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Super Bowl 53: Patriots vs. Rams Game Time, Predictions and TV Schedule

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2019

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 30:  Detail of the Lombardi Trophy and the helmets of the New England Patriots (left) and the Los Angeles Rams priot to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaking during a press conference during Super Bowl LIII Week at the NFL Media Center inside the Georgia World Congress Center on January 30, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

After the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots smile in front of cameras and answer non-football questions during Super Bowl media week, they'll focus on their primary objective in Atlanta—winning the Lombardi Trophy.

Interior defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh may seem like gentle giants during the experience, but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will see them pushing through the pocket with ruthless aggression Sunday.

As the league's sack leader in 2018 with 20.5, Donald has a strong chance at factoring into the outcome of the game. On the flip side, New England's coaching staff has a knack for neutralizing key players on both sides of the ball. Will the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year log a sack in the upcoming matchup?

Typically the quarterbacks take the spotlight, but both clubs also have playmakers in the backfield. Patriots rookie Sony Michel eclipsed 100 rushing yards in each of his two playoff outings. Todd Gurley of the Rams is an All-Pro running back in his prime. Don't forget teammate C.J. Anderson, who accumulated 466 yards and four touchdowns over the last four games. How will each tailback fare in this matchup? Most importantly, who wins?

For those watching in the comfort of their home or attending a Super Bowl party, check out the viewing details below to ensure you don't miss a snap.

      

Viewing Information

When: Sunday, Feb. 3

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

Kickoff Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

National TV: CBS

Live Stream: CBS All Access

             

Predictions

Aaron Donald Doesn't Record a Sack 

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Donald led the league in sacks and tackles for a loss (25). He's going to put pressure on the interior offensive linemen. For the Patriots, that's Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason. At some point, all three will have a hand in blocking the league's most dominant defensive tackle to keep Brady out of harm's way.

According to CBS' Boomer Esiason (h/t The Athletic's Stephen Holder), opponents have experienced success in rattling Brady with pressure up the middle this year. "The teams that have beat the Patriots this year, the pressure has been up the middle. Jacksonville, Detroit and Tennessee, it's all been up the middle," the former quarterback said. "No quarterback likes that. And (Tom) Brady barely moves."

There's no doubt defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has watched the game tapes with his group. He knows where to strike in order to disrupt the Patriots' passing attack. However, that's easier said than done.

New England has certainly prepared for Donald and the push he brings through the interior gaps. Expect the running backs, fullback and even tight ends to chip him in the backfield for an extra layer of pass protection. 

Suh may have a bigger effect on the game as the offensive linemen turn their attention to Donald. It's possible he provides pressure but finishes without a sack.

          

Both Teams Run for 100-Plus Yards

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 30: Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams speaks during Rams media availability for Super Bowl LIII at the Marriott Atlanta Buckhead on January 30, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

We could see the ground attacks instill a methodical tempo—for different reasons. 

Quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for multiple touchdown passes once since Week 11 (against the San Francisco 49ers in the regular-season finale). Brady accomplished the same feat just one time since Week 14 (against the New York Jets in Week 17). On Sunday he's facing two talented cornerbacks, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib; they have seven Pro Bowls and two All-Pro campaigns between them. 

In a game of this magnitude, it's important to cut down turnovers, protect the football and move the chains. Both offenses have the ability to move the ball on the ground with consistency. 

Michel has recorded 53 carries for 242 yards and five touchdowns this postseason. Anderson rushed for 123-plus yards in three consecutive games between Week 16 and the Rams' NFC divisional-round matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Rams head coach Sean McVay expects Gurley to "be a big part" of this contest, per The MMQB's Albert Breer: 

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Rams coach Sean McVay on RB Todd Gurley: “He’s gonna be a big part of this game.”

A game that features 30-plus carries for each team doesn't generate the most excitement for fans who want to see points scored in bunches. Nonetheless, the Rams and Patriots may look to sustain drives and keep the opposing offense on the sideline.

            

Los Angeles Rams Win 34-28 

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20:  Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates after defeating the New Orleans Saints  in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Los Angel
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Patriots will be playing in their third consecutive Super Bowl—they're 1-1 over the last two. It took an unpredictable 25-point comeback over the Falcons to win Super LI. New England came up short against the Philadelphia Eagles thanks to the Philly Special and defensive end Brandon Graham's timely strip-sack late in the fourth quarter. The Rams will need to do something spectacular to win this contest.

We'll likely witness a seesaw matchup. Two evenly matched squads trading scoring drives with big plays that leave the crowd in awe. Whether it's a turnover or simply the last team with the ball, the Rams have the elite-level talent to win in the clutch. 

Rams general manager Les Snead didn't trade for Peters, Talib and wideout Brandin Cooks as well as sign Suh for mediocre performances on the biggest stage. Those acquisitions should shine brightly at opportune moments in this matchup. The Rams' talented top-heavy roster will pay dividends late in the fourth quarter.

Brady will give New England a chance to win a sixth Super Bowl during his 19-year tenure, but Peters, Talib or Suh will force a turnover to shut the door on the Patriots' hopes for another title.

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