That appears to explain why the Rams are 14-point favorites in Super Bowl XXXVI. But that means nothing to the players.
"We don't care if we win by 20, if we win by 30 or if we win by one," said Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, who set a Super Bowl record with 414 passing yards two years ago.
"We've been called 'underdog' all year, so it's not something we feed off of anymore," Patriots receiver Troy Brown said. "If we play well, we can beat anybody."
But the "Big Easy" has been anything but for the Patriots, who lost in their previous two Super Bowl appearances here by a combined score of 81-31.
St. Louis finished with the NFL's best record and seeks its second Super Bowl title in three years.
The Rams posted a 24-17 victory at New England on November 18 and dominated statistically, getting 26 first downs to 13 for the Patriots and 482 yards to 230. But St. Louis coach Mike Martz had a premonition after that game.
"I told the guys that night they beat a Super Bowl-caliber team," Martz said. "They were certainly the most physical team we played."
"(Martz) was right," Rams receiver Isaac Bruce said. "They played us well and went on to win eight straight after that. He definitely knew what he was talking about."
The Patriots trailed 10-7 in the second quarter and were marching for the go-ahead touchdown. But running back Antowain Smith fumbled after being hit by linebacker London Fletcher at the St. Louis 3 and cornerback Aeneas Williams recovered for the Rams.
It was the turning point of the game as Warner directed an eight-play, 97-yard drive that culminated with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pro Bowl running back Marshall Faulk with 31 seconds left in the half.
"I lost that game against the Rams. I take responsibility for it," Smith said. "I'm happy for the chance to play against them again."
But Patriots coach Bill Belichick cannot be happy to see the Rams again. Known for his intricate defensive game plans with a multitude of blitz schemes, Belichick had difficulty combating St. Louis' explosive attack. Warner completed 30-of-42 passes for a season-high 401 yards and three touchdowns, Faulk accounted for 153 yards and Bruce caught seven passes for 130 yards.
New England intercepted Warner twice, one of which nickel back Terrell Buckley returned 52 yards for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, St. Louis' defense intercepted Tom Brady twice and held the Pats to 10 points. Fletcher starred with 11 tackles, an interception and the pivotal forced fumble.
Brady will get the Super Bowl start after proving during the week that his sprained left ankle is healed.
A 2000 sixth-round draft pick, Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe in Week Two and led the Patriots to an 11-3 record and the AFC East title. His best performance came when he threw for 312 yards in the snow in a divisional playoff win over Oakland.
Bledsoe, who was signed to a 10-year contract last March, finally got a chance to play again when Brady suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half of last week's AFC championship game. And the nine-year veteran showed no signs of rust, passing for a touchdown and committing no turnovers in a 24-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Brady will have to make more than his share of plays to match the Rams on turf, where their speed is accentuated.
"Definitely the best group of receivers I ever had to defend," Patriots cornerback Ty Law said. "And Kurt Warner is a very accurate quarterback."
And then there's Faulk, the only player in NFL history to gain more than 2,000 combined yards rushing and receiving in four straight seasons. Faulk and Williams were born and raised in New Orleans and both were vendors at the Superdome.
"I could not have written the script any better," said Williams, who celebrated his 34th birthday Tuesday. "To have this opportunity and to do it in front of your hometown in the Superdome, where I sold popcorn, peanuts and Coke, where I played high school and college games, is great."
Williams spent his first 10 years with lowly Arizona before he was acquired by the Rams last April. Martz paid him the ultimate compliment, saying Williams is as valuable to the defense as Faulk is to the offense.
On Sunday, Williams will match up against Brown, who set a club record with 101 catches. Brown seized the spotlight in the AFC championship game, returning a punt 55 yards for a touchdown, recovering a blocked punt and lateraling it for another score and catching eight passes for 121 yards.
St. Louis' revamped defense also has shined in the postseason, intercepting Brett Favre six times -- three of which were returned for touchdowns -- in a 45-17 rout of Green Bay in the divisional playoff and effectively containing Donovan McNabb in the NFC championship game win over Philadelphia.
Under defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, the Rams changed eight defensive starters and reduced their points allowed from 471 to 273. Fletcher, end Grant Wistrom and cornerback Dexter McCleon are the only defensive starters who remain from the Super Bowl team two years ago.
The Rams are appearing in their third Super Bowl overall, losing after the 1979 season to Pittsburgh and defeating Tennessee.
The Patriots were pounded by the Chicago Bears, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX and lost to Green Bay, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI.
New Orleans is hosting the Super Bowl for a record ninth time.
The Rams lead the series, 5-3.