Super Bowl LIII – Out with the old?
A couple of different calls during the AFC & NFC Championships games could have given us a completely different Super Bowl match-up, as both the Patriots and the Rams had to battle through overtime to get to this point. This sets up no clear favourite to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, although the Patriots have the clear advantage of experience. Will it be enough to dispatch the Rams and their wunderkind coach, Sean McVay?
Rams head coach Sean McVay wasn’t born yet when Bill Belichick was Sean’s current age. McVay will become the youngest head coach to ever lead a squad in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
When LA QB Jared Goff was born, Tom Brady was one year away from starting his college career in Michigan. These 4 individuals are the main stockholders for their team’s respective performances on Sunday, and they couldn’t be more different.
That being said, when it comes to offense, both teams are among the NFL’s best. The Rams are 2nd in points scored and yards per play and 3rd in net yards per pass. The Patriots are slightly behind at 4th, 8th and 6th.
On the defensive side, the Rams did not perform great throughout the season, ranking just 20th in points allowed, 28th in yards per play and 23rd in yards per pass. The Patriots were slightly better off, but not by far with better rankings at 7th, 20th and 5th.
This sets up a potentially high-scoring affair, with our over-under placed at 56.5, one of the highest ever in Super Bowl history.
The Pats have been to the Super Bowl 8 times since their first championship in 2001 (also against the Rams), each of those appearances was under the auspices of the Belichick-Brady duo, whose collective experience have made it possible for the Patriots to perfect situational football. This ability demonstrated itself in the overtime heroics of Tom Brady and Burkhead’s game-clinching touchdown.
This isn’t to say, however, that this ability is what they rely on to win games. They exploited the Chief’s lackadaisical line with run after run, forcing the defense to blitz one too many times. This allowed Brady to pick the Chiefs apart with precision in the pocket down the stretch. Belichick and company still needed an extra 10 minutes to dispatch the Chiefs, and a mental lapse and offside called on Dee Ford nullified a game-ending Brady interception.
The Rams have been favoured all season, but the Pats have momentum and narrative on their side, and history has taught us not to doubt them, thanks to their knack of pulling out victories from the jaws of defeat. Because of this, they enter their third straight Super Bowl battle as slight favourites.
End of the LA drought?
A team representing Los Angeles hasn’t been in the Super Bowl since 1984, and there hasn’t been an LA-based Super Bowl champion since the then LA Raiders beat the Redskins a year earlier against the Browns.
The Rams have had a relatively good year, emerging as favourites early on with an explosive offense and an 8 game winning streak, fueling their best start since 1969. Their 13 regular season victories was tied for the 2nd most in franchise history and the best regular season performance for any LA-based pro football team.
This relatively inexperienced team came back from a 13-0 deficit against the Saints in the NFC Championship game, proving they can handle themselves under pressure, with a little assist from Lady Luck (and an egregiously missed pass interference call from the referees). When it comes to the Super Bowl however, especially against the Patriots, all previous performances become mostly irrelevant, and their discipline and calm under pressure is what will determine their performance.
Final Thoughts & Boosted Odds
There’s no substitute for experience, and with two high-power offenses, it will definitely be an entertaining run-and-gun game. We believe that it will eventually come down to a few critical plays down the stretch which will require ice-water-in-veins clutchness. Compared to the Patriots, the Rams are relatively unproven in this regard and we think they will become yet another notch in the belt of the Belichick-Brady duo.
We have a couple of Mr Green Specials lined up for the eagle-eyed among you. If you think Brady will keep his cool and lead the Pats to victory, you can avail yourself of 5/4 odds for him to lift the MVP trophy on Sunday night. On the other hand, if you think that Todd Gurley will have a resurgent performance, take a look at our 2/1 odds for Gurley to have the Most Rush Yards, including overtime.