Patriots to take on the Rams in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta

No more guessing who will play Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It's the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots.

The Patriots defeated the Chiefs in overtime in the AFC championship 37-31. It was their fourth win in eight road playoff games with Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. The duo will play in the Super Bowl for the ninth time, and are back in the big game after they lost it to the Eagles last season. 

Earlier on Sunday, the Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime in the NFC championship. 

[WATCH: RAW: 1-on-1 with Atlanta-native and Rams HC Sean McVay]

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“We have a lot of respect for the Saints,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay, a Marist High graduate. “We are excited about getting the chance to move on and play in Atlanta.” 

McVay will be the youngest head coach to ever lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Greg Zuerlein made a 57-yard field goal with 11:43 left in overtime before 73,028 upset fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

The big game is two weeks away but roads will already be closing in preparation for the main event. We have you covered on Channel 2 Action News This Morning starting at 4:30 a.m.

“I really wasn’t thinking much,” Zuerlein said. “I just looked up and saw that it was going straight. I was happy. I knew it was going to be long enough because I thought I hit it pretty well.

The Rams improved to 15-3, while the Saints dropped to 14-4.

Looking ahead to the Super Bowl in Atlanta

Last Tuesday, Atlanta’s top leaders and public safety officials struck a confident and commanding tone as they gathered in police headquarters to tout their readiness for the Super Bowl.

“We have been preparing for this for a solid two years,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields. “We are so ready for the event.”

But within hours of the Tuesday gathering, a series of incidents highlighted how quickly things can spin beyond civic leaders’ control in the sprawling metro area. That night, a member of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ security detail was off-duty at a gas station just southwest of downtown when he fatally shot a teenager who tried to steal his unmarked police car. A couple of hours later, a MARTA train derailed near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, disrupting travelers for days.

And Friday brought to close a week that saw Hartsfield-Jackson with headline-grabbing wait times as fresh worries surfaced about how the protracted partial government shutdown could impact Atlanta’s ability to handle the big game.

“It’s my hope that it ends very quickly,” Bottoms said of the shutdown.

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The city of Atlanta has seldom seen a spotlight as bright as the one that is about to roll into town as part of Super Bowl LIII. There were the 1993 and 2000 Super Bowls as well as the 1996 Olympics, but those events were before the era of social media, where a moment of civic shame captured by a smartphone can ricochet around the globe in an instant.

In recent years, a debilitating ice storm, a devastating interstate bridge inferno and a crippling power outage that shutdown the world’s busiest airport for half a day, vividly illustrated the fragile nature of Atlanta’s overloaded infrastructure.

Still, Atlanta leaders say they have spent months, if not years, preparing and will be ready for the big game. They’ve traveled to Super Bowls in other cities to learn how they can make things operate smoothly and avoid possible snafus. They’ve embarked on public information campaigns encouraging the use of public transportation. And they’ve loaded up on extra road salt in case of ice.

All in all, the city has dedicated nearly $15 million for the preparations, which includes funds for police overtime, consulting services and supplies.

“We are very honored to host this event that will be watched by the entire world,” the mayor said on Tuesday.

Both the mayor and her police chief seemed to acknowledge that preparation has its limits.

“I would say that my greatest heartburn is the weather and traffic,” Chief Shields said. “We tend to struggle when we get inclement weather.”

Gary Stokan, who runs the Peach Bowl and sits on a Super Bowl advisory board, said the fact that the NFL chose Atlanta was a strong vote of confidence that should put people at ease.

“The NFL would not go to a city that couldn’t fully prepare and pull off an event like this,” said Stokan. “We have the world’s most efficient and effective airport. You have the 13,000 hotel rooms in downtown within walking distance to the facilities. You have MARTA where people get around and get to the game.”

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