Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots (-2.5)
Sun. 2/3, 6:40 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Patriots-Rams:
1. There’s no denying that New England has yet to put forth a dominant performance in the Super Bowl—the Patriots’ largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl was their six-point overtime win over Atlanta two years ago. With New England having scored 78 points over two playoff games, however, a case could be made that this year’s Patriots come into the Super Bowl playing better than the team has in recent years.
New England’s past two Super Bowl victories—over Atlanta two years ago and Seattle four years ago—were preceded by the team having scored 70 points over two January 2017 playoff games and 80 points over a pair of January 2015 playoff victories. The past three Patriots Super Bowl losses, in February 2018, 2012 and 2008, were preceded by scoring outputs in the prior AFC Conference Championship games of 24, 23 and 21 points, respectively. New England is 22-11-3 against the spread under head coach Bill Belichick when coming off three straight games in which the team scored 30 or more points, which includes a 6-0 ATS mark since the start of the 2016 season. The Patriots are 8-0 ATS in that same timeframe when coming off three straight games in which they led by more than six points at halftime and 13-3 ATS when coming off three straight games in which the team gained 375 or more total yards.
2. Although the Rams hold the edge in a number of statistical categories heading into Super Bowl LIII, that hasn’t necessarily been a recipe for success in recent Super Bowls:
• Los Angeles averages more points per game than New England (32.4 points per game over 18 games for the Rams, 28.6 points per game over 18 games for the Patriots), but the team that scores more points per game is just 4-13-1 against the spread (24%) over the past 18 Super Bowls.
• Los Angeles has converted on a higher percentage of third-down conversions than New England over 18 games (44.5% to 43.6%), but the team that converts a better percentage of third-down attempts heading into the Super Bowl is only 6-11-1 against the spread (35%) over the last 18 years.
• Los Angeles enters Super Bowl LIII with a plus-8.6 scoring margin while New England enters with a plus-7.2 scoring margin, but the team with the better scoring margin heading into the Super Bowl is just 5-10 against the spread (33%) over the past 15 years.
• Los Angeles enters Super Bowl LIII with a plus-11 turnover differential while New England enters with a plus-10 turnover differential, but the team with the better turnover differential heading into the Super Bowl is only 5-10 against the spread (33%) over the past 15 years.
3. While one of the Rams’ primary strengths is a passing game that ranked fourth in the NFL with an average of 8.3 yards per attempt during the regular season, New England is 8-0 straight up and 7-1 against the spread since the start of 2016 when facing an opponent that’s averaging at least 7.5 yards per pass attempt. The Patriots are 9-2 ATS (10-1 straight up) in that same time frame when facing an opponent averaging at least 260 passing yards per game. New England has also beaten up on teams that struggle defensively, going 19-2 straight up and 17-4 ATS in that span when facing an opponent allowing at least 350 total yards per game.
Pick: Patriots -2.5
Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)