A deep dive inside some of the critical numbers indicates how fans should handle New England as a 2.5-point favorite going into the Super Bowl.
One of the important things about wise sports gamble is to avoid bets where there is no clear advantage. So far in the playoffs, I have gone 3-2 on the strength of picking game where I thought there was a numerical edge. When there hasn’t been one, I have avoided it, such as both the NFC and AFC Championship Games two weeks ago.
This game opened with Rams a -1.5 favorite. To get a line simply take the yards per play differential between the two teams (in this case, Rams +0.4, Pats +0.1) . That’s a +0.3 yards per play differential for the Rams. That number is then divide by 0.15 and you get the Rams as a two-point favorite. That means the opening line of Rams -1.5 was fair. But The Patriots outplay their stats by almost 3 points a game under Belichick through the years , hence you now have a market that moved the line to Patriots -2.5.
This is also fair. But here’s the deeper analysis.
At some point toward the final month of the season , New England coach Bill Belichick must have scouted his probable AFC playoff opponents and self-scouted his own team without Josh Gordon. He must have then realized that if they were going to make it back to a third straight Super Bowl the path would be on the ground. New England sprung a running game on Buffalo in Week 17. They kept on running through the Chargers weak interior line and the Chiefs perennially bad run defense. Goal set, goal accomplished.
The Rams haven’t been quite as explosive as they were earlier in the season when quarterback Jared Goff was averaging 10 yards per attempt. His production slipped when he lost wide receiver Cooper Kupp. But Goff has still been very efficient, averaging nearly 8.0 net yards per attempt against a schedule of defenses that would only allow 6.9 on average. He is now an elite passer.
The Rams also sport a terrific running game averging nearly 5.0 yards per carry versus defenses that allow 4.4. At an average of 1.1 yards per pass above par and 0.6 yards per rush above par, the Rams are very difficult to deal with.
The Rams are a deep strike offensive team but the Patriots defense consistently do a good of taking away big pass plays. Therefore the Rams are going to have to establish their running attack throughout this game to hopefully get a few big shots down the field..
Meanwhile the Patriots are looking at a soft Rams run defense that will fit nicely for what they have been doing well this past month which is running the ball. Tom Brady doesn’t like pressure up the middle but he will see some this game from Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. So the running game will be left to neutralize that pressure a bit..
Both run defenses in this game allow 4.8 yards per carry versus offenses that gain just 4.4 on average. There is going to be a lot of running in this. With that , we should see a game clock moving fast..
This is a long way of saying that I see the outcome between the two teams as a toss up and I pick no side.
But I believe their is some value on the under..
Pick: Under 56.5.