The biggest single betting event of the year is almost here. Super Bowl LIII will feature the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta, Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It is so great to see that the New England Patriots and the Boston metro area caught a break with all of their recent sports frustrations over the years to make it to the big game. And the Rams! The Rams! The long-suffering Los Angeles Rams, who had to endure two remarkably painful seasons in the City of Angels before getting a chance to play for the Lombardi Trophy. Heartwarming stories all over the place for this one!
As the sarcasm drips down the page, we’ll be taking a look at some betting angles, interesting tidbits, and suggested betting options for Super Bowl LIII. Over the next two weeks, we’ll have plenty of content at BangTheBook.com to help you organize your thoughts, including different variations of prop betting suggestions, power ratings, system picks, and, of course, content on all of the other sports markets that you’ll need in order to keep busy while we wait two long weeks for this game.
What Are the Odds?
The Patriots are favored by two points in early betting action with a total of 58. With two weeks worth of lead time on this preview, this line is going to move around a fair amount, so obviously shop around for the best price on both the side and total and also the money line.
Some shops opened pick ‘em and immediately swung to the New England side. Others opened New England -1 and were forced to move based on initial waves of action from respected bettors and numbers grabbers.
Monitoring the Market
This Super Bowl is going to be extremely unique in that Nevada isn’t the only U.S. state with legalized sports betting. Anything within driving distance of Boston is going to have to inflate the price on the Patriots. Sportsbooks in Nevada will have to protect against Rams money from weekend warriors trekking in from Cali. The offshore market will be the best place to get something resembling a true line, depending on the book.
The books that mostly rely on public action are already some of the highest lines in the market, with Bovadaat -3 and MyBookieand 5Dimesat -2.5. Pinnacle, the sharpest book in the market, is sitting on 1.5, while the offshore exchange Matchbook is dealing -2 with plus money on New England. That is a big contrast from the others that are at -2 and -115 on the juice.
These context clues will be important. It certainly appears that sharper books are operating under the pretense that Rams money will be coming in at some point. The more public books are protecting against Patriots wagers. The books that are split are somewhere in the middle.
The GOAT vs. The Goff
Clearly one of the biggest storylines in this game is that Tom Brady, who has played in nine Super Bowls already, has significantly more experience, and a much higher trust factor among bettors, than Jared Goff. Goff just played his first career postseason road game in the NFC Championship. He played well, but this is the grandest stage of them all.
Of course, Nick Foles didn’t have much Super Bowl experience last year either and put together one of the greatest performances in Super Bowl history. We’ll see how much this angle is overblown and/or baked into the line.
It is fair to point out that there are a lot of external circumstances to this game. Teams get in a good week of practice this week and then head to Atlanta, where they’ll have to contend with media obligations, friends and family that want tickets, and all of the other hoopla associated with the game…
The GOAT vs. The Wunderkind
Bill Belichick. Sean McVay. Five Super Bowls. Zero Super Bowls. Nine Super Bowl appearances. Zero Super Bowl appearances. Forty-one playoff games. Three playoff games.
How much does the experience edge matter with the head coaches? McVay does have very experienced defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to fall back on. That’s a good start against veteran offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Keep in mind that Belichick got pantsed by Doug Pederson last season, who also had no Super Bowl coaching experience.
This is an angle that will be discussed a lot in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. The 66-year-old Belichick has concocted two strong game plans so far. The 32-year-old McVay had a strong showing against the Cowboys and managed to come out ahead in a coin flip against the Saints. That being said, the defense of Phillips and McVay held Michael Thomas in check and therefore the Saints in check.
Belichick took away Kansas City’s offense by controlling the ball for 44 minutes of the AFC Championship Game.
McVay has been very popular this offseason as far as coaching hires go. The NFL is transitioning to more analytics and younger head coaches and coordinators that bring fresh ideas to the table. Some will hype this game as a passing of the torch, but it isn’t. It’s simply the most accomplished head coach in the modern era against an upstart wunderkind that is the face of the future in the NFL.
Ultimately, the experience thing is more of a talking point in my estimation. It’s a storyline. A narrative. Something to belabor for two weeks leading up to the game. The team that executes better will be the team that wins, but I would fully expect both teams to have solid plans going into the Super Bowl.
My, My, My, My Michel
That heading works if you screech it in Axl Rose’s voice. Sony Michel only had 3.9 yards per carry in the win over the Chiefs, but those 113 yards were huge. It was Michel’s sixth 100-yard game of the season and second here in the playoffs. Between Michel, James White, who caught 15 passes in the Divisional Round and four more last week, and Rex Burkhead, who had two rushing scores, the Patriots are loaded with weapons in the backfield.
Michel should be a big factor in the Super Bowl against a Rams defense that was 31st in yards per carry allowed during the regular season. White is that safety valve for Brady and McDaniels. Burkhead is a tough-yardage back. For what it’s worth, and we’ll discuss prop bets down the line, Cory Littleton tackles and assists over will likely be my favorite prop bet.
On the Rams side, they’ll have to figure it all out because Todd Gurley isn’t right. Gurley had four carries for 10 yards in the NFC Championship Game. CJ Anderson didn’t find a lot of running room, but the Saints were a lot better against the run than the Patriots during the regular season. The Rams probably wanted to use the ground game more to take pressure off of Goff, but maybe the rushing failures are a blessing in disguise. Goff now has more confidence going into this game.
Cooks-ing Up Some Revenge
Brandin Cooks had seven grabs for 107 yards in his first revenge game of the playoffs against the Saints. Now he gets another crack at revenge against the Patriots. Cooks and Robert Woods have really come on strong over the last few weeks to replace Cooper Kupp’s production. Cooks only has two touchdown receptions since Week 9, and both came in the meaningless Week 17 game, but he’s been a strong weapon in the playoffs.
For Those About to Gronk
Rob Gronkowski showed flashes of that guy that the Patriots have missed all season in the AFC Title Game. He lined up all over the field, got off the line of scrimmage well, and made some tough catches. His six catches were the most since Week 14 and he only had five catches over his previous four games combined.
How will the Rams account for him? A healthier Gronk makes New England even scarier. Do you provide linebacker help and put one less guy in the box to stop Michel/White/Burkhead? Does a safety have to vacate the area between the hashes? Do you put a corner on him and either play nickel or take your chances with a safety on another wide receiver? Say what you will about the phantom penalties and the other stuff, but the Patriots rolled up 524 yards and 36 first downs on the Chiefs. They were 13-of-19 on third down because they put KC in bad spots defensively. Can Wade Phillips adjust?
We’ll have lots of prop betting stuff as the week goes along. That’s where I find the true value in the Super Bowl.
That said, you’re here for a pick and it will be the Patriots. It’s square. It’s four-sided. It’s so Joe Public that it hurts. I actually think there’s a chance that this is one of the least competitive Super Bowls in a while. With Todd Gurley operating at well under 100 percent, this falls on Jared Goff and that scares me if I’m a Rams backer.
On the total, the under makes some sense here. The Patriots have really been playing slowly. They’re not going to make mistakes and give the Rams short fields. The Rams may move the ball, but it should be more methodical in nature.
Patriots and under for me, but like I said, props are where you make your hay in the Super Bowl.