Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Breaking down the Patriots-Rams matchup


The groundhog did not see his shadow on Saturday. That means the NFL does not have to cancel Super Bowl LIII. Which means, it's time for my deep dive into whether the Patriots or the Rams will claim this year's Lombardi Trophy.

You can use your analytics, watch however much video of these two teams you like, or even just pick the Patriots because you want Gronk to be your new best friend. No one system is foolproof.

Not even when I go beyond the scientific to pick a winner, does it always work out. As the great pitcher Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh once said "Some days you win. Some days you lose. Some days, it rains. Think about that for a while."

So as you all think about that, let's look into the Rams and the Patriots as you can only find here.

City of Champions — New York, Boston, Los Angeles. Those are the top American cities with championships from teams in all four of what are considered the major team sports. Boston is second, and of course, the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series this past fall. Advantage, Patriots.

Scourge of St. Louis — The Los Angeles Rams used to be the St. Louis Rams, and were the St. Louis Rams when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl title. But some of you might not recall that when Robert Kraft bought the Patriots, he likely saved them from former owner James Busch Orthwein moving the team to St. Louis. Orthwein was a member of the Busch family, the family that founded Budweiser. Advantage, push (especially in St. Louis).

Best fictional private eye — This one is as close as both of the conference championship games. For my money, the best of the many Los Angeles private eyes is J.J. Gittes, who was so memorably brought to the screen by the great Jack Nicholson. "Chinatown" is one of the great noir detective films of all time. But as much as I love Gittes, nobody holds a candle, a gym bag or anything, to Robert B. Parker's character Spenser. Forty-seven books and two TV series give the Boston private eye the edge. Advantage, Patriots.

Six Degrees of NESCAC — By now, if you did not know that Bill Belichick played his college football at Wesleyan University, you are not paying attention. But Belichick is not the only NESCAC alum coaching in the big game. Shane Waldron, the passing game coordinator for the Rams, graduated from Tufts in 2002, and played football for the Jumbos. The tiebreaker in this category is how many times either of them beat Williams. The bad news is that Wesleyan and Tufts were both 0-4 when Belichick (1972-75) and Waldron (1999-2002) were at their schools. Advantage, Push.

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Plant the flag — Running off of the previous thread, the Rams are the only team in Atlanta that have two former UMass assistant football coaches. The aforementioned Waldron coached tight ends and the offensive line, while Liam Coen (featured elsewhere in this section) is the Rams' assistant receivers coach. So they even work together. Advantage, Rams.

The late, lamented Montreal Expos — Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff is the son of former major league catcher Jerry Goff, whose first MLB season was with the Expos. You might not have known that. You also might not have remembered that those same Expos drafted Tom Brady in the 18th round of the 1995 First Year Player Draft, and Les Expos really wanted Tom Terrific to catch.

"[Brady] had a high ceiling," former Expos' general manager Kevin Malone said in articles about Brady. "He was a left-handed, power-hitting catcher who was cerebral. He had arm strength. He had everything that would warrant him being projected as a major league all-star. He had everything." No doubt, Bill Belichick would agree. Advantage, Patriots.

The Big Bet — UMass and UCLA have a wager going. If the Patriots win, UMass Dining will send a chef to L.A. to dish out a clambake, clam chowder and Boston Cream Pie. If the Patriots win, UCLA Dining will send a chef to Amherst to serve Dodger Dogs, Kogi tacos, tortilla soup and avocado toast. Seems to me that UMass students would be getting the short end of the stick. Advantage, Patriots.

By the way, if UMass and UCLA wanted to do a REAL wager, the schools could have bet home-and-home football and basketball series games. That would be fun.

So there you have it. The final score, Patriots 4, Rams 1, Push 2.

This might not be a classically great Patriots team, but how can you pick against them? Not here and not now.

Howard Herman can be reached at, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253. Howard Herman will be live on Twitter during the Super Bowl with opinion, observation and a chance for readers to interact.


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