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Super Bowl LIII preview: The Patriots do not care if you are tired of them

What? Did you really think you’d get Andy Reid and the Chiefs?
Published Jan. 21, 2019
Updated Jan. 22, 2019

Super Bowl LII was relentless.

A year ago, the Eagles and Patriots combined for 1,151 yards, 54 first downs and 74 points. They punted once.

They did more than rewrite the record books that night. They caused roughly 2.5 million heart attacks.

Super Bowl LII marked an evolutionary leap for the NFL, and the game hasn’t slowed down since.

In 2018, teams scored more points than ever, averaging 23 per game. It’s appropriate then that the Patriots and Rams — teams that feature high-octane offenses and flawed but good enough defenses — will clash in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3.

The Rams will be playing in their fourth Super Bowl, the Patriots will be playing in their third straight Super Bowl and the Rams and Patriots will be playing in their second Super Bowl together. Just don’t count on a 20-17 score this time around.

What you can count on over the next couple of weeks is a bunch of “youth vs. experience” thinkpieces. The age gaps between the starting quarterbacks (Los Angeles' Jared Goff is 24; New England’s Tom Brady is 41) and the head coaches (Sean McVay is 32; Bill Belichick is 66) are the largest in Super Bowl history. When Brady and Belichick started going to the Super Bowl (this will be their ninth appearance in 18 seasons), Goff and McVay were still going to Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Who will prevail? Let’s dive into the numbers to see how the Rams and Patriots match up.

(Statistics below are from the regular season.)

“Efficiency.” Blech. Sounds like something your boss talks about. What does it even mean anyway?

In the office, it means “do more with less.” In football, though, it means “value over volume.”

The traditional way to rank teams is to tally yards gained and yards allowed. But not all yards are the same. A 6-yard pass on third and 5 in a close game is more valuable than a 6-yard pass on third and 10 in a blowout.

So how do we determine value? Fortunately, Football Outsiders already has done the work for us. To better measure team performance, the website developed a statistic they call Defense-adjusted Value Over Average or DVOA. DVOA takes every play and compares a team’s success on that play with the league average.

DVOA is adjusted for situation and opponent and is expressed as a percentage, where a positive percentage indicates an above-average performance and a negative percentage indicates a below-average performance. So if a team has a DVOA of 10 percent, that means it played 10 percent above the league average. (When separating DVOA by offense and defense, the best offenses have a positive rating and the best defenses have a negative rating.)

Here are the game-by-game DVOA ratings for the Patriots and Rams:

Patriots 35, Rams 31

Statistics in this report are from Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference. Photographs are from the Associated Press. Contact Thomas Bassinger at Follow @tometrics.


  1. Bruce Arians said the Bucs' new uniforms will look more like this. The hope is they will play more like this. [DAMASKE, JIM  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  2. It sounds like Bucs coaches and the front office have had a change of heart on tight end O.J. Howard. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  3. Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. [MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP]
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
  5. In this file photo, Bucs coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Jameis Winston walk off the field after a season-opening home loss to San Francisco. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  6. Florida State running back Cam Akers (3) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of last season's home opener against Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  7. He may look happy here, but Bradley Pinion seems pretty overjoyed (at least on social media) at the prospect of the team dumping this uni design. [Times]
  8. Kacey Reynolds announces that LSU linebacker Devin White has been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bucs announced Sunday that Reynolds had died at age 20 after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
  9. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett's bet on himself is about to pay off, in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
  10. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99),  during the first half of a game against the Chiefs on Jan. 12, 2020, took to Twitter to give his view of the owners' labor proposal: "A hard no." (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann) [REED HOFFMANN  |  AP]
  11. Monte Kiffin, shown here talking to safety John Lynch during a preseason game against the Jaguars on Aug. 16, 2002, this season will be the 14th inductee into the Bucs Ring of Honor. [WHITE, KEVIN  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  12. Washington quarterback Jacob Eason in action against Southern Cal in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) [ELAINE THOMPSON  |  AP]