Super Bowl LIII: X-Factors Patriots vs Rams | Bonehead Picks

Super Bowl LIII: The X-Factors for the Patriots and the Rams

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Super Bowl LIII is less than one week away and both teams have earned a trip to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy because of their handling of tough road games in difficult environments. The New England Patriots are Super Bowl regulars as they make their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance after winning and losing the Super Bowl the previous two appearances. The Los Angeles Rams are very much new to the Super Bowl as their most high profile players like quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, and defensive lineman Aaron Donald have been nowhere close to the Super Bowl previously in their young NFL careers. Even the Rams head coach Sean McVay mirrors the youth of the most high profile players on his team.

While players like Donald and Goff figure to play an important part for the Rams to have Super Bowl success, the same could be said for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. However, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein and Patriots punter Ryan Allen were X-Factors in the respective Championship Games that got the teams to the Super Bowl. There are offensive and defensive “X-Factors” who will play a big part in which team is happy about the confetti coming down at the end of the game.

The offensive X-Factor for the New England Patriots is center David Andrews. The Patriots offensive line doesn’t get a lot of national attention but Patriots center David Andrews is quietly one of the better centers in the AFC. He will see a lot of former Miami Dolphin and current Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh across from him. Suh has historically played well against Andrews as they saw each other a lot as AFC East opponents but it will be important for Andrews to have a quality game against him considering Suh will want to use his outstanding natural strength and power to make a difference.

For the Los Angeles Rams, the offensive X-Factor is wide receiver Robert Woods. It is safe to say that Bill Belichick knows top Rams receiver Brandin Cooks very well. Cooks was a New England Patriot last season and will want to have a strong game against his former team after a rock solid performance against another former team in the NFC Championship Game, the New Orleans Saints. His running mate, Robert Woods will be matched up against Jason, not Devin, McCourty as well as J.C. Jackson but should have the advantage.

New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy is the defensive X-Factor for New England. He had a big AFC Championship Game in Kansas City with 10 tackles, two sacks, and two tackles for loss. Van Noy is a complementary player who will be challenged to slow down one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL. Could Van Noy have back to back huge playoff games in championship settings?

The defensive X-Factor for the Los Angeles Rams is safety Lamarcus Joyner. One of keys of New England’s win in Kansas City during the AFC Championship Game was key catches by tight end Rob Gronkowski, some of whom were against Kansas City safety Eric Berry. Joyner doesn’t have the recognition or pedigree of Berry but he is capable of interceptions. Joyner will also have responsibilities with players like wide receivers Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett when they are in his area.

 

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