Matt’s 2018 Individual Game Record: 19-12 (ATS & O/U)
Sunday, Feb. 3, Atlanta, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Free NFL Picks: Patriots ATS
Best Line Offered: Heritage
Super Bowl LIII from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta has a lot to live up to after one of the greatest conference championship Sundays ever – the first time both the AFC and NFC title games both went to overtime. Both road teams pulled the upset as the AFC No. 2 New England Patriots and NFC No. 2 Los Angeles Rams meet on Feb. 3 to close the book on the 2018-19 campaign.
The Rams briefly opened as favorites but heavy early action on New England has Tom Brady & Co. as 2-point favorites currently. I’m here to tell you why to back Brady, in his ninth Super Bowl. My cohort Jason Lake will tell you why to bet the Rams ATS. Needless to say, SBR will have the Super Bowl covered from every possible angle.
New England is the third franchise in history to make at least three straight Super Bowls – of course, they were upset last year by Philadelphia and staged an amazing rally two seasons ago to beat Atlanta in overtime. The Rams frankly shouldn’t be in the championship game but were the beneficiaries of the worst penalty no-call perhaps in league history (see below tweet) in Sunday’s upset win at the Saints. Expect the NFL to add a rule where potential pass interference can be challenged because the Saints got completely hosed.
This Super Bowl is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, which happened exactly 17 years to the day that LIII will kick off. On Feb. 3, 2002, the Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty began as the Patriots upset Kurt Warner’s heavily favored Rams 20-17. If the Patriots’ Super Bowl history with Brady/Belichick is any indication, this is going to be a close game. They always are.
Is Gurley Healthy? Doesn’t Seem So
The Patriots are 7-5 vs. the Rams all-time including that Super Bowl. The teams last played on Dec. 4, 2016, with the Pats winning 26-10 at home. That Rams team sucked, though, finishing 4-12 and firing Coach Jeff Fisher during the season. Jared Goff was in the midst of one of the worst rookie seasons every by a QB.
This should be a fascinating matchup between the offensive wunderkind Sean McVay, the youngest coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl, and the defensive mastermind Belichick, the longest-tenured coach in the NFL. Two reasons we like the Pats: Brady over Goff and the fact Todd Gurley just doesn’t look close to 100 percent healthy.
Brady looked very mortal at times this regular season and had two huge picks in Kansas City on Sunday, but he also converted every key third-and-long on the winning drive in overtime and threw for 348 yards. He is now 3-0 in OT playoff games.
As for Gurley, he missed the final two games of the regular season with a knee injury. He returned for the Divisional Round win over Dallas and rushed for 115 yards and a score but was outsnapped by CJ Anderson. Against the Saints, Gurley had just 10 yards rushing on just four carries and two dropped passes. He says he’s healthy and it was just a bad game, but we’re not buying that.
New England’s run defense has been terrific this postseason (Chargers had just 19 yards on ground and Chiefs 41), and the Pats will force Goff to beat them. He won’t. Patriots 27, Rams 24.