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Previewing the Super Bowl Offenses

January 31, 2019
 There are expectations that Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Rams will be a high-scoring contest. The Rams ranked second in the NFL in points scored during the regular season. The Patriots ranked fourth. With that in mind, here’s a look at keys to the offenses in this game for each team.

Patriots offensive key: Keeping Brady from being pressured

One of the biggest stories of the AFC Championship Game was how the Patriots limited pressure on Tom Brady with good offensive line play and short dropbacks.

There’s a reason for that. During the regular season, Brady completed 72 percent of passes when unpressured, but only 45 percent of his passes when pressured. Brady was right around the league-average completion percentage when unpressured but was about five percentage points below average on his completion rate for passes under pressure (minimum 75 attempts in each situation).

Brady was pressured on 20 percent of his dropbacks in the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs, a little less often than he was pressured during the regular season and well below the NFL average of 34 percent.

The Rams’ defense ranks second in the NFL, getting a pressure on 40 percent of opponents’ dropbacks.

Rams offensive key: The running game

The Rams ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards per carry on designed runs (excluding scrambles and quarterback kneels) at 5.1 yards per rush.

Whether it will be Todd Gurley or C.J. Anderson doing the bulk of the running against the Patriots remains to be seen. After a strong start to the playoffs where both Anderson and Gurley gained 100 yards on the ground, they struggled to get much going during their matchup with the Saints. 

One way they may look to do this is by relying more heavily on the outside zone. Among running backs with at least 20 attempts, Anderson's 6.3 yards per attempt on outside zones ranked fourth in the NFL and Gurley's 5.5 ranked 11th.

The Patriots' run defense allowed 4.7 yards per rush on designed runs in the regular season but has allowed an average of 2.5 per rush in its two playoff games.

If you would like to read more about our numbers, check out some of our work on the SIS blog or in our previews at


COMMENTS (1 Comment)

I wonder if there’ll be any additional scrutiny or how the officiating of this Super Bowl will be because of the NFC Championship game controversy. As long as there are plenty of potato chips (low sodium and low fat variety), it should be a good game.
12:53 PM Feb 1st
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