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  #76  
Old 01-31-2019, 01:40 PM
sailfish sailfish is offline
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RAMS CB TAKES JAB AT BRADY

"Age has definitely taken a toll. For him to still be doing it, that's a great compliment for him. But I think that he's definitely not the same quarterback he was," Robey-Coleman told Bleacher Report. "Movement. Speed. Velocity. Arm strength. He still can sling it, but he's not slinging it as much. Whatever he was doing — because of his age and all that — he's not doing as much of that anymore. He's still doing the same things; he's just not doing as much of it. And sometimes, it's not the sharpest. But it still gets done."

Robey-Coleman knows Brady well as he played the first four years of his career in Buffalo from 2013-16. But his comments are far from accurate as a quick look at Brady’s career stats doesn’t show much of a drop-off. In fact, his completion percentage and passer rating from the 2018 regular season were above his career averages. He’s also on fire in the playoffs with a 71.1 completion rate for 691 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

If anything, Robey-Coleman’s comments are just going to fire up Brady, who has already taken on the “us against the world” mentality this season. Brady’s passing yards total for Sunday is currently set anywhere between 282.5 and 292.5, depending on which sportsbook you use. So far in the playoffs, he has thrown for 343 yards on 44 attempts against the Chargers and 348 on 46 attempts against the Chiefs.

Sure, the Pats might try to run the ball heavily against the Rams, but they also did that in their last two games, with 34 rushing attempts against the Chargers and 48 against the Chiefs. New England is just running a ton of plays on offense right now and that should continue Sunday. Take the Over for Brady’s passing total, especially if you can get it at 282.5.


PATS’ O-LINE DOMINATING

There was something else that Robey-Coleman said that caught our attention, as the Rams’ cornerback told Bleacher Report that he expects the Rams to be able to get to Brady “all over the place”. We’re taking this comment to mean that the Rams, or at least Robey-Coleman, think they can break through New England’s offensive line and put pressure on, and ultimately sack, Tom Brady.

The Rams have every right to feel confident in their defensive line that is led by game-changer Aaron Donald and his league-high 20.5 sacks. But the playoffs have been a different story as the Rams have just three sacks in two games, likely because their opponents have put a huge focus on ensuring Donald, Ndamukong Suh and co. don’t get to their quarterbacks.

Two more things to consider. First, remember the fact that Bill Belichick doesn’t let the opponent’s star players beat him. He’ll have a game plan in place to limit Donald. Second, the Pats’ O-line is simply on fire, as Brady is the only quarterback to not have been sacked in the postseason. Last week, we suggested taking the Under 3.5 on Donald’s total tackles and assists total and we’re going to double down on New England’s offensive line by taking the Under 1.5 for the numbers of sacks by the Rams (+119).


RETIREMENT TALK

There has been a lot of media play surrounding the possible retirement of three pillars of the New England dynasty: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Bill Belichick. In fact, some sportsbooks are even offering prop bets as to whether one (or more) will announce his retirement post-Super Bowl. But before you get tempted with the nice possible payout should one of them call it quits during the post-game news conference, let us warn you.

First, the announcement has to come during the broadcast for the bet to cash. It’s very unlikely for one of these three to make the announcement in the minutes that follow the game. Second, let’s look at some of the quotes from these three relating to retirement.

Brady is adamant that he’ll be playing next season:

“There’s zero [chance I retire after the Super Bowl],” Brady told reporters on Sunday. “I have said that for a long time. I feel like I am asked that a lot and I feel like I repeat the same answer, but no one wants to believe me.”

If you’re wondering, he has been saying the same thing all season, giving similar quips on Dec. 26th and then again Dec. 31st.

Gronkowski wasn’t quite as convincing but he’s still not retiring during the post-game show:

“As of right now, that’s one of the last things I’m thinking about,” Gronkowski told the media on Monday. “I love playing the game. … A few weeks down the road, you relax, you get some downtime, enjoyment time and you just see where you want to go with it.”

Gronkowski was also asked if he wants to play next season.

“That’s a tricky question,” he continued. “He’s just trying to get some answers over here, baby, but like I said, I don’t know, I haven’t done that sit-down yet. I gotta do that sit-down. About two weeks after.”

If you have to bet on one of the three, Belichick might be your best bet, but it still doesn’t sound likely. Remember that Belichick is letting Brian Flores go to Miami and word is that he’s replacing him with Greg Schiano. If Belichick was going to retire, it’s doubtful the Pats would let Flores walk.

Belichick didn’t address the issue at Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, but he did say this on Jan. 18.

“We have a good setup here,” Belichick said. “[Robert Kraft has] been very supportive. He gives us great opportunity to go out and compete every week. We’ve done that. Hope we can continue that for a long time.”

The Yes for Brady to retire is paying out at +500, while Gronkowski is at +395 and Belichick +1600. The fact that they aren’t even offering a No bet should tell you all you need to know, and the above information just reaffirms: Save your coin and don’t bet on either of these three retiring after the game.
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  #77  
Old 02-01-2019, 09:38 AM
sailfish sailfish is offline
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By: Brandon DuBreuil



GRONK’S LAST HURRAH?

Rob Gronkowski shed some light on his future as a football player as he spoke very candidly yesterday about the “grind” that is an NFL season.

"Just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It's tough, it's difficult. ... Abusing your body isn't what your brain wants," Gronkowski told the Super Bowl media on Wednesday. "I just took 50 collisions, and then like the next day everyone wants you to be up. They want practice full speed, next week they want the game to be full speed, but they don't understand sometimes what players are going through with their bodies, with their minds."

Super Bowl LIII could very well end up being Gronk’s last game — but don’t go out and bet the Yes on him announcing his retirement. That prop bet only counts if he announces it during the post-game show, something we’re convinced won’t happen.

If it does end up being Gronk’s last game, we do think he’ll go out with a bit of a bang. New England’s tight end is coming off his third-most productive game of the season when he snagged six catches for 79 yards against the Chiefs last week (his top two would be his 8-107-1 line in Week 14 and his 7-123-1 line in Week 1). Just as importantly, he received a season-high 11 targets in the AFC Championship. To put that into perspective, he had just 11 total targets over the previous four games combined.

Gronkowski also has a nice matchup on paper against the Rams. Opponents targeted their tight ends a league-high 25.2 percent of the time against L.A. during the regular season, which resulted in the Rams allowing 8.1 passes and 67 receiving yards per game to the position.

The Rams haven’t played a receiving threat at tight end yet in the playoffs as the Saints and Cowboys just don’t throw to that position. But looking back into the regular season we see some big numbers from pass-catching tight ends, highlighted by George Kittle’s 9-149-1 line in Week 17 and Travis Kelce’s 10-127-1 line in Week 12.

Another factor to consider is that Gronk is looking happy and, most importantly, healthy for Super Bowl week. He has given some amazing quotes, mostly about partying and the number 69, and then stole the show on Monday night with his dancing. This might not seem like much but it’s meaningful coming from someone who told reporters last offseason that he “didn’t enjoy himself” in 2017-18.

Gronk clearly is not the uncoverable, Hall of Fame tight end that he once was during the peak of his career. But can he still get it done? Absolutely — he proved it last week. We’re thinking he puts together one more clutch performance in a plus matchup in what could be his NFL finale and we’re taking the Over 3.5 on his receptions total.


MCVAY TALKS GURLEY

One of the biggest storylines of Super Bowl week continues to be about Todd Gurley. The Rams’ star running back was on an MVP pace earlier in the season but then got hit with a knee injury that cost him the last two games of the season. He returned in the divisional round for 18 touches (but was still out-touched by C.J. Anderson, who had 23 touches) but then received just five touches to Anderson’s 17 in the NFC Championship Game. Gurley was seen stretching and riding a bike on the sideline against the Saints and looked ready to jump into the game at any time, but it just didn’t happen.

Following the win over the Saints, Gurley blamed himself for two drops and a negative run that led to his benching and Rams coach Sean McVay said he has “to do a much better job for Todd to get him opportunities to get him going.” McVay revisited the subject on Tuesday and had a simple response when asked about Gurley: “He’s gonna be a big part of this game.”

Now the question is simple: Is McVay telling the truth or is he simply forcing the Patriots to do more preparation? We’re going to go with the former as we believe Gurley will be a big part of the game plan on Sunday. Why? A few reasons:

Gurley has shown no signs of still being injured during the playoffs.
Gurley will arguably be the most talented offensive player on either roster on Sunday.
Should the Rams lose with Gurley in a backup role, does McVay really want to face an offseason of “what if” questions.
The Patriots are vulnerable to pass-catching running backs.


This last point is the key one to expand upon. During the regular season, New England allowed 5.5 receptions (13th-most in the league) and 48.5 receiving yards (ninth-most in the league) to opposing backfields. In the playoffs, it has been more of the same, with Chargers’ RBs hauling in seven passes for 52 yards and Chiefs’ RBs catching seven balls for 87 yards.

Running the ball has not been the way to attack the Patriots so far this postseason as their defense held the Chargers to 19 rushing yards and the Chiefs to 41 rushing yards. Game script definitely played a huge part in this as the Pats jumped out to big leads in both games, so keep that in mind if you envision New England scoring early on Sunday.

Teams have been very successful in attacking New England with pass-catching backs and we’re certain McVay knows that. Gurley should have a big role in Super Bowl LIII and we’re taking the Over 3.5 for his receptions total which is currently available at a nice +125.
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  #78  
Old 02-03-2019, 11:43 AM
sailfish sailfish is offline
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Super Bowl LIII NFL odds: Three reasons to bet big on the Patriots
Andrew Caley

Who will cover the spread in Super Bowl LIII? That’s a billion-dollar question many have been trying to answer in the two-week ramp up to Sunday’s Big Game in Atlanta.

Oddsmakers opened the Los Angeles Rams as 1-point favorite on January 20 and instant action poured in on the New England Patriots, marching the Super Bowl spread to as high as New England -3. However, as we get closer to kickoff, money is buying back L.A., and this has slimmed the pointspread to -2 at some books.

If you’re still on the fence about which team to bet on – the Rams or Patriots – let our crew help you decide who is worthy of your Super Bowl wager. Andrew Caley is jumping at the chance to bet the Patriots as small favorites and share his three reasons why you should bet on New England as well.

Reason No. 1: Brady and Belichick

Wanna hear a ridiculous (albeit pointless) stat? Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are more likely to play in a Super Bowl than Steph Curry is to hit a shot in a basketball game. Stupid stat, but crazy right? As of Sunday night, Brady and Belichick will appear in their ninth Super Bowl in the last 18 seasons as the starting quarterback and head coach of the Patriots. While Curry hits just 49.7 percent of his stats. What a bum right?

Jokes aside, this is the greatest head coach-quarterback combo in history. And although Steve Paul dug up some very interesting stats regarding the value of experience in the Super Bowl, (something my counterpart in this exercise and fearless leader Jason Logan will scream from the rooftops until he is blue in the face), experience will matter in this matchup.

First of all, those stats don’t really apply to the Pats. They’ve beaten both experienced and inexperienced teams in the Super Bowl (Seattle and Atlanta) and they’ve lost Super Bowl’s to both experienced and inexperienced teams (New York and Philadelphia). So, throw those numbers out the window.

The Pats experience will show at the two most important positions. Brady clearly has the ability to take his game to another level in the postseason. This year his completion percentage and yards per game are way up from his regular season numbers. Oh, and in the last two Super Bowls he has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards.

Belichick meanwhile, is the master of taking away an opponent’s best weapons, but his experience will show more importantly in the little things: timeout/challenge management and fourth down decision making. Which could be the difference in what is expected to be a close game.

These two have been in every Big Game situation imaginable. And yeah, sometimes they lose, but mostly, they don’t.


Reason No. 2: The Right Tools for the Job

With the likes of Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald among others it can be argued the Rams have more top end talent than the Patriots, but I would contend that New England’s skill position players actually match up better compared to Los Angeles.

That all starts with the greatly improved play of the Patriots’ offensive line. Brady has barely been touched this postseason and that’s against two defensive fronts in the Chargers and Chiefs that can get after the quarterback. He’s the only quarterback to have not been sacked yet this postseason. In fact, in 46 pass attempts last week against the Chiefs, Brady was only pressured five times. Two weeks ago, he was only hit twice on 44 dropbacks.

They’ve also opened up huge holes in the run game for running back Sony Michel. The rookie has racked up 242 yards on at a clip of 4.6 yards per carry and five touchdowns in two postseason games. And now he gets to face a Rams defense that ranked 27th in yards per rushing attempt at 4.8.

Oh, Donald and Ndamukong Suh will shut Michel down you say? Well I’d like to introduce you to James White. He’s the perfect counter to the Rams aggressive front line. He gave the Chargers fits grabbing 15 receptions for 97 yards and probably should have been the MVP of Super Bowl LI, if you forgot.

Those guys will open up things downfield for Brady’s favorite targets. The Pats will move Julian Edelman all over the field to get the best matchups and take advantage of a mediocre at best Rams pass defense. Los Angeles that ranked in the bottom half in the league in opponent’s completion percentage, yards per pass and yards per game, and really struggled against play action.

And then there’s Gronk. With rumors swirling about this being his last game, you just feel like he’s going to go out with a bang and the Rams have no one who can stop him. In fact, L.A. gave up the second most yards to tight ends in the NFL this season. I feel a Gronk-spike coming.


Reason No. 3: Schooling the New Kids on the Block

It seems almost every team in the NFL is looking for the next Sean McVay (just look at some of the head coaching hire this offseason). And why not? He’s the youngest person to coach in the Super Bowl and a brilliant play-caller.

But that Belichick and offensive coordinators are going to try and remind the Rams that they are the OG’s when it comes to game planning.

As we mentioned before, Belichick is a master at taking away your greatest strength. Just look what he did to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the AFC Championship, or Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon the week before. On offense for the Rams that’s the run game. Belichick will do whatever he can to force the ball into Jared Goff’s hands, which plays right into one of the Patriots’ strengths.

Goff ranked 20th in completion percentage this season and now must go up against a New England secondary that ranked second in opponent’s completion percentage holding opposing quarterbacks under 60 percent on the season. They also rank sixth in yards per attempt allowed and ninth in interception percentage.

On offense, McDaniels will try to remind people he was the original McVay. Expect him to use the run game (Michel) and quick pass game out of the backfield (White) to tire out the Rams defensive front early. Then beat them over the top with some play action. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a little tricky and gives Edelman at least has a shot at a touchdown pass.

In the end, the Brady and the Patriots will be too much to handle and their dynasty will come full circle with another Super Bowl victory and cover against the Rams.
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  #79  
Old 02-03-2019, 11:44 AM
sailfish sailfish is offline
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Super Bowl LIII NFL odds: Three reasons to bet big on the Rams
Jason Logan

Who will cover the spread in Super Bowl LIII? That’s a billion-dollar question many have been trying to answer in the two-week ramp up to Sunday’s Big Game in Atlanta.

Oddsmakers opened the Los Angeles Rams as 1-point favorites on January 20 and instant action poured in on the New England Patriots, marching the Super Bowl spread to as high as New England -3. However, as we get closer to kickoff, money is buying back L.A., and this has slimmed the pointspread to -2 at some books.

If you’re still on the fence about which team to bet on – the Rams or Patriots – let our Covers crew help you decide who is worthy of your Super Bowl wager. Jason Logan is all over the Rams and shares his three reasons why you should bet on L.A. as well.

REASON NO. 1: ODDSMAKERS WERE RIGHT

Despite being as large as field-goal underdogs at some sportsbooks, the Rams were for one fleeting moment Super Bowl LIII favorites. Yep, some sportsbooks online and in Vegas opened Big Game betting with the Patriots getting the points. And those bookies were right.

Due to some misconceptions about the worth of experience in the Super Bowl – kudos to Steve Paul for blowing those out of the water – and that crafty recency bias, early money pounded the Pats and blindly bet the inferior team.

Let’s go back to Championship Sunday and recall what bettors saw last, which was the Rams getting into the Super Bowl with a win (as underdogs) over the top-seeded and Super Bowl frontrunner Saints in New Orleans. Impressive, right?

But, the media has made a lot of this outcry over the missed pass interference call and has been really quiet about New Orleans coming up short in overtime. That’s really clouded some of the public perception on the Rams, with many thinking they don’t belong in Atlanta.

Following that game, viewers watch the Patriots pull out a win in OT over the Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC title game (despite blowing a 14-0 halftime lead), causing the markets to react to what they most recently witnessed. Throw on top of that the Patriots’ history (which honestly isn't that great: lost last year, were down 28-3 and came back due to terrible playcalling from Atlanta in Super Bowl LI, and were a Mashawn Lynch goal-line carry away from a loss in Super Bowl XLIX) and the bad taste of losing 2018's Super Bowl, and you can see why folks would be drawn to New England – especially as an early pup.

I asked one co-worker who he liked to cover the spread in Super Bowl LIII, and he said he was betting on the Patriots and their five Super Bowls and Tom Brady’s four Big Game MVPs. To which I replied, “Those are the same stats from last year.”


REASON NO. 2: PUTRID PATS DEFENSE

A quick glance at New England’s second half of the NFL schedule, and you’d think the defense really stepped it up in time for the playoffs. Over the final seven games of regular slate, the Patriots allowed an average of just 14.8 points per game but also took on some of the worst offenses in the NFL. We’re talking scoring attacks ranked 30th, 23rd, 20th and 19th.

So far in the postseason, New England has allowed 59 total points. If any other team allowed that many postseason points, they would be at home watching the Super Bowl instead of playing in it. And the crazy thing is, the Patriots have allowed that many points despite jumping out to big leads in those games and running out the clock with a rush-heavy attack while being able to easily game plan against offenses that had no choice but to throw the football to catch up. It just doesn’t add up.

New England has owned time of possession for a total of just over 82 minutes in the playoffs, leaving opponents only 43 minutes with the football. If you run that through their points yielded, that’s 1.37 points per minute against with the stop unit on the field. To put that into perspective, the Raiders were the worst scoring defense in the NFL and still only allowed 0.98 points per minute on defense. The Chargers picked up 0.44 points per play (outscored New England 21-6 in second half) and Kansas City averaged 0.66 points per play (outscored New England 31-17 in the final two quarters).

Now the Patriots face a dynamic L.A. offensive that hung 30 points on a vaunted Dallas defense, which allowed only 21.6 points against over its last nine games, and 26 points (on the road) versus a Saints stop unit that limited its final nine opponents to an average of 16.5 points.


REASON NO. 3: BUILT RAM TOUGH

Los Angeles sowed the seeds for this Super Bowl run last March by adding defensive veterans Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh to an already impressive stop unit that featured perhaps the best PLAYER in the entire NFL, Aaron Donald.

That investment has paid off in the postseason. While the old adage that “defense wins championships” is pretty much dead (especially after the last two Super Bowls), it certainly helps to not allow more points to your opponent (hot take alert!). The Rams are playing at a championship level in the playoffs, allowing just 45 total points after stuffing the NFL’s rushing leader and a burgeoning Dallas offense then cracking down the Saints’ high-powered attack in the Superdome.

Los Angeles did have trouble containing the run earlier in the season but has allowed just 2.27 yards per carry in the playoffs. Some will point to the Patriots’ success running the football, but let’s not forget New England took on two soft defenses and had the luxury of running a lot since they held significant leads in both of those playoff games.

The Rams will stuff the run and force the Patriots to put this all on Brady, which sounds like something New England would love. Brady will get his – there’s no stopping this guy – but this defensive line is built to beat up on Brady. Not only do they get unrivaled pressure by only rushing four but it’s interior pressure, and that’s been Brady’s Kryptonite in past losses.

That allows the linebackers to drop into coverage, plug up the passing lanes underneath, and complement key pass defenders in the L.A. secondary: Talib and slot-defender extraordinaire Nickell Robey-Coleman. Talib has been the catalyst for the secondary when healthy – and he is – and Robey-Coleman has the skills (and the trash talk) to make things tough on Julian Edelman, who has been at the core of many of these classic Patriots drives.
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:44 AM
sailfish sailfish is offline
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By: Brandon DuBreuil



EDELMAN’S SLOT BATTLE

We’ve been hesitating to dig into Julian Edelman’s prop bets for Super Bowl LIII because it’s a tough situation to read. On one side of the line, we have Edelman — he’s Tom Brady’s favorite target and is playing very well in the playoffs with a 7-96 line last week and a 9-151 line two weeks ago. But on the other side of the line, we have Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Rams’ slot corner who is also playing very good football in 2018-19.

Robey-Coleman has gone from an unknown to a household name over the past two weeks, first by being the defender behind the non-pass interference call at the end of the NFC Championship Game and then by giving a candid Bleacher Report where he took a shot at Tom Brady. But the fact is that Robey-Coleman is very good.

Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed just 0.65 yards per slot-coverage snap this season, which was the best among qualified corners. Last week, the Saints gave Michael Thomas 18 routes in the slot to get him away from Aqib Talib and Robey-Coleman helped limit Thomas to his second-fewest receiving yards of the season (36).

However, Brady and Josh McDaniels know this. They’re not just going to let Edelman run straight slot routes against Robey-Coleman all evening. They’ll move him around pre-snap, run pick plays, and force the ball to him. This is the key that we’re focusing on.

Brady just doesn’t have another receiver to throw to. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett will spend most of their time lined up on the outside against Talib and Marcus Peters, and the Rams’ duo is going to win those battles. Brady will be forcing the ball to Edelman a ton and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get double-digit targets, just as he has in each of his last 11 playoff games. Rob Gronkowski should get his fair share of targets as well, but Edelman will still get the ball thrown his way a lot.

So it’s likely going to come down to this: Does Edelman win the slot battle or does Robey-Coleman? We’re going to put our chips in Edelman’s corner. He’s a possible future Hall of Famer who’s still playing at the highest level of his career, plus he’s got a pissed-off Brady throwing to him. We’re backing the Over 6.5 for his receptions total and the Over 79.5 for his receiving yards total.


MICHEL TO GET HIS TOUCHES

No need for a long analysis here: Sony Michel is going to be a huge part of Super Bowl LIII. He has been a huge part of the Patriots’ playoff success so far with rushing lines of 24-129-3 against the Chargers and 29-113-2 against the Chiefs. Sure, he wasn’t on the field late in the game against the Chiefs but that was for two reasons.

First, he was tired. He had already rushed 29 times as the Patriots were en route to their most offensive snaps in a game since 2001. The 29 carries were the most in his career. Second, at that moment the Patriots needed someone on the field who is effective running the ball up the middle and catching it out of the backfield, and that was Burkhead.

The Rams were a defense that was easy to run on during the regular season with a rank of 28 in rushing DVOA, allowing 102.2 yards per game. The Rams have been better against the rush in the postseason, limiting Ezekiel Elliott to 20-47-1 and the Mark Ingram-Alvin Kamara duo to 17-46-0.

Another factor that we’ve touched on a few times over the last two weeks is that the Patriots’ offensive line is on fire. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have shown in the playoffs that they want to run the ball early in the game with Michel. They’ve had success doing it so far and they’re going to do it again on Sunday. Take the Over 17.5 on Michel’s rushing attempts total (and the Over 0.5 for his rushing touchdowns total, which we suggested last week).


A PATTERSON PROP?

We’re digging deep here but here’s a prop on someone that no one is talking about that we feel could hit. In a lot of Super Bowls, it seems that there’s one player that no one is talking about who emerges as some kind of X-factor. Last year, it was Corey Clement as the Eagles’ running back had four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. The year before, you could argue it was James White and his 14 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.

This year might it be Cordarrelle Patterson? The Patriots’ jack-of-all-trades guy has done a little bit of everything so far this season, acting as a receiver, kick returner, and running back, but we can see a situation where he plays a role as a pass catcher on Sunday.

Patterson, of course, hasn’t been involved much as a receiver on offense this season. But because of that, his receptions total for Sunday is set at just 1.5. Looking back on his game log for this season, Patterson has played in 17 games this season and has at least two catches in seven of those games. He can also slide into the backfield comfortably, as he did many times during the regular season while filling in for injured running backs. If that happens it should actually increase his chances of getting a couple catches as the Patriots are going to throw short early and often to avoid Aaron Donald.

Tread lightly as there’s always the chance that Patterson just isn’t involved in the game plan but we think McDaniels is going to call his number a couple times on Sunday. Take the Over 1.5 for his receptions total.
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:45 AM
sailfish sailfish is offline
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NFL Underdogs: Super Bowl LIII pointspread pick and plus-money prop predictions
Jason Logan

The title of the column is NFL Underdogs, so there’s no shocking twist at the end in which I actually pick the New England Patriots to cover the Super Bowl spread against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night. However, in true “M. Night Shyamalan” fashion, the Rams weren’t always Big Game pups.

When the Super Bowl LIII betting odds hit the boards in Las Vegas on January 20, it was the brash young Rams and not the five-time Super Bowl champion Patriots that opened as the chalk. Of course, L.A. -1 didn’t stick around long and, with one-sided early play on the Pats, we’re now dealing with New England as big as a field-goal fave at some books.

The Super Bowl is the most scrutinized single game in sports – even more so when it comes to sports betting. People get a little nuts when there’s money on the line. So there’s not much that I can say here that hasn’t already been said in the two weeks of build-up to the Big Game.

Keeping things short and sweet, here are some bullet-points for why I’m betting Los Angeles to cover in Super Bowl LIII:

• The Rams are the best two-way team New England has faced since a 17-10 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 15. And don’t even say, “What about the Chargers?” because their defensive stats were filled with more hot air than a seat cushion after a Super Sunday feast.

• Los Angeles can get tremendous pressure by rushing only four, which has been the key to slowing down (because you can’t stop him) Tom Brady throughout his career. Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh totaled 154 pressures on the season, and Suh has stepped it up in the postseason BIG TIME.

• A rushing defense, that was once L.A.’s biggest pain point, has been its strength in the past two postseason games. I don’t see New England having the same success on the ground as it had in its first two playoff games.

• Los Angeles is one of the best third-down offenses in the NFL, keeping the chains moving, and has also been excellent when rolling the dice on fourth down – and you need to roll the dice in the Super Bowl.

• New England’s defense isn’t great. It’s allowed 59 total points in the playoffs – which would be instant death for any other NFL team. The Patriots boosted their defensive numbers at the end of the year, playing six of their last seven versus offenses ranked 19th, 20th, 23rd (twice), 27th and 30th in scoring. Those five foes combine to average 19.88 points per game. Los Angeles finished second in scoring (32.9 ppg) and has totaled 56 postseason points.

Pick: L.A. Rams +3

First score of the game: Field goal +150

I’m a big fan of first-quarter Unders in the Super Bowl (taking the Under 10.5 points again this year), banking on nerves to get the best of the teams. You often see some overthrown passes, bobbled handoffs, and bad drops in the opening 15 minutes. These offenses are very good, but those jitters could lead to someone settling for three points instead of six to open scoring.

Will Greg Zuerlein make a fourth-quarter FG? Yes +130

Greg “The Leg” is a huge part of this Rams offense and while his busiest quarter on the season has been the second quarter (13 FG attempts), his second busiest was the fourth and final frame (8 FG attempts). He had two fields goals in the fourth versus New Orleans (and then the winner in OT) and I see him kicking a clutch one in the closing quarter of Super Bowl LIII.

Todd Gurley receiving yards: Over 32.5 (EVEN)

The health of Todd Gurley is the million-dollar question heading into the Super Bowl. I’m sure he’s banged up, but will be fresh and ready to roll – ignited by the ton of criticism thrown his way for losing carries to C.J. Anderson.

Gurley is a dual threat when it comes to rushing and receiving, and averaged more than 41 yards receiving per game on the season. New England allowed over 49 yards receiving per game to running backs in 2018. While I see Gurley having a tougher time on the ground, I predict plenty of pick-ups through the air.
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