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Super Bowl LIII: Updated Betting Odds and Prediction

New England Patriots(13-5) @ Los Angeles Rams(15-3)

  • Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Neutral Site). Atlanta, Georgia
  • When: February 3, 2019 6:45 pm EST
  • Spread: New England (-3) vs Los Angeles (+3)
  • Moneyline: NE (-150) vs LA (+130)
  • Over / Under: 56.5

Late last week, a betting site confessed that the New England Patriots have been taking a spectacular 85% of the sportsbook’s ATS wagers for Super Bowl LIII.

The spread did move slightly on Monday after the conference title games, with the Los Angeles Rams moving from slight-favorite to (+3) underdog.

But oddsmakers stepped in to contain line movement to less than a field goal margin, thinking that the Rams are being underrated by the casual gambler.

Los Angeles is also a (+130) moneyline underdog compared to (-150) for New England in a Super Bowl with a (56.5) Over/Under total.

What is the public thinking? Most likely that Tom Brady, practically a Super Bowl institution at this point, will out-play counterpart Jared Goff.

But there are other factors that influence the outcome of an NFL game.

Rams vs Patriots: Handicapping the Key Factors

Tom Brady is a far-better QB than Jared Goff. Goff could max out his capabilities for the next 10 years, and that would still be true. The Patriots legend is refreshed and refocused in a year when many thought his relationship with head coach Bill Belichick would totally fall apart. Brady can no longer throw 50+ passes per game and anticipate winning. But when the game is on the line in the 4th quarter there’s nobody better amid active players or in the Hall of Fame.

We also know that Goff has the better supporting cast. Brady’s receiving corps isn’t bad at all, with an aging Rob Gronkowski still getting open. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan are superb on 3rd down, and the Pats’ OL has kept Tom Terrific’s jersey without a scratch. But the NFL Athletes from Boston can get by with smoke-and-mirrors at every position on offense credited to Brady’s machine-release and eye for the open receiver, and the consequential space for the ground game to operate. The Rams, in the meantime, have such a dynamite running game that Goff could go down with injury and the backup could hand-off and get 1st downs.

McVay had already replaced Todd Gurley and produced 1st downs. Rumors of animosity swirled when the MVP-candidate tailback mysteriously sat out whole chunks of L.A.’s controversial 26-23 overtime win. But the skipper has done a spectacular job of damage-control along with a cooperative and jolly Gurley. Bloggers wonder if Gurley’s downhill running style (and lousy pass-catching hands) was a bad fit for the game plan against New Orleans. In any case, backup RB C. J. Anderson was clutch.

Brandon Cooks has averaged 16 yards per catch in the playoffs, partly due to the beastly ground assault making it easy. But don’t tell that to Mr. Cooks…who is likely bent on vengeance after the Pats got rid of him.

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Ram Tougher

Los Angeles isn’t apologetic for winning the NFC title on an unfair non-call near the Rams’ own end zone. The missed interference from CB Nickell Robey-Coleman vs receiver Tommylee Lewis was so obvious that a group of Saints fans are suing the NFL.

Referees admit they blundered on the critical call. But the modern Shield makes it difficult for DBs, so much that a bang-and-crash style which draws occasional flags (or not) can be a unit’s best refuge.

It worked for the Patriots against Kurt Warner’s “Greatest Show on Turf” when the franchises last battled for the Lombardi Trophy in 2002.

It’s called rolling the dice. Visualize a defense taking no chances and winning a playoff game in New Orleans.

Bang-and-crash doesn’t begin to depict the Rams’ front-7, led by monster-truck lineman Ndamukong Suh. In a couple of weeks, L.A. has discharged the Cowboys’ physical ground game and discarded the finesse passing attack of New Orleans.

It was Drew Brees and the Saints who may have been fortunate just to have a chance at the end last Sunday. If Robey-Coleman had turned around and looked for the ball on the fateful flag-less down, he’d have had one heck of a long pick-6.

(Really Really Close) Patriot Games

Meanwhile, the Patriots get by with a defense full of role-players who know how to scratch and claw in the postseason.

Dont’a Hightower is a fantastic LB and players like Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty have the ability to stand out at CB, but a pedestrian pass rush has those players behind the rhythm of the opponent too often.

Belichick was hardly able to wring New England past its own OT escapade on a chilly night in Missouri. Andy Reid has shown a tendency to let Patrick Mahomes zing the egg downfield in every situation, and the defect in game management was exposed again as KC scored to take a 28-24 lead with 2:03 left.

Too much time. The HOFer directed a TD drive, getting a nice mulligan off a wayward throw thanks to an offsides call. Reid and other coaches have failed to recognize over the years that the only defensible weapons against Tom Brady in the 4th quarter are ball possession and the game clock. They don’t often luck out and win on a chance strip-sack, like Doug Peterson and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018.

Los Angeles is a possible ball-control killer with not just 1, but 2 RBs playing well above-average behind punishing blockers. McVay isn’t likely to call a Hail Mary with the ball on the 50 yard line and 2:00 left in a tie game.

Finally, the Rams have an amazing special teams unit. Johnny Hekker is the most uniquely-talented punter in NFL history and can pass the ball proficiently on 4th down razzle-dazzle calls.

PK Greg Zuerlein launched a 57-yard ICBM to beat the incensed Saints in OT.

New England has taken care of its kicking game with Stephen Gostkowski but Hekker and Zuerlein are calibrated weaponry of a high order.

My Predictions and Moneyline Pick

No clue what 85% of bettors have been watching, but as potent as the Patriots are, they’re not immortals, just as Alabama was not immortal when facing Clemson for the FBS title just weeks ago. Super Bowl LII is all the proof we need that the late-dynasty Pats can be beaten for the NFL crown.

The Patriots looked good against the Chargers, and calmly advanced while Kansas City defeated itself at Arrowhead. The Rams busted-up a authoritative blocking assault from the Silver Star and then survived a snake pit in Louisiana.

L.A.’s defense has been called unpredictable, but the unit has been money at big moments in the postseason. Stopping the Cowboys in the Divisional Round was great, but Drew Brees and the Saints were served-up chances on a platter in the NFC title tilt thanks to a 1st-half defensive stand from the hosts. Brees didn’t manage 250 yards passing.

The Superdome was so boisterous that the Rams were practically using smoke signals. It was exceptional just to have gotten to the 4th quarter with a stalemate, since the Saints’ home-field advantage was not worth 3 or 4 points. It was worth a billion, the most antagonistic and torturous atmosphere anyone has endured in 2018-19.

Don’t see the Patriots going to the Big Easy and getting away (clean or dirty) under the same circumstances. New England scored 4 regulation TDs against Kansas City’s susceptible defense in a setting that wasn’t any colder or darker than Foxboro Stadium on a winter’s eve. Now, days later, “sharp money” is purportedly being gambled on the hunch that the Pats are about to dismantle a much tougher defense?

The New England Patriots are a great empire. They may win again. But they’re facing a younger, hungrier, more-dynamic animal than ever this time. Brady’s infrequent struggles in the NFL have come when a fast, rugged, penetrating defense can shape-shift against any style of offense he throws at them.

If Gurley runs wild early-on, Belichick may counter with his own ball-control attack – except Suh can saw through the interior OL and handle a bulldozer like Shaq Mason. If the Rams stammer in the early-going, Hoodie will turn Brady loose to hoard touchdowns, but L.A. is the team that will get pressure on New England’s pocket if and when the Pats are not able to run the ball.

Tight odds are not a bad proposal for a Tom Brady vs The World scenario whenever the “GOAT” is feeling it, but the Rams are the team that should have a “-“ next to their moneyline, and are every bit the upset-pick that the Eagles were in Minneapolis last season.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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