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Staff picks for Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Rams

Baltimore Sun writers and editors predict the outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

Jen Badie

Conference championships: 0-2

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Overall: 171-93-2

Rams 31, Patriots 30

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These two teams seem pretty evenly matched. In their two games this postseason, Tom Brady and Co. are averaging 39 points. Jared Goff has a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal (running back Todd Gurley was third in the league in rushing yards despite missing two games, and wide recievers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks both had over 1,200 receiving yards). It’s hard to choose against the experience of Brady and Bill Belichick, but the Patriots were not their formidable selves this season (all five of their losses came against teams that didn’t make the postseason) and have not fared well outside the confines of Foxborough, Mass. I’m sticking with my preseason Super Bowl pick.

There are two major reasons the Los Angeles Rams can win the Super Bowl on Sunday: defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald.

Edward Lee

Conference championships: 1-1

Overall: 161-103-2

Rams 30, Patriots 27

Admittedly, this might be a classic example of going with your heart instead of your head. If the Rams can collapse the pocket without blitzing too often, if Wade Phillips can outduel Josh McDaniels, if Jared Goff can regain the form he showed earlier in the season and if Todd Gurley's knee does not flare up, they have a chance of joining the Giants and Eagles as the rare teams that have iced the Patriots during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.

In Sunday's Super Bowl 53 matchup, which stats will matter the most? We used the Pro Football Focus database to identify the 10 most important factors ahead of the big game.

Mike Preston

Conference championships: 0-2

Overall: 165-99-2

Rams 27, Patriots 24

This game is so intriguing because not only are the top players involved, but so are the top coaches. Los Angeles coach Sean McVay is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL and New England's Bill Belichick is still known for building great defenses. On the defensive side, the Rams have Wade Phillips, who has been around for a while, against the Patriots’ Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Rams’ defensive tackle duo of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh can neutralize the Patriots up front, but this game will come down to how well Rams cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqid Talib play. If they bring their “A” game, the Rams can win. If they disappear, which they have been prone to do at times this season, McDaniels and New England quarterback Tom Brady will frustrate them easily. I almost never pick against the Patriots in the postseason, but will this time.

Peter Schmuck

Conference championships: 0-2

Overall: 158-106-2

Rams 27, Patriots 26

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The Patriots are a slight favorite because of their overall playoff experience and the obvious impact of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but the Rams defense will be the difference here. They'll be able to get after Brady a little more than the Patriots’ other playoff opponents and that will allow their offense to score just enough points to win.

Jonas Shaffer

Conference championships: 0-2

Overall: 171-93-2

Rams 31, Patriots 28

Los Angeles has the interior pass rush to disrupt Tom Brady and a coach who could conceivably match wits with Bill Belichick. Jared Goff isn't Tom Brady, but the Rams' offensive line will make life easier for him against a New England defense that didn't look great in Kansas City. If the Patriots' running game doesn't get going in Atlanta, it'll be a long day for them.

Childs Walker

Conference championships: 0-2

Overall: 172-92-2

Patriots 31, Rams 27

Though the Patriots never seem to have a decisive advantage in their Super Bowl matchups, it remains difficult to bet against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in what feels like a close game. The Rams have the inside pass rush to trouble Brady, but he’ll rally the Patriots in the fourth quarter.

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