The NFL Season concludes Sunday with Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Rams. For this game and every postseason contest, we’ll break down the sports betting lines and recommend where to place your bets at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Please note any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
Super Bowl Football Betting Odds
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Rams
Super Bowl Football Breakdown
The Patriots enter their ninth Super Bowl in 17 years with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady leading the way. This time, they face a young rival coach-QB tandem in Sean McVay and Jared Goff.
This is a case of experience versus youth in the most extreme sense. Since the Pats are far more seasoned and silenced the doubters with a road win in Kansas City to make the Super Bowl, the line quickly moved from Rams (-1) to Patriots (-2.5) on most sportsbooks.
On that note, Action Network reports that when the line moves toward one team, that team is 8-5 against the spread (ATS) over the last 15 Super Bowls and 70-52-4 ATS in playoff games since 2003.
The Rams were underdogs in New Orleans two weeks ago and advanced thanks in part to a critically missed pass interference call. Since Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006, teams are 29-50-2 (36.7%) ATS in games immediately following a win over the Saints.
The Rams finished third in yards per drive, points per drive, and drive success rate this season. They also averaged the third-most rushing YPG (139.4) and went 9-0 when they had a 100-yard rusher.
With C.J. Anderson coming on strong to form an elite tandem with Todd Gurley, the Rams have averaged 193.5 rushing YPG over their last four outings. Their offensive line was stuffed on running plays at the second-lowest frequency this season and led the NFL in blocking at the second level.
New England’s defensive line ranked 18th in power run blocking defense but stiffened in obvious rushing situations. They ultimately yielded the second-fewest rushing TDs (7) this season.
In terms of firepower, the Rams were an elite “quick strike” offense this year. They averaged just 5.71 plays per scoring drive. Jared Goff completed the second-most pass plays (40) of 20-plus yards, and the Rams’ offense ranked fifth in third-down conversion rate (45%) this season.
However, the Patriots were elite against downfield passes, ranking second in DVOA against deep throws, third against throws over the middle, and fifth against throws on the right side.
Pats CB Stephon Gilmore is a shutdown force on the right side. New England used weaker LCB Jason McCourty in tandem with twin brother and safety Devin McCourty to contain Chiefs’ speedster Tyreek Hill in the AFC Championship. We could see a similar strategy on Sunday with Gilmore locking down Josh Reynolds or Robert Woods in single coverage. Meanwhile, the McCourty twins try to bracket speedy former Patriot Brandin Cooks.
Cooks is the least reliable pass-catching option in terms of prop bets and DFS contests. There’s a chance we see Gilmore travel into the slot as he did during AFC playoff matchups against the Chargers and Chiefs. If the Patriots employ that strategy, Reynolds would reap the benefits with increased usage against mediocre CB J.C. Jackson.
While New England played man at one of the highest frequencies in the NFL this season, Belichick is always willing to switch things up based on the matchup. For example, Goff showed consistent weakness against zone coverage and threw a costly pick against the Saints when he didn’t even see LB Alex Anzalone drop into coverage.
The Patriots love to disguise their rushes with “amoeba” fronts. They also field savvy coverage LBs in Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, who could both deceive Goff into a turnover.
Preparing for the Rams is relatively easy, but executing against that offense is a different story. The Rams used “11” personnel with three WRs, a TE, and a single back on 90.1% of snaps this season. Then, Goff passes more from under center (37.3%) than any other QB. And the Rams rarely ran the ball (NFL-low 27 times) out of the shotgun.
Roberts struggled in coverage during the second half, so the Rams might adjust their personnel with more two TE sets and try to exploit him. Gerald Everett and to a lesser extent, Josh Higbee, could capitalize on increased opportunities in those sets.
Throughout the season, the M.O. of McVay’s offense has been to line up in the same formation and keep the defense guessing on the nature and direction of his play call. Cooks and Woods are often used on end-arounds in that system. Hence, the Pats will have to be disciplined in setting the edge. Discipline is, of course, a calling card of a Belichick-coached defense.
The Pats’ defensive line posted a meek 5.0% adjusted sack rate during the regular season but did a good job of pressuring Philip Rivers and Patrick Mahomes in AFC playoff games.
Part of the Rams’ offense involves designed rollouts for Goff to get outside of the pocket and look for three WRs on simple “levels” routes. Accordingly, he’s a very accurate passer on the run and great on touch throws.
Still, he lacks the experience and pocket presence of Brady and will likely struggle should his protection break down. When pressured, Goff ranked 28th in passer rating (59.8) during the regular season and that number fell to 43.2 during his playoff appearances.
While Brady came up clutch when needed in KC, the Patriots have evolved into a dominant, run-first team. Their offensive line led the NFL in adjusted sack rate (3.8%) this season. Even more relevant, Brady has yet to be sacked this postseason.
The play of C David Andrews, LG Joe Thuney, and RG Shaq Mason will be of the utmost importance against a Rams defensive line that is strongest up the middle. Aaron Donald is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL and led the league with 20.5 sacks this season. With Ndamukong Suh flanking him at DT, it is hard to double Donald inside.
Rookie Sony Michel ran for 242 yards and 5 TDs over his first two playoff appearances and draws a juicy matchup as New England’s primary rusher on early downs. Despite their strength on the interior line, the Rams ranked 21st in power run blocking, 25th in second-level tackling, and 27th in open-field tackling on the season. They yielded a league-high 5.1 YPC and the 10th-most rushing YPG (122.3).
Rob Gronkowski often stays in to block when the Patriots go run-heavy and should be more valuable setting the edge than running pass routes against the Rams. That’s because LA ranks fifth in DVOA pass defense against TEs this season.
With Gronk shifting roles and Josh Gordon released, Julian Edelman and James White have been Brady’s most trusted targets by far. Edelman has caught 16 of 23 targets for 247 yards over two playoff games. Then, White has caught 19 of 23 targets for 143 yards in those contests.
White’s matchup is difficult against a Rams team that ranked fourth in DVOA pass defense against RBs. Still, it did allow four receiving TDs to the position this season and White’s usage is very secure should the Pats fall behind.
Despite solid play from slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Rams ranked 28th in DVOA pass defense against throws over the middle. Robey-Coleman has keyed stingy interior coverage lately and the Rams’ pass defense has improved greatly since getting Aqib Talib (ankle) back late in the season.
Yet Patriots OC Josh McDaniels is as creative as anyone in terms of freeing up Edelman and he should get opportunities to eat against the Rams’ weaker corners. Marcus Peters stands out as a liability as a gambling LCB, who has frequently been beaten deep.
Now, Phillip Dorsett isn’t the most dangerous outside receiver, but he runs crisp routes. Plus, Brady’s pump fakes could get Peters to bite on a double move from Dorsett. Chris Hogan is more effective against zone coverage and could find holes down the field if the Rams play Cover-3.
The Rams did hold the Cowboys and Saints RBs to just 93 combined rushing yards in their two playoff wins. Much of that had to do with the predictability of those offenses, something the Patriots can avoid by mixing their personnel or using versatile RB Rex Burkhead as a running and receiving threat.
Thanks to savvy play-calling from Josh McDaniels and Brady’s on-field experience, the Patriots own an incredible 76% red zone TD rate over their last three games. The Rams struggled in the red zone all season, ranking 18th with a 57.5% TD conversion rate.
Super Bowl Picks
Over the last 50 Super Bowls, favorites are 28-20-2 ATS. Only six times has the favorite won and failed to cover. Notably, though, the Patriots (2003 vs. Carolina and 2004 vs. Philadelphia) did it twice.
All eight Super Bowl appearances featuring Tom Brady have come down to the final possession, and 15 percent of NFL games since 2003 have been decided by three points or fewer.
That is why the fluctuating line is so important. Many sharps have been waiting for the line to hit Patriots (-3), so they can hammer the Rams (+3). A few sportsbooks moved the line to three points, then had to quickly move it back to 2.5 after tons of money came in on the Rams.
Whether the Patriots are giving 2, 2.5, or 3 points, we like the Brady-Belichick dynasty to hold serve and secure their sixth Super Bowl title in perhaps their most comfortable win yet.
Brady is averaging 345 passing YPG in the postseason and averaged 430.5 passing YPG over his last three SB appearances. He knows how to exploit matchups. And the Rams’ secondary is thin aside from Talib and Robey-Coleman.
Then, the total has gone Under in four of last six meetings between these teams. Moreover, 11 of the 16 Pats games went Under this season. When playing away from L.A. Coliseum, the Rams hit the Over in just two of eight games this season.
Sean McVay has confused lesser coaches all season and disguised his play calls to perfection, but with an extra week to prepare, Belichick and his staff will be ready for the Rams’ tendencies. There is a chance they hold the Rams below their expected total of 27.5 points and make Goff look like a neophyte on the grandest stage.