The NFL season is almost over, and that means one thing: it’s time for Super Bowl 52. The championship game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams has the potential to be one of the most exciting games in recent memory.
The Patriots have won three of the last four Super Bowls, and nobody wants to see the undefeated season come to an end. The Rams are trying to end their championship drought, and they’ve got the talent and the coach to do it. This is an all-time great matchup.
Who will come out on top in the end? We’ll use statistics and the Power Rankings to predict the winner of Super Bowl 52.
The New England Patriots are coming off an incredible season, having won the AFC Championship Game for the 9th time in team history. They are one of the most successful teams in league history, having appeared in the NFL Finals 18 times (winning 11 times) and the Super Bowl 52 times (winning three times).
The Patriots’ offense was potent all season, scoring 30 or more points in 13 games. With Tom Brady at the helm, the team was able to utilize its personnel effectively, mixing in a strong running game with high-powered passing plays. The unit scored a total of 462 points, the most for any team in the NFL this year. The Patriots were also one of the best red zone offenses in the league.
In the middle of the field, New England’s defense was solid all season, giving up just 26.3 points per game. The team’s pass rush was led by Trey Flowers and Lawrence Guy, who had 10 and 9 sacks, respectively. Trey Flowers had 4.5 sacks in the Divisional Round alone.
The Patriots’ special teams units were also excellent, averaging 12.4 points per game on the season. The coverage units were led by safety Devin McCourty, who had four interceptions, allowing the defense to keep the ball away from their opponents’ sideline. The coverage teams were also effective in preventing big plays, giving up only 11.7 yards per punt return and 12.8 yards per kickoff return.
Tom Brady had one of the most prolific careers in NFL history, playing for the Patriots for the entirety of his 20s. On January 1st, 2020, Brady became the second-youngest quarterback to win 300 games, passing for 369 yards and four touchdowns in New England’s 41–27 win over Minnesota. He is one of the best-ever quarterbacks and is still going strong at age 44.
The Rams are coming off a season in which they qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2014. During that time, they scored 40 or more points five times and won four of their last five games. The team’s offense, led by star quarterback Jared Goff, was incredibly efficient, averaging 29.2 points per game. The running game also proved to be a potent threat, as Todd Gurley had 1,374 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. The team’s defense was also excellent, giving up just 17.6 points per game.
Los Angeles’ pass defense was particularly good, holding opposing quarterbacks to 5.4 yards per attempt. Safety John Johnson and cornerback Marcus Peters had 2 interceptions each, while cornerback Cook Peek had one interception and two fumble recoveries. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also had 4.5 tackles for loss, which is tied for 11th among all defensive tackles.
The team’s special teams units were also deadly, averaging 12.3 points per game. Kicker Greg Zuerlein had 22 points on seven field goals and three extra points, including a 47-yard game-winning field goal in overtime. Long snapper Cody Stroup had a field goal and an extra point blocked this year, also contributing to the team’s 140 points scored by kickers.
Goff, a second-year quarterback, has really developed into a top-tier quarterback in a short amount of time. Between 2018 and 2019, Goff’s passer rating went from 64.1 to 73.7, which is the highest of any quarterback in NFL history. In December of 2019, Goff became the fifth quarterback in history to throw for at least 300 yards in four consecutive games, and the first to do it since Tom Brady in 2007.
Goff will have a big test this January, as the Patriots come to town with an undefeated record. In Week 12, Goff threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Rams to a 42–21 victory over the New York Giants. He was also perfect on his five drop-backs, completing 5-of-5 passes for 94 yards and four touchdowns. This will be a good challenge for the young quarterback, who will be looking to prove that he is the best in the league.
Pick: New England Patriots
The Patriots are the overwhelming favorite in this matchup. They are coming off an untouchable season, having won 16 games, which is a franchise record. Their offense was potent, their defense was stout, and their special teams were exceptional. The Patriots’ Super Bowl victory wasn’t even that big of a surprise, as they were favored to win before the season began. That being said, it is still quite the accomplishment for a team that hadn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade.
New England’s defense will have their hands full trying to contain the Rams’ high-powered offense. Despite playing in the same conference, the two teams don’t have much in common in terms of their offenses. The Patriots ranked third in the NFL in scoring offense (372 points) while the Rams were 27th (260 points). Much of this can be attributed to the fact that New England averaged 5.2 yards per play while the Rams averaged 4.7. This will also make for an interesting matchup in terms of which quarterback has the upper hand.
On the other side of the ball, it’s all about Goff for the Rams. He has blossomed into an elite quarterback in a relatively short amount of time. In 2019, Goff finished with a career-high 3,720 passing yards and a 70.1 completion rate. He also added 82 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. While these are eye-catching numbers, it’s what Goff did leading up to these numbers that really makes him special.
Despite New England’s 16–1 record, they did struggle at times this year. Their offense didn’t always function at peak efficiency, and they did allow a 100-point game from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ultimately, it was just one of those years for the Patriots, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them regress back to the mean next year. In 2020, they have a brand new look on defense, so we’ll have to see how effective they can be. On the bright side, at least they don’t have to face the reigning champion in the postseason.
It’s time to check in with Pro-Football-Reference.com, which has all the relevant stats and information you need to make your picks. Go to the home page, click on the blue button with the triangle at the top, and then scroll down to the team selector. One of the valuable features on this site is the ability to search for players by name, which helps when researching obscure players or players you’ve never heard of. For example, if you’re trying to research a player from the 1990s, you can type in his name and find all his stats, including his career totals, postseason stats, and more.
On the other side of the ball, you’ll find a similar searchable database for the defense. The problem is that when you search by name, you only get stats for the few players who have one name in common. For example, if you search for Devin McCourty, you’ll only see stats for Devin McCourty. This is clearly not what you’re looking for, as you want to find all the information about Devin McCourty’s defense, not just his individual performances. If this is important to you, you should either look up the other members of the squad by their initials (which is what I usually do), or just use the search bar at the top of the page.
The postseason is almost here. With the regular season over, we’ll be seeing a lot more football. The good news is that there are only four weeks until Super Bowl 52. That means we’ll be seeing a lot more game analysis than usual. With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the key topics to keep an eye out for this upcoming season:
The NFL is a league that is always changing, always evolving. Just because one team wins a championship doesn’t mean that the same coaches can’t get the job done the following year.