Arkush: Five key storylines for Super Bowl LIII

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, hands off the championship trophy to quarterback Tom Brady after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) (Foto: The Associated Press)

    New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, hands off the championship trophy to quarterback Tom Brady after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) (Foto: The Associated Press)

 
By Hub Arkush
harkush@profootballweekly
Updated 1/21/2019 6:30 AM

Once the NFL, the media and the sporting world descend on Atlanta next week, there will be almost as much written about the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII as there has been on all of the 266 games played before it this season.

There are several themes you will hear over and over and over again, and we're pretty sure these will be five of them.

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Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi:

I know, I know, the majority of you would prefer Bill Belichick in the role of Darth Vader, but there is no question Sean McVay is the young Jedi who has exceeded every expectation so far and appears to have the Force with him. Call Belichick whatever you like as long as it ends in G.O.A.T.

In the 41 Super Bowls I have covered, I cannot remember a coaching matchup even close to being as intriguing as this one, and the over/under on how many times each will be asked about the other should open around 1 million.

Rams got a gift, the Saints got jobbed:

That will be the headline in New Orleans for the next two weeks, but it won't make it true.

Did the officials miss a blatant pass interference call on Rams nickel corner Nickell Roby-Coleman against Tommylee Lewis? Absolutely!

Were the Saints guaranteed a touchdown rather than the 31-yard field goal they settled for to take a 23-20 lead had the flag been thrown, or could they have run the clock out before kicking what would have been the game clinching field goal? No and no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Did the officials have anything to do with the Rams answering with a 48-yard field goal to get the game to overtime, or a 57-yard OT game-winner? Nope, not a thing.

After the Saints won the coin toss and got the ball to start OT, giving them complete control of their own destiny until Drew Brees threw a pick, were the officials involved? Nope.

Neither team played their best football. The Saints got a lousy break and didn't do enough to win, and the Rams did just enough.

The Rams absolutely deserve to be in Atlanta and it's a real shame they'll have to spend the next two weeks explaining why!

Are the Patriots the greatest franchise in NFL history?

Admit it now, unless you're a Patriots fan you were pulling with all your heart for the Chiefs, or the Chargers ... or anybody but the Patriots. But here they are again, three Super Bowls in a row, 11 overall, nine for Brady and Belichick together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Certainly Halas' Bears, Lombardi's and Lambeau's Packers teams, Brown's Browns, Walsh's 49ers and Landry's and Johnson's Cowboys are all in the conversation.

But with clearly the greatest coach and greatest quarterback of all time -- and probably the greatest tight end -- there will be a hundred thousand debates over the next couple weeks if the Pats are the best pro football organization ever.

What happened to Todd Gurley? And what happens next?

How is it possible that Todd Gurley -- the reigning NFL offensive Player of the Year in arguably the biggest game in Rams' franchise history -- got exactly 4 carries for 10 yards while C.J. Anderson was given 16 carries? And how was Gurley targeted just three times in the passing game, spending most of the fourth quarter and overtime on the sidelines?

It defies logic, and McVay's "no big deal, he'll have a great Super Bowl" comments after the game will make it an even bigger story once the Rams hit the ATL.

How Gurley handles the media interrogations he's about to go through -- and what he does against the Pats on Super Sunday -- may be career defining.

Will this be Belichick's and Brady's last hurrah?

Neither the coach nor the quarterback has given any indication he is ready to walk away. In fact, they've said quite the opposite.

But this one wasn't supposed to happen -- remember, they were the underdogs.

It will be pure conjecture based on no facts at all, but I promise you, you are about to read and hear thousands of reports and interviews about Brady and Belichick riding off into the sunset together if they win this one -- and they probably won't stop until they're back together again next year in Miami.

• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at harkush@profootballweekly.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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