Reason to be concerned: Aaron Donald. The Rams’ defensive tackle is the best in the NFL at the position, and he could make life difficult for Brady. The Patriots are strong on the interior of their offensive line with left guard Joe Thuney, center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason, so it will be interesting to see how much attention the Patriots devote to Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks. And then there’s Ndamukong Suh to deal with as well.
Patriots will win if …: they have a player rush for more than 100 yards. Since the Belichick-Brady era began in 2000, they are 11-0 in the postseason when a player rushes for 100 yards, and 51-1 in the regular season. The revived running game led by Sony Michel and James White has helped settle things for the offense down the stretch, making life easier for Brady.
X factor: White, who is going to get carries in the Super Bowl out of the Patriots’ one- and two-back personnel groupings. His impact as a receiver changes the game for defenses. White caught 87 passes during the regular season, added a whopping 15 receptions in the divisional playoff win over the Chargers, then tacked on another four grabs in the AFC Championship Game win. His ability to work the flat, produce in the screen game and create matchups underneath against linebackers is crucial to the Patriots’ passing attack, especially on third downs. — Matt Bowen
Stat to know: The Patriots ran man coverage 59.8 percent of the time in the regular season, the highest rate in NFL, according to ESPN’s coverage classifier powered by NFL Next Gen Stats. Their corners will have to deal with the speed and talent of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods on the outside of the Rams’ high-octane offense in Atlanta. — ESPN Stats & Information