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Super Bowl 53 Preview & Betting Trends – Patriots versus Rams

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady

Super Bowl 53 – Patriots versus Rams

The 2018-2019 NFL season comes to a close this Sunday as the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams clash in Atlanta in Super Bowl LIII. The AFC Champion Patriots are 2.5 point favorites and they’ll be attempting to capture their sixth Super Bowl title of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era, a remarkable achievement in any era. They are also playing in their third straight Super Bowl (they beat the Falcons two years ago and lost to Philadelphia last season). The Los Angeles Rams are playing in their first Super Bowl since returning to LA, but the franchise is not unfamiliar with taking on the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The two played in New Orleans in 2002 as the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams to win their first Super Bowl. That matchup will have no relevance to this year’s game but it is an interesting piece of information that helps track how many things have changed and the few constants that have remained the same as New England keeps on winning.

It’s amazing that we have enough data to have a trend of the Patriots in Super Bowls but they are only 2-5 in Super Bowls against the spread (ATS). That being said, they are also 9-3 ATS in their past 12 playoff games and are 11-7 ATS on the season. The LA Rams are red-hot, going 4-0 ATS in their past four games and they’ve won eight in a row against AFC opponents.

Let’s start with the obvious, these two teams arrived at the Super Bowl after winning on the road in the conference championship games. New England lost a large lead, survived to get the game to overtime and then took the ball and scored a touchdown to end the contest without letting Patrick Mahomes even touch the ball in the extra session. Los Angeles went toe-to-toe with New Orleans and then got some help from an awful no-call on a blatant pass interference to win in the Superdome and reach the pinnacle of professional football.

The matchup between the two is clearly driven by the narrative of the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history in Sean McVay matching wits with the veteran wizard Bill Belichick. Can McVay’s offense perform like the Chiefs explosive unit did in the second half of the AFC Championship or will Belichick’s defense strangle the Rams as they did to the Chiefs in the first half? On the other side of the ball, the Rams defense looked better than it had in a long time for much of the evening against the Saints. Their front seven was getting penetration and the secondary had good success against Michael Thomas. However, Tom Brady appears to have found his form from a few seasons ago and the offense has been kicked into high-gear recently. The matchups are fascinating. While the Patriots have the ball, look for them to continue to rely on short passes to players out of the backfield. The Rams struggled against Alvin Kamara (11 catches for 96 yards), something the Patriots are very suited to exploit. I think they will lean on James White and Rex Burkhead to the tune of 15-20 combined targets. In addition, the Patriots are going to find Julian Edelman on routes across the middle and they’ll leverage Rob Gronkowski, who has looked a little bit rejuvenated (though still far from his dominant form of the past) during the playoffs. Cordarrelle Patterson is a unique weapon that the Patriots will attempt to get the ball to as a runner or as a receiver on very short routes. He’ll also force the Rams to kick away from him or risk giving him a chance to burn them in the return game. Sony Michel will be the primary ball carrier, I expect the Patriots to use the short passing game in abundance as they try to neutralize the fearsome defensive line duo of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Belichick teams are terrific at identifying their opponent’s strength and then making that strength an inconsequential part of the game, that’s what they will try to do with the interior of the Rams defense.

The other side of the ball will see the Los Angeles Rams hoping to get Jared Goff comfortable and in rhythm early and hoping to have a healthy and effective Todd Gurley. One of the more shocking parts of the Rams winning in New Orleans is that the Rams star running back was largely invisible as he continues to be rendered ineffective with an injury. The Rams have utilized CJ Anderson, who is proving to be a very effective late pick-up despite his robust size. They desperately need the game-changing ability of Gurley though and his effectiveness is very much a question. He claims to be “fine” but we thought he would be for the NFC Championship as well. The Rams and Jared Goff definitely miss Cooper Kupp but they still have a dangerous passing game. Robert Woods is the top target and former Patriot Brandin Cooks serves as the number two receiver. Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett will see some looks as well. This offense really needs an effective Gurley to feel good about their chances. Having that would allow them to be multi-dimensional, not just in the rushing game but also in the passing game as Gurley is a much more effective pass catcher than Anderson.

The over is an impressive 7-1 in the Patriots past eight playoff games and it is 3-0 in the past three Super Bowls. The total is 57.5, a high number but it is difficult to take the under given the recent history of the two teams. If you like the Patriots, it would make a lot of sense to parlay them as the favorites with Tom Brady for the MVP. If you like the Rams, perhaps parlay them as moneyline underdogs with Jared Goff for MVP. Quarterbacks have been MVPs nine of the past 12 Super Bowls so going with someone besides a QB is a risky proposition.

Super Bowl Betting Trends to Consider:

Coin Toss: Heads has come up 25 times in Super Bowl history, while tails has come up 27 times.

Just Win Baby: The team that wins the Super Bowl has also gone on to cover the pointspread 44 times against just six non-covers and two pushes. 

Over/Under: The O/U Total has gone 27-24 in 51 Super Bowls (excluding the inaugural Super Bowl I event back in 1967). The Over is 5-1 in the last six Super Bowls …. In the last 7 games where the spread was 3 points or less, the Over has gone 6-1

First Score: The team that opens the scoring has gone on to win in 35 of the first 52 Super Bowls (67.3 percent), including six of the previous seven games. 

Second Half Over: Super Bowl participants have saved their best for the second half in recent years. The second half has produced more points than the first half in 15 of the previous 20 Super Bowls.

The Gronk: The Rams allowed the second-most receiving yards to opposing tight ends in 2018. 

Pats first-quarter Super Bowl struggles:  New England has scored just three total points in the first quarter of the eight Super Bowls in which Brady and Bill Belichick have appeared. 

Close Matchup: Super Bowl LIII will represent the 11th straight NFL championship game in which the spread sits at seven points or less.

More than two players passing the football: Three of the past five NFL championship games have featured more than two players attempting at least one pass. Super Bowl LII saw both teams use two pass-throwers, with the Eagles’ Trey Burton and the Patriots’ Julian Edelman posting one attempt each. 

Non-Offensive Score: There has been a defensive/special teams score in eight of the past 12 Super Bowls. 

Last Scoring Play of the First-Half: In 12 of the previous 17 Super Bowls, a TD has been the last scoring play of the first half. 

Overtime: There has been just one overtime game in the history of the Super Bowl and that occurred two years ago, when the Patriots rallied to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. 

Underdog: The dog has covered in six of the past seven Super Bowls, and nine of the previous 11. But the favorites still have the edge overall, having gone 27-23-2 ATS.

Running on the Road: The Patriots averaged just 3.9 yards per carry with four of their 18 rushing scores coming away from Gillette Stadium, while the Rams put up 5.5 yards per carry and 13 rushing TDs on the road. 

Goff on the Road: Goff was a completely different quarterback on the road than at home in 2018, finishing with just 10 TD passes in eight games away from L.A. Memorial Coliseum compared to 22 in his eight home games.

Highest scoring quarter: Nearly 40 percent of all Super Bowl games have seen the fourth quarter produce the most points, and both New England (7.4) and the Rams (7.2) rank in the top 12 league-wide in fourth-quarter scoring this season.

MVP: Quarterbacks are responsible for 29 of the 52 MVP awards, easily outdistancing the field. Running backs (seven) and wide receivers (six) are next in line, followed by linebackers (four).

Leading at Halftime: If you’re leading at the half, your chances of winning the Super Bowl are excellent. Of the 48 Super Bowls in which one team lead going into the break, the team ahead has gone on to win 37 percent of the time (77.1 percent).

 

 

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