The Super Bowl is upon us which means some of the top players in the NFL will compete on the biggest possible stage. Millions of viewers will tune in to see the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams go head to head with the 11-5 New England Patriots. Despite having a better record, the Rams feel like the underdogs due to the Patriots experience and five previous championships. Regardless of expectations, it will all come down to how the players perform with the bright lights shining on them.
With so much star power on the field, it can be difficult to narrow down, but here are the top five players we believe are going to be the most important in the big game.
5. Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman is not just an integral piece of this game. He’s also going to be one of the most interesting to watch as he matches up with the Rams’ tough cornerback, Nickell Robey Coleman. Throughout his career, Edelman is second to only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in postseason receptions. This year, he has 16 catches in the two Patriot playoff games. The chemistry he has with Tom Brady is nearly unmatched. Edelman played a major role in the team’s Super Bowl win over the Atlanta Falcons but was hurt during their loss last year to the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s not a coincidence.
4. Todd Gurley
A lot is riding on the shoulders of Todd Gurley. He’s one of the top running backs in the league, as evidenced by his 21 touchdowns and 1,251 rushing yards this season. However, he kind of disappeared against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Title game, when the Rams barely eeked out a victory. To beat the legendary Patriots, Gurley has to be on. Coming off a knee injury, the sluggishness is understandable. CJ Anderson has been a capable stand-in, but Gurley is too vital to this team’s success.
3. Jared Goff
Quarterback is the most critical position in the NFL. Without a great one, it can be challenging to win. Jared Goff is only in his third season, but he’s well on his way to being great. His rookie season was him throw just five touchdowns with a record of zero wins and seven losses. Since then, he’s made two Pro Bowls and is now battling the great Tom Brady. This is a massive test for Goff, who hasn’t had that signature clutch performance many stellar quarterbacks have on their resume. If he can do that, the Rams have a serious chance. If he doesn’t step up, it’s not looking good.
2. Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald is the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Look back at two of Tom Brady’s three Super Bowl losses. The ones to the Giants saw him face a vicious pass rusher who was relentlessly in his face. That’s precisely the kind of player Donald is. He forced Drew Brees to struggle during the NFC Championship. With Brady being someone who isn’t rattled easily, Donald will have to do everything in his power to torment him.
1. Tom Brady
There couldn’t really be another choice, could there? People continue to expect Tom Brady to decline due to his age and he keeps making them look foolish. In the AFC Championship, Brady led multiple scoring drives in the fourth quarter to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. He has an absurd 98.0 passer rating in his eight appearances in the big game and four Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards. As great as Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been over the past two decades, everything they’ve accomplished comes down to Brady. That makes him the most important player by a fair amount.