2018 Super Bowl 52 Betting Preview | Sunday 4th February
Josh Hickens (@Josh_Hickens) looks ahead to Super Bowl LII where the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
2018 Super Bowl 52 Betting Preview
A rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX where the Patriots won 24-21 sees the number 1 seed in the AFC go up against the number 1 seed in the NFC in a bid to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
New England Patriots (1/2) v Philadelphia Eagles (7/4)
Date/Time: Sunday 4th February, 23:30 (UK Time)
Venue: US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Channel: Sky Sports and BBC 1
Spread: Patriots -4.5
Total: 48.5 points
Both teams entered the Play-offs on the back of an almost identical scoring record. Not only did both teams finish the regular season with a 13-3 record leading to the number 1 seed in their respective conferences but they also both had a positive 162 point differential during the 16 game season. They both finished in the top 5 of both scoring offense and defense. With the Patriots scoring 458 points and conceding only 296 while the Eagles scored 457 and allowed only 295.
The Patriots come into the showdown on Sunday looking for their 6th Super Bowl victory during the Brady and Belichick era having wrapped up their 5th last season after their incredible comeback against the Falcons. Down 28-3 in the third quarter Tom Brady and James White led a remarkable comeback to take the game to overtime, the first in Super Bowl history, and then go on and win it. Brady’s remarkable career continues and despite being 40 he is showing no signs of slowing down, leading the Pats to a league high 394.2 yards of offense per game during the regular season thanks mainly to another league high of 4577 passing yards. As he now goes in search of a 5th Super Bowl MVP award, another record is there to be broke with no QB ever leading the league in passing yards going on to win the Super Bowl in the same season. Despite losing receiver Edelman to injury before the season, Brady still has several options with different players stepping up throughout both the regular and post season. They have a strong backfield with Dion Lewis, who boasts a 32-3 win record when he is in the team compared to 13-7 without, emerging has their starting running back through the season. While Rex Burkhead and James White are more than capable deputies likely to be used in rotation, on third down and in red the zone. They have the best tight end of all time in Gronkowski, not much else needs to be said about that apart from the fact that even without him in the second half against the Jags the Patriots still managed the comeback victory. Brandin Cooks has blistering speed on the outside so look out for Brady targeting him deep early on, in fact Cooks had a good season after the Pats traded for him amassing over 1000 yards and 7 TD’s during the regular season. Danny Amendola who has managed to get the nickname play-off Amendola thanks to his 6 career post season touchdowns has been the guy who’s stepped up the last two games. He has caught 18 of 22 targets for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns during the two games. Chris Hogan is another receiver, similar mould to Amendola, short and slippy who I’ll talk about a bit further down, has I think he’s a decent bet. While Belichick and Brady look set to be at the helm next season, it is an end of an era in regards to co-ordinators, with both offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia moving on to head coaching jobs. After giving up a massive 128 points in their first four games of the season, they figured things out as the Pats typically do, and became the 5th best scoring defense which is pretty remarkable given the start. While they do tend to give up yards (conceded 4th most in regular season) they are a bend but don’t break defense that are coached as well as anyone and will look to take away the key threats.
After the injuries to starting left tackle Jason Peters, key linebacker Jordan Hicks, do it all running back Darren Sproles and of course their starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who was a genuine MVP contender to Brady, it is quite astonishing that the Eagles have got here. It’s mainly because of the injuries that they were put in as underdogs against the Falcons and then again against the Vikings despite having home field advantage in both games, yet it’s something they have played up to with players donning dog masks after both victories. But they have such a deep roster thanks to some pretty solid work from the front office that it’s not like they don’t deserve it. The front office has built a roster deep at almost every position; the now starting Nick Foles was bought in as free agent as was other offensive weapons like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount. They then went and traded very little in reality for a stud running back in Jay Ajayi during the season. And that is just on offense. Pro Football Focus graded the Eagles whole offensive line has the best unit in the league and Pedersen will be hopeful that they will be able to get the ground game running early and take some pressure off Foles. If Wentz was playing, the line would be a whole lot closer to pick’em however the Eagles have still seen a lot of support with the line moving from an opening 6 down to 4.5 with some 4 in places. Foles was impressive against the Vikings throwing for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns with only 7 incompletions, but is his performance level sustainable? That is they key factor in deciding what way you go here, as we’re all aware of how impressive the Jim Schwartz led Eagles defense is. It conceded only 10 points against the Falcons and then only 7 against the Vikings. Brady and co present a much stiffer test than those two sides though and the Eagles also don’t have the home field advantage that came in those two previous play-off games.
Jim Schwartz’s impressive defense starts up front and with the ability to create pressure from only rushing 4, allowing the other 7 to drop back into coverage. Per Pro Football Focus, the Eagles defense has produced 311 pressures on 753 passing plays (including play-offs) which gives them a league high 41.3 percent. Furthermore, they have 7 players with at least 20 pressures each and that could be the key. In past teams have had success early pressuring Brady but with a lack of rotation, fatigued later on and Brady has picked teams apart. However, Eagles have depth in rotation up front that should be able to cause problems all game long. Brady though, being Brady, has took his game to another level this season, with a 96.6passer rating when under pressure. That rating is ten points higher than the average QB has on any given down, so even the Eagles pressure which should have some success against an average offensive line, may not be enough to trouble the Patriots.
Stats & Facts
- 5 of the last 6 Super Bowls have been won outright by the underdogs.
- 4 of the last 5 Super Bowls have gone over the total points.
- Last year’s Super Bowl was the first to go to overtime.
- 8 of the last 11 Super Bowl MVP’s have been awarded to a Quarterback.
- Philadelphia Eagles +3.5, 1st half handicap – 5/6 Sky Bet
First quarters in particular in the Super Bowl are tense and play calling tends to be cautious, so with an expected low scoring first quarter it is unlikely the Pats will have gotten too far away from the Eagles by half-time if they even manage to, that coupled with the fact Pats are yet to score in a first quarter of a Super Bowl with Brady makes this look an interesting bet. Even when beating the Titans in the divisional round they went behind early before taking the lead back before half time but a team like the Eagles could do similar or better than the Jags by holding on at least past half time. Realistically the Eagles can’t go behind; otherwise Nick Foles’ job becomes a whole lot harder.
- Chris Hogan over 32.5 receiving yards – 5/6 Paddy Power
Hogan played the first 8 games of the season before picking up an injury in the 9th and not playing again until seeing the Titans in the divisional round. However, during those 8 games his yard line went 8, 78, 68, 60, 74, 19, 71, 60 and in all of those games he was targeted at least 4 times. While he hasn’t set the world alight in the play-offs so far with 4 yards against the Titans and 20 against the Jags he was still targeted 4 times in both games and this was on the back of the injury, with the extra week off I am confident of him beating this line.
- Corey Clement over 26.5 combined rushing + receiving yards – 10/11 Paddy Power
Patriots’ have given up 958 receiving yards to running backs through 18 games this season. While Clement isn’t the starting running back, he will still see plenty of snaps and he has speed Pedersen may look to exploit against the Patriots linebackers. Clement averaged 4.3 yard per rush & 12.3 per reception in the regular season, which led to him beating this line 8 times. While he also broke this line in both the play-off games against less favourable match ups.
- Tribet, any other result – 2/1 Bet365
Either team to win the game by 5 points or less means this bet is a winner. 6 Of the 7 Super Bowl appearances, Belichicks’ Patriots have seen a final deficit of 5 or less. Last year’s 34-28 victory over the Falcons was the first time above a 5 point difference. Has the handicap suggests, the game is likely going to be close.
- Gronkowski and Blount both to score – 9/2 Sky Bet
Both players have 10 Postseason touchdowns through their careers and both have them have an opportunity to add to that tally. All the indications suggest Gronk is going to play after is concussion and he’s a match up nightmare for any team. While Blount had an 18 touchdown season for the Pats last season before moving on to the Eagles and he has been getting red zone carries in the last two play-off games, with that set to continue he could be set to get one over on his former team.
- Philadelphia HT/New England FT – 13/2 William Hill
Following on from the Eagles first half handicap angle, 13/2 seems a nice price for a chance that the Patriots get off to a slow start. With the Pats yet to score a first quarter point in a Super Bowl during the Belichick/Brady era, Eagles may build a first half lead setting it up nicely for a second half Brady comeback; which he did in the Super Bowl last year and in the Championship game against the Jags last time out.