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Patriots vs. Rams: Latest Point Spread, Money Line, Picks for Super Bowl 53

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2019

Rookie runnning back Sony Michel has five rushing touchdowns in the first two postseason games of his career.
Rookie runnning back Sony Michel has five rushing touchdowns in the first two postseason games of his career.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Rams may be the secondary story as Super Bowl LIII approaches.

The Rams certainly have a strong team, and they have perhaps the best of the new breed of coaches in the NFL.

Sean McVay is creative, intelligent and courageous, and he clearly has had a huge impact on this team in his two years as head coach.

The Rams were a playoff team last year and have gotten the best of the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints in the postseason.

The Saints are clearly upset about a non-call on a pass interference penalty that seemingly would have allowed them to hold on to the ball until the final seconds before attempting the game-winning field goal.

However, if the Saints had been able to capitalize on two first-quarter possessions when they were forced to settle for field goals or had managed to defend Jared Goff and the Rams on the final regulation possession that led to Greg Zuerlein's game-tying field goal, they would have found a way to win the game.

While the Rams have had a good season and clearly made quite a bit of progress, the Patriots have proved to be an incredible dynasty as a result of the coaching of Bill Belichick and the quarterback play of Tom Brady.

The Patriots started their run when they defeated the favored St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.

That Rams team was known as "The Greatest Show on Turf" and featured stars like quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk and a pair of game-changing wideouts in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

The Patriots were underdogs in that game, but they jumped out to an early lead, withstood a St. Louis rally and won the game when Brady engineered a late-game drive that led to the game-winning 48-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

The Patriots are favored this time around by a 2.5-point margin, per OddsShark. Immediately after the Patriots outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 in Sunday's AFC title game, the Rams were made a one-point favorite.

However, the bulk of the early money bet on the game has come in on the Patriots, and the spread has turned in their favor. OddsShark reported that 64 percent of the money wagered to this point has come in on New England.

The total in the game is a robust 57.5 points, and while that seems high, both offenses are capable of stringing touchdowns together and scoring 30 points or more.

The Patriots are -150 favorites (bet $100 to win $66.67) to win the game on the money line, while the Rams are +130 underdogs (bet $100 to win $130) to come out with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The Patriots have established a solid running attack in the postseason. Rookie running back Sony Michel has rushed for 242 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry while pounding the ball into the end zone five times.

Rex Burkhead has pitched in with 53 rushing yards and three touchdowns. One of those was the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Chiefs in the AFC title game.

The Rams also have a 1-2 punch at the running back position with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. Gurley was a legitimate MVP candidate through the first three-quarters of the season, but a knee injury sidelined him for a couple of games.

Anderson stepped in and has provided a powerful, between-the-tackles running style. Gurley and Anderson exceeded the 100-yard mark in the divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, but Gurley had just 10 yards against the Saints.

If the Patriots establish dominance with their running game, it will make Brady difficult to stop. Goff needs his running game to take pressure off of the offense so he can establish a consistent passing game.

     

Prediction

The Patriots are playing in their ninth Super Bowl of the Belichick-Brady era, and there's no reason to think that either one will be nervous as they prepare for and play in the biggest game of the year. They know what to expect every step of the way.

That won't make it easy, but it will help them eliminate the small mistakes that could impact the Rams as a result of anxiety.

Additionally, the question of overall ability appears to lie with Brady over Goff. The Patriots' quarterback can still make all the throws and reads defenses in an impeccable manner. Goff has a powerful arm, but he is not as consistent as Brady, and he needs help from McVay when it comes to deciphering defensive formations.

The Patriots have the edge in this game, and they should come away the win and the cover in a game that goes over the total.

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