The New England Patriots are finally down to their final preparations before Super Bowl LIII.

Their media obligations concluded Thursday, so they have one more practice Friday before Saturday afternoon’s picture day. Then it’s time to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday and try to avenge last year’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

What is the best part of covering Super Bowl week ? #MailDoug
— @brimecombe25
If I want to go the corny route, I’d say just pushing yourself to write the best stories possible to compete with local and national writers all week. Players are a little bit more open and honest over the two weeks before the Super Bowl, so that helps. It’s always best to save some stories ideas for the likely possibility the Patriots make the Super Bowl.

If I’m being entirely honest, then it’s probably just seeing all of my fellow writer friends that aren’t on the Patriots beat. I usually only see those people at the Super Bowl or NFL Scouting Combine, and it’s always fun to catch up.

Also, recording Doug’s Buds episodes.

Do you think Obi Melifonwu will see some snaps Sunday? What defensive player have you enjoyed watching the most this season? #MailDoug
— @_JaJaJaJaime
Obi Melifonwu on defense? Probably not. Why mess with a good thing?

And Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson are probably tied for most entertaining defensive players this season. They were both just so good at making plays and shutting down opposing receivers.

Gilmore played at a higher level because he was going against better receivers, but Jackson was extremely good in his own right. It was fun to watch Gilmore improve so much from his first season on the Patriots. Jackson was such a surprise despite his impressive spring and summer. No one expects an undrafted rookie to take on a starting role through his play alone, no injuries.

It will be interesting to see which Rams receivers Gilmore and Jackson cover on Sunday. I’d probably put Gilmore on Brandin Cooks and Jackson on Robert Woods, but there’s a case to be made for reversing those matchups.

#maildoug What is the weakest part of Tom Brady’s game?
— @MrQuindazzi
It has to be his mobility, but he never had that. I do still think he has good pocket presence and can evade pressure well. So, it’s not as if he has no mobility.

Among the skillset he previously possessed, it’s probably his arm strength, and I think that’s why he struggled a bit at the end of the season. He was bailing under pressure, couldn’t set his feet and couldn’t make every throw while falling backward like he might have done in the past. In the postseason, he’s been more willing to take shots from defenders, though his offensive line has done a great job of protecting him.

How would you rank this years SB team against last years SB team?
— @RuudDirckx
The 2018 team is a tick better. The defense is definitely improved. The 2017 team was scrambling for linebackers and defensive ends after Rob Ninkovich retired and Dont’a Hightower and Shea McClellan got injured. The secondary is also in better shape because Jackson, Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty are a significant improvement over Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi. Gilmore is also better this season.

Remember when Malcolm Butler got benched in the Super Bowl?

The current offensive line is better because Marcus Cannon is healthy. The 2017 team had a better Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks, but Julian Edelman was out for the season with a torn ACL. With Edelman healthy, the offense probably evens out given how well the O-line is playing.

I’d definitely give the slight edge to the current 2018 team over the 2017 squad that played in Super Bowl LIII.

What is it like to be at the super bowl, the atmosphere and all?
— @ChrisGaudet10
It’s really fun. I’m covering my fifth straight Super Bowl now. At this point, with player availability over, I’m really looking forward to the game. Writers get to the game so early, you really feel every step of the electric atmosphere. At the beginning of the game, pretty much every play has significant noise.

The week before the Super Bowl gets more and more exciting as the week goes on. There aren’t many people around on Monday and Tuesday, but bigtime current and former players, and celebrities, come out as the week goes on. It’s fun to people watch on Radio Row.

It can definitely be a tiring week. You’re working sunup to sundown and feel like you’re leaving plenty of content on the table, but it’s a good week.

Also, I knocked over a wall at Radio Row this week, and it was embarrassing.

Let’s go rapid fire.

How is the vibe this year compared to last year?
— @nestorcarbb
I’d say it’s pretty much the same, but I sometimes have trouble seeing the forest for the trees since I’m so focused on my job.

What percentage of Patriots fans know who John Simon is?
— @phal31
Hmm. That’s a good question. Maybe like 45 percent?

Why the McCourtey comments this week? He knows the impact.
— @erjohnson1
What’s the impact? It’s just a moment of honesty.

DougKyed Do You believe Big Vince should get into the Hall of Fame? #MailDoug
— @RogueOpz
I’m 50-50 on this one. I think he was good enough, but I’d probably put in Richard Seymour and Ty Law before Vince Wilfork.

@DougKyed #maildoug Are you seeing more Rams or Patriots fans in Atlanta for the game?
— @Superstar247365
Patriots.

Hey Doug! How is it in Atlanta? Do you think gronk and D-mac both will retire or just gronk? As bad as I’ll hate to see it i feel like this is Gronks last game :/
— @trent_abshireNE
I would probably lean toward Rob Gronkowski retiring. I think it depends on what the Patriots choose to do with Devin McCourty’s contract. He’s set to make $9.5 million. That’s tough to turn down. If the Patriots want McCourty to restructure, or if they threaten to cut him, then I could see him walking away.

Where did you buy your jacket from opening night? #MailDoug
— @coxcourtney
I actually got it for Christmas from my mom. It’s Levi’s.

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Doug's bud Ted Karras

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Malcolm Mitchell?
— @official_JBOLDT
He said this week he had his 10th knee surgery. I don’t think that bodes well for him.

Most important individual match-up for Super Bowl: Belichick v McVay, Brady v Phillips, NE O-line v LA D-Line, or Edelman v Peters
— @pereira_report
I’ll go with Patriots O-line vs. Rams D-line.

Hey Doug! When you look at the SB roster, who most likely is going to retire after this game?
— @rafalzochowski
Everyone.

I actually had an idea to ask every player on the Patriots’ roster if they were going to retire after Super Bowl LIII, but I decided to take my job seriously on Thursday.

What is situation with Josh Gordon? I read your article, but still don’t know. How is it possible for him to come back if he failed a test? I thought it would be like a few year DQ then
— @KubaKazula
I believe the NFL wants Gordon to return. I’m not sure if it will happen, but I believe everyone wants that story to end on a happy note. It came close this season.

#MailDoug What is your Super Bowl prediction???? Mine is 31-21 SIXTH RING FOR BRADY @DougKyed
— @28to3comebacker
Patriots 31-28.

Why did buzz lightyear pretend to be inanimate when people were around, if he didn’t know he was a toy? #MailDoug
— @freshlee_back
That’s a good place to end.

Thumbnail photo via Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Images