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When the Rams and Patriots get it on, it’s a fascinating matchup, with a 41-year-old superstar quarterback going against a 24-year-old up-and-comer. The Patriots have the track record, and Tom Brady is looking for his sixth championship ring, so it’s natural to side with a team that has been there and done that many times already.

The Rams escaped from New Orleans with a win in the NFC Championship Game, and they have a rising star coach in Sean McVay, but this is a team that doesn’t have a playoff track record, so who knows if they are going to be up to the challenge?

For all of the talk about star quarterbacks and big-name stars on that side of the ball, perhaps the Rams’ best chance for success in the big game is if their defensive tackle tandem of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh can make a difference at the line of scrimmage. The challenge that any team seems to find is that, even if Tom Brady isn’t especially mobile, he gets rid of the ball so quickly that he was sacked on just 3.7% of his passes this season, his second-lowest rate since 2009.

In any case, the Patriots are 2.5-point favorites and here are some angles to consider when making your picks this week on Monkey Knife Fight. Click here to learn more about how Monkey Knife Fight works.

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New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Rams

OVER/UNDERS

View Contest

Tom Brady OVER 281.5 PASSING YARDS – TB12 has thrown for 282 or more yards in nine of 18 games this season, which doesn’t give much insight at all into his chances of doing it, but he’s also surpassed that threshold in 11 straight playoff games. What’s one more?

Jared Goff UNDER 286.5 PASSING YARDS – He was more productive early in the season and needed a late charge in an OT win against the Saints to go over this number (finishing with 297 passing yards), but Goff had been held to 286 or fewer passing yards in five of his previous six contests.

Julian Edelman UNDER 94.5 RECEIVING YARDS – Brady’s security blanket has gone over that total in both playoff games but would have been under in the previous six games. His playoff track record is strong, too, with six of the past eight games going for at least 95 yards, so this gets close to toss-up territory. With an expectation of the Patriots leading, maybe they won’t need to pass as much, and that makes the under more appealing.

Julian Edelman OVER 6.5 RECEPTIONS – In 14 games this season, including playoffs, Edelman has had at least seven catches seven times, which means seven times he has had six or fewer. For the tie-breaker, we go to the playoff track record, where Edelman has had seven or more catches in 10 of his past 11 postseason games. Over it is.

Brandin Cooks UNDER 6.5 RECEPTIONS – Even though Cooks went for seven receptions at New Orleans, that ended a streak of six straight games in which he had six or fewer receptions. This isn’t so much a pick against Cooks as it is the likelihood that the Rams will feed him the ball enough because, generally, they do not.

Rob Gronkowski UNDER 78.5 RECEIVING YARDS – Always a wildcard, Gronk did go for 79 yards against Kansas City, the fourth time all season that he would have hit the over on this number. Can he pull it together for one more big game? That’s entirely possible. At the same time, he was a non-factor in the second half of the season, held under 60 receiving yards in seven of eight games prior to the AFC Championship Game.

Robert Woods UNDER 76.5 RECEIVING YARDS – A steady contributor in the Rams offense, Woods has been held under 75 receiving yards in nine of his past 11 games, a bit of a shift from early in the season, as he started the year with more than 77 receiving yards in six of his first seven games.

Sony Michel UNDER 99.5 RUSHING YARDS – The rookie has become a big part of the Patriots’ offense, going over 100 rushing yards in three of the past four games, and racking up a career high 29 carries against Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game. This isn’t so much a pick against Michel as much as it is recognizing how difficult it is to expect 100 rushing yards in a game.

Rob Gronkowski OVER 5.5 RECEPTIONS – Gronk has gone for six or more catches just four times all season, but one of those times was against Kansas City. This does feel like hedging, somewhat, against the under on receiving yards.

Enter Contest!

 

RAPID FIRE FORMAT

View Contest

Julian Edelman -16.5 receiving yards vs. Rob Gronkowski – Look, it’s possible that Gronkowski pulls it all together and has a big game. He’s immensely talented. At the same time, it’s almost guaranteed that Edelman will be a major part of the New England passing game.

Robert Woods +1.5 receptions vs. Brandin Cooks – While Woods’ production has tailed off throughout the season, it’s not like Cooks was going off week after week either. It could be a fairly even split in terms of targets, so getting a +1.5 along with Woods tilts the pick in his direction.

Sony Michel -34.5 rushing yards vs. C.J. AndersonTodd Gurley’s health has opened the door for Anderson to play a featured role for the Rams and if Anderson keeps getting the reps, he has a chance to put up big numbers – he’s rushed for 466 yards in the past four games – but the uncertainty over Gurley’s role makes it safer to take Michel.

James White -0.5 receptions vs. Chris Hogan – Considering how much the Saints used Alvin Kamara (11 receptions for 96 yards on 13 targets) in the passing game against the Rams, it would come as little surprise if the Patriots saw fit to get their receiving back involved in much the same way. White isn’t Kamara, but he’s a reliable receiver out of the backfield and that should give him an edge on Hogan, who has had five or more catches in two of the past three games, but also two of the past 11 games.

Todd Gurley -4.5 rushing yards vs. Rex Burkhead – Obviously there is uncertainty when it comes to Gurley’s workload, especially after four carries for 10 yards in the NFC Championship Game, but his upside is significantly higher than Burkhead’s, so play that upside.

Enter Contest!