STAR PREVIEW: Super Bowl LIII

The flags. The fireworks. The pre-game atmosphere. The National Anthem. The tweets. The party food. The praying that you can get Monday off. Yes, the Super Bowl is here again and once again we have the New England Patriots.

Beaten last year by the Philadelphia Eagles, they are now aiming to right that wrong by getting the better of the LA Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

The Patriots have reached here the hard way. Early season losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions – and by double digits as well – had the incredible Bill Belichick under the microscope, but as Champions do, they responded with six straight wins including a 43-40 thriller against the Chiefs in Week Six.

By week 16 they had clinched yet another AFC East title – their 10th – with a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills, and before the postseason, Brady threw his 580th career touchdown.

In the postseason, as is their wont, they have found a new gear, with Brady throwing for 343 yards as they steamrollered the Chargers with four touchdown drives bringing them to a 35-7 half-time lead, when Running back Sony Michel grabbed a hat-trick of touchdowns, and legendary wide receiver Julian Edelman (pictured) made 151 yards.

It was Edelman who once again played a vital part in the AFC Championship, a crazy topsy-turvy game where he fumbled a ball that led to the Chiefs taking the lead late on, but still made seven receptions for 96 yards, with four of those catches and 74 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.

New England went into half time 14-0 up, but the Chiefs put on an incredible comeback with 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to tie the game, before an incredible overtime drive was eventually completed by Rex Burkhead.

LA Rams did it the hard way too in the NFC Championship. Their NFC West victory their first back-to-back division title for the first time since 1978/79 – was mainly achieved in the first eight weeks, when they had a 100% record until they lost to New England in Week 9. The incredible firepower of Jared Goff, coached brilliantly by Sean McVey, was a big part of an offensive blitz that saw them finish with 527 regular season points.

Indeed, in a season which has seen the top four scoring teams in the league reached the Championship games, their offence has been the perfect weapon. Todd Gurley has shone at running back, CJ Anderson has been a moving wide receiver that defenses haven’t been able to cover, and both are covered by the blocker Andrew Whitworth, a fixture upfront through the season.

Their very presence here is controversial – not because they didn’t deserve to make it but because of the fashion in which they did. Officials Failed to call an obvious penalty on the Saints’ Nickell Robey-Coleman inside the five-yard line with precious little time left on the clock.

The game went to overtime, and despite the Saints getting the ball first, Drew Brees was intercepted and before you knew it, Greg Zuerlein was kicking a 57-yard field goal in overtime and the Los Angeles Rams were on their way.

What does this all tell us? It’s clear that these are two tightly matched, extremely offense heavy teams with clutch field goal kickers and brilliant quarter-backs. Many will factor in the experience gap between the teams when making their call. This is the Patriots third straight Super Bowl, and the 11th appearance they’ve made in total – more than any other team. Bill Belichick is 66 and twice the age of Rams counterpart Sean McVay, who turned 33 last week, and who himself is eight years younger than quarterback Tom Brady (who is 41 and going for his sixth Championship).

However, in a season where attack has beaten defense, they’ve always been within touching distance at the end of games. Postseason football is always tight, but both the Chargers – and to a far greater extent The Chiefs – both managed to put sustained periods of pressure on the Patriots and claw back big half time deficits.

The Rams have the rare asset of having more than one attacking player for Belichick to focus on in the shape of CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley and whilst the Patriots have Edelman and Gronkowski (along with Michel) that at least means they can go toe to toe with the Pats from the first to the last quarter.

It is worth remembering that 13 of the last 17 underdogs have won the Super Bowl handicap with 10 winning outright, and three of those defeats have been for the Patriots themselves. Backing the Rams +2.5 on the handicap means that if they stay within a field goal, one would win at the end of the night. Of Brady’s five Championships, New England have had a maximum winning margin of four points.

For even more value, consider backing the tie. The Patriots were involved with one in Super Bowl VI, when they completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl History, and in six of the last 10 Super Bowls there have been less than five points at the end of the third quarter, with two of them won by three points (ironically, the Patriots were involved).

Super Bowl LIII
New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Rams
Sunday February 3, 23:30
Live on Sky Sports Main Event HD / BBC1 HD

Past Super Bowl Results:

Super Bowl XLII
New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
Super Bowl XLIII
Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23
Super Bowl XLIV
New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17
Super Bowl XLV
Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25
Super Bowl XLVI
New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17
Super Bowl XLVII
Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
Super Bowl XLVIII
Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8
Super Bowl XLIX
New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Super Bowl V
Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10
Super Bowl VI
New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28
Super Bowl LII
Philadelphia Eagles 41, New England Patriots 33

STEPHEN BAUMOHL PREVIEW

Stephen Baumohl from redzone.bet previews Super Bowl LIII with some recommended bets.


SPECIALS

One of the best things about the Super Bowl is the huge amount of specials that one can bet on. Everything from the length of the National Anthem to the amount of yards any one player makes is up for debate and there’s few better places to get started than the touchdown scorers.

In other sports playoffs and finals can be heavily conservative, but that is not the way with the NFL or recent Super Bowls, as the results show, and there should be plenty of opportunities for offensive fans to land a few wagers. This season has been an attacking points fest – the four teams that reached the AFC and NFC Championships where the highest scoring teams in the league, and both of those ended up to be high scoring end to end games that needed overtime.

Suggesting Sony Michel (pictured) as a first touchdown scorer bet is hardly super original, but the Pats wide receiver has scored five times in the Pats postseason, including the opening touchdown in both their games against the Chargers and Chiefs. If the opening drive is as brutally efficient as usual from the favourites, then there’s every chance that he’ll be at the end of it.

For the LA Rams, Todd Gurley has scored in both their post season games, including the first touchdown for the Rams in a big comeback at New Orelans, and the flying wide receiver is worth a cover bet here. Also of interest is CJ Anderson, the ‘smash-mouth’ footballer who has made the most of his chance after the Rams picked him up on Dec. 18, after Todd Gurley’s backup, Malcolm Brown, suffered a season-ending injury.

He’s since been a rushing force but perhaps more importantly, he’s a Plan B as the Patriots might try to take Gurley out of the game, and that could lead to a touchdown at some point, even if he’s not the first one out there.

For another anytime touchdown contender, James White makes appeal. He scored 11 touchdowns in the regular season and whilst Michel has taken the lead in the post season, he was involved in a crucial move to take New England 14-0 at Kansas, and also to put the Patriots 28-7 up against the Chargers.

In what could well be an open, end to end contest, 6/4 about him getting some sort of score looks more than fair.

Past First Touchdown Scorers

XLVII (Anquan Boldin, wide receiver)
XLVIII (Marshawn Lynch, running back)
XLIX (Brandon LaFell, wide receiver)
50 (Malik Jackson, defensive lineman)
LI (Devonta Freeman, running back)
LII (Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver)

MVP

As one can see, Quarterbacks tend to take the MVP honors – nine of the last 12 – and they tend to be from the winning side. And that’s no shock given that they will inevitably have a huge part in the game’s outcome. However, backing Brady or Goff would be counterproductive here given that we have both sides covered, so it might be worth having a throwaway flutter on players who could really shine. The only non Quarter-Back winner positions since Super Bowl XLI are Wide Receivers and Linebackers.

Julian Edelman has been a mainstay for the Patriots almost as long as Tom Brady has, and has had an exceptional postseason. His performance against the Chargers, when he led the Patriots’ recovers with seven receptions for 96 yards, was his 12th consecutive postseason match with at least five catches, and his Super Bowl record is very strong. In his first of two Super Bowl victories he led all receivers in yardage with 109 yards on 9 receptions, and his touchdown with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter ended up winning the game. In his next Super Bowl – the famous comeback against the Atlanta Falcons – he made one of the catches of the century.

For Atlanta, perhaps Aaron Donald can play a spoiling role. If the Rams are to win, at some point extended amounts of pressure will have to be on Tom Brady. Donald had 20 sacks during the regular season and if he can make perhaps even half that impact on Brady at some point, the Rams will go a long way to taking the honors. 18/1 is fair.

MVP Past Winners

XLI
Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis
247 yards passing, 1 TD in the Colts’ 29-17 win over the Bears
XLII
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
255 yards passing, 2 TDs in the Giants’ 17-14 upset of the Patriots
XLIII
Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
9 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD in the Steelers’ 27-23 win over the Cardinals
XLIV
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
32-of-39, 288 yards, 2 TDs in the Saints’ 31-17 win over the Colts
XLV
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
24-of-39, 304 yards, 3 TDs in the Packers’ 31-25 win over the Steelers
XLVI
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
30-of-40, 296 yards, 1 TD in the Giants’ 21-17 win over the Patriots
XLVII
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
22-of-33, 287 yards, 3 TDs in the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the 49ers
XLVIII
Malcolm Smith, LB, Seattle Seahawks
INT for TD, fumble recovery, 10 tackles in the Seahawks’ 43-8 demolition of the Broncos
XLIX
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
37-of-50, 328 yards, 4 TDs in the Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seahawks
50
Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
Six tackles, 2.5 sacks, one pass defended in the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Panthers
LI
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Finished 43-for-62, the most attempts in Super Bowl history, for 466 yards and two touchdowns in Patriots’ 34-28 OT win over Falcons
LII
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
28-of-43, 373 yards, 3 TDs plus a TD reception in Philly’s 41-33 win over the Pats

Yardage & Others

A big game is predicted for Julian Edelman no matter what happens and the legendary wide receiver can beat his line of 82.5 yards. A key target man for Brady, when the chips were down he made four catches and 74 yards in the combined fourth quarter and overtime, and in the post season he had 16 receipts for a total of 247 yards. In his last 11 appearances he’s had at least 69 yards on the clock and the 5/6 that he can make 83 at least seems a reasonable bet if this game is as open as previous Super Bowls.

If reaching that mark, he is likely to take the beating for the most receiving yards as well. The points line has been set exceptionally high but with good reasons to do so. There were eight touchdowns in last season’s Super Bowl, five in New England’s previous Super Bowl before overtime, and then seven in Super Bowl XILX, so the 5/6 on over 6.5 touchdowns is understandable.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Los Angeles Rams +2.5 5 pts at 10/11 with starsports.bet
BACK Los Angeles Rams to win by 1-7 points 2 pts at 7/2 with starsports.bet
BACK Game To Go To Overtime 1 pt at 10/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Julian Edelman Over 82.5 receiving yards 6 pts at 5/6 with starsports.bet
BACK Julian Edelman Most Receiving Yards 2 pts at 6/4 with starsports.bet
BACK Julian Edelman MVP 1 pt at 40/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Aaron Donald MVP 1 pt at 18/1 with starsports.bet
BACK Sony Michel 1st Touchdown Scorer 2 pts at 13/2 with starsports.bet
BACK Sony Michel 1st Touchdown Scorer 1 pt at 7/1 with starsports.bet
BACK James White Anytime Touchdown Scorer 3 pts at 6/4 with starsports.bet
BACK CJ Anderson Anytime Touchdown Scorer 3 pts at 5/6 with starsports.bet


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