Here we go, Super Bowl 53 is just over a week away. I am fired up as a die-hard New England Patriots fan to see Tom Brady & Bill Belichick play in the NINTH Super Bowl together. 9 freaking Super Bowls, are you serious? If you have been following my picks of the playoffs on Twitter, I am 8-2 straight up this postseason and 7-2-1 against the spread. I have done pretty well for myself at the sports-book window, and hoping that can continue and also see the Pats hoist another Lombardi Trophy.
This is the matchup I had in mind when the playoffs first started. Despite everyone hating on the Pats, I had a feeling they would arrive in this spot. I had KC choking in the divisional round, which they didn’t and New England beating the Colts, but nevertheless the Pats got it done and advanced to their third straight Super Bowl. I also liked Sean McVay and Jared Goff‘s chances to get to the big game in year two together. The Saints peaked in November and sure they got porked on that late call, but they had ample opportunity to put the Rams away and failed to execute down the stretch. The two best teams are playing in this game, period.
Betting Line: NE -3, Over/Under: 57
The line opened at NE +1 after the conclusion of the AFC Championship Game in Vegas, but quickly jumped up to -2.5 after some sharks put serious money on the Pats. Through the first week, 8 of every 10 bets were coming in on New England. I locked in the Pats -2.5 early before it jumped up myself as well as the under of 58, if you were fortunate enough to get that total. Now the line has shifted to -3, and the over under has slid down to 57.
In his third season in the league, Jared Goff get to play in the biggest spot in professional sports, opposite Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. I’m a huge Goff fan, he reminds me a lot of Brady through his qualities, demeanor and ability. He made some awesome throws in that Saints game to help the Rams get to this game and the balance and relationship he has with his young guru offensive minded head coach is just perfect. The Rams are uber-talented on offense with a solid offensive line and outside weapons that can make plays in Robert Woods & Brandin Cooks, whom New England is very familiar with. C.J. Anderson has been a wrecking ball off the street since he signed late in the season, which is good because All-Pro running back Todd Gurley just doesn’t look right. I like the Patriots defense to matchup well with the Rams offense much like they did to the Chargers and Chiefs in the first half. They can play man-to-man on the outside and take away those weapons and disguise looks to get after Goff and rattle him early. If the Rams had a healthy Cooper Kupp or MVP-caliber Gurley, then it’s a different story. I think Bill Belichick and Brian Flores will devise a solid gameplan to get after Goff while also taking away his go-to guys and force a guy like Josh Reynolds to make big plays or even the tight ends like Higbee or Everett.
Sean McVay and the Rams will ultimately figure it out and put some points on the board, but if the Patriots can match their focus and intensity from the first halves against the Chargers & Chiefs, they’ll be in a good position to win the football game. The Rams may be able to run the ball successfully out of their “11 personnel” much like they have all season, especially if the Patriots are playing a nickel look to contain the pass, but the Pats should be able to hold the high-flying Rams offense in check. Another reason I like the under in this game. Three Patriots defenders that will be key to victory: Kyle Van Noy making plays up the middle like he has much of this season, Trey Flowers getting after Goff and making him nervous all game then Stephon Gillmore shutting down the outside receiver opposite him.
The Rams defense is what it is. By now you know the main gameplan for Josh McDaniels and Dante Scarnecchia will be to take Aaron Donald away. We’ve seen the Pats make players with similar talent like JJ Watt a non-factor. Overall, the offensive line has done a tremendous job of protecting Brady this postseason as through his 90 drop-backs over the two playoff games he has yet to be sacked and he’s only been hurried 3 times. Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers also anchor down the LA defensive line which could present a challenge when trying to pound the ball, but I still think we’ll see a gameplan similar to last week and against the Chargers of wearing the defense down and controlling the football game. The Rams secondary is hit or miss most weeks with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, but I like Brady to exploit the matchups at the right time. Add in the very thin and under-sized linebacking group for the Rams and I think TB12 has a field day with his backs. James White out of the backfield and Sony Michel ramming it down their throat all game. Julian Edelman will be a matchup nightmare and should once again get double-digit targets and Gronk will be a force in the blocking game and may even make an impact through the air like last week against KC.
I just don’t envision a scenario where the Patriots lose this football game. They are too focused and locked in right now to lose to this Rams team. Sean McVay is brilliant and he may very well be back here real soon, but with Gurley not at one-hundred percent, a weak linebacking corp, no Cooper Kupp and his team’s overall lack of experience in this spot, I’m leaning heavily towards the Patriots here. I think it will be competitive throughout, although New England should remain firmly in control and ride the win in Kansas City to their 6th Lombardi Trophy.
Patriots 27, Rams 20
Super Bowl MVP Odds:
Tom Brady 11/10: Brady is a safe and easy pick here seeing as 4 of the 5 Super Bowls won by the Pats, he’s been the MVP. The payout here isn’t great, but it’s a safe way to double your money.
Jared Goff 37/20: The last I saw this was the updated line for most sports books. Essentially 2/1 here and it’s another good play if you like the Rams to pull it off in this spot seeing as if they were to do so it would be mostly on the arm of Jared Goff.
Todd Gurley 11/1: Good odds if you have faith he’s back to normal. If Rams are going to win, Gurley needs to make a serious impact.
Sony Michel 15/1: If Michel matches that performance from the last time he played an LA team or even against KC, his chances to win MVP are strong. I like this potential payout and why not put a little on a guy who has over 200 yards and 5 TD’s in his lone two career postseason games.
James White 20/1: The Super Bowl against the Falcons, James White should have arguably been the most valuable player. I’ve already said I like White’s chances to make a big impact in this game much like he did against the Chargers a few weeks back. 15 catches for 100+ yards and a couple TD’s on the ground or in the air may get it done in this spot. Worth putting a few bucks on for a potential haul.
Julian Edelman 25/1: You’re talking about the guy second only to Jerry Rice for all-time playoff receptions. He’s guaranteed to get double digit targets and likely receptions against this Rams team and if he puts a few in the end zone like Deion Branch in Super Bowl 39, maybe he works his way into the MVP discussion. I’ll throw a few bucks on Jules as a value-play.
Rob Gronkowski 33/1: If you believe this could be the final game of the Hall of Fame career for Rob Gronkowski, why not take a chance here and throw some money down on him as MVP. The most unstoppable force in the history of the game at his position may have enough left in the tank for one monster game. The Rams don’t have the size or talent to match up with a healthy and fresh Gronk and with the bye week and a strong performance against the Chiefs, he could explode for a monster game. Why not take a chance here?
It seems like there’s a million little prop bets you can have fun with that pertain to the game on the field or the theatrics that go with the biggest game of the year.
You can bet the over/under of Gladys Knight’s national anthem which is currently at 1 minute and 47 seconds, you can bet between a number of commercials and which one you think will happen first, or even which song Maroon 5 will sing first during their halftime performance. I like “Moves like Jagger” +800 for those who want a bet there. Another easy bet is number of completions from Tom Brady in the game which is at 25.5, that’s a lock to me.
There you have it. My preview and some bets to wager prior to the big game that’s just about a week from now. Enjoy and as always feel free to chime in with your opinion, @frankbostontank on Twitter.