The New England Patriots are the consensus 2.5-point favorites to defeat the LA Rams and win Super Bowl LIII.
Some bookmakers opened the Patriots as a 1-point dog, but the line quickly shifted with a significant flow of money wagered on the Pats. Will there be any late money on the Rams? Or will the public continue to bet the Patriots and send the line to a full three points?
The Pats have the edge in the experience department. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won five Super Bowls together dating back to the 2001 season. They also lost three Super Bowls during that same span.
The Pats appeared in the previous two Super Bowls. They lost to the Philadelphia Eagles and Nick Foles last year. However, the Pats won Super Bowl LI two years ago when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Only Sean McVay and the Rams stand in Brady’s way of winning his sixth Super Bowl ring.
SUPER BOWL LIII
LA Rams (13-3) vs. New England Patriots (11-5)
Point Spread: Patriots -2.5
Money Line: Pats -140, Rams +120
Heading into the AFC and NFC Championship games with four teams remaining, the Patriots were +350 to win the Super Bowl and the Rams were +260.
The Saints were +180 and the Chiefs were +250, but both favorites lost in their respective title games in overtime. The Rams defeated the Saints in controversial fashion to win the NFC Championship. Patrick Mahomes rallied the Chiefs late in the AFC Championship to force an overtime. However, Tom Brady took over and locked up the win game-clinching touchdown drive.
Here Come the Kids
Sean McVay, 33, made history when he became the NFL’s youngest coach. He was a month shy of his 31st birthday when the Los Angeles Rams tapped him to become their newest head coach in January 2017.
To put things in perspective, McVay is eight years younger than Tom Brady. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, 66, is twice the age of McVay. When Belichick was McVay’s age, he worked under the legendary Bill Parcells as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. Belichick did not get his first head coaching job in the NFL until he was 38.
Jared Goff, 24, became the youngest quarterback to win the NFC Championship when he edged out 40-year old Drew Brees. When Tom Brady won Super Bowl XXXVI, Goff was only seven-years old.
Gurley, Anderson, and RB Conspiracy Theories
What’s wrong with the Rams superstar running back Todd Gurley? That seems to be the biggest question coming out of Hollywood these days. Is Gurley more injured than both he and the team led on? Or is he really playing so poorly that his coach benched him from a backup who was not playing in the NFL in December? Gurley led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns this year and he could have scored more if he didn’t mess with fantasy nerds.
Backup CJ Anderson emerged to play a crucial role in the playoffs. Initially the Rams signed him to play the remaining games of the regular season in order to allow Gurley to rest his knees for the postseason. During their first playoff game, the Rams destroyed the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys boasted a Top 5 run defense, but their defensive line were tipping their stunts. Combined with highly-effective blocking schemes from Sean McVay, the Rams crushed the Cowboys. Both Gurley and Anderson rushed for over 100 yards with two touchdowns each.
In the NFC title game against the Saints, Gurley made a couple of key mistakes. One dropped pass led to an interception and a Saints field goal. Gurley scored a touchdown, but McVay tapped Anderson to handle most of the workload in the second half. Gurley told the press he did not have an injury, rather that he played badly.
“I was playing sorry football,” explained Gurley.
Perhaps this Gurley/Anderson conundrum is as simple as where the Rams are running. Anderson is built like a tank and he’s been unstoppable rushing up the middle. McVay calls his number when the play requires a run up the gut. The super-quick Gurley is a dangerous three-down back with excellent hands that plays on both running/passing downs. Gurley’s runs are often schemed to take advantage of outside lanes.
Super Bowl LIII kicks off at 3:30pm PT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on February 3, 2018.