Super Bowl Week is upon us and we are just days away now from crowning the next Super Bowl champion. This Sunday, February 3rd, the New England Patriots will take on the Los Angeles Rams here in Atlanta. So for one week, the whole league celebrates as we lay on the verge of the new champion while also celebrating the incredible NFL season we just had. As you would expect – there were plenty of story lines coming into this week and even more have played out in the past two days.
This experience has been nothing short of everything I could have imagined. The city is full of fans from all walks of the NFL. To no surprise, there is an overwhelming amount of New England Patriots fans here and are in full force and that was evident form Opening Night. The chants of “Let’s Go Pats!” and “We’re Still Here” rang aloud during the team’s hour-long interview session.
As the event ended, teams headed back to their respective hotels to rest and media members racing to the war room to report on their quotes I was overcome with a feeling of just how different the two teams’ interview sessions were. Then, I started to think and while there are certainly similarities, it might be their differences that make this game that much more intriguing.
Age vs Experience:
Let’s just get ever so obvious out of the way in the sense of Bill Belichick and Sean McVay. Yes, we know that McVay is the youngest coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl, at 33 years old. While Belichick enters the game at the age of 66. Then, we get to the quarterbacks and again a difference in age and experience. Tom Brady enters his ninth Super Bowl at the age of 41 and the opponent Jared Goff is 24 years young and in just his third season in the league.
A lot of questions this week have been asked towards players feelings about getting to this point and what it was like. The Rams answered with excitement and the allure of the unknown. For the Patriots, as they always do, the answers were its just another Super Bowl. Their answers were focused and directed to the game and preparation on Sunday.
Finding a Patriots player that has not been to a Super Bowl was a challenge. I was finally able to catch up with former Cleveland Brown defensive back, Jason McCourty. While talking to the group of media, he expressed how amazingly prepared the players were for this week. He told the group, “the players are so used to this the coaches and organization did not have to give any direction. If you don’t know the drill, find a teammate who does so they can help you.”
To further the difference in experience, ESPN Stats and Information have provided us with the information regarding the experience by broken down by players:
How These Teams Were Built:
Somehow, someway, and somewhere people starting saying the Patriots are the underdog for this Super Bowl. Think about that for a minute. You have a team in the Patriots who are in the midst of one of the greatest NFL dynasties of all time and yet still there was a belief of this team being an underdog. So, the only logical question is why would someone believe that? The easy answer was for bulletin board material, of course!
The way the Rams have built their roster is becoming more of the trend now in the NFL with first or second-year quarterbacks ready to step in and play right away. That strategy is max out paying other positions and take advantage of your quarterback on their rookie contract. The Patriots are taking the strategy of building through the draft and build from within.
The Rams have brought in the talents of Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler, and Ndamukong Suh either through trades or free agency. Those five players combine for a total cap hit of $34.5 million. While the Patriots this off-season outside of re-signing their own players to bring back and paying Adrian Clayborn $10 million, the Patriots spent $10.24 million.
East Coast vs West Coast:
Boston vs Los Angeles, a phrase championship games are no stranger to. These two cities have battled time and time again across the numerous sports to determine who the champion is. It plays to a narrative that has always been around and that is the overall bias between east and west coast. Well, being from the mid west, I don’t have a stake in either horse for that race. None the less these two teams embodied their coasts to the fullest during Super Bowl Opening Night.
East Coasters are faster paced, more uptight and come for business before all else. The west coast moves at their own pace, tend to enjoy the moment and vibe tend to trump all. These two teams could not have been more on point. The Rams were introduced first, and the players that were going to have the podiums for the hour were introduced one by one. As they came down to the main stage you could see smiles backed by excitement and their steps filled with their swag. Many of the Rams players came and showed out in their bling, sunglasses, different team gear and hats.
For the Patriots, it was a little different; Belichick and Brady were on stage for an interview prior to the rest of the organization being presented. After concluding the interview, they went to join the rest of the team. What happened next was a sight that was all too familiar. There were no individual introductions, no player names called. No, they were introduced as just the New England Patriots. A team coming to the stage with smiles as well but backed by confidence and their steps were taken with purpose. Another difference was the manner in which the Patriots were dressed. All in the same provided hoodies with nothing to be shown, as if it was a uniform.
To wrap this up this got me to think of why this felt so familiar and it finally hit me. We, as NFL fans, have already watched a script start like this for both of these teams. The last time these two teams met in Super Bowl XXXVI we saw the same entrance. Take a look for yourself:
While these teams have no direct relationship as we are now over 15 years later there are still some similarities. Does this mean the Patriots have any real advantage over the Rams? I do not believe so, but I do believe the experience and comfort of being to two-straight Super Bowls, will.