Super Bowl week is upon us as this Sunday the New England Patriots will aim for their 6th Super Bowl title since 2002, when this impressive and dominant Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era began, as they will take on the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
New England rallied from a double digit deficit in the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars to get to their 8th Super Bowl during this Brady and Belichick reign of dominance with the Patriots pulling off yet another come from behind win as playing from behind has quickly become a situation in which the Pats have been comfortable and thrived in.
This Super Bowl matchup has a bit of a David vs. Goliath feel to it with a franchise that is used to winning Super Bowls facing a franchise that is in search of their very first Super Bowl title, and it becomes even more like that kind of game when you analyze the QB matchup with Tom Brady, who will go down in history as arguably the best QB of all-time, going up against Nick Foles, who is a backup QB turned starter for the Philadelphia Eagles following the season-ending torn ACL injury to Carson Wentz.
The Eagles have clearly relished the underdog role in these playoffs as they won outright as underdogs in both playoff games against Atlanta and Minnesota despite playing at home as the NFC’s top seed. The Philadelphia Eagles have gotten solid and mistake-free football from Foles at QB and relied on their dominant defense to take care of the rest in helping them arrive at this point.
Nick Foles was brilliant last week carving up a terrific Minnesota defense through the air for 352 passing yards and three TD’s while stepping up in the pocket instead of stepping backward and falling victim to the pass rush that so many QB’s fall into the trap of doing. Philly has surrendered a paltry 17 points in their two playoff victories combined, outgaining the Falcons and Vikings by a combined 176 yards.
They have stopped the run to the tune of 70 rushing yards allowed to the Vikings and 86 allowed to the Falcons and have gotten a consistent pass rush from their strong defensive front against both Case Keenum and Nick Foles, registering four sacks in the process in those games. The one minor concern for Philly is can their defense travel? The Eagles have allowed 23.5 points per game on the road compared to 12.4 points per game allowed at home so there is a massive spike in their numbers defensively home vs. road as they prepare to face one of their toughest tests of the season in this Patriots offense.
However, it has to be said, Jacksonville did a lot of very good things to New England’s offense in the AFC title game that threw them out of rhythm for extended stretches of that game. Philadelphia is more than capable of providing a similar disruption to the timing and rhythm in the passing game for Tom Brady and company. The Jaguars got a bit too conservative in the 4th quarter with the lead and the Patriots eventually tired out a defense that was playing their third physical playoff football game in as many weeks en route to the comeback win.
From a pointspread perspective, the underdog is 11-5 ATS in the last 16 Super Bowls and teams that have won in the conference title round as an underdog are 9-0 ATS in the Super Bowl since 2002, both of which point to Philadelphia on Sunday. However, New England is a perfect 13-0 ATS in their last 13 tries when laying 7 points or less, as they are in this game, providing a “both sides of the pointspread coin” element for bettors to consider.
Shifting to the Super Bowl props market, and as usual, there are hundreds of Super Bowl props for Las Vegas and offshore bettors to sink their teeth and their dollars into. From standard QB/RB/WR props to comparison props between different players to the entertainment/novelty props like the National Anthem length, Gatorade color, Donald Trump mentions and many more. I figured I would list a few of the props for the big game that I have already placed wagers on myself.
One of the most interesting stats relating to New England’s recent Super Bowl history has been their propensity to get off to very slow starts. New England has played in seven Super Bowls during the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era (this will be their 8th) and they have not scored a single point in the 1st Quarter in any of those Super Bowls. That is a large enough sample size to take note. That has me looking at the 1st quarter to stay Under the total, which is currently at 9.5, and also looking toward a prop involving Philadelphia to be the first team to score at +120.
In those previous seven Super Bowls involving New England, the opposing team scored first in five of those games. One of the props that looks to be very live to me at a massive plus price for Sunday’s game is “Will a Flea Flicker pass play be attempted?” It is currently sitting +290 for Yes. I think that prop is well worth a shot. We saw both Philadelphia and New England attempt flea flickers in their respective conference title games and a pair of offensive coaching staffs that are not scared of reaching into their bag of trick plays
I also like this game to go Over 4.5 total sacks, which is a widely available prop. New England and Philadelphia both registered three sacks each in their conference title games for a total of six sacks between them, and I think it is reasonable to expect these teams to combine for five or more sacks in the game. Jacksonville collapsed the pocket successfully on more than one occasion against Tom Brady in the AFC title game while Philadelphia was able to do the same against Case Keenum on the NFC side of the equation.
Tom Brady and Nick Foles are both far from being the most mobile QB’s in the NFL so I think the pass rush will become a factor on both sides in this game. The 2nd Half & OT to be higher scoring than the 1st Half is currently at -120. It is a prop I bet often in the Super Bowl and am once again doing so here. In the seven previous New England Super Bowl appearances under Brady and Belichick, the 2nd Half has been higher scoring than the 1st Half at a 5-1-1 clip with five higher scoring 2nd Halfs, only one higher scoring 1st Half and one push.
Those are some of the props I’ve already wagered on that are just some of the plethora of betting options available in the propositions market for Super Bowl 52.
To all regular readers of all the columns at GamingToday, including my own weekly Inside The Lines article, enjoy the Big Game and may the winners be yours!