Let’s be real, the NFL is a quarterback’s league and it almost always comes down to which team can do more damage through the air. With that, let’s take a look at both the Patriots and Rams’ receiving corps, and which one is a more dangerous threat come Sunday.
What more can we say about Julian Edelman that hasn’t already been said? Well, here’s something: You can bring Edelman’s name up in a discussion as a top postseason wide receiver of all time.
He’s probably second, and not super far behind Jerry Rice.
It might sound crazy, and the numbers on paper don’t exactly back it up due to Rice’s 29 postseason games compared to Edelman’s 17, but anybody who has watched Edelman over the years knows how many insane catches he’s made in the postseason when it’s mattered most.
Edelman is second in receptions (105) behind Rice (151) and having 1,271 receiving yards, he should easily move into 3rd place all-time (1,289) on Sunday.
It can’t just be Edelman, though, and against the Chiefs, Rob Gronkowski showed everyone that he isn’t just a blocker or a decoy. Gronkowski was instrumental in the Patriots’ win, and he’ll be counted on once again. Despite what you’ve read and heard, Gronk is still a top tight end in this league and will command plenty of attention.
The rest of the Patriots’ passing attack will mainly fall upon receivers Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett, with a cameo by Cordarrelle Patterson. Production-wise, most would say Hogan had a down year, finishing with 35 receptions for 532 yards and three touchdowns. But his one-handed grab against the Chiefs was a reminder that he can still reel them in with the best of them. Ditto for Dorsett, who makes his targets count and provides a deep field threat for Brady, as evidenced by his 29-yard touchdown in Kansas City.
But we couldn’t possibly discuss the receiving options without at least mentioning James White. Yes, he’s a running back, but what we know is that he’s involved in the passing game more than most, and if history is any indication, will once again be featured.
The Patriots defense will square off against a familiar face on Sunday in Brandin Cooks. Traded over to the Rams in the offseason, Cooks had a stellar year finishing the regular season with 80 receptions for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns.
But get this: As good as Cooks was for the Rams this year, he wasn’t their best. That award goes to Robert Woods, who finished with 86 receptions, 1,219 yards and six touchdowns. Woods, though, was quiet in the NFC Championship Game, finishing with just 33 reception yards on six catches.
It was the Rams’ third receiver, Josh Reynolds, who made up for it with four receptions for 74 yards. He has been extremely valuable for the Rams since Cooper Kupp’s injury.
Like White with the Patriots, you can’t ignore the threat of Gurley contributing, though his health is a major question mark.
Brady has an unparalleled connection with his receivers, making their offense so hard to handle. When they’re clicking, it’s nearly unstoppable. Because of that, the Patriots offense as a whole should be considered more dangerous than the Rams.
But, the fact that the Rams have two 1,200-plus-yard receivers is a tough task for an at-times leaky Patriots secondary. Add in Reynolds and the Rams’ receiving weapons look to be more dangerous as a whole. But can Jared Goff figure out what Bill Belichick’s defense has in store for him?
Taking both quarterbacks out of this equation, we’re giving the receivers edge to the Rams… just barely.