Super Bowl LIII: What the Ravens can learn from each team
Never enough running backs:
Thankfully, this is an area that the Baltimore Ravens are keenly familiar with. Nevertheless, both the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots owe a lot of their post-season success to their respective run-games. Now entering Super Bowl LIII, we may be in for one of the hardest running games ever played.
The Rams have a hulk… I mean, Todd Gurley, the league’s best running back. Gurley does it all: he runs hard, catches the ball, makes plays in space, and scores touchdowns. Gurley was an animal in 2018, as evident by his 1,800+ scrimmage yards and 21 touchdowns in 14 games. But since late December, C.J. Anderson has been stealing the spotlight in LA. Anderson didn’t join the Rams until midway through December, and he managed to rush for 466-yards and four touchdowns in four games (including playoffs).
While Gurley was speculated to be banged up during this time frame and expected to start in Super Bowl LIII, it would be a shock to see Anderson stay quiet during Super Bowl LIII. Gurley and Anderson could make life hell all day for New England, and may be the ultimate undoing of the Patriots hopes for their sixth Super Bowl title.
Meanwhile, the Patriots may not have an all-star running back like Todd Gurley, but they have an emerging star in another former University of Georgia Bulldog running back, Sony Michel. Michel played just 13 games in the 2018 regular season, but that didn’t stop the 23-year old from nabbing nearly 1,000-yards rushing. Now in the post-season, Michel has over 240-yards and five touchdowns in two games. Michel has been perhaps the biggest reason for the Patriots 2018 playoff run, and Super Bowl LIII could be his best performance yet.
After Michel, the Patriots have a glorified wide receiver in the backfield in James White. White had 87 receptions in the regular season, and now has 19 in New England’s two playoff games. White is still much more than a receiver, however, as he rushed for over 400-yards and five touchdowns during the regular season. In addition to his receiving numbers, White crossed the 1,000 scrimmage yards mark and scored 12 touchdowns in 2018.
The combination of these four stud running backs has been the defining separator between the Rams and Patriots and the rest of the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens are on the right track thanks to a healthy backfield of Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, and Alex Collins. However, they’ll never take the next step until someone steps up, or the team drafts someone, to become a star in the run-game.