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5 talking points ahead of Super Bowl LIII

5 talking points ahead of Super Bowl LIII
© Reuters
It will be a clash of generations which could either underline the supremacy of one dynasty or announce the arrival of another.

The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams will go head to head in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Sunday night.

It will be a clash of generations which could either underline the supremacy of one dynasty or announce the arrival of another.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at five talking points before the Big Game.

The Old Guard...

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have been doing this forever. Belichick, surely the finest coach of his generation, is nearing two decades at the helm of New England, and Brady, arguably the greatest of all time, has been under centre since 2001. Sunday will be their ninth Super Bowl, and they are looking for their sixth title. The first of the five they have came all the way back in 2001 – coincidentally against the then St Louis Rams – and was swiftly followed by titles in 2003 and 2004. With Belichick aged 66 and Brady 41, it is not clear how much longer their remarkable run can go on, but their place in the history books is already assured.

...Versus the new

Belichick has been coaching in the NFL since before Rams coach Sean McVay was born – by some 11 years. Like Belichick, McVay never played a single down in the NFL but became a coach straight out of college, and was the youngest head coach when the Rams appointed him at the age of 30 (in case you're not already feeling old, he only turned 33 last week). And in 24-year-old quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams are led by youth on the field as well. Los Angeles traded up to land Goff first overall in the 2016 draft, and are surely not regretting their decision.

Gurley gonna shine?

Rams running back Todd Gurley is the reigning NFL offensive player of the year and, after piling up 1,251 yards in 17 touchdowns in 14 regular-season games, is a candidate to repeat. So what happened in the NFC Championship game, when he recorded career lows with only five touches for 13 total yards in the controversial 26-23 win over the New Orleans Saints? Gurley, who missed the end of the regular season with a knee injury, blamed his own sloppy play for those statistics rather than any lingering effects, and McVay has promised to make him a big part of the game plan for Sunday. But that may just be talk. When Gurley was sidelined, the Rams turned to CJ Anderson, and the ex-Broncos running back has allowed the Rams to run a series of formations against which the Patriots are known to struggle. He could be just the man for the job.

Stop the run

If you listen to Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, their primary goal on Sunday will be to stop the Patriots' run. Putting the game in the hands of Brady might seem like a recipe for disaster as far as Los Angeles are concerned, but the Rams want to make New England one-dimensional in order to contain them, and to do so they want to play to their strengths. While their numbers in the regular-season were not much to write home about, in the post-season they have restricted teams to only 49.0 rushing yards per game – just 2.3 per carry – as they shut down the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. If they can do that again, Brady will have to earn his sixth Super Bowl ring.

Eye on the officials

Ask most folks in Louisiana, and they will tell you the Rams should not be playing in Sunday's showpiece game. The fallout from their win over the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago has not yet finished, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitting the Saints were victims of a blown call from the officials which, if given, would have effectively ended the game with New Orleans ahead. Goodell said the situation would lead to another review of the NFL's regulations when it comes to using video review, but that is for next season. New York's main concern on Sunday will be that the game's outcome is determined by the players, and not anyone in a stripy shirt.

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LA Rams head coach Sean McVay meets New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick ahead of Super Bowl LIII
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