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Super Bowl 53 Matchup Manifesto: Biggest Mismatches, Advantages, More for Rams-Patriots

Jan 31, 2019 10:40 PM EST

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Aqib Talib, Sony Michel

  • Below is an extensive breakdown of key matchups for Super Bowl 53 to leverage when betting on Rams-Patriots.
  • Ian Hartitz covers how Sony Michel could be primed for a big game, why Jared Goff could struggle to throw deep and more.

We’re breaking down key matchups in Super Bowl 53 between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. And by digging into matchup-specific stats, we should be able to identify the biggest mismatches to leverage when betting on or setting fantasy lineups for the big game.

This manifesto includes analysis on:

  • Directional Passer Rating
  • Yards Per Attempt by Position
  • Pressure Rate by Position
  • Directional Adjusted Line Yards per Rush
  • WR/CB Snap and Physical Profiles
  • WR/CB Combined Yards Per Route Run

Let’s dig in.

Note: This data is based on what has happened in Weeks 1-17 unless otherwise noted.


Jared Goff and Tom Brady made some huge throws during their respective conference championship wins, and there’s definitely no love lost between them.

We can calculate how well Brady and Goff are set up when throwing to different areas of the field with help from Sharp Football StatsPro Football Reference also provides enough information to calculate each offense’s and defense’s yards per attempt to each position.

  • Combined Directional Passer Rating: The sum of each quarterback’s passer rating to each area of the field and the opposing defense’s passer rating allowed to the same area. A higher number is better for the quarterback (green), while a lower number is good news for the defense (red).
  • Combined Position-Specific Yards per Attempt: The sum of each quarterback’s average yards per attempt to each position with the opposing defense’s yards per attempt allowed to the same position. A higher number is better for that position and quarterback (green), while a lower number could lead to a more definitive defensive advantage (red).

  • Brady’s ability to beat defenses deep down the left sideline has been compromised during Josh Gordon’s absence. Flash Gordon was literally the most-efficient target of Brady’s career (minimum 50 targets).
  • Phillip Dorsett has admirably picked up the slack, scoring more touchdowns (four) in seven games without Gordon this season than he did in 43 games between 2015 and 2017 (three).
  • The next best spot for Brady to target is underneath in the short-middle area of the field against the Rams’ underwhelming group of linebackers. This should be good news for James White and Rex Burkhead.
  • Rob Gronkowski is also set up well against a Rams defense that allowed the seventh-most DraftKings points per game to tight ends this season. Neither the 5-foot-8, 184-pound Lamarcus Joyner nor the 6-foot, 208-pound John Johnson should be able to physically hang with the 6-foot-6, 264-pound Gronk.