With Super Bowl 53 set to arrive this weekend, I’ll aim to keep my positive momentum going via my NFL picks. I correctly picked the Pats to get back to the league’s title game two weeks ago and also pegged them to top the Chargers a week before that.
I’m 2-0 backing the Pats during the 2019 NFL playoffs and have zero interest in going away from the now. Vegas is certainly tempting bettors with the Rams with a spread as thick as +3 on some NFL betting websites and a moneyline floating around the +118 range.
L.A. does look like a title threat by all accounts, but I’m still digging the Pats. Here’s a few reasons why:
I can’t bet against Tom Brady; not two years in a row, at least. Brady and his Patriots have lost three of eight Super Bowl appearances, but they play to win every single time. They have five victories here for a reason and their three losses have been by a combined 15 points.
Everyone cries about a slew of Patriots titles coming by narrow margins, but where are the props for Brady and co. sticking in the ones they ultimately lost?
Brady himself has been pretty dominant in the Super Bowl and some fat numbers have been dropped in the face of some nasty defenses. Only the Giants (twice) really got the best of him and this Rams defense – talented as it may be – is one that has gotten torched several times this year.
Tom Brady is en fuego after two brilliant playoff contests, one in which he destroyed a solid Chargers defense and the other where he out-played Patrick Mahomes.
Brady says there is “zero chance” Super Bowl 53 ends up being his last game and I tend to believe him. That doesn’t mean he isn’t looking to make a statement here.
If the Pats lose this Sunday, it won’t be by much and I doubt it’ll be due to Brady not playing well. Los Angeles needs to prepare for a living legend coming at them at full bore.
I’m not sure how this is possible, but a major thing being lost in the shuffle is New England’s ability to cram the football down the opposition’s throat. They were a top-five rushing offense during the regular season, but they only improved once postseason play arrived.
Going up against a fairly soft Rams run defense (23rd in football), the Pats may have the edge in this matchup. The beauty is New England doesn’t just have one or two viable options out of the backfield.
Sony Michel leads the way, to be sure, but Rex Burkhead and James White add a different dimension as two guys that can change the pace and also hurt defenses as receivers.
The Rams can also run the ball very well, but New England (11th) have fared better at sniffing out the run this season. If these trends continue, the Pats could have the upper hand in dictating the pace and controlling the clock.
If the latter happens – and even if it doesn’t – there could be an unfair amount of pressure on Rams quarterback Jared Goff to light the Patriots up.
That might not be a realistic possibility, despite the Rams having capable wide receivers and Goff displaying a knack for getting the ball out on time. However, New England has one of the best defensive backs in the game in Stephon Gilmore and their pass defense looked pretty good down the stretch, including their two playoff games.
The Pats also know opposing receiver Brandin Cooks quite well and traditionally stop the tight end position fairly well. After shutting down the likes of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce two weeks ago, it’s fair to wonder if the Rams actually have the weapons to dismantle this Patriots defense.
More specifically, is one crazy Super Bowl performance by Nick Foles enough to bet against the Pats as they face a young passer like Goff? There is an argument to be made that Goff is incredibly underrated – and he is – but he also may not be ready for this moment.
Goff has clearly missed slot receiver Cooper Kupp since he went down with a knee injury and his numbers have suffered because of it:
Without Cooper Kupp (ACL) in the lineup, #Rams QB Jared Goff has averaged 22.6 fewer passing yards per game, 1.3 fewer yards per attempt, and 0.31 fewer touchdown passes per game. pic.twitter.com/LYI9UO3mNs
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) January 15, 2019
It’s not crazy to think those struggles bleed into some bad plays and a loss in Goff’s first ever Super Bowl appearance.
Another thing to consider is the fact that past betting data can often be useful.
I wouldn’t say it offers an autoplay here, but underdogs went 6-7 straight up and 5-8 against the spread over the 13 Super Bowls with -3 point spreads or closer.
Again, that doesn’t guarantee a thing and honestly might not tell us that much. At most, it tells us that would-be close Super Bowls don’t always stay close and that the favorites win most of the time.
In the end, I think experience and narrative is going to be huge for Super Bowl 53.
Obviously you just can’t account for the numerous times the Pats have faced this kind of pressure and how they’ve found the resolve to rise above however the situation plays out.
New England knows how to come back from a 25-point hole, they know how to make a tough defensive stop and they know how to perform in high-pressure situations. Even if this game is close or the Patriots are losing, they’re going to be very difficult to bet against with any confidence.
There’s also the matter of everyone counting the Pats out. They got their butts kicked more than once during the regular season and by all accounts, simply did not look like a Super Bowl favorite for half of the year.
That’s changed down the stretch, though. The Pats won two playoff games in fairly impressive fashion and given the fact that this is their third straight trip to this game, it’s tough to deny them.
Somehow they’ve become the underdog in a sense and they’ll be on a mission after losing in last year’s title game. Those aren’t things that will make me feel good if I’m looking to put money down on the Rams.
The Rams have the chance to rewrite history. They had an amazing team that lost against the Pats in New England’s first Super Bowl win during the Bill Belichick era and they can rectify that with a victory this Sunday.
I just don’t think they will.
Tom Brady has secured four Super Bowl MVP trophies in five wins on the NFL’s biggest stage and he’s got one of the most storied franchises ever backing him. The Rams are a worthy opponent, but they have some flaws on both sides of the ball and I think Belichick and company will expose them.
Super Bowl 53 will be close and it’ll yield some points, but the Pats are a pretty nice value at