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The New England Patriots secured their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy by beating the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, becoming the most successful NFL franchise alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In a contest between two of the four highest scoring teams in the NFL in the 2018 season, the game resolved itself in a stunning manner. Both Tom Brady and Jared Goff were held in check for the majority of the contest.
New England were first to get on the board with a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski. Los Angeles were shut out in the first half and had to wait until the end of the third quarter before finally responding through a fine effort from Greg Zuerlein from 53 yards.
The Patriots made the breakthrough in a classic Brady game-winning drive. He connected with Rob Gronkowski and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman to manoeuvre his team downfield. The 41-year-old threw a deep strike to Gronkowski to put the Patriots on the goalline before Sony Michel punched the ball in from two yards.
Goff, who had been stifled all day by a dominant effort from the Patriots’ defense, then committed the fatal mistake. He lobbed his pass up towards the endzone under pressure and was picked off by Stephon Gilmore. New England drove the length of the field to ice the game with another kick from Gostkowski, which allowed Bill Belichick and Brady to celebrate a sixth crown together as a tandem.
We’ll now look ahead to whether the Patriots can retain their crown, along with who could take it from them, including a potential return for the Rams.
Brady’s arm has been the key to their recent success, especially in their past triumphs over the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons. He threw for 505 yards in their defeat in Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles. However, on this occasion he was off the mark apart from his trademark surge in the fourth quarter. It goes back to early stages of the Patriots’ dynasty when he was called upon to make clutch throws and allow the defense to dictate the tone. Given his age, it could be an important factor moving forward to the 2019 season.
Rob Gronkowski may opt to retire from the NFL after winning his third Super Bowl. The tight end has battled through a spate of injuries and could choose to end on a high note. Devin and Jason McCourty were crucial parts of the defense, with the latter making one of the decisive plays of the game. Veteran Devin, who won his third ring, has suggested that he could also retire. Gronkowski and Devin have played vital roles in the second half of the dynasty and their exits would leave a leadership and talent void on both sides of the ball.
The Patriots also have a number of key free agents. Their best defensive player Trey Flowers is out of contract and he could link up with departed defensive coordinator Brian Flores in Miami. There could be a drain of talent and experience in New England’s playing and coaching staff. Trent Brown, Malcom Brown, Gostkowski among others are also free agents, leaving Belichick with work to do in the off-season to turn over the roster. At odds of +750 with TopBet, they’re a solid shout to repeat, although no team has done it since the 2004 Patriots.
The Rams were stunned in the Super Bowl. Sean McVay had built one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, which finished second in scoring behind the Kansas City Chiefs during the regular season. However, they were limited to a staggering three points by the Patriots, becoming only the second team in Super Bowl history to fail to score a touchdown in the contest.
Goff failed to rise to the occasion, struggling with the ferocity and deception of New England’s play. Todd Gurley was barely a factor as he struggled with a knee injury, while Brandin Cooks failed to make decisive plays. The defense held their end of the bargain, but there will be questions of Goff and McVay moving forward.
Goff enjoyed a good regular season, but without Gurley at the peak of his powers to ease the pressure on him, he crumbled on the biggest stage. It could be the blueprint for teams going forward to attack the Rams. Gurley’s form will be a concern, especially he was handed a huge contract last season. Hopefully for the Rams, it was down to fitness issues only. Goff’s performance will be a bigger concern, especially with the prospect of a huge contract on the horizon.
The defense will lose key players during free agency unless Los Angeles can lure them back on cheaper deals. Ndamukong Suh, Ethan Westbrooks, Dante Fowler Jr and LaMarcus Joyner are all out of contract. There’s not a great deal of cap room for new players or draft capital to replace them. General manager Les Snead will need a solid off-season to replenish the roster. McVay’s men are still backed at +800 with BetOnline, despite their failure.
The Kansas City Chiefs appear to be the best placed team to make a run at the Super Bowl next season. Patrick Mahomes enjoyed an outstanding year in his first term as a starter, winning the MVP award. He will only improve with further time on the field. Kansas City’s defense was their Achilles’ heel, but new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could tighten the unit enough to allow their offense to see them through to the Super Bowl.
At +750 with 888Sport they could be a good shout to claim the Lombardi Trophy next term, although the Patriots will be in their path. The AFC Conference would appear to be between the Patriots and the Chiefs. Other than the two powerhouses, the Los Angeles Chargers struggled with the limelight and the Houston Texans can never appear to get over the hump. The Indianapolis Colts could be the outsider at +2200 with Betway should they continue to progress under Frank Reich and add talent to their offense.
In the NFC Conference, the New Orleans Saints may have missed their final opportunity. Drew Brees will be a year older and it will be difficult for them to reach the standards of last season in a competitive NFC South and conference. The Chicago Bears could be the next team in line for a run in the NFC, having stifled the Rams themselves with their potent defense. If Mitchell Trubisky takes the next step in his development, they could be worth a shout at +1700 with 888Sport.
New England Patriots To Win Super Bowl LIV
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