One of those people is me, Holt McKeithan, proud resident of Washington, N.C., known to me as the heart of the Two-Five. Another happens to be Todd Gurley, running back for the Los Angeles Rams and last year's NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Gurley is from Tarboro, went to Tarboro High School and reps his area code harder than most. It's tattooed on his arm.
What would compel a man to get a three-digit number that is just a system for organizing telephone numbers permanently inked on his arm? Let me explain. Eastern North Carolina produces a different breed. Its list of tons of great athletes include Gurley, Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, Brandon Ingram and Reggie Bullock, and that's just the recent history. Go back and you'll find even more greats.
Bottom line is this: I don't care if he's been injured, or if C.J. Anderson has had a better playoffs. Todd Gurley is going to win this one for the TWO — FIVE. Go Rams.
FINAL: Rams 25, Patriots 2
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Ryan's Pick: If you haven’t heard yet, Sean McVay is 33 years old. That’s young — weirdly young, when you consider that he’s helmed a record-setting offense and made the Super Bowl in just his second season as the Rams head coach.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is much the opposite of McVay. McVay is a young, genial, offensive-minded wunderkind; Belichick is an old, grouchy defensive wizard. McVay could land a GQ cover story in the offseason if he wanted to; Belichick’s most famous off-the-field moment is repeatedly groaning “Seattle” to a room full of reporters. All the pair have in common is that, oh, they’re probably the two best football minds of this century.
If you ask any Massachusettsan, they’ll tell you that every Brady-Belichick era Super Bowl loss was, to some degree, fluky. In each of the three losses, one erratic play — David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII, Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI and the Philly Special in Super Bowl LII — became the game’s legacy. McVay is uniquely positioned to be the first coach (depending on who you ask) to beat New England straight up, no flukes or gimmicks needed.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Rams have the upper hand in the coaching department, but it’s about as close as it can get. The difference is that the Rams have superior personnel, especially on defense, where I predict those pricey names they splurged on in the offseason (*cough* Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters *cough*) will start living up to expectations. And on the other side of the ball, Goff doubters should fear not — if McVay can hold his hand all the way to an NFC Championship win, the duo are more than capable of finishing the job.
Brady and Belichick are the undeniable GOATs, but for the second straight year, they will be denied a Super Bowl title — if only by the slightest of margins.
FINAL: Rams 35, Patriots 31
Jack's Pick: You know this guy well. We all do.
You probably went to high school with him, and maybe he lived in the biggest house in the nicest neighborhood in your hometown. He thinks you should give Lil Pump another listen because he's underrated, and he keeps telling you to check out his SoundCloud. He only rocks Vineyard Vines, L.L. Bean boots, Nike socks and Apple AirPods — the premier brands.
He's spoiled and he doesn't even know the rest of us don't live this way. We don't all have the luxury of using summer as a verb or waking up on our 16th birthday to find a brand new Mercedes Benz or souped-up truck in the driveway.
He did, though, and now that car proudly displays his Instagram handle. Let me just say, I got around town just fine in a 2007 Toyota Camry I shared with my older brother (Camry Nation!).
There are a lot of reasons you hate this guy, who I believe lives in small towns and big cities all over this country. But maybe worst of all, he always finds a way to win — especially when he doesn't deserve to.
If the New England Patriots could embody a person, this is who they would be. Or better yet, maybe this is their fans.
It's time an opportunity broke someone else's way.
I grew up a Bears fan, a team that hasn’t won the big game since the 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle season, and fell apart to Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2006. I spent the past eight years before this one watching them abysmally miss the playoffs season after season. 2019 wasn't much better, I should add.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have been in four of the past five Super Bowls and have won five championships since 2002. It’s easy to cheer on that kind of team.
You might like watching the same game over and over and over and over and over again. I don't. So I'm giving a second look at the new kid on the block who hit a growth spurt over the summer and is still trying to figure out how to wield newfound strength and athleticism.
I’ll take the Rams winning this one. It's time for someone not named Tom Brady to take hold of the Lombardi Trophy and never let go.
Plus, Sean McVay’s team hasn't been in L.A. that long after breaking the hearts of the entire city of St. Louis. They could use someone rooting for them.
FINAL: Rams 90, Patriots 0
@christrenkle2 | | @rwilcox_ | @_jackfrederick