Super Bowl LIII: Our experts nominate their NAPs

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SUPER BOWL LIII arrives from Atlanta on Sunday night as the New England Patriots face Los Angeles Rams. We've asked all four of expert NFL contributors to provide their best bets on the big game. 

New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams | Sunday 3rd February 2019, 22:30

February has arrived, and biggest sports event of the year is on the horizon.

Super Bowl LIII sees New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams locks horns in Atlanta and we've asked our four expert NFL analysts to share their betting opinion on the markets that matter. Enjoy.

Tom Selwyn (@Tom_Selwyn) – Second-Half to be Highest Scoring (16/19 Unibet)

So, here we are again with New England back in the Super Bowl for the third straight year.

When the Patriots beat the Rams for the first time, securing Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl win, his opposing number in Jared Goff was just seven years old. As a result, this game has been billed as wisdom vs. youth, but there are so many more intriguing battles to look forward to in this year’s end of season matchup.

Will the Rams DL be able to stop the Patriots Sony Michel led running game that has averaged 165.5 yards a game on the ground? Conversely, will New England’s OL, that has been playing very well of late (zero sacks given up in the play-offs), be able to hold up against Aaron Donald and company? Will Julian Edelman continue to dominate from the slot? What sort of game plan will Bill Belichick and Brian Flores come up to try and limit the Rams diverse offense?

It’s difficult to imagine that Belichick won’t have devised a way to frustrate the Rams given he’s had two weeks to get something cooked up. The question is whether Sean McVay and the rest of his coaching staff will adjust throughout the game – I believe they absolutely will and so I’ll be backing the Highest Scoring Half to be the Second (16/19 Unibet).

If you take the Chiefs game as an example, the Patriots were able to successfully stifle Mahomes and the rest of Kansas City’s offense during the first half of their conference championship match and hold them scoreless.

However, with a great coach like Andy Reid on the sidelines they were never going to be able to sustain this and the Chiefs put up 31 points in the second half. Whilst McVay doesn’t have the experience of Reid, he is clearly a very capable coach and I think he’ll be able to adjust to the inevitable curveballs that are thrown his way in the first half.

It’s also true that the Patriots have started slowly in all of the Super Bowls that Brady and Belichick have started in. Last year’s Super Bowl against the Eagles was the first time that they had scored in the 1st Quarter in any of them (and that was just a FG rather than a TD).

Recent Super Bowls, especially those involving the Patriots, have tended to have wild second-halves and I think we could be in for another one this time out.

Kyle Brown (@KyleIanBrown) – Over 55.5 Points (10/11 Ladbrokes)

You’d have a hard time convincing me that this game will be anything less than an all-in shootout.

The Patriots are coming into this Super Bowl having scored 37 points against the Chiefs and 41 against the Chargers, and while the Rams can’t match those supreme numbers, they did average 32.9 points through the regular season – second only to the Chiefs.

The medias love affair with offensive tactician Sean McVay has got a bit repetitive at times – but it isn’t without reason – the Rams were dead last in points scored in the season before his arrival, after all.

Opposing him is a head coach with 19 years-experience leading the Patriots, and a QB who is a five-time Super Bowl champion (and four-time Super Bowl MVP).

My NAP for this game is to back the Over on points, currently set at 55.5 for odds of 10/11 (Ladbrokes).
With the undisputed talent on both the coaching staff and offense for each side, I can’t see how this won’t turn into a relentless scoring affair.

Three points simply won’t be good enough for either side, so expect some more risks taken and fourth downs converted as an offense approaches the endzone.

Jay Tremblay (@SportsM0ney) – LA Rams +3 (3/4 Unibet)

The Patriots have been the standard for over a decade and are used to being “the hunted”. Meanwhile, the Rams spent a ridiculous amount of money to put together the talent they have on this roster and the goal for this team was Super Bowl or bust. Mission accomplished, with a bit of help from the officiating crew last week in New Orleans that is.

Let’s be realistic, the NFL benefits immensely from seeing their new LA franchise make it all the way, the fan base in LA is so broad, often LA home games aren’t home games at all when teams like the Packers or Cowboys come to visit. This will boost their profile in LA immensely and should they win, you can expect a whole flood of LA Rams fans to pop up for next season. This means increased revenue via ticket sales, merch and all that comes with a Super Bowl win in a major market city.

Thankfully, the betting public has been extremely one-sided in jumping on the “popular” play, as currently the Patriots are receiving a staggering 79% of total bets and 80% of total dollars ($) wagered.

I like the LA Rams to cover the handicap. However, I prefer to land on the key number of (+3.0), just in case we see a late field goal attempt. Stats don’t hold as much value at this point, as both teams are coming in well prepared and rested with two weeks in between their last game and a ton of time to study and game plan for their opponent. Expect some tricks and new, creative looks from both sides here.

The LA Rams (+3) is currently available at Unibet around 3/4, a bit shorter than I’d like but with Super Bowl approaching, it’s very possible for us to see some influential money comeback in on the Rams and this line could move to LA Rams +2.0 closer to kick off.

It’s worth nothing that the Rams opened at -1.0 when the lines were first released at CRIS, and even they were surprised to see the “avalanche of Patriots money” come in as their lead oddsmaker put it.

Most books will need the Rams to cover and win outright and that is the side I’d prefer to be in line with when we are talking about the highest betting volume game of the calendar year and a large discrepancy in terms of bets and dollars ratio.

Kyle Robins (@AhhYeahKyleYeah) – No opening touchback (5/4 SkyBet)

The opening kick-off is one of the more iconic moments in sport, and according to William Hill, it’s their 12th most popular prop bet.

During the regular season, New England forced their opponents into an average of just 2.80 touchbacks per-game, dropping down to a slightly lower average of 2.00 through the post-season. And looking back at last year, Stephen Gostkowski took a line drive approach to the opening kick-off, forcing the Eagles into a return.

Now the Rams did have one of the higher touchback percentages in the league this year, and through the post-season; but given the occasion, special team players will be looking to make a splash. LA forced teams into an average of 2.90 touchbacks, rising to 4.70 this post-season.

So, my hopes might lie with New England getting the kick off honours, but either way, the market strongly suggests people aren’t favouring the opening kick-off to be a touchback so take the ‘No’ at 5/4 with SkyBet.

Best Bets

Super Bowl LIII – Second-Half to be the Highest Scoring Half (16/19 Unibet)

Super Bowl LIII – Over 55.5 Points (10/11 Ladbrokes)

Super Bowl LIII – LA Rams +3 (3/4 Unibet)

Super Bowl LIII – Opening kick-off to be a touchback ‘No’ (5/4 SkyBet)

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