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Californian staffers make their predictions for Super Bowl LIII between Patriots and Rams

Californian staff

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Super Bowl LIII is bringing about much excitement, featuring familiar faces as well as first-timers.
The majority of America hopes that this is the beginning of the end for Tom Brady and the Patriots reign because they seem to be in the Super Bowl every year are often embroiled in controversy.
But this time, it’s their opponent, the Rams, reaching the NFL’s final game with controversy following an (undeserved?) NFC Championship win that included a blatant pass interference missed call in a crucial closing minutes of their win over the Saints.
Californian staff members have thought long and hard before providing their take on Sunday’s Super Bowl. Despite some disagreement, we’re all hoping for a fair, competitive
game between these two heavyweights, or at least some funny commercials.

Cameron McKeon, sports editor
Tom Brady and the Patriots are gearing up for their fourth consecutive big game, this time opposed by the young, explosive Rams. Can the second coming of the “Greatest Show on Turf” gain revenge from Super Bowl XXXVI, when a youthful, electrifying Brady starred on a Pats team that took down a Kurt Warner led St. Louis Rams? This time, the tables have turned. Jared Goff is the phenom while Brady keeps on chugging along at age 41.
On paper, the Rams have the capabilities to do as the Eagles did last year with a much better roster. Then again, seeing Bill Belichick lose two Super Bowls in a row seems highly unlikely, no matter what the team looks like.
Whether they deserved it or not, the Rams are here on Sunday after defeating the Saints 26-23. A missed pass interference call that could’ve led to a game ending score for New Orleans had absolutely everybody reeling. Even President Trump got into the action, calling
it “maybe the worst call I’ve ever seen.” Missed call aside, The Rams still got themselves into field goal position late and sent the game to OT, where they forced a rare interception out of Drew Brees and nailed a 57 yard field goal for the win.
To put up a good fight on Sunday, Rams running back Todd Gurley needs to make an impact. In the NFC Championship, he was virtually a non-factor. A mere four rushes for 10 yards won’t get it done against the Patriots like it did against the Saints. The Sean McVay vs Belichick coaching matchup is extremely intriguing. The new age vs. the old. Two masterminds that couldn’t have more contrasting personalities. McVay won’t be fazed by the atmosphere, though, and will give his Rams every chance to grasp their second Lombardi Trophy.
Which Patriots team will we get this time? Super Bowl LI Patriots that pulled off the unthinkable by completing a 25-point comeback on the poor Falcons, or Super Bowl LII Patriots that suffered a surprising upset to Nick Foles and the Eagles?
As Brady begins to slowly decline, he has to be thankful for the surprising run game that doesn’t get enough credit in New England. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead provide a rare, impressive Patriots tandem who deserve as much credit as anybody else for getting them to the Super Bowl. Without a consistent run game, a 41 year old quarterback throwing to a mediocre group of receivers doesn’t bode well for success. Then again, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski decide to upgrade to world class pass catchers once the regular season turns to playoffs every year. The Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31 two weeks ago in OT and, in all honesty, the Chiefs are a better team than the Rams.
That doesn’t guarantee success for New England, but the further into the playoffs we get, the more clutch Brady and Belichick seem to get. Reasons like these make it hard to bet against the Patriots. They’ll take home their sixth Super Bowl to tie the Steelers for the most in NFL history.
Prediction: Patriots 30 Rams 24

Mihika Gokarn, photo editor
Super Bowl Sunday, America’s most unofficial official holiday, is upon us. This year, millions of people will tune in to watch the biggest sports final as per American tradition, only to be talking about all of the iconic ads the next day. Let’s be honest. Everyone remembers the Puppy-Monkey-Baby ad but nobody can remember who won the Super Bowl that year. (It was the Broncos).
This season was full of surprises, from the Browns actually playing decent (the likes of which hasn’t been witnessed since Johnny Manziel was Twitter’s new flavor of the month) to Blake Bortles ruining everyone’s fantasy league to Jimmy Garoppolo (every suburban mom’s favorite QB) tearing his ACL in the third week. Of course, it had to end on the MOST surprising note of all, Tom Brady making his ninth appearance at the Super Bowl after what was possibly the most anticlimactic ending to any playoffs game ever.
Now to the actual game. Though I’m always one to root for the underdog, you can’t underestimate the GOAT. Brady is almost twice as old as Jared Goff and actually lost to the Lions this season, but Siri, the all-knowing oracle, says that the odds favor the Patriots by 2.5 points. AP Stats kids wya? Regardless, I have a conscience, so I’m going with the Rams.
Prediction: Rams 34, Patriots 28 in OT. Aaron Donald wins the MVP.

John Symank, news editor
This year’s Super Bowl matchup includes the Patriots and the Rams for the first time since 2001. You can imagine how that went for the Rams, who had just moved to St. Louis from LA. Now, with their recent move back to LA, maybe the reverse will be true.
Real talk, now that the Rams are gone there’s nothing left in St. Louis. I visited one time, saw the arch, and was more impressed that the McDonald’s had a working ice cream machine. It’s like there’s two seasons all year, winter and construction.
But you didn’t come to hear me rant about St. Louis. You came for a Super Bowl prediction. Plot twist: there’s nothing to predict. The Patriots are going to slam into the Rams harder than Nickell Robey-Coleman slammed into Tommy-Lee Lewis at the end of the Rams-Saints NFC Championship game. That’s not to say that the Pats are gonna win FAIRLY, but they’re gonna win. There’s going to be more deflated balls in that game than in Mortal Kombat X. (You guys know what I’m talking about) It’s gonna be Deflategate 2: Electric Boogaloo within a week of the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Patriots 37, Rams 10

Josh Nichols, staff writer
The Pats are gonna play the Rams in SB 53. Big Whoop. The Evil Empire is back and this year they play a new contender, the Rams. This game is full of awesome matchups, Goff vs Brady, Gurley vs Michel, Edelman vs Peters, Gronk vs the entire Rams defense, Sean McVay vs Refs, etc.
I think this game could go either way, but experience wins and the Pats have just that. It should be high scoring, with Gronk breaking 5,848,328 bones in the first half, Ndamokung Suh poking out Tom Brady’s eye, and all of the Patriots unknown white wide receivers making god-like plays.
Prediction: Patriots 35, Rams 31 (but I would not be surprised if the Rams took home the Lombardi).

Maddy Klessel, staff writer
The NFL did not surprise the majority of America with their astonishing calls made by officials two weeks ago in the two thrilling championship games between the New Orleans Saints and. Los Angeles Rams, and the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots.
This Sunday, the Rams will be facing the New England Patriots. No one can really be shocked that Tom Brady and his team made it back to the Super Bowl.
What did shock America were Brady’s comments about his team being the “underdogs” and everybody “doubting them.”
Really, Tom? As if you haven’t made the playoffs 15 of the past 16 years.
If you want to call your team “underdogs” then maybe avoid making the playoffs for several years and come back stronger one year, as the Philadelphia Eagles did to us last year and the Rams are doing this year.
As far as the Super Bowl goes, I can’t help but predict the refs screwing up a lot of the calls for the Rams. With the way the officials missed the pass interference call in the Rams game against the Saints last week, the officials are going to want to make it up and be super hard on the Rams in the Super Bowl.
Coming off a mediocre game last week, running back Todd Gurley is going to step it up in the Super Bowl and be huge for the Rams success. The Patriots’ defense will have a hard time stopping him in this game. Brady and his offense will be stopped by the Rams defense, but able to still hold onto the ball when the officials give the Patriots a break by throwing their flags on third and 10, as they did to the
well deserved Super Bowl-bound Chiefs.
The Super Bowl is going to be an offensive game with touchdown after touchdown by the two teams carrying each other to the end zone. As much as I hate to say it, I predict the Patriots to win in a tight game due to Brady’s confidence in his teammates, or should I say the officials.
Prediction: Patriots-45 Rams-35; “Officials-45, Rams-35”

Andrew Sousa, staff writer
So, Rams vs Patriots. Yay.
This Super Bowl should be Saints vs. Chiefs if not for a blatant pass-interference call missed against the Rams, and a terrible roughing passer on the Chiefs that allowed the Patriots to extend a late drive and score the go-ahead touchdown.
When the Super Bowl is just around the corner and no one is talking about the teams in the Super Bowl, that’s a problem. That said, this could be a very interesting Super Bowl.
First, off, we have to start with the new competitor in the ring, the Rams. Their offense has exploded onto the scene, scoring 32.9 points per game. Jared Goff, in his third year, has improved tremendously this season, and was even in MVP talks at the midway point of the season.
Their rushing attack, led by Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, has dominated, rushing for 350 yards in two games this postseason, compared to 98 for their opponents.
Their defense has actually been beter as of late, giving up just 22.5 points per game in the playoffs.
But some of their main parts, Goff, Gurley, and Aaron Donald have never played in a Super Bowl before, and that lack of experience may be a huge deterrent against a Patriots team that has had quite a bit of experience on this stage.
If the Rams win, it’ll be because of their prolific offense putting godly amounts of points against a suspect Patriots defense, and their own defense making key stops and getting to Tom Brady.
And now the Patriots. Again. For the third straight year. I honestly don’t know how they do it. Brady is 41 years old, all their receivers are either suspended or injured, and their defense has been highly questionable. Yet through the power of dark voodoo magic, they still made it to the big game.
The main cause of their success has been their offense, which while being strongly compromised and injured, was still fourth best in the league. And their offense has exploded in the playoffs, averaging 39.5 points per game.
While the offense has been scoring almost every drive, they’ve been doing this while draining huge amounts of clock. They’ve averaged 41:09 time of possession in the playoffs, capitalized by holding the ball for a resounding 43 minutes and 59 seconds against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, keeping the Chiefs’ dominant offense off the field.
The hardest thing to figure out is their defense. Throughout the season, their defense was atrocious, ranking 21st in yards allowed and 22nd in passing yards allowed.  But they were a solid seventh in points allowed this year. They are the key example of a bend but don’t break defense. If the Patriots can control the clock while their defense can continue their bend but don’t break mentality, with their experience, the Pats will have a great shot at winning it all.
No matter who wins this game, I will not be happy. As a Seahawks fan, this is like choosing being shot or stabbed. Do I root for the division rival or the team that beat my team four years prior with the power of Deflategate? I can’t wait.
As for a prediction, I sadly have to go with the Patriots. Their experience, along with their clock management and strong offense will just be too much for the young but inexperienced Rams. Evil mastermind Bill Belichick will have his way against a good but new Sean McVay, and will find every crack in their offense and exploit them like never before. The Rams will be too keen to make big mistakes, and the Patriots will feast on those missteps.
Prediction: Patriots 37, Rams 24

Rishi Thakkar, staff artist
One of the most anticipated sporting events of the year arrives this Sunday, the Super Bowl. Featuring the two No. 2 seeds from their respective conferences, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams look to cement themselves in NFL history as champions of Super Bowl 53. The Patriots look to add a sixth Lombardi Trophy to their already brimming trophy case. On the other hand the Rams look to earn their second championship in the second year of offensive mastermind and head coach Sean McVay’s tenure.
Compared to previous years, the Patriots have had a far more tumultuous journey to the Super Bowl. Whether it be losing a game because Gronk can’t play safety, losing Josh Gordon to suspension, losing by double digits to the 5-11 Jaguars, or having Tom Brady play through an MCL sprain, the Patriots have been through abundant adversity in their 2018 campaign. To get to the Super Bowl itself over the red hot Kansas City Chiefs is quite the accomplishment.
The Rams, on the other hand, began loading up for this Super Bowl in the offseason by signing defensive stalwarts Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh and trading for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. They made it abundantly clear they were stockpiling talent on both sides of the ball to make a run for a Lombardi Trophy.
In terms of match ups I’d keep an eye out for Dont’a Hightower versus Todd Gurley in the short passing game. The Patriots throughout the 2018 season have struggled immensely against pass catching running backs allowing the ninth most passing yards to opposing running backs and I fully expect McVay to gameplan for this to the Rams advantage. Another key match up I’d watch for is Aaron Donald vs David Andrews.
If Andrews is unable to limit Donald’s impact on the game I’d expect the Patriots offense to stall and eventually crumble allowing a easy path to victory for the Rams. I’d also watch for Wade Phillips’ game plan against the Patriots offense. I expect Phillips to throw a wide variety of defensive fronts and coverages in an attempt to fluster Tom Brady’s timing with his recievers and disrupt the tempo of the Patriots offense. Lastly, the matchup between the Patriots running attack of Sony Michel and James White versus the Rams run defense which has allowed the fifth most rushing yards per game is a matchup I expect the Patriots to exploit to their advantage.
In terms of predicting a winner it is wise not to write off the Patriots considering the experience they have playing in the Super Bowl. Despite the Rams high powered offense I expect Bill Belichick to formulate a game plan that will disconcert Super Bowl inexperienced Jared Goff via amoeba defensive fronts (defensive fronts that shift before the ball is snapped) and physical coverage versus the Rams receiving corp.
Prediction: Patriots 34, Rams 24. MVP: Sony Michel

Conan Maron, news lite editor
Ok I literally don’t care about this year’s Super Bowl. I either wanted Chiefs-Rams or Patriots-Saints, and this latter matchup was supposed to happen but completely ruined by blatant refball.
Here’s what will happen: Brady will have a heart attack in the first quarter leaving Belichick to take volunteers from the crowd. LaVar Ball jumps down and has 765 yards passing 189 yards rushing, five passing touchdowns, and three rushing touchdowns. Belichick has a secret radio linked to Tony Romo’s announcing booth and proceeds to listen to all his plays that the Rams are about to do.
The Patriots proceed to be up 56-10 in the fourth quarter and then suddenly a hooded figure appears out of the Rams sideline and Goff immediately gets substituted out for none other than our lord and savior, Nick Foles, who then proceeds to throw 700 pass yards and seven touchdowns, the last of which is on the last play of the game and he passes the ball to himself and Rams win 59-56.
But wait, there was a roughing the passer call on the last play because Aaron Donald put his pinky on the shoulder pad of Brady, who is still being medically treated on the sideline. Foles proceeds to turn back to regular season Nick Foles on the last play and completely misses the touchdown pass.
Prediction: Patriots 56, Rams 53