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Five Keys to Unlock a 6th

This Sunday, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots seek their 6th Super Bowl win as they head back to the biggest stage in sports, for the third consecutive year, and fourth time in the last five years. They will do so against the Los Angeles Rams, a team that is coming off of both a highly contested and highly controversial game against the New Orleans Saints.

This Patriots team will have their hands full as they are going up against a team that is flooded with talent on all three facets of the game. Not to mention they are coached by one of the league’s best coaches in Sean McVay. He was hired in 2017 at the age of 30 which made him the youngest head coach in NFL history. McVay has had instant success with the team as their record has gone from 4-12 the year before he started, to back to back winning seasons of 11-5 and 13-3, in which both years they made the playoffs. Now, he and the Rams have a chance to take down the Brady and Belichick empire, something few have done.

For the Patriots, the bright lights and hype that comes along with playing in the Super Bowl is something that they are used to. With that being said, they are going to have to execute on a high level from start to finish in order to take down this team. For me, there are five key things the Patriots must do to bring yet another Lombardi trophy back to Foxboro.

1. First on the list is limiting Aaron Donald’s greatness. Yes, that is easier said than done, but it might just be the single most important thing the Patriots will have to do all night. Completely eliminating him from the game is nearly impossible as Donald is arguably the most dominant force in the entire league. He recorded a league leading 20.5 sacks this season, which was 4.5 more than any other player. Slowing him down will absolutely mean throwing double teams at him over the course of the game, which will open up opportunities for players like Ndamukong Suh or Michael Brockers to have big nights. So far this postseason, Tom Brady has dropped back to pass 90 times and has not been sacked once, so it will be interesting if Donald or Suh have something to say about that. DO NOT LET AARON DONALD WIN THIS GAME FOR THE RAMS.

2. Next is not allowing the running game of Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson to be effective early. Los Angeles is a team that thrives off of the play action game so if the Patriots can manage to shut down the run early, the Rams might not be able to produce like they planned. This could also lead to Jared Goff throwing more than he wants to in non play action situations. This is the biggest stage that Goff has ever seen so nerves will 100% be playing a factor. If the Patriots can get him uncomfortable early, it could mean big things for this defense.

3. The next key is to effectively use the three headed monster that is Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead. Unsurprisingly, these three have meant the world to this offense all year including the postseason. For this offense to continue at the pace it has over the past few weeks, Michel, White, and Burkhead will have to carry a decent load. This should take pressure of players like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman who will most likely need to come through clutch at the end of the game. Use White in the passing game like usual, and force the linebackers of Los Angeles to make tackles. Most importantly with the running game is to be effective, do not put this offense in tough situations to succeed because the Rams’ defense has the ability to eat you apart.

4. Getting an early lead will be crucial. You do not want to be playing from behind all night, especially against a team that can run the ball and gladly will. Getting an early lead also means added pressure on Goff. Like stated earlier, this is the biggest game of Goff’s career to date. If he is playing from behind he may feel the pressure just a little extra and try to force passes and make plays that are not there. This Patriots defense is by no means elite but they will make plays when they get the opportunity, and if Goff tries to play hero-ball they, will capitalize.

5. The last key is to win the third down battle on both sides of the ball from start to finish. New England was 13-19 on third downs against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, and that was undoubtedly a crucial reason to why they won. If they can keep the Rams defense on the field, extending drives all night, the Rams will struggle to keep them from scoring. Keeping this potent Los Angeles offense off of the field will be a huge factor in this game.

This game has potential to be one for the ages. Two mastermind head coaches, the greatest quarterback of all time, and a field that will be drowning in both youthful and veteran talent. There’s really not much more you can ask for as a fan of the NFL.

As for the Patriots, check off these five boxes and you will have your sixth ring.

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