SUPER BOWL LII: The Super Bowl has become more of a cultural phenomenon than a sporting event, but amidst the million-dollar commercials, gaudy entertainment spectacles, and celebrity sightings, there’s still a football game that has to be played.
And, of course, there’s money to be made. The only thing sweeter than gorging yourself with food and drink while watching the world’s best athletes take their shot at immortality is making a fistful of cash while doing so. BETDAQ is here to help in that regard by offering dozens of different markets and an industry-best 2% commission on all bets, so no excuses, fatty! Remember: the only bets you can’t win are the ones you never make. Or something.
Here’s a comprehensive preview to whet your appetite:
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
BETDAQ Line: New England -4.5, 48
*ATS= against the spread
The Patriots are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 playoff games
The Patriots are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games vs. a team with a winning record
The Patriots are 35-16-2 ATS in their last 53 games following a win
The Eagles are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a winning record
The Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a win
The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings between these teams
The OVER is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings between these teams
The OVER is 8-2 in New England’s last 10 playoff games
The OVER is 12-2 in Philadelphia’s last 14 games after accumulating 250+ yds in previous game
The UNDER is 10-4 in New England’s last 14 games overall
The UNDER is 5-2 in Philadelphia’s last 7 games following a win
A Philadelphia Angle
Anyone who thinks of these Eagles as the quintessential underdog— the surprise team that played over its head and is just fortunate to be in this game— hasn’t been paying attention this season. It seems like the Carson Wentz injury gave people some form of amnesia, as Philly instantly went from being the prohibitive favorites in the NFC to an afterthought as soon as Wentz went down. But we’re talking about a team that won 13 of 14 games from Week 3 to Week 16; a team that has eight double-digit wins on the season and ranked in the top-5 in both points scored and points allowed; a team that boasts battle-hardened vets with Pro Bowl resumes on both sides of the ball. These Eagles are far from a one-man show, and those who thought otherwise have learned the hard way over the past couple of weeks.
The advantage they have over the Patriots in this game is basic and timeless: they’ll be able to control the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. The Philly defensive line is downright nasty, with disruptive players like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Chris Long wreaking havoc all season. They led the league in rushing defense, surrendering just 79.2 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry, and they were also among the NFL leaders in QB pressures. They’re the focal point of a unit that allowed just 18.4 ppg this season and has been totally dominant in the playoffs, surrendering a mere 17 combined points in wins over Atlanta and Minnesota.
Think about the teams that have beaten the Brady/Belichick Patriots in the playoffs over the past decade: the Peyton Manning Denver teams, the Ravens a couple of times, the Giants in the Super Bowl… what did all of those teams have in common? They all had great defensive lines that could pressure Brady without compromising the coverage on the back end. The Eagles have just that sort of line.
The Philly offensive line is pretty impressive in its own right, a group of maulers that paved the way for one of the league’s most potent rushing attacks this season. Ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount has been effective in his battering ram role, but when Jay Ajayi came over from the Dolphins midseason, the rushing attack became positively lethal. Ajayi is averaging an eye-popping 5.8 yards per carry since joining the team, and the Eagles now have a thunderous one-two punch in the backfield that is a problem for any defense, but especially one like New England’s— the Pats allowed 4.71 yards per carry this season, the second-most in the NFL. This is a really, really tough matchup for the New England defense.
Even if you’ve had a deep drink of the Belichick/Brady kool-aid, it’s hard to deny that 4.5 points is a big number in this situation. The Patriots have won five Super Bowls since the legendary coach and quarterback teamed up, and four of those five wins have come by 4 points or fewer. Oh, and the other one was the closest of the bunch— last year’s 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta. New England has one clear advantage in this game— the quarterback. Top to bottom Philly is the better team, and the 4.5-point number makes this an easy decision.
A New England Angle
Where do we start? How about with this: Tom Brady vs. Nick Foles. In one corner, the greatest quarterback in NFL history, fresh off another MVP-worthy campaign. In the other corner, a journeyman backup who has been discarded by three teams in six years and physically resembles Napoleon Dynamite. All jokes aside, this is probably the biggest QB mismatch we’ve had in the Super Bowl since Rex Grossman vs. Peyton Manning, or maybe even since Stan Humphries vs. Steve Young. Remember what happened in those two games, Super Bowls XXIX and XLI? The Humphries/Grossman teams lost by 35 combined points. That’s what happened.
But New England’s brilliance is about more than just Brady. The Pats are a dynasty in every sense of the word. They have out-coached, outplayed, and out-hustled the rest of the NFL for nearly two decades, and they rarely let down in the biggest situations, going 5-2 in the Super Bowl under Belichick. This season they’ve been typically dominant, winning 13 of their past 14 games, leading the league in total offense, and going 12-6 against the spread despite being favored in every single game they played. The defense was a problem back in September but that’s all shored up now, as the Pats have surrendered 20 points or fewer in 12 of their past 14 games and finished the season ranked fifth in the NFL in points allowed (18.5 ppg).
And to top it all off, these Patriots have become one of the most resilient teams the league has ever seen. The last three times they’ve faced a double-digit deficit in a postseason game, they’ve come back and won. The most prominent example, of course, is last year’s Super Bowl, but as recently as last week they were at it again, erasing a 10-point Jacksonville lead in the 4th quarter to win the game in regulation. Brady shredded the league’s best defense like they were the Browns. And, most tellingly, nobody who witnessed it was all that surprised.
Brady will have plenty of opportunities in this game against a mediocre Eagles secondary. Philly ranked 17th against the pass this season, and that number was propped up a bit thanks to the Eagles’ fierce pass rush. Any time an elite QB was afford any time against Philly this season, they absolutely picked the secondary apart. We don’t have to go back too far to find examples— back in Week 15, for instance, Eli Manning torched the Eagles for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns. How, then, can we expect Brady and the NFL’s top offense to fare? You tell me.
The Eagles play a style of ball that might very well be New England’s kryptonite— their defense will be able to control the line of scrimmage, smother the Patriots’ running game and pressure Tom Brady with the front four. On the other side of the ball, the Pats will have tremendous difficulty bottling up the Blount/Ajayi two-headed rushing attack.
This game could come down to whether the Eagles are able to protect Nick Foles— I expect the Patriots to bring an extra defender down in the box at times to slow down the running game and force Foles to make plays with his arm. But unlike Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Foles has elite weapons at his disposal like Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz, and if he’s given time he could pick apart the vulnerable New England secondary. Remember, last week he threw for 352 yards against a Minnesota defense that is better than New England’s by any and every objective measure.
But the book on Foles is that he struggles when pressured, and Belichick and Matt Patricia are two of the top defensive minds in football— they’ll be able to dial up some pressure. I’m expecting a fairly low-scoring, competitive game here that comes down to the 4th quarter… and that’s when I think the Brady vs. Foles matchup will really stand out, just as Brady vs. Bortles stood out in the 4th quarter of the AFC Championship game. My hunch is that Brady gets it done again, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to cover. New England 23, Philadelphia 20
Props & Specials
LeGarrette Blout to score a TD at 3.5- Blount has been losing carries to Jay Ajayi lately and is essentially the backup at this point, but he still gets the short yardage work and he’s found the end zone in each of the past two games. And though he only received 15 combined carries in those games, he’s normally a bigger part of the offense, logging double-digit carries in 7 of the Eagles’ last 8 regular season games. The Patriots are soft against the run, surrendering a healthy 4.7 yards per carry, and Blount will have loads of motivation to succeed against his former team. He’s a great value here at a price like 3.5.
Rex Burkhead to score a TD at 3.1- Burkhead has become a forgotten man in New England since being slowed by a late-season knee injury, but he returned to action against Jacksonville and should be fresh and ready after the two-week break that precedes the Super Bowl. When healthy, he was a key cog in the New England offense this season, a versatile tailback who is just as comfortable as a receiver as he is running the ball. He scored a touchdown in each of the last four regular-season games that he appeared in, and he was a big reason why the Pats led the NFL with 9 touchdown passes to running backs this season. That happens to be an area where the Philly defense is vulnerable— the Eagles surrendered 5 receiving touchdowns to running backs in 2017, tied for the second-highest number in the league. Don’t be surprised if Burkhead finds paydirt in this game.
Tom Brady over 286.5 pass yds, Rob Gronkowski TD, Jay Ajayi TD at 9.0- This bet may appear to be a bit of a longshot at first glance, but I believe it has a good chance of coming home. Tom Brady is going to air it out in this game: the Pats will have trouble running the ball against the dominant Philadelphia front, so I expect Brady to attempt at least 45-50 passes, which means he’s likely to top 286 passing yards against a defense that ranked 17th in the NFL against the pass this season. Gronkowski is Brady’s top target and is currently trading at even money to score a TD; you’d have to think that if Brady approaches 50 attempts and 300 yards passing, there’s a good chance that Gronk will find the end zone. That leaves Ajayi, the toughest part of this bet– he’s only scored one touchdown since he was acquired by Philadelphia midseason. However, Ajayi has taken over the lead role in the backfield, registering double-digit carries in each of the team’s past five games, and he’s averaged a stunning 5.8 yards per carry since joining the Eagles. The New England defense, meanwhile, was dreadful against the run this season, surrendering 4.7 yards per carry, so there’s certainly a chance that Ajayi runs wild in this game. All things considered, I think this is a bet worth making at a price like 9.0.