(Reuters) - Five storylines to watch for during the Super Bowl match-up between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Atlanta.
Two of the NFL’s most respected minds will come head to head on the grandest of stages when Rams coaching prodigy Sean McVay meets Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick, a five-times Super Bowl champion widely considered the best NFL coach of all time.
For McVay, a 33-year-old second-year head coach who quickly established himself as one of the most respected offensive minds in the game, the Patriots will be his toughest test yet as Belichick, 66, is a defensive mastermind.
For Tom Brady, a sixth Super Bowl title would give him more than any other player in history and, at 41, make him the oldest quarterback to win the championship, surpassing Peyton Manning, who was 39 when he led the Denver Broncos to victory over the Carolina Panthers three years ago.
Brady saw a slight decrease in his overall production this season and is routinely asked when he will retire but the future Hall of Famer said recently there was “zero” chance that Sunday’s game would be his last in the NFL.
After an egregious missed call that would have put the New Orleans Saints in prime position to secure a trip to the Super Bowl at the expense of the Rams, the officials working the NFL’s title game will do their best to stay out of the spotlight.
The referee selected to lead the officiating crew for the Super Bowl is John Parry, a 54-year-old American who has worked at the championship game twice before, as a referee in 2012 and a side judge in 2007.
The clash between the Patriots and Rams represents a match-up of youth versus experience and nowhere will it be more evident than at the all-important quarterback position.
The age difference between the Patriots’ Tom Brady (41) and Rams’ Jared Goff (24) is the largest gap between opposing starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.
Retirement rumblings surrounding Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski began in the aftermath of their loss in last year’s Super Bowl, when he answered a question about returning for another season by saying he needed time to examine his future.
Gronkowski, 29, has a long history of injuries, from back and knee problems to concussions, and has already done enough in his career to be widely considered as one of the best tight ends in league history.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris