After the controversy
After competitive and controversial postseason battles, the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams will compete in Super Bowl LIII. Between now and then, each team’s players will do what is necessary — rest and practice-wise — to be 100 percent prepared to win this big game.
Will the Patriots — with one of the most expertly coached offenses in the league — prevail or will the young, up-and-coming Rams pull the rug out from under Tom Brady and Co.?
Soon enough all will be told. In the meantime, we ranked the 10 best offensive playmakers who will duke it out in Super Bowl LIII.
Josh Reynolds, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams
Reynolds is coming fresh off of a four-catch, 74-yard performance last week. He has the speed to make huge plays and has averaged 18.3 yards per reception over his last four contests. While the Patriots will likely spend their best resources attempting to cover former Patriot Brandin Cooks and wide receiver Robert Woods, Reynolds should receive some looks from Jared Goff. For what it is worth, Goff targeted Reynolds seven times in the NFC Championship Game.
Rex Burkhead, running back, New England Patriots
Who saved the AFC Championship Game for the Patriots in overtime against Kansas City? Burkhead did. He rushed in the game-winning touchdown in overtime to send the Patriots to the Super Bowl. This made for Burkhead’s second rushing touchdown as the clock ticked down in the game. Burkhead also rushed for one score in the divisional round. The Patriots seem all too inclined to use Burkhead in the red zone. That’s for sure.
Robert Woods, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams
At any given game, Woods can be a force. As such, Woods produced his best season to date — tallying 1,219 yards and six touchdowns in 2018. This same season saw the Patriots yield the 12th-most receiving yards and give up some huge plays. Lastly, Woods just received 10 targets in the NFC Championship Game. We should expect more of the same. Look for New England’s secondary to be challenged here big time.
James White, running back, New England Patriots
At times, White sees his overall touches limited in a Patriots offense that still relies on a running back by committee approach. But the speedy back is always poised for a dashing performance. During the regular season, White averaged 4.5 yards per rush and 8.6 yards per reception. He accomplished this en-route to score 12 combined touchdowns. White is a gadget player who could easily have one of his massive games depending on how the Patriots utilize him come kickoff.
Rob Gronkowski, tight end, New England Patriots
Gronk can be a game changer when he and quarterback Tom Brady are dialed in. In the AFC Championship game, Gronkowski caught 6-of-11 targets for a total of 79 yards and he played a key role in converting third downs. We can certainly expect Brady to continue aiming passes Gronkowski’s way. And, it is worth noting that the 6-foot-6 tight end has averaged 71.7 yards per contest during his 15 career postseason games. Gronkowski surely won’t go MIA as he attempts to earn his third ring in potentially his final game.
Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles Rams
Normally, Gurley would find a ranking higher than this within a top-10 in any category. But the Rams’ use of this All-Pro running back as of late has been curious. Though, we can hardly to write Gurley off as an early no-show for the Super Bowl. He says he feels healthy and certainly the Rams will give him the opportunity to touch the ball in this crucial showdown. This is the same guy who finished the 2018 season averaging 4.9 yards per carry while scoring a league-high 21 touchdowns.
Brandin Cooks, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams
We can expect Cooks to pull out all of the stops against the team that traded him away last spring. Cooks has meshed well with Rams and will arrive to the Super Bowl after last catching 87.5 percent of his targets for 107 yards. Given his speed, Cooks is primed to give the Patriots’ secondary fits. Finding the end zone to add to his five touchdowns scored in 2018 would certainly help keep the Rams in this game.
Julian Edelman, wide receiver, New England Patriots
As Brady’s favorite weapon, Edelman averaged nine targets per game in 2018. And the action did not stop postseason. In his two playoff games thus far, Edelman turned 16 catches into 247 yards. Look for Edelman to be heavily leaned upon again in this game. Often times, it seems like opposing defenses simply cannot cover him.
C.J. Anderson, running back, Los Angeles Rams
Anderson has done more than enough to earn the spotlight here. Anderson’s legs are fresh and the Rams have not been shy to lean heavily on him since adding him to the squad late in the regular season. Anderson has been an absolute bulldozer on the field — scoring four touchdowns in his last four games. If the Rams can keep this game competitive, look for a heavy dose of Anderson trying to exhaust New England’s defense.
Sony Michel, running back, New England Patriots
Michel has really turned up the heat in his two postseason performances. This would be to the tune of 242 rushing yards tallied and five rushing touchdowns. Look for him to light it up again against a Rams defense that ceded 5.1 yards per carry and 122.3 rushing yards on average in 2018. The young rookie has been virtually unstoppable and could be the player most leaned upon by the Patriots after receiving 53 total postseason carries.