Super Bowl LIII — Upstart LA Rams can upset veteran New England Patriots

Tom Brady is playing in his ninth Super Bowl — quite incredible considering some players’ careers are defined by appearing in one — and he could win his sixth title with victory over Jared Goff’s Rams on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019
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Super Bowl LIII — Upstart LA Rams can upset veteran New England Patriots

LONDON: Five months of gruelling gridiron action will culminate in Sunday's Super Bowl — a clash of the veterans against the upstarts. Here Arab News examines why each team has a shot at the biggest prize in American Football.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
So, here we go again.
For the fourth time in five seasons, the Patriots have ducked and dived their way to yet another Super Bowl appearance.
Given the start they made, it has certainly raised a few eyebrows that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are here once again. But, they deserve their place and that is testament to those two and the consistency that owner Robert Kraft has created in Foxborough over nearly two decades.
So much of the Patriots’ success in the Brady-Belichick era is owed to the aura of invincibility that has snowballed since their first success at the end of the 2001 season.
In the last ten years, New England being in the playoffs has been almost as certain as death or taxes. But this year, for the first time, there was a sense that the empire was crumbling — that perhaps the good times were about to end for the Patriots.
That is looking more and more likely to be a very premature prediction.
The Patriots’ unbeatable air got stronger and stronger this year, despite them losing five regular season games for the first time since the 2009 season.
If they are to win this evening, the front-line is the key. One of the biggest factors in their success after their shaky start has been their offensive line, which has ended up being one of the more reliable units in the run and pass games during the second half of season and into the post-season. Their five main players up front have only got better during the playoffs.
A lot has been said about the Rams’ offensive line too, but Belichick’s defensive genius has served the Patriots well throughout his reign. And tonight, in Adrian Clayborn and Trey Flowers, the Patriot’s have two of the best defensive players in pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
Whichever way you look at it, this is a strong case for Brady and Belichick going out with a final bang.

LOS ANGELES RAMS
As good as the Rams have been all season, they have one thing going against their bid to win the Super Bowl — inexperience.
Experience, which we have seen the Patriots have in spades, really matters when the Super Bowl gets into its critical stage. The last time we saw that reversed was in 2014 when Russell Wilson upset all the odds to cruise to victory with Seattle Seahawks over the vastly more experienced Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos.
Meanwhile, the story of the Rams — one of upheaval and underachievement — could play into their hands. For nearly 50 years, the Rams belonged to the City of Angels. Then, for a brief two-decade spell, they uprooted to St. Louis where they won the Super Bowl in 2000, much to the chagrin of the franchise’s loyal LA fans. Now, having been moved back to their spiritual home in 2016, they have a chance to bring the success-starved LA fans have craved for so long.
And the reason they can lies with their quarterback Jared Goff. He has led this Rams offensive line with effortless, imperious ease this season and thoroughly deserves his shot at glory tonight.
And he has been helped by one of the best frontline attacks we have seen for a long time.
But if Goff’s greatness casts a big shadow over this Rams team, stepping out of it with aplomb this year has been Aaron Donald and Aqib Talib. Both have proven themselves to be vital defensive players throughout the season, when the going has got tough. While Donald is the Rams’s star, Talib has been the shrewdest buy. Of the $221 million the Rams spent before this season, no acquisition has provided a better return on investment than Talib.
Everyone expects the Patriots to do what they always do, but this Rams team have the ability to etch themselves into gridiron history.

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: Rams to pull off a late victory and upset the sporting world.


Petra Kvitova makes her point with semifinal against Hsieh Su-wei next up

Updated 10 min 28 sec ago
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Petra Kvitova makes her point with semifinal against Hsieh Su-wei next up

  • World No. 4 looked close to her best as she demolished Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 at the Aviation Club.
  • Czech set to face Hsieh Su-wei in tough last-four battle.

LONDON: Petra Kvitova has been her own worst critic so far this week, but even she allowed herself a smile after the Czech finally illustrated she is a contender for the the title.
The world No. 4 beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 with the sort of display that was the polar opposite of her sluggish, flat displays earlier in the week.
Coming into the quarterfinal Kvitova looked anything but possible champion material. She was taken all the way by both Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady and admitted all was not well with her game.


On Center Court against Kuzmova, however, the 28-year-old looked more like the player who reached last month’s Australian Open final and a two-time Wimbledon champion. And after she had wrapped up the match, completed in just 62 minutes, Kvitova admitted she was finally feeling in good form.
“I am pleased. Definitely more than those two matches before,” she said.
“I didn’t give her any, like, time to do her job, maybe turn the match on her way.”
Having spent more than five hours on court in the first two rounds there was was finally some urgency about Kvitova. She admitted she came into the tournament undercooked and arrived in the last-eight tired. But against Kuzmova she dominated from the start and once she secured the first set — breaking in the decisive 10th game — there was only going to be one winner.
“Yeah, I was up pretty quickly, but I lost those games (in the first set),” Kvitova said.
“It was about that game when she was serving for five-all. She played the two double-faults. From that game, I think I was really fired up. “Even in the first game of the second set, I was already facing breakpoints again, which I didn’t want to. But it was probably the key game of the second set.”
Kvitova said she felt her game was on the rise again after losing the Australian Open final to Naomi Osaka and winning just one match a week later in Russia.
“Today was the first day of the better days on the court,” she said.
“It’s been tough since I came from Australia and St. Petersburg.
“I’m glad that it’s on the way up.”


Next up for her is a semifinal clash against Hsieh Su-wei. The world No. 31 from Taiwan won the last six games to beat fourth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Kvitova has won all four of her meetings against Hsieh, most recently at the Sydney International in January. But that will count for little and on current form Hsieh looks like she will take some beating, having staged a remarkable fightback to beat another Czech.
Pliskova had looked in command serving for the set at 5-1 and then 5-3.
The persistent Hsieh kept up the pressure, narrowing the gap and levelling with a second straight break at five-all.
Hsieh then held for 6-5 and clinched the upset a game later on a second match point after two hours.
“I’m so excited, I was screaming like a baby when I won,” Hsieh said. “It was a tough comeback.”
“She had a lot of aces (nine), I’m just happy I was able to make it back.”