Super Bowl 53: What are the keys to a Patriots victory?
4. Win the turnover battle
In the 2018 regular season, the Rams and the Patriots finished No. 4 and No. 5 in positive turnover ratio amongst all 32 teams, with final tallies of +11 and +10, respectively.
The two Super Bowl foes finished about even at several important individual positions, as well, when it came to turnovers during the regular season. At quarterback, Brady had 11 picks while Goff had 12. And at running back, Sony Michel had 1 fumble while Todd Gurley didn’t have any.
Clearly, these two teams got to where they are this season by protecting the football. And while Bill Belichick has long touted ball security and winning the turnover battle as extremely important aspects of winning football games, Sean McVay has also done a commendable job in just two seasons as skipper of the Rams in installing similar concepts.
Traditionally speaking, the team that loses the turnover battle in the Super Bowl almost always loses the game as well. It makes sense, as Football Outsiders equates the value of a turnover to about 4 points either way on the scoreboard. And when you consider the Patriots’ average margin of victory in their Super Bowl wins is just 3.8 points (their margin in losses is 5.0), a turnover going their way could be the difference between ecstasy and agony on Sunday.
If New England hopes to win the turnover battle, they’ll need to do two things above all others:
- Pressure Jared Goff into mistakes
- Try and strip the ball from Rams’ running backs and receivers
Obviously it goes without saying that Tom Brady needs to be careful with the ball, too… but you might be surprised at the lack of correlation between the Patriots winning titles and TB12 making mistakes on the game’s biggest stage.
He had 2 interceptions in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks, and 1 interception returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons – both games the Patriots ultimately won. He didn’t throw a pick in Super Bowl LII, though he did lose a fumble, and the Patriots ended up losing.
This is not meant to prove that New England plays better in championships when Brady makes mistakes; rather, it just shows that the team is usually mentally tough enough to overcome those errors when they do happen. The Rams, on the other hand, are a nascent team with little playoff experience on the roster; one costly mistake by a young player like Goff or Gurley could doom the team early on.