New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams Point Spread – Pick

New England Patriots (13-5 SU, 11-7 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (15-3 SU, 9-8-1 ATS)
Super Bowl LIII
Date/Time: Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 6:30PM EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: NE -2/LAR +2
Over/Under Total: 57.5

The New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on February 3 in Atlanta. This has the makings of a classic, as both teams had to overcome a lot in order to get here. The Patriots, more so than in recent seasons, seemed vulnerable this season in an 11-5 campaign. They hit another gear as they hit the postseason and as a result, are going to their ninth Super Bowl under the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick regime, looking for their 6th win in the big-game. Interestingly, their first Bowl together was when they beat the Rams, then based in St. Louis, 20-17, all the way back in 2001. And they should get another strong challenge from a Rams team that has also hit a crescendo in the postseason. They have shown they will not be easy to topple. So who comes out ahead in this one? Let’s see what we can come up with in this Super Bowl LIII betting preview.

Both teams had to show the requisite championship heart to get here, winning their respective conference championship games in overtime. The Patriots and Chiefs engaged in a real battle in the AFC title game, with a frenzy of late-scoring leading to overtime, where a pumped-up Brady marched down the field to score the decisive TD. The Rams, meanwhile, were fortunate to still be in the game after playing ragged for nearly the whole first half. They hung in there doggedly and when things opened up a little bit, they took advantage, winning 26-23. Late in the game and in overtime, it was the clutch kicking of Greg Zuerlein that led them back to the big game. Some might say they caught some breaks and maybe that’s true. But they’re here and that’s what counts.

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The Rams have realized their “win now” approach by getting to this spot. After a big surge last season, they made a lot of signings with this very goal in mind. Some late-season developments seemed to have them headed in the wrong direction. But they got it together at the end of the season and played well in beating a red-hot Dallas team in the divisional round. Going into the Superdome, they had to deal with deafening noise and a tip-top Saints squad. They overcame a deficit, hung in there like champs, caught a few breaks, and emerged with the huge win. And even if it didn’t happen in the most-glorious of fashions, with their kicker winning the game, it might be a good thing. At this level, with so little separating the best teams, having a guy with ice in his veins like Zuerlein can really pay off and it certainly did for the Rams, with a 57-yard field goal in overtime to go to the Super Bowl being the zenith for a place-kicker.

But the Patriots didn’t just leisurely cruise into this spot, either. To go to Arrowhead and beat a hard-to-kill team like the Chiefs required the full scope of the Patriots’ powers. They really had to walk a tightrope at the end to hang in there with the high-powered home favorite, with Brady leading the team on three TD drives in the final few minutes of regulation and then overtime. Even after taking the lead with 39 seconds left, the Pats still had to brave another KC spurt, as they managed to get in FG position to knock in the big kick. Then Brady led the offense in OT all the way down the field, converting several big third down plays in the process. It was as clutch as Mr. Clutch has ever been and they needed every bit of it to get to this game.

With Brady, even at 41, you have the most bankable force in the NFL in a game like this. Combine that with Belichick and it makes for a combination that has experienced unparalleled success in this context. But it’s a given that they will always outshine the opposition in terms of achievements, being the most-accomplished QB and head coach in the Super Bowl era. Just at face-value, the names Jared Goff and Sean McVay would fail to elicit the same level of confidence. But a closer look shows that they might be up for the task. Goff turning things around and using his arm to do it in the NFC title game showed his moxie and winning spirit. He was putting the ball where it needed to be to make big plays after seeing nothing go right for much of the first half. And his cast followed suit, raising the level of their game on both sides of the ball. And McVay, just turning 33, has a very laudatory track record, however brief, turning around a franchise that had settled into a long string of mediocrity. Sure, he’s going against a guy who was a head coach in this league when McVay was a little kid, but banking on him to screw this up somehow could very well be wishful thinking.

The Rams’ offense is an interesting study heading into this spot. Down the stretch of the regular season and into the postseason, the offense hasn’t quite hit its high notes against the better teams they have been playing. But they’ve been good enough, getting timely good play on both sides of the ball. Goff was excellent in the title game, with nearly 300 yards after the offense languished. A great fake punt late in the first half gave the Rams their first little spurt. Goff could have had bigger numbers if not for some key drops, as well, but Brandin Cooks, Josh Reynolds, Robert Woods, and Gerald Everett, among others all contributed. They have an interesting dynamic at running back and it is weird when one of the better players in the league in Todd Gurley becomes an afterthought in the title game. He had a rough start to the game, but you’d think a player of his stature would be more than a few drops away from going to the doghouse. For much of the day, it was CJ Anderson as a featured back. One would imagine Gurley would be more-involved in this game, but it’s food for thought.

For much of the season, the focus was on the Rams’ defense in terms of whether they were cut out to be a championship team. And there have been issues, as the Rams’ defense didn’t really deliver in terms of how much money was spent on this side of the ball. But with this being the part of the season where those big-money guys earn their money, we have seen better performances. Against New Orleans, the defense was being exploited by the Saints, while still coming up with enough big plays and timely stops to limit the damage. A handful of drives that exploded out of the gates resulted in FG tries, they stepped up well on third down, and summoned their resources with some big individual plays. With Lamarcus Joyner, John Johnson, III., Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters, it’s not a foolproof secondary, but it’s a clutch and playmaking one. That line is a monster, with Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald, along with Michael Brockers, Dante Fowler, and others chipping in. Cory Littleton and Mark Barron make for a lot of menace in the middle. Alas, they are facing the most-dependable Super Bowl quarterback of all-time. How much faith can we have in this group in a spot like this?

On paper, Brady doesn’t have the same weaponry that the Rams possess. Unlike LA’s offense, Brady doesn’t have a pair of 1000-yard receivers and a big-name back to carry the load. But what he does have is a reliable and deep cast of guys who mostly all have track-records of success in the most-stressful of spots. Julian Edelman looks to be a troublesome matchup for the LA defense. TE Rob Gronkowski got back to his normal production against the Chiefs and should be big in this spot. Add in RB James White, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett and that makes for a lot of targets. RB Rex Burkhead is a threat on the ground and through the air, scoring twice in the AFC championship. Rookie back Sony Michel ran for 113 yards and two TDs against KC. Again, their star-power isn’t that strong. On the surface, Edelman is recognized as a very good receiver, but “Gronk” maybe isn’t what he used to be and then you have a cast of complimentary guys. But a closer look reveals simply a robust cast of proven playmakers.

The last game for the Pats doesn’t paint the defense in the best light, but a lot of defenses have looked inept at Arrowhead Stadium this season. Still, they are lucky to have won the coin-flip in overtime, as it looked like they couldn’t stop the Chiefs late. With a little more clutch late-game play, it shouldn’t have even gone into overtime, with the Chiefs getting into field goal position with almost no time left on the clock after Brady led them for what should have been the go-ahead winning TD. It might not be a ton easier this time around with a late-surging powerful Rams’ offense. On one hand, you should be inclined to defer to the expertise of the mad scientist Belichick. You don’t get a hand full of rings by not making the right moves in the big game. However, we’ve seen them give up a lot of points in the last few Super Bowls, coming from way off the pace to beat Atlanta and then losing to the Eagles last season while giving up 41 points.

A lot can change, but as of press-time, the spread is New England by 2 points. Is that a spread based on merit or reputation? One could look at the Rams having had a better overall season and New England’s experience in this spot as being a wash, with the Pats holding a small advantage with their track record. And when you look at it even-handedly, a strong case can be made for either team—but not that strong. Both defenses have proven to be deficient to varying degrees when facing offenses as on-point as what each team brings to the Super Bowl 53 table. Something tells me the urgency of the old will be just enough to get New England over the hump in a game that’s hard to call. I’ll lay the two points on New England.

Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the New England Patriots minus two points to win Super Bowl LIII. Did you know… that you could be wagering on Super Bowl LIII from home at discounted odds? There’s a better than good chance that you’re laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to BetAnySports Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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