Belichick was young once, too
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer @NFLStroud: Let’s agree Bill Belichick is at present at better football coach than Sean McVay. He has the hardware to prove it. He also has Tom Brady. Always Brady. But Belichick has also lost three Super Bowls, including last year to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Super Bowls involving the Patriots have all been decided by an average of less than five points, including several on the final play. McVay’s challenge will be adjusting to what Belichick throws at the Rams and he will have a plan to take away their best player. But McVay may just have to get HIS team to execute at a high level. He may actually have more talent overall. And McVay has done that consistently for two seasons. Match wits? Just match the Patriots scores plus one point more.
McVay doesn’t have to match wits
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: “Belichick has two weeks to prepare …” Why do we hear that so often? You know who else has two weeks to prepare? Belichick’s opponent, which in this case is McVay. Have we considered that the extra week of preparation before the Super Bowl benefits the other coach more than Belichick? Yes, New England has won five Super Bowls since the 2001 season. It also has lost three. If we combine all those point margins, by how much do the Patriots come out ahead? Four points. In their 13 conference championship games? 79 points. In their 15 divisional round games? 148 points. The Patriots aren’t built to overwhelm teams in the Super Bowl; they’re built to outlast them. They execute, and then they wait for their opponents to press and make mistakes. McVay’s biggest enemy Sunday isn’t Belichick; it’s himself. If he trusts his process, he and the Rams will have a shot.
New kid on the block knows the streets
Martin Fennelly, columnist @mjfennelly: Belichick is twice as old as McVay, but McVay might have twice the brass, and that will serve him well. It’s as if the guy doesn’t even know where he is at times, how far he and his team have come, how close they are. Ignorance is bliss. Belichick is a master at taking a team’s most important weapons out of the game, but that might be Rams all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Meanwhile, McVay will play Jon Gruden and Chucky his head and playbook off. He won’t be in over his head. Might even teach the master some new tricks. McVay is only 33, but like Gruden before him, he might have been born for this moment.
McVay’s variety is the key spice
Ernest Hooper, columnist/assistant sports editor, @hoop4you: Belichick always aims to take away a team’s top weapon, but the Rams have so many. If he focuses too much on Todd Gurley, he risks a big game by Brandin Cooks. What about Robert Woods? Tyler Higbee? Gerald Everett? McVay can outwit Belichick if he delivers a gameplan that utilizes all of Los Angeles’ weapons, and he might just possess the acumen to get it done. But it won’t be easy against a fount of wisdom and defensive wizardry.
Was Doug Pederson over his head last year?
John Romano, columnist @romano_tbtimes: Bill Belichick is a wizard. A genius. A groundbreaker. But he is not infallible. Let’s not forget, the Patriots were the favorites in Super Bowls LII, XLVI and XLII and lost all three. Considering what he’s done in his first two seasons as a head coach, it’s silly to suggest Sean McVay is out of his league against Belichick. And that doesn’t even take into account defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Having said all that, yeah, I think the Patriots have an edge in this game and I think Belichick’s brains have something to do with that.