What a season it’s been at Wannamakeabet.com. My predictions for Championship Weekend split out at 1-1. Despite what happened with “The Call” in the Saints/Rams game, the Rams were likely going to cover the 3.5 points. As for the Chiefs/Pats game, I was perhaps a coin toss away from being on the right side of that game as well. But that’s gambling. And I’m headed into this Super Bowl with an 11-5 post season record this year. Not too shabby. So without further adieu, let’s get to our Super Bowl LII preview and prediction for Super Bowl Sunday.
Pats Win Super Bowls
If we’re being honest, the Pats have that “it” factor when it comes to Super Bowls. If it weren’t for an ill fated decision to throw by Seattle and an Atlanta collapse with a 28-3 lead, the Patriots would be 0-5 in their last five Super Bowl appearances. Instead, they are 2-3 dating back to 2008. And the Patriots are by no means a dominant team any more in my humble opinion. They are an incredibly savvy group of aging veterans who know how to find a way to win. And so because of that experience, I give them an edge in this contest. To me it’s also the driving factor in why the line came out at Rams -1 and now sits at Pats -2.5. The general public must agree with this sentiment. Track the line movement here.
The Deciding Factor: Defense
I’m convinced the Rams are going to score in this game. So I won’t spend time defending that position. They have talent and speed at all the skill positions, they have a big arm (despite the inexperience) with Goff, and most importantly they have an excellent offensive line and two high quality running backs in Gurley and Anderson.
But when handicapping this game, I have been asking myself one critical question. Can the Rams defense get to Brady and slow down this offense?
The data. Tom Brady was only sacked once by the Eagles and threw for 505 yards in the loss last season. Did the Eagles have a better front four than this Rams team? No. But Brady proved last week that he doesn’t need a lead to feel comfortable. He gets ride of the ball faster than any QB in history.
Against the Falcons, he threw for 466 yards, so he’s thrown for 971 yards in his last two appearances in the Super Bowl. He’s completed 71 of 110 passes and thrown just one interception and comes into this one the all-time leader in completions (235), attempts (357), yards (2,576) and passing touchdowns (18).
Brady averaged 2.59 seconds to throw this season, third-quickest in the NFL. The quick-trigger meant he was pressured on just 17.9 percent of dropbacks, fewest in the NFL — New England allowed 8.6 percent pressure rate to interior pass rushers this season (fourth-lowest in NFL). TB12 has taken the quick-pass to another level in the playoffs. He averaged 2.33 seconds to throw versus the Chargers and 2.51 seconds against K.C.
But does Brady have the weapons that he had in years past? I don’t believe he does. And perhaps his stats are already padded by checkdowns and running back screens. But you can’t argue that he does whatever it takes. But I’m giving the advantage to the Rams defense in this one. The front four led by Suh and Donald and the secondary lead by Talib and Peters. I think they have to play tight man coverage and bring their ferocious pass rush right up the middle and it will be enough to win this game and if not, cover the 2.5 point spread. I know this is easier said than done. And I’m sure many teams have had the same game plan and not executed. But the Rams have the talent to do so, they just have to execute. I’m also holding out hope that the line will move to 3 by some point on Sunday.
The Pick: Rams +2.5 or hopefully +3
How about the Total? In-game circumstances dictate most totals.. I see this similar to years past when the Pats have been in the big game. A slow start and very strong finish. Want some good data for prop bets, check out this stat on the Patriots 1st quarter scoring under Brady:
SB 36 – Rams: 0
SB 38 – Panthers: 0
SB 39 – Eagles: 0
SB 42 – Giants: 0
SB 46 – Giants: 0
SB 49 – Seahawks: 0
SB 51 – Falcons: 0
SB 52 – Eagles: 3
Conditions for scoring will be perfect. (read: Indoor and Turf.) so in the big picture the ‘over’ has to be tempting. Even at a robust 56.5, both offenses can easily surpass that figure if conditions command a second-half shootout.
The Total Pick: Over 56.5
This concludes my Super Bowl LIII Preview and Prediction. Once again, thanks for an incredible season here at Wannamakeabet.com and for following me this football season. And best of luck with all your wagers on the big game and your efforts to win your league at the site. I’m already looking forward to the 2019 season.
Jack Kincaid is a senior NFL Analyst for Wannamakeabet.com