Super Bowl LIII
Finally, the moment we’ve all been looking forward to:
The Big Game.
The culmination of a long and exciting season.
Christmas, for football fans.
While many of us are still mourning the fact that our team isn’t here (thanks Cody Parkey), few are celebrating their team making it this far (Patriots fans should be used to it). The rest of us are left to make the game a little more exciting by wagering on the winner, the total, and the longest list of props you’ll find in any game.
I’ve had a good year, as I finished the regular season 50-30-6 ATS (62.5%). That carried over nicely into the playoffs, where I went 13-7 (65%).
Two weeks ago in the Championship Round, I had my heart ripped out by referees, who failed to call an obvious pass interference on the Rams, effectively ending the chances of my nearly season-long Super Bowl prediction, the Saints. Luckily, this made the decision to bet on New England that much easier, and I more than mitigated my losses, as Tom Brady did what he does best.
New England went into Kansas City as rare 3-point underdogs, and Brady and Co. felt slighted, to say the least. It’s not to say the Chiefs didn’t deserve to be favored, but the Patriots were prepared to prove oddsmakers, and many others, wrong.
The defense played lights out in the first half, taking a 14-0 lead into the locker room. K.C. narrowed the gap to 17-7 by the end of the 3rd quarter, and the wheels of both defenses came off. A couple of wild turnovers and big penalties led the Chiefs on a comeback attempt, scoring 24 of their 31 second half points in the final frame.
Down 28-24, Brady was vintage Brady, as expected. He completed critical passes of 11, 20, & 25 yards to set up a 4-yard Rex Burkhead touchdown, and a 31-28 lead. Patrick Mahomes did his best Brady impression, leading his own impressive drive to put his team in range to give Harrison Butker a shot to send the game to overtime, which he did.
New England won the coin toss, and at that point, I knew it was over. There wasn’t a chance they gave the Chiefs the ball back. I was right. Brady led yet another incredible drive, completing a 20-yard pass to Edelman on 3rd & 9, a 15-yard pass to Edelman on 3rd & 10, and a 15-yard to Gronkowski on 3rd & 10. Again, leaving Rex Burkhead to close the game out with a couple of short runs, the last being a 2-yard TD plunge to send the Patriots to their 9th Super Bowl, as well as their 3rd straight. The final score of 37-31 wasn’t far off my prediction of a 34-30 Patriots win.
As mentioned above, the Rams were able to get by New Orleans on a missed call, but to be fair, the Saints had many chances to put that game away. I don’t want to take anything away from L.A. They had a great season, posting a 13-3 record, and displaying incredible growth throughout their roster. Sean McVay is an amazing coach, and not just for his age, while Jared Goff has made significant strides. Aaron Donald is an absolute machine, finishing the regular season with an unreal 20.5 sacks as an interior defensive lineman.
This Rams squad may be young at all of the most important positions, but will no doubt look to prove they belong here regardless. If they were playing the Chiefs, I would no doubt be all over L.A.
Unfortunately, they draw a particularly motivated Patriots team, and that’s just scary.
They are the model of winning consistently, with no nonsense attitudes. The greatest dynasty the NFL has seen. Belichick is the GOAT. Brady is the GOAT. No matter how this game ends.
Just don’t tell Bill & Tom that.
It’s not about what they’ve done, it’s about what they can do. They know they’re the best, but being the best means to continually prove it. Last year’s loss to the Eagles was an embarrassment by their standards, and one that bled doubt into the minds of fans, media, and players alike.
If you still hold that doubt, you haven’t been paying attention.
Ironically enough, you haven’t heard Patriots and underdog in the same breath since they beat Kurt Warner and these Rams in the Super Bowl back at the twilight of Brady’s career, so it’s all too fitting. “Brady is old”, “Father Time always wins”, and “the dynasty is dead” sparked posts of #BetAgainstUs. A dominant win over the Chargers led to chants of “We’re still here!” that have resonated throughout Pats Nation these last couple weeks, and that should worry the Rams, who started Super Bowl media week with some trash talk, which they quickly backpedalled. The last thing you want to do is poke the beast when it’s already growling, and that’s exactly what they did.
Motivation is one thing, but you still have to believe in an X’s and O’s way in which the team you’re betting on will win. It just so happens, I have that as well.
You always have to envison how the game will play out. What will work. What will give one team trouble. Where the other will find success. I see New England implementing a somewhat backwards, albeit effective gameplan, in which they lure the Rams front-seven with the expectation of the heavy run game they used to control the clock against the Chargers and Chiefs. While L.A. will play the run, I expect Brady to avoid pressure from Donald and Suh by dropping the short and intermediate passes he’s well known for. A sort of defacto run game via 3, 5, and 7 yard darts, primarily to all-time NFL playoffs receiver Julian Edelman.
On defense, the Patriots have somewhat of a luxury in familiarity. Rams’ receiver Brandin Cooks spent time in New England, while they got plenty of looks at Robert Woods from his time in Buffalo, where he also played with Patriots’ cornerback Stephen Gilmore, who will likely shadow him. The difference maker on defense to me will be the secondary, leading to some coverage sacks on the young Goff.
All in all, I simply cannot bet against the Patriots here. Some may call it a square play, but in reality, perception may be as low on them as it’s been in awhile. This Patriots team made great strides entering the playoffs, and that’s when you want to be at your best. The progression of this defensive unit, and moreso of the offensive line, is ideal. They went 6-0 against playoff teams this year. They’re as motivated as they’ve ever been. Brady and Belichick will look to prove Papa Time, and any naysayers, wrong.
Additionally, this line doesn’t even make sense. Much like the AFC Championship, if you were blindfolded, you would say the Rams should be favored by two or more, not the other way around. I know Brady has an x-factor that effects the line, but not that much. There are many things working against the Pats here, but none are reflected by the line. No team has won the Super Bowl the year after losing it, which is something the GOAT should have on his resume. I don’t believe much in revenge games, but this motivated Patriots team calling themselves underdogs, and feeling like they’ve been written off, is a different monster.
I believe the Rams have more SB appearances in their future, and they’ll make a fight of this one, which they’ll get plenty of respect for. But ultimately, vintage Tommy B will remind the Rams, and the world, who the GOAT is.
No need to bother with (-2), while the moneyline sits at a valuable (-130). As for the total, I will go with the under, as it fits closest to my vision of this game, where I see New England controlling the clock via short passes, in an effort to keep the Rams from getting any rhythm.
Pick: Patriots ML (-130)
Pick: UNDER 56.5
Final Score Prediction: 30-20 Patriots
After their last two Super Bowls, New England knows they can’t come out slow. Expect them to come out swinging, while the Rams shake off the jitters. I’m thinking a 20-10 first half, with the game slowing down in the 3rd as the Rams make an effort to narrow the gap, and New England runs the ball. Pats pull away late in vintage Brady style.
Pick: 1st Half Patriots ML (-120)
Pick: 1st Half OVER 27
Halftime Score Prediction: 20-10 Patriots
On to the props!
When you have an idea of how the game will go, you can bet props accordingly. I steer clear of ridiculous props of colored shirts and Gatorade, or total mentions of that and the other, and try to keep it within the game.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Let’s start with the daddy of all props.
Super Bowl MVP.
I have a method when betting the MVP, and it’s fairly simple. The quarterback of the team you think will win, the playmaker you believe will give the best supporting effort, and a defender that could change the game and/or end it. This has worked out well for me, so long as my team wins, which has been the case in 9 of the last 11 Super Bowls (Broncos loss to Seahawks and Patriots loss to Eagle’s last year). I cashed VonVon Miller at 25-1 (opened at 60-1) 3 years ago when his Broncos beat the Panthers. When the Patriots stormed back from 25 down to beat the Falcons 2 years ago, I had a James White MVP ticket, at 68-1. Unfortunately, a heroic effort from the then-3rd-string running back, including 160 total yards, 2 TDs, and a 2-point conversion to send the game to overtime, wasn’t enough to take home the hardware. Tom Brady set the record for passing yards in a Super Bowl, and took the award for the 4th time. I had Brady as well, but that doesn’t make it much easier.
Here’s who I like for the Patriots this year:
Tom Brady (+140)
Just because it’s obvious, doesn’t mean you don’t play it. If you’re on board with the Pats, Brady has earned MVP honors in four of his five Super Bowl wins. You can’t ignore those odds.
Julian Edelman (25-1)
This is my favorite long shot. 25-1 for the NFL Playoffs all-time leading receiver is damn good value. Against the Chiefs and Chargers in this year’s playoffs, Brady targeted Edelman 23 times, which he turned onto 16 catches for 247 yards. He’s Brady’s go-to man when it matters most, and I believe that will be the case here. Edelman also missed last year’s Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia, which was undoubtedly tough for him to watch helplessly. He’ll do everything he can to make up for lost time with a stellar performance in this one. In his absence last year, fellow receivers Danny Amendola (8-152), Chris Hogan (6-128-1), and Rob Gronkowski (9-116-2) thrived. With Amendola gone, and Cooks in L.A., Edelman will be the benefactor. Additionally, he’ll draw Nickell Robey-Coleman, who made the mistake of short-selling Brady’s abilities during media week, saying he’s too old, he’s slowed down, and that they plan to stick the Patriots and let them leak. Thems fightin words. He attempted to walk back the statements later, but the damage was done. Edelman will be making NRC pay all day, and Brady will look to target the matchup often.
Fun fact: The only Patriot not named Tom Brady to take home MVP honors, was wide receiver Deion Branch.
Trey Flowers (80-1)
The real long shot is my defensive selection. Trey Flowers has been an underrated piece of this defense, and if the Rams don’t pay enough attention, he could make them pay. He also has the ability to disrupt the backfield and make game changing plays on the biggest stage, as evidenced by his 2.5 sacks against Atlanta two years ago. Gotta have a dreamer in your MVP plays, and this is mine.
After reading my case for Julian Edelman to take home MVP, you should know I will be all over his individual player props. Here’s a few I like:
Player to score 1st TD
Julian Edelman (10-1)
Here’s a weird stat. New England has never scored a TD in the first quarter of any of their Super Bowl appearances under Belichick/Brady. Last year’s 3 points in the first quarter were their first ever. I think that changes this year, as the Pats come out swinging. Gotta ride with my favorite here, and at great value.
I believe the Pats first score will be a pass, so you can sprinkle some on Gronk (10-1), Hogan (16-1), and Dorsett (25-1) to cover yourself.
Julian Edelman Total Yards
After posting 7-96 and 9-151 stat lines the last two weeks, this one is easy. Almost feels trappy. I’ll bite.
Julian Edelman Receptions
Again, he’s been targeted 23 times in the last two weeks, turning in 16 catches, 7+ in both. Biting again.
Will Nickell Robey-Coleman be flagged for P.I.
After getting burned over and over, NRC is bound to get caught for P.I. once. +200 doesn’t feel like great value, but I’ll take it.
Patriots 1st Quarter Total
As mentioned above, the Pats have only scored 3 first quarter points in 8 Super Bowl appearances. This one doesn’t make sense. Call me square, I’m taking the over.
Team to Score First
Keeping with the trend, I like the Pats to come out swinging. Even if the Rams get the ball first, I expect Belichick to have a stop drawn up. Brady will then walk his offense down the field, hopefully throwing a TD to Edelman.
Player to Throw TD Pass First
Tom Brady (-130)
Sony Michel Total Yards
This one is low considering Michel’s insane recent usage and production, and I know why. Belichick starts revolving the door of the backfield in big games, so I feel both usage and production will be more spread out.
Rex Burkhead Total Rushing Yards
Spread out touches in the backfield will help push Burkhead over this low total.
Patriots Total 1st Downs
Brady will implement a short game that will eat a lot of clock, and consistently move the chains, leading to plenty of chain movement.
It’s been a long and interesting season, to say the least. If you stuck with me through it all, I greatly appreciate it. This article has made this season that much better, and I look forward to next season already.
BUT FIRST! We have a Super Bowl to watch, and win some money on, and with that, best of luck to you all.
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM @ROBBIEGOLDFINGERINVEGAS to keep following me into other sports now that football season is over, and keep up with my personal plays. Thanks again for the support, now let’s finish strong!