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Here we are on Super Bowl Sunday, and there’s a game to preview and a number of trivia questions to separate Dan and I in our competition.

‘A bumper crop of questions in the hope that a winner can be found – along with a tie breaker which would only come into play if we are still at loggerheads. So, here goes:

In the 2018 Regular season – who scored the

  1. Long kick return   (For 1 point)
  2. Longest Pass   (1 point)
  3. For Superbowl LIII I want to know which conference has had most wins in the preceding 52? To be clear the NFC includes the NFL and the AFC the AFL.   (1 Point)
  4. Which QBs have Played in 4 Superbowl’s and won all 4   (2 points)
  5. How many franchises, including teams that have relocated to another city, have won the Super Bowl?   (1 point)

And finally, the Hail Mary Tie-breaker……… IF it’s needed.

In the 2018 season what was the Aggregate Total of Passing Yards of all 32 Teams.

Its Game On – Over to you.’

So this is a pretty tough set of questions and I’ll try to work my way through with guess work as I don’t know:

  1. I’m struggling on this one, but I think Alex Erickson of the Bengals had a long one, like over seventy yards, and whilst it wouldn’t surprise me if there was one from the endzone, I can’t think of it.
  2. I’m not exactly sure on this one either, but I feel comfortable in plumping for a guess of Patrick Mahomes as it’s not exactly a stretch for him to have the longest pass of the season.
  3. Okay, so I’m going to go with the maths on this one, and hope that fifty-two is a large enough sample size for the big runs to even themselves out. However, whilst I suspect the numbers are close, I do remember the ridiculous run of NFC winners we had in the mid-eighties into the nineties thanks to the Cowboys and 49ers so I’m guessing NFC.
  4. This one is one that I think I have a solid guess at assuming I’m right in thinking two points equals two names, and whilst there are a few quarterbacks with a great pedigree, I’m going to name Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the logical guesses given their team’s successes and hope that Steve Young isn’t going to trip me up!
  5. So I think this is actually going to be surprisingly low given that there have been fifty-two games, but we have had a lot of teams like the Steelers, 49ers, Patriots who have won a lot so even throwing in moved franchise I’m going to guess at something like twenty-five

Bonus question time!

I could actually work this out from data but I’ll employ a little maths and as I know that the Chiefs threw for over five thousand yards, and guessing the lowest is somewhere around say three thousand so the mid-point is say four thousand yards. That would give me total of one-hundred and twenty-eight thousand passing yards for thirty-two teams as a rough guess.

‘Ok, my final trivia answers. With everything neck and neck (we promise it wasn’t planned this way!!):

  1. Long kick return – I feel this is unfair, but I’ll take it! Jakeem Grant of the Dolphins got a 102 yarder against the Titans week one. It was also the longest game of the season. I’ll take the extra point there too…!
  2. Longest Pass – Not sure about this, it really could be anyone. I’ll say Patrick Mahomes.
  3. For Superbowl LIII I want to know which conference has had most wins in the preceding 52? – Hmmm… bit of a toss-up here. I’ll guess at the AFC
  4. Which QBs have Played in 4 Superbowl’s and won all 4 – it’s going to have been a while back, so I’ll go with John Elway and Joe Montana
  5. How many franchises, including teams that have relocated to another city, have won the Super Bowl? This will be quite high, but I know not everyone has… I’ll go with 26

In the 2018 season what was the Aggregate Total of Passing Yards of all 32 Teams. – 128,000 is my guess. To show my working, I’d say the best teams get about 5000, and the worst end up on about 3000, so averaging at 4000 per team, over 32 teams, makes 128k.’

So with the trivia competition out of the way it is time turn our attention to tonight’s game.

New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams

I will start by looking at both teams when they have the ball and the I’ll throw in some final comments and there will be nothing left to write before the big game.

The match-up of the game for me will the Patriots’ defence going against Rams’ offence so that’s where I will start. The often-cited tactics of Bill Belichick is to take away what you want to do and force you to play left handed. I’m not sure who they will focus on in terms of coverage, but I imagine given how much of the Ram’s offence is based off running the ball and play-action, that the Patriots will want to force Jared Goff to be a drop back passer and dare him to beat them with his arm. Now the Rams almost lucked into a powerful backfield duo when they picked up CJ Anderson late in the season to spell Todd Gurley who was struggling with a knee injury. The Rams are insisting that Gurley is healthy despite him spending most of the Conference Championship game on an exercise bike and one of the big unknowns in this game is how effective Gurley will be. That said, Anderson has rushed for over one-hundred yards in three of the four games he has played for the Rams since getting signed in December.

The story of the Rams’ offence this season has been the use of 11 personnel and the myriad of looks and motions they build of this group of starters who predominantly play the whole game. However, in recent weeks they have been mixing in more 12 personnel with the extra tight-end helping in both the running and passing game. The don’t have a dominant receiver, with both Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks finishing the regular season over twelve-hundred yards and within fifteen yards of each other. The loss of Cooper Kupp to injury did seem to disrupt Jared Goff but Josh Reynolds has done what he can from the slot to replace him.

I am really looking forward to this match-up as it is the meat of the contest between the all time great Bill Belichick and the young genius as Sean McVay has been heralded, and I think it is likely to be the most important for the Rams if they hope to win. I’ll come back to that later, but for now I will just say that I am intrigued to see what McVay and his staff have cooked up in terms of things that run counter to the Rams’ usual offensive tendencies that will be tried in an effort to catch Belichick out.

When the Patriots have the ball things will be just as interesting, and the contest between Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady going against Wade Philips is hardly less intriguing what I’ve just written about. Particularly as Philips has already masterminded a winning defence against Brady and the Patriots on the way to a Super Bowl win with the Broncos. In Aaron Donald the Rams’ have a pass rusher every bit as effective as the Broncos’ Von Miller and they can also line up Ndamukong Suh next to him. The conventional wisdom is to beat Tom Brady you need to be able to get pressure with four pass rushers and with these two supremely talented tackles and Dante Fowler the Rams stand some chance of doing this. The difference between this defence and the one the Philips and the Broncos used to beat the Patriots is the secondary is not as talented and in a game such as against the Saints what the Rams have are explosive moments rather than consistent play. Yes both Suh and Donald has outstanding moments, but the Saints were able to get them on their heels and I have feeling that the recent tactics of the Patriots could well negate the Rams’ defence.

The Patriots, as has often been their want have recently reinvented themselves as running football team using 21 personnel and fullback James Devlin as both a lead blocker and pass catcher. In addition, in the last few weeks Rob Gronkowski has looked really effective as a blocking tight-end who has caught some passes and whilst he’s looked for from his league conquering best, in the last few games he has looked closer to it. The form of Julian Edelman in the playoffs has also been a big boost to the Patriots whilst their running backs committee was able to generate one-hundred and seventy-six yards and four touchdowns against the Chiefs. This may not be the high flying iteration of the Patriots’ offence that has so dominated previous seasons, but they have found a way to control the clock and win games comfortably having earned yet another playoff bye.

The advantage this gives the Patriots is that if they can grind out the game against a defence that was twenty-eight in the league against the run during the regular season then they can dominate time of possession and win a close game.

I am really excited by this year’s Super Bowl, which I think should be tactically fascinating but who do I think is going to win?

This has been a year where your defence only needed to be so good given the power of offence, but I feel like the Patriots have a slight edge in match-ups and I have more faith in Belichick and staff’s ability to maximise their team’s performance in the unusual circumstances of the Super Bow given they have been there nine times in eighteen and this is their third in a row. The Rams absolutely can win this game, and I would love for former Bengals stalwart starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth to get a Super Bowl win but whilst my heart wants Rams for this reason, my head says that in a close game the Patriots will edge out winners with their better balance.

Whatevver happens, I think I will have some great coaching tape to dig into next week.