The Big Game

11 bold Super Bowl predictions

What's next for Tom Brady? Elsa/Getty Images

1. The Rams win the toss and take the ball

Most teams defer to the second half but the boy genius will take the ball and try to steal early momentum. Their offense is their best unit and if they lose the toss they will be on the field first and my guess is McVay pulls a fast one and has the offense ready to get after it. The Rams didn't take the ball once this season when they won the toss. That changes Sunday.

2. The first commercial after kickoff will be a car commercial

We just won't know it until halfway through. Car commercials are often too basic or try too hard. This year feels like a try too hard moment for car companies. Funny from car companies is safe, too. Can't be too risque in 2019 as a car company.

3. Todd Gurley is dominant on the first drive

The Rams star back hasn't been anywhere near himself recently. He claims he is healthy but what we see doesn't show it. They have to prove he is going to be a threat so feeding Gurley is the only option. A couple of passes and slamming the rock with Gurley will set a tone for the Rams that Gurley is healthy. I don't know if he can hold up the whole game but making the Patriots account for him is a must.

4. James White has a better first half than second half

The same theory about Gurley applies to White. He is one of the most important players on the Patriots and he will have to be good in shaking loose fast. Aaron Donald is the most prolific pass rusher up the middle in all of football. White has to be the quick outlet. If Brady is getting hit the Patriots are going to lose. The safety valve is White and after the Patriots wear the Rams down they turn to their hammer back Sony Michel.

5. Brandin Cooks has one of the worst games of his season

If the Rams are going to beat the Patriots they will have to find other playmakers outside of their deep threat pass catcher. Cooks was very good during the regular season. He did a lot of the heavy lifting for the offense but not a lot of the scoring. Taking him away will force the rest of the Rams to show up. He's a former Patriots player going against the best unit on the opposing defense. He's in for a long day.

6. Maroon 5 will put on the worst Super Bowl halftime show since 2011

The pressure is getting to them. They canceled their media availability this week. They couldn't get in front of the microphone and answer questions? While I am thrilled for Travis Scott to be on this show Maroon 5 doesn't do it for anyone right now. Their songs are annoyingly repetitive and they don't have any surefire bangers. Short of Outkast showing up they are doomed and could be the worst halftime show in years.

7. Aaron Donald gets his lone sack in the first drive of the second half

Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is a wizard. He and his linemen somehow held the best defense in the league for sacking the quarterback to zero sacks in the AFC championship game. In fact, the last time Brady was sacked more than once was early December against the Dolphins. I'm not foolish enough to believe they can keep Donald off Brady but I am confident they can keep Brady standing.

8. The refs let them play

The NFL will really be under the microscope if the officials aren't calling this one good. They can't miss any big calls and one of the ways to make sure they don't miss a big one is to not call soft penalties. Don't get me wrong, if Nickell Robey-Coleman blows someone else up there will be laundry. Small stuff would lead to a big play being marred by a penalty so it is best to let the game be physical.

9. The best and worst commercial will both be beer

If Bud Light is sticking with the knight and the medieval theme they could take last place. Budweiser is always good for a commercial that pulls at the heart strings. There are plenty of other beers trying to sneak into contention this year and they could easily fall flat compared to the market powerhouse of Bud. It is dangerous to try to pry the beer commercial crown away so it could end up awesome or terrible for another company.

10. A non-quarterback wins the MVP award

Obviously Tom Brady and Jared Goff are the huge favorites. But lets say the Patriots have a two score lead late in the second half, it could be Sony Michel time. If you believe the Rams are going to win you would think Todd Gurley would have a big day or maybe even C.J. Anderson. Von Miller had two forced fumbles and two and half sacks when he won. It doesn't seem crazy Donald could compile that if the Rams are having a great day. What if Stephon Gilmore made a huge play early and deflected a couple more passes? It is hard but it is doable.

11. Tom Brady nor Rob Gronkowski retire after the game

I am totally positive about Brady. Despite his skills diminishing a bit he still plays a high level and the team is still good. They might take a couple of weird losses in the regular season but in the postseason they're still a really tough out. Brady is getting a first round offensive lineman back (Isaiah Wynn was lost to injury in August), they have six picks in the top three rounds, and no really significant free agents outside of Trey Flowers. Gronk is beat down but with just one year left on his contract and some management of his snaps in the regular season it isn't too hard to see him grinding out just one more year.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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