The New England Patriots have been on top of the league for what feels like forever, Bill Belichick has built the Brady bunch into the titans of the league (sorry Tennessee). The Los Angeles Rams have a completely different story to tell. After their move to California in 2016, they’ve been the league’s shiny new car sitting in the garage, waiting for its chance to rev its engine in the limelight. This is the classic match-up of old vs new, 33-year-old head coach Sean McVay vs 66-year-old head coach Bill Belichick, David versus Goliath and now, the Patriots vs the Rams.
Whichever team you’re rooting for, (or if you’re just in it for the snacks,) here’s a quick breakdown to have you Super Bowl ready this Sunday.
New England Patriots (AFC Champions):
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Quarterback: Tom Brady
Due to their absolute dominance over the league that never seems to end, the Patriots are the team in the league to hate. But no one can deny that what they’ve built is extremely impressive. Eight straight AFC championships. Nine Super Bowl appearances. Five rings. Brady is still unstoppable at 41 years old, and has already announced he won’t be retiring after this season. Bill Belichick has the third most wins ever by an NFL head coach (261), with no end in sight. He built this Patriots dynasty from the ground up. Together, Brady and Belichick’s Super Bowl appearances together acco676unt for 17% of all Super Bowls ever played.
Things to know:
Rob Gronkowski (TE):
The larger-than-life “Gronk,” has flirted with the idea of retirement after this season for a while now. He has yet to make any clear statements on the topic, but it may be his time as the 29 year-old has suffered numerous injuries, and has worries about his long term health. He’s one of the most exciting players to watch on and off the field, as he’s also an avid partier and character in his free time. At 6’6 and 285 pounds, the tight end has been a desirable grab for everyone in the league but has stayed a Patriot since being drafted 42nd overall in 2010. When healthy, he performs better than anyone in the league, as he was ranked the #1 tight end in the NFL after last year. Gronk had 682 receiving yards this season, and 7861 in his career. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro-Bowler. Gronk leaving the league would be a heavy loss in Patriots fans hearts, but a third ring would have a deserving Gronk riding out into sunset.
Julian Edelman (WR):
The Patriots’ factory™ has become known for taking smaller, but wickedly fast wide receivers and making them some of the best in the league. Edelman was a diamond in the rough Belichick grabbed, being taken 232nd overall in the 2009 draft. But coaching can’t take away from the pure talent and drive Edelman has that makes him standout. His 105 receptions are the 2nd most in post season history, he has 16 grabs for 247 yards, thriving off being one of Brady’s most reliable targets. After missing last year’s Super Bowl loss to a knee injury, he’s hungry for a ring and to prove he may be the winning factor for the Patriots, a role that would go down in history. He’s had 850 yards in the 2018 regular season and 5390 yards during his career.
Sony Michel (RB):
Michel is relentless, especially for his first season. Over the last four games he’s averaged better than 100 yards rushing and had 5 rushing touchdowns- a new record for a rookie. He was also the UGA running back after Todd Gurley, making this quite the match-up for the bulldogs. The Rams’ may have tightened up their defense in the playoffs, only allowing 2.3 yards per rush, they still lack the experience and have many defensive holes that teams have learned how to chip through this season. With Michel’s talent and rookie adrenaline paired Brady’s depth of quick passes, they could be a lethal combo this Sunday.
Case for the Los Angeles Rams (NFC Champions):
Head Coach: Sean McVay
Quarterback: Jared Goff
The Rams have worked hard on improving their team from top to bottom since their move to Los Angeles in 2016. After barely squeaking through the NFC championships, largely due to a missed call in overtime against the New Orleans Saints, the Rams have to work hard to prove they belong here. As the youngsters of the game, with a coach barely in his 30’s and quarterback Jared Goff 17 years younger than Brady, the Rams’ are the absolute underdogs of this match-up. Goff has less career wins (26) than Brady has playoff wins (29), less career pass TDs (67) than Brady’s playoff pass TD’s (73) and less career pass yards (10,323) than Brady’s playoff pass yards (10,917). Most of the league is cheering for the Rams just because they yearn for another Super Bowl upset for the Patriots.
Things to know:
Jared Goff (QB):
Regardless of his sub-par performance recently, completing only 58.8% of his passes this postseason, Goff is still a vital tool in McVay’s offensive arsenal. Goff has been a stunning and highly adaptive quarterback on the field, where he seems to shape-shift on the spot to become his facing team’s kryptonite. His age is a huge reason he’s so flexible on the field. At 24, this is only Goff’s 3rd year in the NFL, and his first attempt at a Super Bowl. We can predict the Patriots primary focus will be to limit Todd Gurley, and so Goff’s performance becomes a more and more important aspect to the Ram’s final outcome.
Todd Gurley (RB):
If you haven’t been watching him this season, you’ve missed an absolute spectacle. Gurley is arguably the best offensive player in this game. However, he completely flew under the radar in the NFC championship, with only five touches. Is this offensive powerhouse getting stage fright under the pressure? It’s guaranteed that McVay will be utilizing Gurley as much as possible in this game, as he could be who brings this young team their first win. Gurley that had 1251 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. It’s undisputable that he’s been a huge reason why the Rams’ have come so far this season, but he’ll need to play differently than he did against the Saints if he wants to win.
Ndamukong Suh (NT):
If you can properly pronounce his name, you’re already more football savvy than half the broadcasters in the league. So, you can probably stop reading this. If not, he pronounces it ehn-dahm-uh-kehn soo (say that five times fast). Nose tackles often don’t get the recognition in big games they deserve, but with eight tackles and one and a half sacks this postseason, Suh has become the most dominant defensive lineman for the Rams. As it goes for every old man, Brady hates being rushed. The best way to throw off New England is to throw them off their balance and cut off his time to leverage his quick release. Suh is a vet in this category from his years in Miami and playing Brady in the past, he could be the man that edges the Rams ahead, so look out for him on Sunday.
The Super Bowl is Vegas’ Christmas morning. This event is a money-making machine for the sports books, as betting is at the heart and soul of this event and an integral part of the experience. It wouldn’t be fair to do a Super Bowl Survival Guide without explaining the basics of this craft.
Point spread betting: A point spread is a figure set by oddsmakers to show an advantage/disadvantage based on the margin of victory/defeat by a team. The “favourite” is labeled with a “-”sign, is the team to have a disadvantage (as they need to win that game by the set number of points to win the bet). The “underdog” is the labeled with “+” sign is given an advantage to not lose the game by that set number of points. This is made by oddsmakers to even the field so there’s more incentive to bet the underdog. For example: Super Bowl LII has the Patriots (favourite) at -2.5 and the Rams (underdog) at +2.5. Therefore, the Patriots need to win by at least 2.5 points and the Rams need to lose by less than that (they can win by any margin, as long as they “cover the spread.” Sometimes the spread will not will not be points but the money you would win per $100 bet.
Cover the spread: The favourite team must win by their odds or more, the underdog must lose by their odds or less. In this case, the Patriots would win by over 2.5 and Rams lose by less than 2.5.
Money line: a bet where your team just needs to win, spread is not a factor.
Proposition “prop” bet: an exotic bet that’s not always available. These are very popular in the Super Bowl (see National Anthem below). They can also be more specific bets as to which team will score first, or what player, when they will score etc. The more obscure/unlikely they are, the bigger the payout.
There’s a whole world of sports betting out there, if you’re still interested click here
The National Anthem:
Despite President Trump’s hopes and prayers, this ballad continues to be a highly controversial topic of the NFL. Sparks continued to fly this year as Nike named Colin Kaepernick the face of their new advertising campaign in September. The country remains divided on if it should be mandatory for players stand during the anthem.
On a lighter note, the national anthem is one of the most common prop bets during the Super Bowl. This Sunday, the “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight, will sing the national anthem. However, before the coin is flipped and the first snap is thrown, many bettors will already have money on their minds. Most bets take statistical research and football knowledge to feel confident in. However, the national anthem is more of a “free for all,” fun and pure luck-based bet to get the Vegas books buzzing early. If you’re interested in placing bets on this ballad, here are the odds:
Over 1 minute and 47 seconds: (-160)
Under 1 minutes and 47 seconds (+120)
Knight DOES forget/omit a word from the national anthem: (+300)
Knight DOES NOT forget/omit a word from the national anthem (-500)
This match-up will hopefully be a jaw-dropping, nail biter that fans and the NFL love to see. However, the Patriots are coming into this game with so much experience on their side it’s hard to root against them. They know how to perform under pressure, and even though the Rams are that exciting new toy in the gift shop that every kid stares and obsesses over at, they don’t (yet) have the strong and stable inner working that the reliable Patriots do.