By Justin P Laplante
On Sunday, the world, or at least most of the US, will stop for a few hours when the New England Patriots take on the LA Rams. If you’re a fan, good for you! If you’re not, then this post is for you. Fear not! I was once where you are: watching the game for the commercials and the snacks, cheering when other people cheered, and getting a blank look on my face whenever Jeff at work would ask me anything about the game more specific than ‘What a game, huh?’
But don’t worry — I’ve learned about the game, and watched ALL season (A special thank you to my guide, mentor, and coworker Matt here), and I’m here to give you some talking points, so you can hold your own in a conversation, and maybe even impress Jeff with your newfound insightful commentary! Sure you might still only be watching the game for the commercials and the chips, but Jeff doesn’t need to know that! Read on to learn enough to sound impressive and knowledgeable about the game.
What’s the Story?
If you happen to live in New England, this is probably all people have been talking about for the past few days (years? decades?). If you live in LA, hey you guys have not one, but two football teams! Isn’t that cool? The Rams are very good and the Chargers are pretty decent. Luckily, most everyone in LA is probably in the same boat as you (i.e. heavy on the artisanal guacamole and chips, light on the nuance of the game), so you might end up sounding like an expert in front of your friends by the end of the article. You’re welcome.
First thing’s first: There are two big story lines here. When the Patriots won their first Superbowl to kickoff this huge dynasty way back in 2001, it was against the St. Louis Rams! (Dun dun dun!) That’s right LA, the Rams moved from St. Louis to LA. So this is a bit of a revenge game, although the only player that was there for that game was Tom Brady (Or, as he’s known to the insiders, TB12). (Also, that’s because his jersey number is 12. Real original, I know).
The second story line is the TB12 is old and Jared Goff (the Rams QB) is young. Brady has won a bunch (* brushes shoulder *) and this is Goff’s first Superbowl. Will Father Time finally catch up to Brady? Can The Kid keep himself from wetting his pants? We’ll know late on Sunday.
OK, those are the easy story lines. Here’s where the good stuff starts. Put down the chips and salsa and get ready for some football!
LA RAMS - Brandin (not a typo) Cooks - Used to play for the Pats. Now plays for LA.
NE PATRIOTS - Rob Gronkowski (Gronk) - Hasn’t had his typical year, could retire after the game.
LA RAMS - Aaron Donald - Bill Belicheck (NE coach) LOVES Donald.
NE PATRIOTS - Julian Edelman - Spent the first four games of the season suspended due to PEDs. Has had a great year since.
LA RAMS - Ndamukong Suh - One of the dirtiest active players in the NFL. Watch for him to pull some tricks in the biggest game in his career.
NE PATRIOTS - Jason and Justin McCourty - Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. These are twin brothers. This is Justin’s first playoff run, but Jason has been here his whole career. Rumors of retirement if the Patriots win.
LA RAMS - Todd Gurley - Stud of a Running back for the Rams. Sat out most of their last game due to attitude it seems like. But when he’s on the field, it’s been dominance.
NE PATRIOTS - Sony Michel (again, not a typo) - Rookie Running back for the Pats. Some say he was drafted too early.
LA RAMS - Aqib Talib - Another former Patriot. This guy loves to run his mouth. Also, he once shot himself.
NE PATRIOTS - James White - Mr. Superbowl. This guy seems to show up in force in big games. He’s a utility player who is fun to watch.
LA RAMS - Nickell Robey-Coleman - This guy made one of the most blatant penalties in recent memory. He’s also run his mouth a lot during the lead-up to the Superbowl.
NE PATRIOTS - Chris Hogan - This guy didn’t do much all season, but tends to show up when they need a big play.
OK, you’ve got the basics, you know the main characters. Now for the really impressive stuff only a TRUE fan (or whomever else reads this article) would know! These two story lines will definitely impress your SuperFan friend Jeff and make it seem like you actually watched during the season. Read on:
NE PATRIOTS - Cordarrelle Patterson - This guy was a reclamation project. He was supposed to be great when he was drafted, but ended up being a bit of a bust. Womp womp. The Pats signed him as a return man but he quickly became a ‘Do Anything’ kind of player. Plays Running Back, Receiver, and anywhere in between. Look for him to be in some unique plays during the game!
LA RAMS - C.J. Anderson - The Rams picked this guy up off of the street. He an old vet who apparently spent most of the regular season eating. I can relate. He’s an absolute Unit now and runs like a battering ram. He puts the ‘Ram’ in Rams. (Thank you, thank you! I’ll be here all week!) He had a huge game in the Conference Championship when Gurley decided he was too pretty to play.
OK, now you know about the players, but what about the Coaches, you ask? Great question! I’ve got you covered, like vintage Revis Island, but you probably won’t get that reference otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far.
NE PATRIOTS - Bill Belicheck - This guy finds a way to win. Most non-New England fans hate him. But he’s a genius when it comes to football and game planning. He’s easily a Top 3 coach of all time, and arguably the best Head Coach in NFL History. (Fight Me.) He shows zero emotion to the media, and loves to yell on the sideline. He’s a ton of fun to watch!
LA RAMS - Sean McVay - This guy is 33 and was the youngest NFL head coach ever, and what a looker! (Fun fact, he has a “coach” who’s job it is to pull have back from the sideline if it looks like a ref or player might run into him.) He and Belicheck have very different styles, so it’s another new school versus old school battle.
There you go — everything you need to know in order to hold your own during the office chatter on Monday morning (and then some!) Just remember, if all else fails, just bring up the Budweiser commercial — you can’t go wrong with that!