SUPER BOWL LIII:
When you look back on previous Super Bowls, you remember historic plays and timeless moments: David Tyree’s helmet catch in 2007 or Santonio Holmes’ toe-tap touchdown in 2008. For fans, there is a certain expectation that the Super Bowl will provide memorable plays and endless excitement. However, that was simply not the case this year, as Super Bowl LIII was unlike any Super Bowl I have ever seen.
The game got off to an extremely slow start as neither team had even scored after one quarter. It was very much a game of field position, as the two teams ended the first quarter with one interception, a missed field goal and four punts. The Patriots finally broke the ice with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal early in the second, which would stand as the only scoring play of the entire first half. The Rams would eventually tie the game up behind the leg of Greg Zuerlein, who connected on a 53-yarder late in the third quarter.
After that score by the Rams, though, the Patriots took over and blanked Los Angeles in the final quarter. They broke the tie midway through the fourth with a two-yard touchdown rush by rookie running back Sony Michel, which would ultimately stand as the deciding score. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not spectacular by any means, especially compared to his past Super Bowl performances. However, he did enough to keep the Patriots in opportunistic situations, which they capitalized on in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots’ defense played quite well, though, especially considering the fact that safety Patrick Chung left the game with an injury in the first half. The Rams’ offense was a formidable opponent, ranking second in points scored per game throughout the regular season. The Patriots’ defensive unit stepped up to the challenge, led by the strategic minds of head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Brian Flores. That being said, the Rams did miss on some major opportunities. Costly penalties negated several first downs, and a combination of missed throws by Rams quarterback Jared Goff and dropped passes by various receivers definitely hurt Los Angeles.
The Rams’ defense actually played well. Holding Tom Brady to 13 points is an impressive achievement in a regular season game, let alone in the Super Bowl. They just could not get into a rhythm offensively. Chalk it up to the Patriots’ defense or Goff ’s inexperience but, regardless, the Patriots once again managed to pull out another Super Bowl victory.
I do not think that any one player or coach is to blame for the Rams’ loss. Head coach Sean McVay tried to execute his game plan as best he could, but it was simply not enough to overcome Belichick’s unrivaled strategic planning. There are simply no words to adequately describe the Patriots. As much as I cannot wait for the Patriots’ dynasty to finally come to an end, any true football fan cannot help but applaud them, especially Belichick and Brady. They just know how to make the absolute most out of what they have to work with, and it is truly an awe-inspiring feat.
Looking ahead to next season, many questions arise. Will Brady retire? If so, does Belichick go with him? All will become clear in due time but, for right now, one can only guess what will happen next year. It makes sense to assume that as long as Brady and Belichick are around, the Patriots will continue to be legitimate championship contenders.
Their longevity and continued success, coupled with their incredible resilience, makes it virtually impossible to count the Patriots out at this point. Though Brady may not look as dominant as he did five seasons ago, the Patriots somehow find a way to remain in the Super Bowl conversation time after time. This dynasty is simply unlike anything else in sports.
The Rams are another team that should certainly not be written off as one-hit wonders after this season. They were still very solid this season. As long as they can retain significant
players on both sides of the ball, they should have no problem continuing to contend for the Lombardi Trophy. Goff obviously did not have an exceptional Super Bowl performance, but he is still young and will only continue to improve and be more and more comfortable in high-pressure situations. I expect the Rams to be right back atop the NFC West next season.
SUPER BOWL LIV:
It has become an unspoken tradition for analysts and broadcasters to predict the upcoming season’s Super Bowl matchup immediately following the most recent one. So, after careful analysis and barring any significant injuries, I am ready to make my official prediction for Super Bowl LIV. Next year in Miami, the Chicago Bears will beat the New England Patriots 20-17.
The Bears made incredible leaps on both offense and defense this past season. The stout defensive unit, led by edge rusher Khalil Mack and rookie cornerback Eddie Jackson, ranked first in the league in points allowed per game, giving up just 17.7 points to opponents per contest. Though the offense was not quite as dominant, quarterback Mitch Trubisky showed flashes of greatness. Trubisky has a plethora of young weapons on offense, namely running back Tarik Cohen and wide receiver Allen Robinson. As time goes on, this unit will only continue to mesh and improve, which bodes well for seasons to come.
Still, I am a strong proponent of the fact that defense is what ultimately wins championships. We saw a perfect manifestation of that point on Sunday, as well as in years prior. Therefore, the Bears’ unmatched defensive dominance, paired with an increasingly productive offense, sets them up perfectly to make a deep and potentially victorious postseason run. Though he is still very young, head coach Matt Nagy seems to know exactly what he is doing, and the Bears’ defensive prowess makes them a tough matchup for every other team in the NFL.
Other NFC teams will surely give Chicago a tough road to Miami. The Rams have already proven that they can make it to the Super Bowl. The New Orleans Saints are also legitimate contenders as long as quarterback Drew Brees is under center. Either way, though, I think the Bears have what it takes to come out on top.
As for the Patriots, I really hate to admit it, but I honestly think that they have what it takes to make it back to the Super Bowl again next season. I had truly stopped believing in them about halfway through this past season. I counted them out as being too old and without enough talent to win. If I have learned anything, though, it is to never bet against the Patriots. They proved me wrong this year and, for the sixth time in Tom Brady’s extensive career, they somehow found a way to get it done yet again.
Honestly, when will New England’s reign end? Whenever it seems like they are finally going to be dethroned, they somehow find a way to pull out a victory. Therefore, it seems that as long as Brady and Belichick are still in Foxborough, the Patriots will remain the team to beat in the NFL. Even with limited talent and several injuries and suspensions, New England still managed to not just make it to Super Bowl LIII, but even decisively win the game. I think that, barring retirements by Belichick or Brady, the Patriots will find themselves right back atop the AFC and contending for a record-breaking seventh Lombardi Trophy next season.
That being said, I believe that the Bears match up very well against the Patriots. With virtually no weaknesses on defense, as well as a calm and calculated offensive scheme, the Bears have what it takes to take the air out of the ball, con- trol the game and ultimately defeat the Patriots in another defensive battle. You heard it here first: the Chicago Bears are your Super Bowl LIV champions.
Contact Ethan Marchetti at firstname.lastname@example.org.