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Patriots or Rams? Area coaches reveal their picks

Jeff Birchfield • Jan 29, 2019 at 9:30 PM

It’s that time of year when we check with the local experts — the high school coaches who more than watch football, they truly dissect it, to see their picks for Super Bowl 53.

The New England Patriots are in their 11th Super Bowl, the ninth time with 66-year-old coach Bill Belichick and 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady. It’s the fourth Super Bowl for the Los Angeles Rams. But it’s the Rams’ first appearance since 2002 when Brady and the Patriots beat them 20-17.

It’s a true matchup of youth vs. experience. The Rams are led by 32-year-old coach Sean McVay and 24-year-old quarterback Jared Goff, both in their first Super Bowl.

Both QBs are from Northern California and are big fans of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.

As for our experts, the panel is 8-3 in favor of the Patriots.

STACY CARTER, SCIENCE HILL — There’s too much experience with the quarterback and with the coaching staff, so I have to go with the Patriots. Kansas City went three quarters and had scored only seven points. Then you look at how Brady still throws the ball. ... PATRIOTS, 34-24.

HAYDEN CHANDLEY, DAVID CROCKETT — The biggest factor in the game is if the Rams can get pressure on Brady and (defensive linemen) Aaron Donald and (Ndamukong) Suh create something that New England hasn’t seen all year. If they get a hand in his face and make him uncomfortable early with just rushing four and cover with seven, their corners can get up on the receivers. This New England team is different in they’ve got a good running game with (Sony) Michel and (Danny) Burkhead, and James White coming out of the backfield. On the other side, the Rams have Todd Gurley, the highest- paid running back in NFL history. ... RAMS, 27-24.

JOEY CHRISTIAN, DOBYNS-BENNETT — I like the wisdom of Belichick and Brady over a 32-year-old coach and a quarterback who’s been in the league three years. It looks like they’ve shored things up defensively. Give Belichick a couple of weeks and I think he might confuse Goff into a couple of turnovers. ... PATRIOTS, 38-30.

JUSTIN HILTON, SULLIVAN SOUTH — It’s hard to pick against the Patriots, but I like how the Rams can run the football when they need to or throw it when they need to. I like the energy that McVay brings and how the team is playing together. They have a good 1-2 punch of Gurley and (CJ) Anderson at running back. I didn’t know how good Anderson was until I watched him against the Cowboys. They’re outstanding. ... RAMS, 42-38.

JASON JARRETT, HAPPY VALLEY — It seems like I pick the New England Patriots every year. You have a combination of coach and quarterback who have gone to the Super Bowl nine times, and it’s hard to go against that. I know the Rams have a prolific offense with some guys who are athletic, but you’ve seen the Patriots do it so many times. ... PATRIOTS, 21-17.

JEREMY JENKINS, DANIEL BOONE — It’s two quality teams, but I think the Rams can get pressure on Brady from the inside where you have to pressure him from. He does a good job of getting away from the outside pressure, but their inside guys are so tough. They also have the running game and enough big-play guys who are up to the challenge. ... RAMS, 35-30.

MICHAEL LUNSFORD, HAMPTON — This might be Brady’s last go-round. I could see him winning it and moving on. Today’s defenses are being built against these spread offenses where they’re fast and quick to cover. Belichick is going the other way using a fullback and using (Rob Gronkowski) at tight end. They’re able to run the ball against defenses not really equipped to stop them. ... PATRIOTS, 34-31.

MIKE LUNSFORD, CLOUDLAND — No. 12 (Brady), he just has that experience. (Wide receiver Julian) Edelman gets open and it’s hard to play zone or man against them. If you play man, he throws out, and If you play zone, he throws across the middle. They can also run the ball and it’s hard to stop them. They don’t throw deep much anymore, but they’re so hard to stop. ... PATRIOTS, 31-28.

PRESTON PATRICK, SULLIVAN NORTH — New England has been there and done that. Brady has all the experience and they do such a great job protecting him. The Rams are decent at stopping the run, but Brady’s so good and his line just does such a good job. … PATRIOTS, 28-17.

DREW RICE, UNICOI COUNTY — The Patriots are playing with a huge chip on their shoulders right now. So many people had counted them out earlier in the season when they had some struggles. The Rams are young and very talented, but I could never bet against Tom Brady. I think he gets his sixth ring come Feb. 3. … PATRIOTS, 31-27.

SHAWN WITTEN, ELIZABETHTON — It’s hard to go against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It’s their third Super Bowl in a row and you have to factor in that experience. Obviously, the Rams had a great young coach, and some great offensive players in Goff and Gurley, but it’s hard not to have the Patriots the favorite. … PATRIOTS, 31-24.

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