Why is a majority taking over 56½ points in Super Bowl LIII betting?

Saturday, 02 February 2019 14:24 EST

NFLbets has stated previously that our Super Bowl betting is based in backward logic, i.e. we’re starting from the premise that the Los Angeles Rams win mainly because all the good odds are on the L.A. side. Thus will it come as no surprise that we’re recommending that NFL bettors take the under on on O/U line of 56½ points.

Despite bringing an offense that’s statistically no. 2 in the NFL and a defense that allowed 24.0 points per regular season game, the Rams began 2018 and played throughout with a reputation for a monster defense. (Remember how Aaron Donald was proclaimed to be one of the best players in a 54-51 game? Like that.) The logic would seem to dictate, then, that a great share of the 75-plus percent of money on the New England Patriots in this game would also be banging the over.

Instead, just 54% of money on Super Bowl over/under bets is reportedly on the over, implying that more than one-third of those betting on Patriots -2½/-3 are also taking the under. NFLbets isn’t sure whether that’s good or bad for our recommendation…

Those betting the Patriots cover the point spread yet the score staying under are probably betting on a couple of premises, mainly that both sides play relatively conservative ball; this is exemplified in the simple stat breathlessly done to death by the hype machines this week, i.e. The Belichick/Brady Patriots Have Only Scored 3 Points Total In Eight Super Bowls. (What, like every reasonably attentive observer of the NFL hadn’t mentally filed that number away two Super Bowls ago? Come on.)

But we believe something is missing in this deduction. After all, those Patriots teams may have gone touchdown-less in those eight games, but the over is 4-4 regardless, 3-2 in Patriots Super Bowl wins, and the Eagles-Patriots score in XXXIX went under by 2 points). Of note, too, is that the over is on a 5-1 run in Super Bowls regardless of teams playing which, to NFLbets’ mind, is another salient argument for the under in LIII via regression to the mean.

Tough betting for Patriots backers then, but for those wagering on the Rams, the choice is easy.

Firstly, by setting the line at 56½, the bookmakers are expecting a result of Patriots 29 or 30, Rams 27. This sounds relatively realistic, as the Rams surrendered some 32.1 points per game against playoff teams during the regular season. Despite keeping the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints’ scoring in the low 20s, the bookmakers clearly figure New England to exploit the Los Angeles D as the Eagles, Vikings or Seahawks (twice) in 2018.

NFLbets just doesn’t foresee either a blowout or both teams getting into the high 20s, particularly given the way most are reckoning this Super Bowl plays out. We suppose Todd Gurley could become Superman again and C.J. Anderson could even simultaneously Hulk out, with the dynamic duo combining for 150 total yards in the opening 10 minutes to get the Rams out to a 17-3. That *could* happen.

Alternatively, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh could torment Tom Brady like the old Cowboys did Jim Kelly, inducing ol’ Touchdown Tom into a couple of fluky early turnovers – likesay, a patented Aaron Donald strip sack and an Aqib Talib interception – to lead to an early 14-0 score and forcing another great second-half comeback from Brady & Co. That’s easily imaginable; it *could* happen.

And Jared Goff, having gotten all growed up in the NFC Championship Game, could get in the zone here. He could coolly, calmly, meticulously perfectly march the Rams wire-to-wire downfield on the first two drives, divvying up key catches among Gurley, Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, and especially ex-Patriot Brandin Cooks. Naturally, Brady could respond bang bang and with seven minutes remaining in the first half, it’s 14-14 and the under is an endangered species. That *could* happen.

All the above scenarios are certainly imaginable, but how likely are they? NFL bets would like to posit two contrasting possibilities for Super Bowl LIII that lead to the under paying out.

Why wouldn’t Belichick and McVay play this Super Bowl the way most are expecting? The truth is that the Belichick/Brady Patriots trend to conservative in the playoffs – but only just. New England scoring is well lower in Super Bowls than in the regular season. In nine seasons ending with a trip to the ’Bowl, the Patriots averaged 28.2 points per game in regular-season games, as opposed to 24.5 and 22.75, respectively in playoff games and Super bowls. Nevertheless, all three numbers hit the under on 56½ points and 2½-3 points for the Rams.

The Patriots are currently running with a three-headed monster of James White, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, who altogether average a decent 4.28 yards per carry but have made these ball-control loving Patriots a top-5 team in rushing attempts, yardage, TDs and, perhaps most importantly, time of possession. Another verrrrrrry interesting stat: The Patriots offense in 2018 scored fewer points than any New England squad since 2010, Brady’s “comeback” season and the sole time the team lost in the wild card round.

As for the Rams running game, Gurley and Anderson are simply put the best two players on that offense right now. Whether Gurley/Anderson more resembles Superman/Hulk than Clark Kent/Bruce Banner remains to be seen, but the Patriots D will certainly be fed a steady diet of these two for the first half at least. And that points to more running clocks, therefore more scoring.

Here’s another scenario that hits the under: Say the Patriots rattle Goff and Gurley early while the receivers all but taunt Marcus Peters and Nickell “Would-Be Brady Killer” Robey-Coleman as they fly by again and again. A Patriots blowout is quite conceivable as well, but even something like 46-10 still goes under.

So yeah, we’re liking the under 56½ for Super Bowl LIII. Go clock-killing halfbacks! Go defense!