LA Rams Look Poised To Pound Patriots In Super Bowl LIII

Betting preview for Super Bowl LII and the LA Rams outlook as another Super Bowl underdog winner.

Another record handle is expected for Super Bowl 53 with the New England Patriots a 2.5-point favorite over the Los Angeles Rams at the leading online sportsbooks. The total is 56.5 heading into the weekend with BookMaker down to 56. More than $6 billion will be bet by American’s on Super Bowl LIII, and more than 40% of the betting action and money will be on prop bets.

This will be our third straight Super Bowl selection against the Patriots. We cashed in with one of our strongest Super Bowl recommendations in more than a decade last year when the Eagles flew past the Patriots 41-33 as a 4.5-point underdog. Two years ago, the Falcons were flying and pounding the Patriots 28-3 late in the third quarter before the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history. It was also the first overtime game in Super Bowl history, and the Patriots pulled off the miraculous comeback victory and laid a brutal beat on Atlanta Falcons (+3) bettors with a 34-28 win.

I’ve provided underdog picks and analysis throughout the 2018 season, and finished 35-19 ATS (65%) with 26 outright winners on these pages selecting only underdogs. A betting breakdown of the Chargers playoff win over the Ravens as an underdog continued the winning theme. Will it continue with the Rams to deny the Patriots and Tom Brady’s last run at a Super Bowl?

You’ve probably read and reviewed numerous stat profiles and Super Bowl recommendations in the Rams and Patriots match-up. I also provided an article at Forbes on props the pros are betting in Super Bowl LIII, along with a Super Bowl MVP article and odds breakdown for TheLines.

Many prognosticators and bettors are still favoring the Patriots, and New England is taking 77% of the bets and 72% of the money at a consensus of seven leading online sportsbooks tracked by Sports Insights, including BookMaker and 5Dimes. In New Jersey, the Patriots are taking more than 85% of the bets and money at FanDuel, and in Las Vegas nearly all of the sports books need a Rams victory to offset the money pouring in on the Patriots.

The last time I saw this wave of betting action and reaction to playoff performances leading into the Super Bowl was when the Carolina Panthers were bet up sharply to 5.5 and briefly -6 against the Denver Broncos in the 2016 Super Bowl. Superman Cam Newton forgot his cape, committing three turnovers against Denver’s dominant defense and we cashed in on the Broncos and our stronger play under the total in Denver’s 24-10 crushing of Carolina. All this Patriots peaking at the right time propaganda is pure hyperbole. Just ask the surging Panthers about the 2016 Super Bowl smackdown.

The Rams are being disrespected for their tainted and controversial NFC Championship win over the Saints. They overcame a big hole and adversity to pull out the overtime win, 26-23. The Patriots beat the Chargers in a perfect situational and scheduling playoff spot, and then went to Kansas City and won the AFC Championship in overtime 37-31. The Chiefs scored 31 second half points, and only had possession of the ball on offense for less than 21:00 minutes. Yet that seems to be overlooked by Patriots supporters.

Meaningless trends in this Super Bowl match-up includes the Patriots going 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS against the Rams since 2002. Who cares! New teams, players, match-ups and attitudes. What about this trend? Super Bowl favorites of 5 or less are 2-10 SU/ATS if they had a bye to start the playoffs? Experience certainly favors the Patriots, and Brady has the same experience edge over Goff as he had over Super Bowl MVP Foles last year. The Eagles won pretty convincingly. The year before, the Falcons No. 1 offense was rolling, but letup with a huge lead and paid the price.

LA Rams running backs Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson

The game is about match-ups, and the Rams match-up in the trenches on both sides of the ball better than the Patriots. The running backs will play a key role for both teams in this match-up, and the Rams picked up 1,160 yards on wide zone runs this season, which was more 379 more than any other team according to Pro Football Focus. They averaged 5.3 yards per carry on such plays, mostly by Gurley, who is fine and says he’s ready to roll for the Super Bowl. Rams running back CJ Anderson has only added strength to the Rams running game, and especially running inside.

At the start of the season, NFL.com also had seven Rams players ranked in the top 100 and just two for the Patriots. The Rams have been power rated higher than the Patriots every week during the season, and Los Angeles played a stronger schedule and has now won 15 games, while the Patriots have won 13. The Rams offense is one of the best in the NFL, and it will come as no surprise if they surpass their season scoring average of 33 points per game in the Super Bowl. Foles passed for 373 yards against the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl, and while New England’s defense is better this season, the Patriots stop unit is still below average overall.

New England played one of the easiest schedules in the league this season, and faced plenty of poor quarterbacks including rookies Allen and Darnold to washed-up McCown, off the street Anderson, Tannehill and even Osweiler and Peterman have played against the Patriots. Deshan Watson in the opener did little but Blake Bortles passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns early in the season against New England. Now note that the Rams high-flying offense is going to move the ball and score, as QB Jared Goff has even more weapons and an aggressive and play calling approach from creative coach with necessary balance to move the ball and score points on the Patriots.

The Rams have the better and more balanced offense, the better and more talented defense in this professionals opinion, and the long-range leg of clutch kicker Greg Zuerlein, who is dealing with a left foot strain. The offense can be explosive, and the Rams defense can pressure up the middle and move Tom Brady off his spot and force more off balance throws. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh can stuff the running lanes and have proven more formidable in the playoffs limiting the Cowboys and Saints to less than 100 combined rushing yards.

The latest lines, odds and scores from Las Vegas sportsbooks!

What I can’t get over is the public perception of the Patriots, and the reality of the current Super Bowl odds and situation. Back on November 20 when the Rams were 10-1, the Westgate SuperBook had the Rams odds at 3-1 to win the Super Bowl and the Patriots at 8-1. The NFC was a 1.5-point favorite over the AFC regardless of the match-up at the time, and the total was 63. The Rams one loss was 45-35 at New Orleans, and Los Angeles had just come off a record-setting victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, 54-51. Three weeks earlier on October 29, the NFC was a 3-point favorite over the AFC in the future Super Bowl LIII match-up and the total was 57.5. That’s how the Rams high-scoring victory over the Chiefs three weeks later impacted the total. The Rams two losses the rest of the season were to playoff teams Philadelphia and Chicago in the cold. New England lost at Tennessee, Miami and Pittsburgh the second half of the season, and beat one team with a winning record, non-playoff opponent Minnesota at home. So what’s changed other than the perception of the Patriots to justify the current line and change from late October?

Patriots fans and supporters that point out New England’s lone quality road win at Chicago in a common-opponent argument should also remember the Patriots loss at Detroit, which we pegged here, along with the Rams easy 30-16 victory at Detroit. Scheduling and when teams play certain opponents applies, and especially if significant injuries are prevalent. The Rams won in late December despite playing without 2017 Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley, one of the truly elite running backs in pro football.

Another significant situation I keep coming back to in my “Patriots perception versus reality” argument is that New England lost five road games this season against non-playoff teams. Tennessee and Miami scored 34 points on the Patriots. Jacksonville and Chicago scored 31, and Detroit scored 26. The Rams are going to move the ball and score plenty of points, and the Patriots had better come out better in the opening quarter or it could be a repeat of the Falcons domination for three quarters in the 2017 Super Bowl. The Patriots have scored a total of 3 points in the first quarter of eight Super Bowls with Brady and Belichick.

If you decide to take a teaser approach to betting the Super Bowl, I’d look towards the Rams +8.5 and over 50.5. I’ve not seen one prognosticator or professional pick the underdog Rams to win by more than a touchdown. The Rams are going to score plenty of points and eclipse their team total. I prefer over 56 on the game total as well, and the only concern is if the Patriots will do their part in scoring enough points.  In the final analysis, when Los Angeles ‘Rams’ the Patriots and wins by more than a touchdown or even double digits while scoring more than 33 points, you’ll wonder why the better team was a ‘Dog and won as a Super Bowl underdog for the seventh time in the last eight years.

You can bet on it.

Article posted at osga.com.

Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful handicappers and professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay