for 1,204 yards in 2018, his 4th-career season with 1,000+ rec. yards. Had 1,082 rec. yards & 7 TDs in 2017 with NE. WR ROBERT WOODS led team with career-highs in receptions (86) & rec. yards (1,219) this season. Has 3 rec. TDs in his past 6 vs. NE. In his past 3 vs. AFC, has 21 receptions for 285 yards (95 per game) & 3 TDs. • DT AARON DONALD led NFL with 20.5 sacks this season & became 11th player since 1982 with 20+ sacks in single season. Ranked 1st in NFL with 25 TFL in 2018. DT NDAMUKONG SUH had 1.5 sacks in NFC Champ Game. Has 5 sacks in 5 career playoff games. S JOHN JOHNSON had INT in OT in NFC Champ Game. Had career-highs in tackles (118) & INTs (4) in 2018. • K GREG ZUERLEIN converted game-tying 48-yard FG in 4th Q & GW 57-yard FG in OT in NFC Champ Game.