Defense wins championships, so they say. When comparing just the on-field personnel of the two defenses in Super Bowl LIII, it’s a complete toss up as to who has the edge this Sunday in Atlanta.
All things considered, there’s no denying Bill Belichick’s impact on the Patriots’ defense. And ultimately, if I’m forced to give someone an edge, defensively, in Super Bowl LIII, I’m giving it to the New England Patriots, mainly because of Belichick.
Barring Stephon Gilmore getting benched, I trust that Belichick will be able to come up with a defensive scheme to haunt the dreams of third-year quarterback Jared Goff. Belichick’s success against young, inexperienced quarterbacks is well documented, and that continued in this year’s AFC Championship when the Patriots knocked off the Chiefs in Kansas City and held Patrick Mahomes to zero points in the first half.
That’s not to take anything away from New England’s on-field personnel, but let’s be honest, the average NFL fan can probably recognize more names on the Rams’ defense than the Patriots’. Between Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Dante Fowler Jr., Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters, Los Angeles’ defense is probably the defense you’d pick while playing a game of Madden 19.
New England’s defense isn’t as star-studded, but there are certainly some guys who don’t get the publicity they deserve. One of those players is Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
When the Pats signed Gilmore on the first day of free agency two years ago to a five-year, $65 million deal with $40 million guaranteed, there was a tepid response throughout New England, as it was a huge and somewhat unexpected contract for a player who wasn’t considered to be a household name.
Now in his second season with the Patriots, Gilmore is proving to be one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, and yet, he still doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves. The same can be said for several other Patriots defensive players.
Statistically, New England finished the regular season as the No. 7 ranked defense in the league, allowing 20.3 points per game, while Los Angeles ranked No. 20, allowing 24 points per game.
The Patriots had a better rush defense than the Rams, while the Rams had a better pass defense than the Patriots. But in both categories, the numbers weren’t that far apart.
Same goes for defensive takeaways. In the regular season, the Rams ranked No. 3 in the league with 30 takeaways, while the Patriots were tied at No. 5 with 28. Both Los Angeles and New England each finished with 18 interceptions.
Both defenses have the ability to make big plays. But only one team has Belichick. And that’s not to disrespect Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, but is anybody really taking Phillips over Belichick? Come on now.
My defensive edge in Super Bowl LIII goes to New England, thanks to Belichick, who I would never put my money against in this one.
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