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When Tom Brady arrived in New Orleans for his first career Super Bowl in 2002, the 24-year-old—who started the season as the backup quarterback—led the New England Patriots onto the field as 14-point underdogs. The team wasn't supposed to be in the Super Bowl, let alone have a chance to win it. The Los Angeles Rams, then in St. Louis, were “The Greatest Show on Turf.” The reigning champions had an offense littered with stars including quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, offensive tackle Orlando Pace—who have all been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame—along with receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce who were named 2019 semifinalists.
What happened next shocked the world: In one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl History, kicker Adam Vinatieri knocked in a 48-yard field goal as time expired to elevate the Patriots over the Rams 20-17. Even more shocking, New England is still at it. This Sunday will mark the ninth time head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have reached the final game of the season. The duo looks for their sixth victory together.
In 2019, it'll be the Patriots and the Rams yet again. While the NFL has undergone immense change since these two franchises met in the early 2000s, fans who were around will remember where they were when one of the great NFL dynasties was started. The question: can the Rams' young phenom head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff upend the rulers of the last two decades and set the stage for a dynasty of their own?
Guiding you through every game is Bing Predicts, which leverages search, social, and historical statistics to forecast the week's winners and losers. Read on for team information and Super Bowl predictions.
ALSO: See how Bing predicted the entire season here.
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2018–2019 record: 13-5 (including playoffs)
Historical playoffs record: 36-20
Historical Super Bowl record: 5-5
This is far from unchartered water for the New England Patriots. Sunday marks the third-consecutive Super Bowl the Patriots have reached, and the ninth Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady is now 41, the team lucked their way into a bye in the AFC playoffs with an 11-5 record, and yet like death and taxes, the Patriots playing in the last game of the season is seemingly inevitable.
So how did they get here again? Other than Bill Belichick wizardry and Tom Brady not aging, it was due to a steady running attack, a defense that did just enough, and most importantly, a team with experience. This postseason in particular, it's been all about controlling the clock. New England has averaged more than 41 minutes in time of possession during the playoffs, which is far and away #1. The Patriots have started with the ball in both of their 2019 postseason victories and have chewed up half of the first quarter on each opening drive.
New England has been playing with a chip on its shoulder all season, which is a bit strange for a team making its ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2002, but Tom Brady is here to let the world know they haven't gone anywhere.
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2018–2019 record: 15-3 (including playoffs)
Historical playoffs record: 21-25
Historical Super Bowl record: 1-2
Rams' head coach Sean McVay is 33 years old—half the age of legendary head coach Bill Belichick who will be standing on the opposing sideline—but don't think this stage is too big for the youngest coach in the league. He has been around the NFL since 2008 and knows the game well, as evidenced by his success. The innovative head coach is at the forefront of the new age NFL, and has helped turn around a Rams franchise that had just four victories two seasons ago. Now, using creative play calling and unorthodox schemes, the young prodigy looks to facilitate a changing of the guard.
If not for a loss to the Saints earlier this season, the Rams would have been the NFC's top seed, but their championship game overtime victory in New Orleans was more than enough retribution.
The Rams' high-powered offense and opportunistic defense has gotten them to this point, but the team hasn't faced a mind like Belichick all season. Will the precocious McVay be able to outscheme the master? Much of the outcome will fall on the shoulders of quarterback Jared Goff, who struggled a bit toward the end of the regular season. He hasn't been dynamic so far in the playoffs, throwing just one touchdown and amassing a sub-80 quarterback rating. He'll likely need to be on come Sunday.
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Game time: Sunday, Feb 3. 2019, 6:30 p.m. EST
Historical matchup: New England Patriots lead series 8-5
This season featured staggering, record-breaking offensive numbers, so it's only fitting Super Bowl LIII showcases two of the league's best offenses. The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams will take the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday with an eye on the season's top accolade: the Lombardi Trophy. So, what should fans expect?
Both the Pats and the Rams were road underdogs on championship Sunday, and both needed overtime to arrive here. If it weren't for an egregious missed pass interference call, the Rams would likely be watching the big game from L.A. Make no mistake, though, these were two of the NFL's best teams this season, and Super Bowl Sunday is one the public should be excited about.
So what can the Patriots do to tack onto their already illustrious dynasty? Do to the Rams offense what they did to the Chiefs offense: stunt their running game. L.A. has one of the best rushing attacks in the league featuring Todd Gurley II (and the emergence of C.J. Anderson). For the Rams, it's the same thing, which is a tall task for a team with a defense that ranked last in the NFL in yards per attempt throughout the regular season. The Pats employ various weapons out of the backfield, including a healthy Sony Michel who has five touchdowns in two games this postseason.
It sounds simple, but both teams need to stick to what they've done best all season. Fans know what these two teams can do through the air, but the running attack and defensive fortitude for both squads will have a huge role in how this game is dictated.
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Bing Predicts winner: New England Patriots (55% chance)
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