New England vs. LA Rams: Total 56.5, Patriots -2.5
The total has come down a full point since the open a week or so ago, while the spread has fluctuated a bit and settled back at -2.5 where it quickly moved to after opening as a pick'em at the Westgate Superbook. I’ve seen it as high as -3 (e.g. William Hill), which is as comfortable as I’d be picking the Patriots. If it gets higher than that, I like the Rams to keep it close. I noted in the Early Lines Lookahead last week that while you’re generally safe picking the winner in the Super Bowl (e.g. when it wins, the favored team tends to cover the spread), of the six times the favorite has won and not covered the spread, two of them are the Brady/Belichick Patriots (2004 and 2005).
I had picked the under last week, and continue to think that’s the bet. Not only is this the third-highest Super Bowl over/under line, both of these defenses have picked it up over the last two games, especially where the run game is concerned. The Patriots have given up just 60 total rushing yards vs. the Chargers and Chiefs, while the Rams held the Cowboys and Saints to 98 rushing yards. Jared Goff and Tom Brady have combined for just three passing touchdowns this post-season. Both coaches are likely planning a ball control offense given the dangerousness of their opponent.
Since we talked about the Patriots extensive Super Bowl history a lot last week, I wanted to add a couple of interesting notes to support the Rams (some information courtesy of VI news). Sean McVay is making his Super Bowl debut against a (very) experienced Bill Belichick, a situation that has gone the rookie’s way in three of the last four occurrences (including Doug Pederson’s Eagles last year). I do think with all this Todd Gurley business that McVay could be playing a Game Theory based game here. Not only is he brilliant at football, he knows you have to think outside the box to beat the Patriots.
The Rams are 8-0 vs. the AFC since McVay took over in 2017. In his tenure, the Rams have ranked first and second in points per game and featured one of the most balanced run/pass offenses with a defense full of quality personnel. Finally, underdogs from the NFC have a good Super Bowl betting record, going 10-5 ATS the last 15 times that’s been the situation. Overall, underdogs are 13-5 since the 2000 season.
All in all, it’s still the Patriots’ world out there, and it’ll be hard to bet against them unless the line moves to 3.5.