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Thread: NFL Trends and Indexes - Super Bowl (Sun., Feb. 3)

  1. #16
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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    TOTAL KEEPS DROPPING

    The total for Super Bowl LIII between the Rams and Patriots just keeps dropping. After opening as high as 59 at some books immediately following the AFC Championship Game, the total has been on a steady freefall. It had dropped to 57.5 just 12 hours after opening and then to 57 by Saturday, Jan. 26th. It continues to tick down and is currently sitting at 56.5 at most sportsbooks, though 56 can be found at some shops.

    At 56.5, the total is no longer the highest total in Super Bowl history. That honor goes to Super Bowl LI between the Falcons and Patriots that closed at 57 (and hit the Over with a total of 60). Only one other Super Bowl closed above 54.5 and that was Super Bowl XLIV between the Saints and Colts (and hit the Under with a total of 48).

    A quick look at numbers tells us that it’s sharp money that is pushing the total down. The Covers Consensus tells us that 62 percent of bets have been on the Over (at any total) while DraftKings has reported taking 64 percent of bets and 76 percent of the handle on Over 56.5. Another thing to factor in is that the public money from tourists is about to start flooding into Vegas for Super Bowl weekend. And what do we know about the public? It loves to bet the Over.

    There are two ways to look at this. If you’re an Over bettor, now is likely the time to jump on the total at 56.5. As public money comes pouring in as the game nears, it’s likely that the total ticks up to 57, or even 57.5. Oppositely if you’re an Under bettor and you missed the lines of 59 and 58, you might want to wait until closer to kick off in hopes of gaining an extra half-point or more.


    AIR BRADY

    In yesterday’s article, we touched on Tom Brady in suggesting the Over 282.5 for his passing yards total:

    So far in the playoffs, he has thrown for 343 yards on 44 attempts against the Chargers and 348 on 46 attempts against the Chiefs. Sure, the Pats might try to run the ball heavily against the Rams, but they also did that in their last two games, with 34 rushing attempts against the Chargers and 48 against the Chiefs. New England is just running a ton of plays on offense right now and that should continue Sunday.

    But another stat jumps off the page in what Brady is doing so far in the playoffs: He’s throwing the ball a ton. And these were in positive game scripts, meaning the Patriots were ahead in both games and basic football logic would say that they’d run the ball more than they’d pass.

    As it turns out, he also tends to throw the ball a ton in the Super Bowl. Brady has 40-plus passing attempts in each of his last four Super Bowls, including a ridiculous 62 against the Falcons two years ago. The Patriots have been in negative game scripts in their last three title games and they’ve had to abandon the running game and have Brady air it out.

    So here we have two trends: a recent trend of Brady throwing the ball a ton in positive game scripts during the 2018-19 playoffs and a historical trend of Brady throwing the ball a ton in Super Bowls. We’re going to hop on this trend and back the Over 36.5 for Brady’s passing attempts total.


    PHILLY SPECIAL MENTION?

    Here’s a fun prop bet that seems like a lock: Will the announcing team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo say the words “Philly Special” during the broadcast? The Philly Special, of course, was the trick play that the Eagles ran for a touchdown against New England during last year’s title game that is already considered as one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history. Here are a few reasons why the “Yes” to this prop has a good chance of hitting.

    First, it has only been one year since it happened and, with the Patriots being in the game once again this season, it would make sense that Nantz and Romo bring up last year’s game at least once during the broadcast — and how could they not reference the Philly Special in talking about Super Bowl LII.

    Second, if there is any kind of trick play attempted during Sunday’s game, the announcers will definitely mention last year’s famous trick play. With two weeks to prepare, the Super Bowl is as good of a game as any to run a trick play. The Patriots even attempted their own version of the Philly Special in last year’s Super Bowl, but Tom Brady dropped the pass. Surely Brady has been thinking about that play ever since and would love a chance at redemption.

    Adding to the likelihood of one of these teams attempting some trickery on Sunday is the fact that they both ran trick plays in the conference championship games, with the Rams running a fake punt against the Saints and the Patriots attempting a flea flicker against the Chiefs.

    Hearing Romo (or Nantz) say the words “Philly Special” on Sunday seems like a no-brainer and with nice +250 payout, we’re throwing some money on the Yes.

  2. #17
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    Advantage - Over
    Chris David

    The ‘over’ run in the Super Bowl continued last February as the Eagles defeated the Patriots 41-33 in the 52nd installment and the high side (49) was never in doubt. Including that outcome, the ‘over’ has cashed in five of the last six NFL finales.

    There were a couple fortunate bounces for bettors riding the ‘over’ during this span, and both of them featured New England. In 2015, the Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24 and the high side (47 ½) connected despite the pair playing to a scoreless first quarter.

    Just two years ago, New England pulled off the improbable 34-28 overtime win against Atlanta in Super Bowl 51 and the ‘over’ (57) cashed due to the Patriots forcing the extra session with a wild fourth quarter. Coincidentally, that game also had a scoreless first quarter.

    Jumping ahead to this week’s matchup and the oddsmakers are expecting another high-scoring affair, opening the total at 58. After 10 days of wagering, the number has dropped to 56 ½ at most betting shops as of Wednesday.

    As expected, the early action is on the low side and the latest Betting Trends are showing a lean that way but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number get pushed up come Sunday evening.

    With the professional assistance from one of our top VegasInsider.com handicappers and contributors Joe Nelson, we’ll touch on the ‘over’ in this piece and also provide you reasons to back the ‘under’ in another installment.

    Over Trends and Angles to Watch

    -- The Rams enter this game with the second-ranked scoring offense in the league, averaging 32.4 points per game. New England is ranked fourth with 28.6 PPG.

    -- New England faced four playoff teams in the regular season and the defense surrendered 28.8 PPG in those games.

    -- Los Angeles has gone 8-0 versus AFC opponents since head coach Sean McVay took over the Rams. In those wins, the club is averaging 34.8 PPG and that’s led to a 5-3 ‘over’ mark.

    -- Another McVay angle is what the young coach has done off the bye. In three games played with rest, the Rams have scored 51, 30 and 30 points. The last result coming in this year's Divisional Playoff round, which saw Los Angeles defeat Dallas 30-22.

    -- Sticking with the rest angle, New England offense has played well off a bye in the playoffs. The Patriots are averaging 35.4 PPG in their last eight postseason games with rest, which includes a 41-point effort against the L.A. Chargers this year and also 33 in a loss to the Eagles in the 2018 Super Bowl.

    -- The Rams have been installed as underdogs six times under McVay over the past two seasons and the ‘over’ has gone 4-2 in those games.

    -- Going back to the 2014-15 playoffs, the Patriots have seen the ‘over’ go 10-3 in their last 13 postseason games. During that span, the offense has averaged 32.8 PPG. In this year’s playoffs, New England has posted 36 PPG.

    -- The Patriots defense played two road games versus NFC opponents this season and they allowed 31 and 26 points to the Bears and Lions respectively.

    -- New England has played in 10 Super Bowls all-time and the ‘over’ has gone 6-4 in those games. With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick running the show, the totals have produced a stalemate (4-4) but the last three trips to the finale saw the ‘over’ connect.

    Expert Analysis – Joe Nelson

    The Eagles were the Super Bowl champions last season and the NFC’s top seed allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL. Two years ago the Patriots allowed the third fewest rushing yards in the league en route to the championship and three years ago Denver also finished third in the league in fewest rushing yards allowed. This year’s champion won’t fit that profile as neither New England or Los Angeles featured a strong run defense actually ranking 29th and 32nd in rush yards per carry in the regular season.

    In the past four games as these teams combined to go 8-0, sealing the second spots in their respective conferences, and then winning two playoff games. In those four games the Rams have out-rushed foes by 445 yards while the Patriots have out-rushed the past four foes by 499 yards as both teams have been very successful on the ground and should be able to execute a balanced offensive game plan in this matchup. Over the past four games the Patriots have averaged 35 points per game and the Rams have averaged 34 points per game as both of these teams are capable of posting big numbers.

    The Rams have been held below 29 points just four times in 18 games while the Patriots were held below 24 points just four times in 18 games. The Patriots were an ‘under’ squad on the season but New England faced a very weak crop of opposing quarterbacks this season. Goff was 8th QB Rating and the Patriots faced only three quarterbacks rated that high this season, allowing 30 points per game in those four games. The Rams have played a third of their games vs. the league’s top five QB Rating quarterbacks this season and they allowed 34 points per game in those games, despite actually winning five of those six games. For the record Tom Brady only finished 12th in the league in QB Rating this season but he has earned the benefit of the doubt to be considered in that company as one of the top opposing quarterbacks the Rams have faced this season.

    Both defenses allow more than 350 yards per game and those numbers include playing in two of the weakest divisions in the NFL this year with some very bad teams on the schedule twice for both teams. In six division games the Patriots allowed just 12.5 points per game to bring down the season numbers, actually getting to face back-up quarterbacks in two of the division road games on the season. In two games against Arizona the Rams allowed just nine points combined while Los Angeles had both meetings with San Francisco after Jimmy Garoppolo was injured.

    Since 1998 there have been 13 playoff games with a total of 55 or higher and the ‘over’ has hit in 8 of those games. This is the fourth Super Bowl for the Patriots in the past five seasons and the ‘over’ has hit in each of those three recent Super Bowl appearances for New England with the Patriots scoring 28, 34, and 33 in those games while allowing an average of 31 points per game. Over the past 38 Super Bowls the ‘over’ is 26-12 even with the total often inflated in anticipation of popular action on the ‘over’ in the season finale. The Super Bowl underdog has scored at least 21 points in each of the past 10 Super Bowls while only two of the past 20 Super Bowl participants failed to score at least 17 points.

  3. #18
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    Advantage - Under
    Chris David

    Outside of boxing or mixed martial arts, betting an ‘under’ in any sporting event doesn’t necessarily provide the excitement you could be looking for and it usually puts you up against the betting public.

    However, while the early trends are showing a lean to the 'under' in this year's finale between the Patriots and Rams, I still believe the 'over' will get more attention by kickoff but there are some great angles and trends that could have you leaning low this Sunday.

    With the professional assistance from one of our top VegasInsider.com handicappers and contributors Joe Nelson, we’ll touch on the ‘over’ in this piece and also provide you reasons to back the ‘under’ in another installment.

    Under Trends and Angles to Watch

    -- The Patriots were ranked 10th in scoring defense, allowing 21.3 points per game. The Rams gave up 23.8 PPG but the defensive unit improved to 20.2 PPG on the road.

    -- Los Angeles had a red zone percentage of 56.8 percent, which was ranked 19th in the league. The Rams have often left points off the board, scoring seven field goals and just five touchdowns.

    -- New England watched the ‘under’ go 11-5 in the regular season, which included a 5-3 mark on the road.

    -- Los Angles watched the ‘under’ go 7-2 away from home this season and that includes the low side result in this year's NFC Championship at New Orleans.

    -- The Patriots only played one game indoors this season and they were blasted by the Lions 26-10 from Ford Field. It was the second time this season that New England was held to 10 points.

    -- The Rams had four games indoors and the ‘under’ went 3-1 in those games, with the lone ‘over’ (57 ½) occurring in their first encounter at New Orleans, which was a 45-35 shootout loss in Week 9.

    -- Los Angeles had 12 totals this season close in the fifties or higher and the 'over/under' results ended in a stalemate (6-6).

    -- New England saw the ‘under’ go 5-3 in totals that closed at 50 or above.

    -- The Patriots have seen the ‘under’ go 4-2 in their last six games when they favored by 2 ½-points or less.

    -- The Rams have watched the ‘under’ go 2-1 in the playoffs over the past two seasons and the defense has only allowed 23.6 points per game. During this span, the unit has used the ‘bend but don’t break’ approach in the red zone. In those games, they’ve allowed 7 touchdowns and 7 field goals.

    -- New England squared off against the NFC West in the 2016 regular season and it went 3-1 in those games but the offense was tempered to 25.8 PPG, which led to a 3-1 ‘under’ mark. In that same season (2016), the Rams went 1-3 against the AFC East and their weak offensive (12 PPG) numbers helped the ‘under’ go 3-1.

    -- One of those outcomes saw the Patriots defeat the Rams 26-10 at home on Dec. 4 and the ‘under’ (44 ½) was never in doubt. Including that result, the low side is 4-2 in the last six meetings between the two franchises and that includes the 20-17 win by New England over St. Louis in Super Bowl 36.

    -- This will be the third Super Bowl hosted by Atlanta and first since 2000 and coincidentally the Rams won that year, a 23-17 win over the Titans in SB34. The ‘under’ cashed (45) in that contest and also in the first installment from Georgia in Super Bowl 28 between the Cowboys and Bills. Dallas defeated Buffalo 30-13 and the low side (50 ½) was never in doubt.

    Expert Analysis – Joe Nelson

    The Patriots scored 37 points in overtime in the AFC Championship to emerge as the Super Bowl favorite but New England had 94 offensive plays in that game for 0.394 points per play, actually well below the team’s season average. The same is true for the Rams who managed 26 points in the NFC Championship, also in overtime, but at a .382 points per play rate that was far below the regular season average for the second highest scoring team in the league. Both teams will face arguably more difficult defensive matchups this week after the Rams faced a Saints pass defense that struggled all season while the Patriots faced a Chiefs squad that was among the worst in the NFL in many defensive categories.

    The Rams were technically the NFL’s worst yards per rush run defense in the NFL this season allowing 5.1 yards per rush but that figure proved meaningless in a pair of playoff wins as Dallas and New Orleans were both held to 2.3 yards per rush for a fewer than 100 combined rushing yards in two Rams wins to reach the Super Bowl. The Patriots fared even better defending the running game allowing just 19 yards vs. the Chargers and 41 yards vs. the Chiefs for a combined 2.7 yards per rush, to cut the regular season average allowed nearly in half. If both defenses contain the opposing rushing attacks at an even remotely similar clip, these offenses will struggle and the scoring will be limited.

    The winning quarterback usually wins the Super Bowl MVP but touchdown passes have been rare for Tom Brady and Jared Goff this postseason. Brady has thrown only two while throwing two interceptions and nearly losing the AFC Championship on a third interception that was called back due to an offsides penalty. Goff has thrown just one touchdown pass in his two playoff wins while also matching that score with an interception in the NFC Championship. Goff has posted 7.1 yards per pass attempt in the postseason while Brady has posted 7.7 yards per attempt, pedestrian averages by today’s standards that wouldn’t have cracked the league’s top 10 in the regular season.

    Despite his all-time great status another signature comeback win last week, Brady finished 12th in QB Rating this season which was actually four spots behind Goff. Brady finished with his worst QB Rating since 2014 this season and across the board his numbers were worse this season than in his past two Super Bowl seasons, including featuring the most turnovers he has had since 2013. While he remains a well above average quarterback capable of winning another Super Bowl in the Patriots system, his play has declined with his age and this was not a great Patriots offense as scoring 78 points in two playoff wins suggests. The Patriots topped 27 points just six times in 16 regular season games despite one of the weakest schedules in the NFL and they understand they won’t want to be in a shootout with the Rams as the ground game will again be at the forefront of the game plan.

    The coaching hiring season was dominated by talk of trying to find the next Sean McVay. The 33-year old Rams head coach has taken the league by storm in two seasons going 26-9 with great offensive production. McVay has faced Bill Belichick before as the offensive coordinator for Washington in the 2015 season, a 27-10 win for the Patriots in Week 9. Washington posted only 250 yards of offense in that game and never threatened for the upset, actually scoring its only touchdown in the final minute of the game. Kirk Cousins was held to 5.4 yards per attempt while Washington gained just 2.5 yards per carry on the ground and that was a Redskins team that won the NFC East. Jared Goff faced Bill Belichick and the Patriots in his rookie season, which was his third ever NFL game. The result was unsurprising with Goff throwing two interceptions and completing 44 percent of his passes as the Rams had just seven first downs in a 26-10 loss. As good as the results have been for McVay and Goff the past two seasons, they will be making a big leap in class facing off with Belichick, even if this wasn’t one of the legendary head coach’s best defensive teams on paper as a decline in the expected production for the Rams should be assumed.

  4. #19
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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    GRONK’S LAST HURRAH?

    Rob Gronkowski shed some light on his future as a football player as he spoke very candidly yesterday about the “grind” that is an NFL season.

    "Just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It's tough, it's difficult. ... Abusing your body isn't what your brain wants," Gronkowski told the Super Bowl media on Wednesday. "I just took 50 collisions, and then like the next day everyone wants you to be up. They want practice full speed, next week they want the game to be full speed, but they don't understand sometimes what players are going through with their bodies, with their minds."

    Super Bowl LIII could very well end up being Gronk’s last game — but don’t go out and bet the Yes on him announcing his retirement. That prop bet only counts if he announces it during the post-game show, something we’re convinced won’t happen.

    If it does end up being Gronk’s last game, we do think he’ll go out with a bit of a bang. New England’s tight end is coming off his third-most productive game of the season when he snagged six catches for 79 yards against the Chiefs last week (his top two would be his 8-107-1 line in Week 14 and his 7-123-1 line in Week 1). Just as importantly, he received a season-high 11 targets in the AFC Championship. To put that into perspective, he had just 11 total targets over the previous four games combined.

    Gronkowski also has a nice matchup on paper against the Rams. Opponents targeted their tight ends a league-high 25.2 percent of the time against L.A. during the regular season, which resulted in the Rams allowing 8.1 passes and 67 receiving yards per game to the position.

    The Rams haven’t played a receiving threat at tight end yet in the playoffs as the Saints and Cowboys just don’t throw to that position. But looking back into the regular season we see some big numbers from pass-catching tight ends, highlighted by George Kittle’s 9-149-1 line in Week 17 and Travis Kelce’s 10-127-1 line in Week 12.

    Another factor to consider is that Gronk is looking happy and, most importantly, healthy for Super Bowl week. He has given some amazing quotes, mostly about partying and the number 69, and then stole the show on Monday night with his dancing. This might not seem like much but it’s meaningful coming from someone who told reporters last offseason that he “didn’t enjoy himself” in 2017-18.

    Gronk clearly is not the uncoverable, Hall of Fame tight end that he once was during the peak of his career. But can he still get it done? Absolutely — he proved it last week. We’re thinking he puts together one more clutch performance in a plus matchup in what could be his NFL finale and we’re taking the Over 3.5 on his receptions total.


    MCVAY TALKS GURLEY

    One of the biggest storylines of Super Bowl week continues to be about Todd Gurley. The Rams’ star running back was on an MVP pace earlier in the season but then got hit with a knee injury that cost him the last two games of the season. He returned in the divisional round for 18 touches (but was still out-touched by C.J. Anderson, who had 23 touches) but then received just five touches to Anderson’s 17 in the NFC Championship Game. Gurley was seen stretching and riding a bike on the sideline against the Saints and looked ready to jump into the game at any time, but it just didn’t happen.

    Following the win over the Saints, Gurley blamed himself for two drops and a negative run that led to his benching and Rams coach Sean McVay said he has “to do a much better job for Todd to get him opportunities to get him going.” McVay revisited the subject on Tuesday and had a simple response when asked about Gurley: “He’s gonna be a big part of this game.”

    Now the question is simple: Is McVay telling the truth or is he simply forcing the Patriots to do more preparation? We’re going to go with the former as we believe Gurley will be a big part of the game plan on Sunday. Why? A few reasons:

    Gurley has shown no signs of still being injured during the playoffs.
    Gurley will arguably be the most talented offensive player on either roster on Sunday.
    Should the Rams lose with Gurley in a backup role, does McVay really want to face an offseason of “what if” questions.
    The Patriots are vulnerable to pass-catching running backs.


    This last point is the key one to expand upon. During the regular season, New England allowed 5.5 receptions (13th-most in the league) and 48.5 receiving yards (ninth-most in the league) to opposing backfields. In the playoffs, it has been more of the same, with Chargers’ RBs hauling in seven passes for 52 yards and Chiefs’ RBs catching seven balls for 87 yards.

    Running the ball has not been the way to attack the Patriots so far this postseason as their defense held the Chargers to 19 rushing yards and the Chiefs to 41 rushing yards. Game script definitely played a huge part in this as the Pats jumped out to big leads in both games, so keep that in mind if you envision New England scoring early on Sunday.

    Teams have been very successful in attacking New England with pass-catching backs and we’re certain McVay knows that. Gurley should have a big role in Super Bowl LIII and we’re taking the Over 3.5 for his receptions total which is currently available at a nice +125.

  5. #20
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    NFL Underdogs: Super Bowl LIII pointspread pick and plus-money prop predictions
    Jason Logan

    The title of the column is NFL Underdogs, so there’s no shocking twist at the end in which I actually pick the New England Patriots to cover the Super Bowl spread against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night. However, in true “M. Night Shyamalan” fashion, the Rams weren’t always Big Game pups.

    When the Super Bowl LIII betting odds hit the boards in Las Vegas on January 20, it was the brash young Rams and not the five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots that opened as the chalk. Of course, L.A. -1 didn’t stick around long and, with one-sided early play on the Pats, we’re now dealing with New England as big as a field-goal fave at some books.

    The Super Bowl is the most scrutinized single game in sports – even more so when it comes to sports betting. People get a little nuts when there’s money on the line. So there’s not much that I can say here that hasn’t already been said in the two weeks of build-up to the Big Game.

    Keeping things short and sweet, here are some bullet-points for why I’m betting Los Angeles to cover in Super Bowl LIII:

    • The Rams are the best two-way team New England has faced since a 17-10 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 15. And don’t even say, “What about the Chargers?” because their defensive stats were filled with more hot air than a seat cushion after a Super Sunday feast.

    • Los Angeles can get tremendous pressure by rushing only four, which has been the key to slowing down (because you can’t stop him) Tom Brady throughout his career. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh totaled 154 pressures on the season, and Suh has stepped it up in the postseason BIG TIME.

    • A rushing defense, that was once L.A.’s biggest pain point, has been its strength in the past two postseason games. I don’t see New England having the same success on the ground as it had in its first two playoff games.

    • Los Angeles is one of the best third-down offenses in the NFL, keeping the chains moving, and has also been excellent when rolling the dice on fourth down – and you need to roll the dice in the Super Bowl.

    • New England’s defense isn’t great. It’s allowed 59 total points in the playoffs – which would be instant death for any other NFL team. The Patriots boosted their defensive numbers at the end of the year, playing six of their last seven versus offenses ranked 19th, 20th, 23rd (twice), 27th and 30th in scoring. Those five foes combine to average 19.88 points per game. Los Angeles finished second in scoring (32.9 ppg) and has totaled 56 postseason points.

    Pick:
    L.A. Rams +3

    First score of the game: Field goal +150

    I’m a big fan of first-quarter Unders in the Super Bowl (taking the Under 10.5 points again this year), banking on nerves to get the best of the teams. You often see some overthrown passes, bobbled handoffs, and bad drops in the opening 15 minutes. These offenses are very good, but those jitters could lead to someone settling for three points instead of six to open scoring.

    Will Greg Zuerlein make a fourth-quarter FG? Yes +130

    Greg “The Leg” is a huge part of this Rams offense and while his busiest quarter on the season has been the second quarter (13 FG attempts), his second busiest was the fourth and final frame (8 FG attempts). He had two fields goals in the fourth versus New Orleans (and then the winner in OT) and I see him kicking a clutch one in the closing quarter of Super Bowl LIII.

    Todd Gurley receiving yards: Over 32.5 (EVEN)

    The health of Todd Gurley is the million-dollar question heading into the Super Bowl. I’m sure he’s banged up, but will be fresh and ready to roll – ignited by the ton of criticism thrown his way for losing carries to C.J. Anderson.

    Gurley is a dual threat when it comes to rushing and receiving, and averaged more than 41 yards receiving per game on the season. New England allowed over 49 yards receiving per game to running backs in 2018. While I see Gurley having a tougher time on the ground, I predict plenty of pick-ups through the air.

    Last week: 1-0 ATS
    Season: 35-20-1 ATS

  6. #21
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    By: Brandon DuBreuil



    EDELMAN’S SLOT BATTLE

    We’ve been hesitating to dig into Julian Edelman’s prop bets for Super Bowl LIII because it’s a tough situation to read. On one side of the line, we have Edelman — he’s Tom Brady’s favorite target and is playing very well in the playoffs with a 7-96 line last week and a 9-151 line two weeks ago. But on the other side of the line, we have Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Rams’ slot corner who is also playing very good football in 2018-19.

    Robey-Coleman has gone from an unknown to a household name over the past two weeks, first by being the defender behind the non-pass interference call at the end of the NFC Championship Game and then by giving a candid Bleacher Report where he took a shot at Tom Brady. But the fact is that Robey-Coleman is very good.

    Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed just 0.65 yards per slot-coverage snap this season, which was the best among qualified corners. Last week, the Saints gave Michael Thomas 18 routes in the slot to get him away from Aqib Talib and Robey-Coleman helped limit Thomas to his second-fewest receiving yards of the season (36).

    However, Brady and Josh McDaniels know this. They’re not just going to let Edelman run straight slot routes against Robey-Coleman all evening. They’ll move him around pre-snap, run pick plays, and force the ball to him. This is the key that we’re focusing on.

    Brady just doesn’t have another receiver to throw to. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett will spend most of their time lined up on the outside against Talib and Marcus Peters, and the Rams’ duo is going to win those battles. Brady will be forcing the ball to Edelman a ton and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get double-digit targets, just as he has in each of his last 11 playoff games. Rob Gronkowski should get his fair share of targets as well, but Edelman will still get the ball thrown his way a lot.

    So it’s likely going to come down to this: Does Edelman win the slot battle or does Robey-Coleman? We’re going to put our chips in Edelman’s corner. He’s a possible future Hall of Famer who’s still playing at the highest level of his career, plus he’s got a pissed-off Brady throwing to him. We’re backing the Over 6.5 for his receptions total and the Over 79.5 for his receiving yards total.


    MICHEL TO GET HIS TOUCHES

    No need for a long analysis here: Sony Michel is going to be a huge part of Super Bowl LIII. He has been a huge part of the Patriots’ playoff success so far with rushing lines of 24-129-3 against the Chargers and 29-113-2 against the Chiefs. Sure, he wasn’t on the field late in the game against the Chiefs but that was for two reasons.

    First, he was tired. He had already rushed 29 times as the Patriots were en route to their most offensive snaps in a game since 2001. The 29 carries were the most in his career. Second, at that moment the Patriots needed someone on the field who is effective running the ball up the middle and catching it out of the backfield, and that was Burkhead.

    The Rams were a defense that was easy to run on during the regular season with a rank of 28 in rushing DVOA, allowing 102.2 yards per game. The Rams have been better against the rush in the postseason, limiting Ezekiel Elliott to 20-47-1 and the Mark Ingram-Alvin Kamara duo to 17-46-0.

    Another factor that we’ve touched on a few times over the last two weeks is that the Patriots’ offensive line is on fire. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have shown in the playoffs that they want to run the ball early in the game with Michel. They’ve had success doing it so far and they’re going to do it again on Sunday. Take the Over 17.5 on Michel’s rushing attempts total (and the Over 0.5 for his rushing touchdowns total, which we suggested last week).


    A PATTERSON PROP?

    We’re digging deep here but here’s a prop on someone that no one is talking about that we feel could hit. In a lot of Super Bowls, it seems that there’s one player that no one is talking about who emerges as some kind of X-factor. Last year, it was Corey Clement as the Eagles’ running back had four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. The year before, you could argue it was James White and his 14 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.

    This year might it be Cordarrelle Patterson? The Patriots’ jack-of-all-trades guy has done a little bit of everything so far this season, acting as a receiver, kick returner, and running back, but we can see a situation where he plays a role as a pass catcher on Sunday.

    Patterson, of course, hasn’t been involved much as a receiver on offense this season. But because of that, his receptions total for Sunday is set at just 1.5. Looking back on his game log for this season, Patterson has played in 17 games this season and has at least two catches in seven of those games. He can also slide into the backfield comfortably, as he did many times during the regular season while filling in for injured running backs. If that happens it should actually increase his chances of getting a couple catches as the Patriots are going to throw short early and often to avoid Aaron Donald.

    Tread lightly as there’s always the chance that Patterson just isn’t involved in the game plan but we think McDaniels is going to call his number a couple times on Sunday. Take the Over 1.5 for his receptions total.

  7. #22
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    Super Bowl LIII NFL odds: Three reasons to bet big on the Rams
    Jason Logan

    Who will cover the spread in Super Bowl LIII? That’s a billion-dollar question many have been trying to answer in the two-week ramp up to Sunday’s Big Game in Atlanta.

    Oddsmakers opened the Los Angeles Rams as 1-point favorites on January 20 and instant action poured in on the New England Patriots, marching the Super Bowl spread to as high as New England -3. However, as we get closer to kickoff, money is buying back L.A., and this has slimmed the pointspread to -2 at some books.

    If you’re still on the fence about which team to bet on – the Rams or Patriots – let our Covers crew help you decide who is worthy of your Super Bowl wager. Jason Logan is all over the Rams and shares his three reasons why you should bet on L.A. as well.

    REASON NO. 1: ODDSMAKERS WERE RIGHT

    Despite being as large as field-goal underdogs at some sportsbooks, the Rams were for one fleeting moment Super Bowl LIII favorites. Yep, some sportsbooks online and in Vegas opened Big Game betting with the Patriots getting the points. And those bookies were right.

    Due to some misconceptions about the worth of experience in the Super Bowl – kudos to Steve Paul for blowing those out of the water – and that crafty recency bias, early money pounded the Pats and blindly bet the inferior team.

    Let’s go back to Championship Sunday and recall what bettors saw last, which was the Rams getting into the Super Bowl with a win (as underdogs) over the top-seeded and Super Bowl frontrunner Saints in New Orleans. Impressive, right?

    But, the media has made a lot of this outcry over the missed pass interference call and has been really quiet about New Orleans coming up short in overtime. That’s really clouded some of the public perception on the Rams, with many thinking they don’t belong in Atlanta.

    Following that game, viewers watch the Patriots pull out a win in OT over the Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC title game (despite blowing a 14-0 halftime lead), causing the markets to react to what they most recently witnessed. Throw on top of that the Patriots’ history (which honestly isn't that great: lost last year, were down 28-3 and came back due to terrible playcalling from Atlanta in Super Bowl LI, and were a Mashawn Lynch goal-line carry away from a loss in Super Bowl XLIX) and the bad taste of losing 2018's Super Bowl, and you can see why folks would be drawn to New England – especially as an early pup.

    I asked one co-worker who he liked to cover the spread in Super Bowl LIII, and he said he was betting on the Patriots and their five Super Bowls and Tom Brady’s four Big Game MVPs. To which I replied, “Those are the same stats from last year.”


    REASON NO. 2: PUTRID PATS DEFENSE

    A quick glance at New England’s second half of the NFL schedule, and you’d think the defense really stepped it up in time for the playoffs. Over the final seven games of regular slate, the Patriots allowed an average of just 14.8 points per game but also took on some of the worst offenses in the NFL. We’re talking scoring attacks ranked 30th, 23rd, 20th and 19th.

    So far in the postseason, New England has allowed 59 total points. If any other team allowed that many postseason points, they would be at home watching the Super Bowl instead of playing in it. And the crazy thing is, the Patriots have allowed that many points despite jumping out to big leads in those games and running out the clock with a rush-heavy attack while being able to easily game plan against offenses that had no choice but to throw the football to catch up. It just doesn’t add up.

    New England has owned time of possession for a total of just over 82 minutes in the playoffs, leaving opponents only 43 minutes with the football. If you run that through their points yielded, that’s 1.37 points per minute against with the stop unit on the field. To put that into perspective, the Raiders were the worst scoring defense in the NFL and still only allowed 0.98 points per minute on defense. The Chargers picked up 0.44 points per play (outscored New England 21-6 in second half) and Kansas City averaged 0.66 points per play (outscored New England 31-17 in the final two quarters).

    Now the Patriots face a dynamic L.A. offensive that hung 30 points on a vaunted Dallas defense, which allowed only 21.6 points against over its last nine games, and 26 points (on the road) versus a Saints stop unit that limited its final nine opponents to an average of 16.5 points.


    REASON NO. 3: BUILT RAM TOUGH

    Los Angeles sowed the seeds for this Super Bowl run last March by adding defensive veterans Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh to an already impressive stop unit that featured perhaps the best PLAYER in the entire NFL, Aaron Donald.

    That investment has paid off in the postseason. While the old adage that “defense wins championships” is pretty much dead (especially after the last two Super Bowls), it certainly helps to not allow more points to your opponent (hot take alert!). The Rams are playing at a championship level in the playoffs, allowing just 45 total points after stuffing the NFL’s rushing leader and a burgeoning Dallas offense then cracking down the Saints’ high-powered attack in the Superdome.

    Los Angeles did have trouble containing the run earlier in the season but has allowed just 2.27 yards per carry in the playoffs. Some will point to the Patriots’ success running the football, but let’s not forget New England took on two soft defenses and had the luxury of running a lot since they held significant leads in both of those playoff games.

    The Rams will stuff the run and force the Patriots to put this all on Brady, which sounds like something New England would love. Brady will get his – there’s no stopping this guy – but this defensive line is built to beat up on Brady. Not only do they get unrivaled pressure by only rushing four but it’s interior pressure, and that’s been Brady’s Kryptonite in past losses.

    That allows the linebackers to drop into coverage, plug up the passing lanes underneath, and complement key pass defenders in the L.A. secondary: Talib and slot-defender extraordinaire Nickell Robey-Coleman. Talib has been the catalyst for the secondary when healthy – and he is – and Robey-Coleman has the skills (and the trash talk) to make things tough on Julian Edelman, who has been at the core of many of these classic Patriots drives.

  8. #23
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    Super Bowl LIII NFL odds: Three reasons to bet big on the Patriots
    Andrew Caley

    Who will cover the spread in Super Bowl LIII? That’s a billion-dollar question many have been trying to answer in the two-week ramp up to Sunday’s Big Game in Atlanta.

    Oddsmakers opened the Los Angeles Rams as 1-point favorite on January 20 and instant action poured in on the New England Patriots, marching the Super Bowl spread to as high as New England -3. However, as we get closer to kickoff, money is buying back L.A., and this has slimmed the pointspread to -2 at some books.

    If you’re still on the fence about which team to bet on – the Rams or Patriots – let our crew help you decide who is worthy of your Super Bowl wager. Andrew Caley is jumping at the chance to bet the Patriots as small favorites and share his three reasons why you should bet on New England as well.

    Reason No. 1: Brady and Belichick

    Wanna hear a ridiculous (albeit pointless) stat? Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are more likely to play in a Super Bowl than Steph Curry is to hit a shot in a basketball game. Stupid stat, but crazy right? As of Sunday night, Brady and Belichick will appear in their ninth Super Bowl in the last 18 seasons as the starting quarterback and head coach of the Patriots. While Curry hits just 49.7 percent of his stats. What a bum right?

    Jokes aside, this is the greatest head coach-quarterback combo in history. And although Steve Paul dug up some very interesting stats regarding the value of experience in the Super Bowl, (something my counterpart in this exercise and fearless leader Jason Logan will scream from the rooftops until he is blue in the face), experience will matter in this matchup.

    First of all, those stats don’t really apply to the Pats. They’ve beaten both experienced and inexperienced teams in the Super Bowl (Seattle and Atlanta) and they’ve lost Super Bowl’s to both experienced and inexperienced teams (New York and Philadelphia). So, throw those numbers out the window.

    The Pats experience will show at the two most important positions. Brady clearly has the ability to take his game to another level in the postseason. This year his completion percentage and yards per game are way up from his regular season numbers. Oh, and in the last two Super Bowls he has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards.

    Belichick meanwhile, is the master of taking away an opponent’s best weapons, but his experience will show more importantly in the little things: timeout/challenge management and fourth down decision making. Which could be the difference in what is expected to be a close game.

    These two have been in every Big Game situation imaginable. And yeah, sometimes they lose, but mostly, they don’t.


    Reason No. 2: The Right Tools for the Job

    With the likes of Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald among others it can be argued the Rams have more top end talent than the Patriots, but I would contend that New England’s skill position players actually match up better compared to Los Angeles.

    That all starts with the greatly improved play of the Patriots’ offensive line. Brady has barely been touched this postseason and that’s against two defensive fronts in the Chargers and Chiefs that can get after the quarterback. He’s the only quarterback to have not been sacked yet this postseason. In fact, in 46 pass attempts last week against the Chiefs, Brady was only pressured five times. Two weeks ago, he was only hit twice on 44 dropbacks.

    They’ve also opened up huge holes in the run game for running back Sony Michel. The rookie has racked up 242 yards on at a clip of 4.6 yards per carry and five touchdowns in two postseason games. And now he gets to face a Rams defense that ranked 27th in yards per rushing attempt at 4.8.

    Oh, Donald and Ndamukong Suh will shut Michel down you say? Well I’d like to introduce you to James White. He’s the perfect counter to the Rams aggressive front line. He gave the Chargers fits grabbing 15 receptions for 97 yards and probably should have been the MVP of Super Bowl LI, if you forgot.

    Those guys will open up things downfield for Brady’s favorite targets. The Pats will move Julian Edelman all over the field to get the best matchups and take advantage of a mediocre at best Rams pass defense. Los Angeles that ranked in the bottom half in the league in opponent’s completion percentage, yards per pass and yards per game, and really struggled against play action.

    And then there’s Gronk. With rumors swirling about this being his last game, you just feel like he’s going to go out with a bang and the Rams have no one who can stop him. In fact, L.A. gave up the second most yards to tight ends in the NFL this season. I feel a Gronk-spike coming.


    Reason No. 3: Schooling the New Kids on the Block

    It seems almost every team in the NFL is looking for the next Sean McVay (just look at some of the head coaching hire this offseason). And why not? He’s the youngest person to coach in the Super Bowl and a brilliant play-caller.

    But that Belichick and offensive coordinators are going to try and remind the Rams that they are the OG’s when it comes to game planning.

    As we mentioned before, Belichick is a master at taking away your greatest strength. Just look what he did to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the AFC Championship, or Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon the week before. On offense for the Rams that’s the run game. Belichick will do whatever he can to force the ball into Jared Goff’s hands, which plays right into one of the Patriots’ strengths.

    Goff ranked 20th in completion percentage this season and now must go up against a New England secondary that ranked second in opponent’s completion percentage holding opposing quarterbacks under 60 percent on the season. They also rank sixth in yards per attempt allowed and ninth in interception percentage.

    On offense, McDaniels will try to remind people he was the original McVay. Expect him to use the run game (Michel) and quick pass game out of the backfield (White) to tire out the Rams defensive front early. Then beat them over the top with some play action. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a little tricky and gives Edelman at least has a shot at a touchdown pass.

    In the end, the Brady and the Patriots will be too much to handle and their dynasty will come full circle with another Super Bowl victory and cover against the Rams.

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    According to reports, the Baltimore Ravens have agreed to trade quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos.
    Trade cannot be processed until new NFL league year begins Wednesday, March 13.
    Broncos 60/1 to win Super Bowl LIV prior to deal.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Udog View Post
    According to reports, the Baltimore Ravens have agreed to trade quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos.
    Trade cannot be processed until new NFL league year begins Wednesday, March 13.
    Broncos 60/1 to win Super Bowl LIV prior to deal.
    I get it since Flacco is 34 but the other QB is not going to take them too the SuperBowl.
    Common sense is not so common.
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