@TouchdownTips – For further posts, see touchdowntips.com
The culmination of 266 games between 32 teams is here, and the two remaining teams give us a rematch of Superbowl 39, a game which the Patriots won 24-21, with of course Brady and Belichick leading them to that victory back in 2004. It was the 3rd win for them in 4 years a feat which they look to emulate this week in Minneapolis.
This matchup provides the top seeds of each division, both teams finishing with a 13-3 record in the regular season. It will be the 13th time the top seeds have faced each other in the title game since seeding was introduced in 1975.
The Patriots had a big scare last game against the young up-and-comers of the Jacksonville (London) Jaguars, they came back from 18 points behind to finish with one of their customary fourth quarter comebacks and take the game 24-21 in the end. It was seemingly inevitable that the Patriots would win it in the end, but they definitely like to keep things interesting for the neutrals out there.
There’s been countless conspiracy theories floating around (Especially on the NFL UK Facebook group) – stills of the referees “celebrating” with them, a ref being the first to congratulate old Tommy-boy after the game, the fact they only got 1 penalty (which was on special teams) to the Jaguars 6 , and that they called the Myles Jack “fumble recovery” dead instead of letting him get away. It’s all bullshit. You really think the league wants the Pats to win? The same league that banned Brady for 4 games and took away first round draft picks for balls being slightly off what they should have been? Now, the counter-argument towards them wanting the Pats is that viewing figures are down (the same viewing figures which are proportionally up on all scripted TV year on year) and that the Pats playing in the Superbowl will bring a bigger audience than if the Jags had made it to the final. I don’t know about that, surely the masses would want to see something different?
Anyway, I may be a little biased, I have my largest pre-season bet (one I didn’t tip as it was the chalk and didn’t really need tipping) on the Patriots at 9/2 so I, for one am happy to see them here!
Tom Brady (285.5 passing yards) is the greatest of all time, I don’t think there’s too much doubt about that now, and despite the “scare” of his hand injury last week, he put up some good numbers and of course led his team to that 4th quarter comeback. Against the “leagues best pass defence” his numbers were 26 from 38 for 290 yards and 2 TDs, both to Danny “playoff” Amendola. Bare in mind that these numbers were without Gronk for more than half the game and after a pretty poor first half from the Pats, the halftime alterations made by the Patriots can’t be dismissed, it’s just what they do.
I wrote a lot more on Foles as he’s far more of an unknown quantity, there’s not a lot more to say about Brady, we all know who he is and what he does, he was last years Superbowl MVP (although I think James White should have won that) he’s had a passer rating above 100 for both playoff games and averaged over 100 during the regular season, 32:8 TD to INT, but 5:0 in the playoffs, he’s played in 7 Superbowls, that’s the same amount as the whole 53 man Eagles roster combined, a long of 31 yards in both playoff games, his line on longest pass completed is at 38.5 on 365, possibly a little high. His rushing yards are… it doesn’t really matter, I won’t be taking his rushing yards.
Now to the conundrum of the New England backfield, Dion Lewis (47.5 – 6/5) he’s also set at 14.5 rush attempts which I won’t be taking on although I would lean to the under if I had to. He has definitely become the go-to back on running plays, with roughly three times the carries of anyone else back there and averaged 5 ypc in the regular season, down to 4 in the playoffs, he did finish the game for the Pats last week with a carry of 18 yards, about half of his total on the day and that was after fumbling, so he obviously has the trust of the coaching staff and the Patriots have only lost 3 of the over 30 games that he’s played in.
As with the Eagles, it’s a crowded place in the Patriots backfield and James White (35.5 rush and rec. – 9/4) is a playoff wizard, he’s scored 7 in the last 5 playoff games, and only 8 in the last 2 regular seasons, although the 3 in last years Superbowl obviously skews that a little! But he’s scored in 3 in 2 this year both on the ground and through the air, it makes him a great weapon for the Pats and one that will probably need to be used a lot against a very good Phillie run-stuffing unit.Embed from Getty Images
Then there’s the Bengals reject Rex Burkhead (15.5 rush, 30.5 rush and rec. – 21/10) who was on fire for a few weeks as the goal-line back for them but has missed a lot of games with a knee injury and at the time of writing I’m still not 100% sure he’ll be fit, I thought he would be two weeks ago and that proved wrong, so who knows. If he is good to go it changes everything and makes it very tough for backing any RB for an anytime TD. At this moment in time I would lean towards White if you wanted to pick any of the 3 RBs to score.
The passing game isn’t bad, but a lot revolved around whether Rob Gronkowski (69.5 – 1/1) is good to go or not, I would be very surprised if he isn’t declared fit and out of concussion protocol, but these things are rarely as straight forward as you think! I’m assuming he’ll be playing and as always he’ll be a vital part of the offense, he can do things that no other play on the field can do and will keep the chains moving all day if needed.
The Eagles only conceded 5 TDs to the tight ends all season so it’s not the easiest matchup he could have had, but this is Gronk, before getting knocked out of the game last week he’d scored in 6 consecutive playoff games and is the natural go-to when near the redzone, I have personally got on him at 11/10, it’s not often you get odds against on Gronk, I know that doesn’t help anyone now, but honesty is the best policy, right?!Embed from Getty Images
They have a few actual wide receivers who can catch passes as well, Brandin Cooks (68.5 – 6/4) and if he doesn’t well, he’s the 4th in the league this year for gaining penalty yards from pass interference with 141 during the regular season and a few in the last game against the Jags as well. If he manages to catch the ball then his average of about 15 yards per catch over the season which has been pretty important for this team. It doesn’t seem like he’s been as explosive as he was in N.O. but, he’s actually had a higher average yards per catch than any of his seasons for the Saints which I guess points to his reliability.
Danny “playoff” Amendola (49.5 – 5/2) was the star in the game last week with Gronk out of the game he took over the plays in the slot and his second half performance pretty much won the game for them, not just the 2 TD catches, but the yards he put in between the end-zones was vital for them, and he gets rewarded each year by having to take repeated pay cuts to stay on the roster. For me, he and Edelman are the two guys who optimise the Patriots year on year. They probably couldn’t play in any other team in the league, but in this scheme they’re world-beaters.
Chris Hogan (27.5 – 13/5) is a bit of a wild card. He’s been injured for the last month or so as well, but before that he was brilliant for them and this line to me, looks pretty low. I believe they’ve been easing him back into action with this in mind, but that can’t be proved! He’s at 38.5 on 365, so there’s a nice middle at the moment if you fancy it, his games when healthy read like this… 8,78,68,60,74,19,71.60 to me, that sounds like 27.5 is a very good bet. Kenny Britt (18/1), Philip Dorsett (18/1), Dwayne Allen (8/1) round out the receiver corps. They don’t deserve writing about though.
Despite the bad rap that the Patriots defence has got for most of the year, they really haven’t been a bad group since week 3. They did what the Patriots usually do, they saw problems and they fixed them, they are a typical bend-don’t-break defence, they give up a lot of yards still, but not a lot of TDs.Embed from Getty Images
In a direct comparison, despite conceding nearly 600 yards more on the ground than the Eagles, the Patriots actually conceded less rushing TDs than the Eagles, 6 v 5 (2 of them to Chiefs in the first game of the season!) and 5 v 4 rec td to rbs. (2 of them in that Chiefs game too) They actually both gave up 24 TDs through the air and were pretty even at 6 (Pats) and 7 (Phi) on the ground. so despite them being widely regarded as opposites, the points they gave up weren’t a million miles away. In fact… They were actually 295 v 296 points conceded in the regular season, it doesn’t get much more even than that.
So where are we looking for an angle?
Remarkably the Pats haven’t scored in the first quarter of ANY of their Superbowl games, and while I don’t altogether trust historical data, they’ve scored 3 and conceded 7 in two playoff games this yea, so taking the Eagles +0.5 (4/5) seems to make sense to me, alternatively if you want to take u10 points in the first quarter then that’s also at a nice price at 11/10. similarly relying on this trend to continue, highest scoring half being the second half at 1/1 seems a sensible bet as well. I’m not sure I’d double, or treble down on this, but I’d be more than a little annoyed if one of them didn’t come in.
In all of their Superbowl games with Brady, the Patriots have only been involved in one that’s finished over 5 points winning margin, that was last year in OT. Other than that all their wins have been by 4 or less points, so, if you fancy it to be a close game again then the Tribet – any other result – 2/1 on 365 looks decent too, basically either team to win by 5 or less points.
Along with @rfltips I do like to look at the first half field goal market and I’ll happily take any team that’s near to evens on it, but with the Patriots bend don’t break defence as mentioned above, I would be surprised if the Eagles to score a field goal in the first half. At 4/7 it’s skinny odds, but Jake Elliott has kicked 61 yards outside this year, taking him indoors seems to make sense to me. Eagles first half FG 0.5 – 4/7
Now there’s a few prop bets that are essentially a shot in the dark, a few of them I am still willing to risk a couple of quid on. Team to recieve the kick off is a tough one as it largely depends on who wins the toss. The Patriots nearly always defer the kick, but it’s the away teams call on the toss, and that’s the Eagles. So… If the Eagles lose the toss then the Pats will likely defer the kick, if the Eagles win the toss it wouldn’t surprise me to see them take the kick with the idea of getting on the board first – Team to receive opening Kick – Eagles – 10/11 – PP
Now as I mentioned earlier there’s a whole load of conspiracy theories against the Patriots being loved by the refs, well, while I don’t believe those theories, the stats for defensive PI are quite eye opening, the Pats lead the league in yards gained by PI, a full 80 yards more than the Eagles received, they were also the beneficiary of 4 more than the Eagles, while the Eagles conceded only 1 more than the Pats did this season. First team penalised for PI – Eagles – 1/1 may well be stupid bet, but it could also be justified!
I will be looking at releasing a “stupid punts for Superbowl” post later in the week, but it’s dependant on whether I get the time or not! I also expect Skybet to have their 3 for 2 offer on RaBs so I’ll probably have a little post on them too, and a few correct score punts later as well.
Summary of both teams (so far…) –
- Tribet – Any other result – 2/1 – 365
- 1st qtr points – u10 – 1/1 – 365
- 1st qtr TDs – u1.5 – 4/9 – 365
- Eagles first half FG – o0.5 – 4/7 – 365
- Gronk anytime – 1/1 – ladbrokes
- Team to receive opening Kick – Eagles – 10/11 – PP
- Hogan o27.5 yards – 5/6 – PP
- Mack Hollins o9.5 rec. yards – 5/6 – PP
- Jay Ajayi u16.5 rush attempts – 5/6 – PP
- First team penalised for PI – Eagles – 1/1 – PP