Super Bowl 53 offers so many storylines it’s tough to pick just one to focus on. Patriots fans will be looking to see if Tom Brady can add another ring to his collection, while Rams fans will be banking on their youthful coach and quarterback to lead them to a Lombardi. There are so many big players on both teams, but I want to focus on an athlete on each team who I believe will prove to be the “X-factor” for the team. These players may not be the Aaron Donald’s or the Tom Brady’s of the world, but they will play just as big an impact in the game.
RAMS- C.J Anderson:
Is C.J Anderson the starting running back for the Rams: no. Should he be treated like a starter: definitely. Anderson has exploded at the tail end of this season and has played an instrumental role in the Rams offense. Since week 16, Anderson has run for over 100 yards in three of the four games and has four touchdowns during that span. He has seen a bulk of offensive touches rushing the ball 20, 23, 23, and 16 times over his last four games. He will prove to be a major weapon regardless of the impact of Todd Gurley.
It’s no secret, Gurley is that good. Despite his success this season though, he has fallen off towards the end of the year. He missed the last two games of the season due to injury and was clearly hampered by something in the victory against the Saints. In the last four games Gurley has played in, he has only rushed for over 50 yards once and had a lackluster performance last week with only 10 yards rushing. Even if Gurley has a great game, Anderson will still be featured. In the Cowboys vs. Rams game, both Anderson and Gurley had over 100 yards. Whether Gurley explodes, has a modest game, or greatly underperforms, Anderson will be a major factor in the run game.
PATRIOTS- James White:
James White is a running back, but the most important skill he may have is his pass catching ability. This postseason, White has the most receptions (19) and is tied for the most targets (23) with Julian Edelman. He hasn’t had much effect in the run game, just six carries for 23 yards, but he is irreplaceable in the run game. Brady has a unique way of getting every offensive weapon and will be sure to use him to the best of his ability.
The Rams have a plethora of defensive talent and have made it their target last offseason and even this season to buff up their defense. The Rams defense will have their work cut out for them as Brady can pick apart even the biggest and toughest defenses. While the Rams will focus on talented pass catchers such as Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Chris Hogan, White has a unique opportunity to carve out a nice game. White could be that sneaky talent to rack up big yards while the defense has their focus elsewhere. Brady clearly has faith in White and I see him having a major impact in the pass game, especially since Brady will need to get the ball out much quicker against a formidable Rams defensive line.