New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams (Sunday 11.30pm, live on BBC/Sky Sports)
The 11-5 New England Patriots take on 13-3 Los Angeles Rams in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for Super Bowl 53. The two teams don’t meet that often and their last clash was in 2016 – fairly irrelevant, but as you might guess, Patriots won, 26-10.
Patriots beat LA Chargers 41-28 in the Divisional final and went on to beat the Chiefs as underdogs 37-31 in the AFC Championship game.
Rams beat Dallas Cowboys 30-22 in their Divisional Final and went on to beat the Saints 26-23 in the NFC Championship game.
Was this the worst no-call in NFL history?
If not, what was? pic.twitter.com/qqsMNwTJOW
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) January 21, 2019
New England were 5/1 favourites on September 1st, LA Rams 10/1. October 1st: Pats 7/1, Rams 10/3. Nov 1st: Pats 5/1, Rams 11/4, Dec 1st: Pats 13/2, Rams 10/3. Jan 1st: Pats 6/1, Rams 5/1.
Odds for Super Bowl LIII; 3/4 New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams 11/10
It’s remarkable that LA Rams, after the season got underway, have been rated superior to the Patriots all along until the playoffs. We now reach the Super Bowl and normal service resumes, Pats are favs and experience and the Brady/Belichick factor trump all else.
All 18 TD passes from Tom Brady's eight @SuperBowl appearances!
— NFL (@NFL) January 29, 2019
And who can blame the market. The line moved from Rams -1 initially to Patriots -2.5 now. The sheer weight of expectation of the public’s money. It’s an all-too-familiar tale for the majority of NFL fans. This will be Brady and Belichick’s 9th Super Bowl, Patriots 11th in total. They’ve won their division 16 times, 11 AFC Championships and 5 Vince Lombardi trophies. Six would equal the record.
LA Rams have moved cities but the franchise have contested three Super Bowls, winning one, in 1999.
A Super Bowl win by the slimmest of margins.
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) January 30, 2019
Belichick is 66 years old, McVay 33. Brady is 41 years old, Goff is 24. This is experience versus graduation.
Since Bill Belichick was hired 19 years ago, the rest of the NFL has hired 184 head coaches. Since 2001 New England against teams who finished the season with a winning record are 75-45, or 62%. The next best in that time are the Pittsburgh Steelers with 44%.
Brady and Belichick are 11-0 in the post-season when a player rushes for 100 yards. Patriots have run the ball well in this post-season. They have even changed an age-old trait of letting the other team take the ball when winning the toss. Now they’re keen to dominate early on. Their first drive versus the Chiefs really set the tone, a clock-eating clinic which resulted in a TD.
Patriots had 94 offensive plays vs Kansas and only one was negative, a knee. Michel, Edelman, White and Gronkowski should have big games. Gronkowski has been managed throughout the year but you’d imagine he’ll leave it all on the field in what is likely to be his last game. White is clear leading Pats TD scorer when you add both his receptions as well as his rush TDs, 12 in total. That’s the sum of Edelman and Michel combined.
Sean McVay is the youngest ever head coach to manage in the Super Bowl. Underdogs are 12-5 against the spread in the last 17 Super Bowls. Rams were favourites for much of the season and favourites initially for the Super Bowl. That gives me reason to believe that betting against the crowd would be the Rams. That’s often the route to profit.
Rams were 10 wins from 11 before their bye week. 3 wins from 5 after that and just haven’t had the same zip since losing Cooper Kupp. I feel they will rely on big games from their star men, Gurley and Goff. Gurley was non-existent in the NFC Championship game, not used heavily, which remains a mystery as he wasn’t injured.
— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2019
Maybe it was as a result of an early turnover. Regardless I can see him having a big impact on Sunday. Gurley has 21 touchdowns on the season and still got on the scoreboard in both post season games despite lack of work. Gurley also has 6 100+ yards rushing games. Rams rushed for an average of 139.4 yards per game, 3rd in the NFL.
Aaron Donald has 20.5 sacks on the season, a remarkable stat. Next best for the Rams is Suh with 4.5. The leading player with sacks for Pats is Trey Flowers with 7.5. Brady is likely to get the ball out quick, as he has been doing successfully this post season, but he will have to. Patriots will lean on Stephon Gilmore in the secondary to keep tabs Woods and Cooks.
AARON DONALD TAKEOVER.
His SECOND strip-sack of the game! #ChiefsKingdom
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2018
Michel has had four 100+ yard rushing games from 13, Edelman two 100+ yard receiving games this season. Cooks has had five 100+ yards receiving and Woods three 100+ yards receiving this season. A mention for the kickers: both Gowstowski and Greg ‘the leg’ Zuerlein haven’t missed inside the 40-yard line all season and only missed one extra point each from 86 combined.
The quarterbacks; Brady 65.8% completion, 4355/29/11. Goff 64.9% completion, 4688/32/12.
— NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2019
Gladys Knight looks priced about right for the length of her Star Spangled Banner performance pre-game. No Lady Gaga-style ricks this year, I’m afraid. One quick search of her previous anthem performances tells us the line is correct on all known form. Enough of this!
I think the Rams are the better team and trust them to perform despite playing against the greatest coach and quarterback combination of all time in Belichick and Brady. In Sean McVay they have a brilliant coach, Goff is a good quarterback and in Gurley and Donald they have the X factor. As good as New England are, people forget that they’ve lost three finals in this era too.
I expect a fast start from New England. LA Rams always defer and New England have broken tradition by receiving the ball first in both post-season games. Patriots have only scored three points in the first quarter in their last eight Super Bowl appearances, a mad record and those three points were only added last year.
With that in mind, Pats to win the first quarter and a few speculative touchdown bets are the order of the day. Edelman and White are both worth backing as first touchdown scorer. The insurance of BarOneRacing.com’s Super Bowl offer, a Brady thrown last touchdown, means cashback in this market for all losing bets if this proves to be the case.
A Pats win and Brady’s MVP is almost guaranteed. I’m not so sure that is the case with Rams. Todd Gurley can have a huge impact, both receiving and rushing. Goff can facilitate a Rams win but not necessarily be the star of the show.
As for the nap: Todd Gurley anytime TD. You won’t get rich on this but it looks the most likely scenario in an encounter where both coaches are very hard to predict.
Lastly, New England half-time and Rams full-time looks a fair price when you take into account New England may well get the ball first and how strongly Rams finished against the Saints.
Time to move the chains. The Greatest coach and quarterback Of All Time are not invincible.
Rams Moneyline 11/10
Edelman First Touchdown 9/1
James White First Touchdown 10/1
Todd Gurley Anytime Touchdown 4/7
Todd Gurley 2+ Touchdowns 7/2
Todd Gurley MVP 14/1
New England Patriots 1st Quarter Winner 11/8
New England Patriots HT – LA Rams FT 8/1