The New England Patriots are no stranger to the biggest stage the NFL has to offer.
With Sunday’s AFC Championship Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots punched tickets to their third consecutive Super Bowl and 11th overall in franchise history.
The track record is much different for New England’s Super Bowl LIII opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, who will be appearing in their first Super Bowl since 2002. In fact, the Rams only have been a playoff team twice dating back to the 2005 campaign.
As such, some might believe New England has an immediate edge over Los Angeles in Super Bowl LIII purely from an experience perspective. But if you ask the Patriots themselves, previous Super Sunday go-arounds might not provide as much of an advantage as you’d think.
“I would say it helps a little bit,” special teams ace Matthew Slater said Monday. “But ultimately, it’s not about experience as Coach [Bill Belichick] always says, it’s about playing well under pressure when your team needs you to play well. We’ve seen time after time, a guy who hasn’t been in those moments, Malcolm Butler or even Tom his first Super Bowl, guys that hadn’t been in those moments before but they were ready when their number was called and they were ready to execute. Experience does help with some aspects of this whole process, but ultimately, there’s going to be a football game that’s played, two teams that are going to be giving everything they got and there’s only going to be one winner. Experience, Pro Bowls, years in the league – none of that’s going to matter. It’s going to be about who has one more point than the other team at the end of the day.”
Center David Andrews added: “The experience stuff really doesn’t matter. It’s about who goes out there and plays the best.”
There’s reason to believe Slater and Andrews aren’t just blowing smoke either. Just take a look at last season’s Super Bowl when the Patriots fall to the Philadelphia Eagles, whose roster didn’t feature many players with past Super Bowl experience. The Eagles just let it all hang out and executed to perfection, which is what Sean McVay’s team will look to do Feb. 3 in Atlanta.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images