Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM
Advantage - Under
|Advantage: New England · Los Angeles · Over · Under|
Outside of boxing or mixed martial arts, betting an ‘under’ in any sporting event doesn’t necessarily provide the excitement you could be looking for and it usually puts you up against the betting public.
However, while the early trends are showing a lean to the 'under' in this year's finale between the Patriots and Rams, I still believe the 'over' will get more attention by kickoff but there are some great angles and trends that could have you leaning low this Sunday.
With the professional assistance from one of our top VegasInsider.com handicappers and contributors Joe Nelson, we’ll touch on the ‘over’ in this piece and also provide you reasons to back the ‘under’ in another installment.
Under Trends and Angles to Watch
-- The Patriots were ranked 10th in scoring defense, allowing 21.3 points per game. The Rams gave up 23.8 PPG but the defensive unit improved to 20.2 PPG on the road.
-- Los Angeles had a red zone percentage of 56.8 percent, which was ranked 19th in the league. The Rams have often left points off the board, scoring seven field goals and just five touchdowns.
-- New England watched the ‘under’ go 11-5 in the regular season, which included a 5-3 mark on the road.
-- Los Angles watched the ‘under’ go 7-2 away from home this season and that includes the low side result in this year's NFC Championship at New Orleans.
-- The Patriots only played one game indoors this season and they were blasted by the Lions 26-10 from Ford Field. It was the second time this season that New England was held to 10 points.
-- The Rams had four games indoors and the ‘under’ went 3-1 in those games, with the lone ‘over’ (57 ½) occurring in their first encounter at New Orleans, which was a 45-35 shootout loss in Week 9.
-- Los Angeles had 12 totals this season close in the fifties or higher and the 'over/under' results ended in a stalemate (6-6).
-- New England saw the ‘under’ go 5-3 in totals that closed at 50 or above.
-- The Patriots have seen the ‘under’ go 4-2 in their last six games when they favored by 2 ½-points or less.
-- The Rams have watched the ‘under’ go 2-1 in the playoffs over the past two seasons and the defense has only allowed 23.6 points per game. During this span, the unit has used the ‘bend but don’t break’ approach in the red zone. In those games, they’ve allowed 7 touchdowns and 7 field goals.
-- New England squared off against the NFC West in the 2016 regular season and it went 3-1 in those games but the offense was tempered to 25.8 PPG, which led to a 3-1 ‘under’ mark. In that same season (2016), the Rams went 1-3 against the AFC East and their weak offensive (12 PPG) numbers helped the ‘under’ go 3-1.
-- One of those outcomes saw the Patriots defeat the Rams 26-10 at home on Dec. 4 and the ‘under’ (44 ½) was never in doubt. Including that result, the low side is 4-2 in the last six meetings between the two franchises and that includes the 20-17 win by New England over St. Louis in Super Bowl 36.
-- This will be the third Super Bowl hosted by Atlanta and first since 2000 and coincidentally the Rams won that year, a 23-17 win over the Titans in SB34. The ‘under’ cashed (45) in that contest and also in the first installment from Georgia in Super Bowl 28 between the Cowboys and Bills. Dallas defeated Buffalo 30-13 and the low side (50 ½) was never in doubt.
Expert Analysis – Joe Nelson
The Patriots scored 37 points in overtime in the AFC Championship to emerge as the Super Bowl favorite but New England had 94 offensive plays in that game for 0.394 points per play, actually well below the team’s season average. The same is true for the Rams who managed 26 points in the NFC Championship, also in overtime, but at a .382 points per play rate that was far below the regular season average for the second highest scoring team in the league. Both teams will face arguably more difficult defensive matchups this week after the Rams faced a Saints pass defense that struggled all season while the Patriots faced a Chiefs squad that was among the worst in the NFL in many defensive categories.
The Rams were technically the NFL’s worst yards per rush run defense in the NFL this season allowing 5.1 yards per rush but that figure proved meaningless in a pair of playoff wins as Dallas and New Orleans were both held to 2.3 yards per rush for a fewer than 100 combined rushing yards in two Rams wins to reach the Super Bowl. The Patriots fared even better defending the running game allowing just 19 yards vs. the Chargers and 41 yards vs. the Chiefs for a combined 2.7 yards per rush, to cut the regular season average allowed nearly in half. If both defenses contain the opposing rushing attacks at an even remotely similar clip, these offenses will struggle and the scoring will be limited.
The winning quarterback usually wins the Super Bowl MVP but touchdown passes have been rare for Tom Brady and Jared Goff this postseason. Brady has thrown only two while throwing two interceptions and nearly losing the AFC Championship on a third interception that was called back due to an offsides penalty. Goff has thrown just one touchdown pass in his two playoff wins while also matching that score with an interception in the NFC Championship. Goff has posted 7.1 yards per pass attempt in the postseason while Brady has posted 7.7 yards per attempt, pedestrian averages by today’s standards that wouldn’t have cracked the league’s top 10 in the regular season.
Despite his all-time great status another signature comeback win last week, Brady finished 12th in QB Rating this season which was actually four spots behind Goff. Brady finished with his worst QB Rating since 2014 this season and across the board his numbers were worse this season than in his past two Super Bowl seasons, including featuring the most turnovers he has had since 2013. While he remains a well above average quarterback capable of winning another Super Bowl in the Patriots system, his play has declined with his age and this was not a great Patriots offense as scoring 78 points in two playoff wins suggests. The Patriots topped 27 points just six times in 16 regular season games despite one of the weakest schedules in the NFL and they understand they won’t want to be in a shootout with the Rams as the ground game will again be at the forefront of the game plan.
The coaching hiring season was dominated by talk of trying to find the next Sean McVay. The 33-year old Rams head coach has taken the league by storm in two seasons going 26-9 with great offensive production. McVay has faced Bill Belichick before as the offensive coordinator for Washington in the 2015 season, a 27-10 win for the Patriots in Week 9. Washington posted only 250 yards of offense in that game and never threatened for the upset, actually scoring its only touchdown in the final minute of the game. Kirk Cousins was held to 5.4 yards per attempt while Washington gained just 2.5 yards per carry on the ground and that was a Redskins team that won the NFC East. Jared Goff faced Bill Belichick and the Patriots in his rookie season, which was his third ever NFL game. The result was unsurprising with Goff throwing two interceptions and completing 44 percent of his passes as the Rams had just seven first downs in a 26-10 loss. As good as the results have been for McVay and Goff the past two seasons, they will be making a big leap in class facing off with Belichick, even if this wasn’t one of the legendary head coach’s best defensive teams on paper as a decline in the expected production for the Rams should be assumed.
Joe Nelson is a veteran handicapper of VegasInsider.com and his content provides an informative approach that often brings something to your attention that you didn’t know.