Tom Brady will have a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski alongside him as he tries to defy both Father Time and some dubious history for prolific passers in the Super Bowl.
No news is apparently good news regarding the Super Bowl LII betting matchup for Sunday, as neither the Patriots nor the Eagles listed a single player on the injury report in advance of the championship game, which takes place at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday. That left the lines stable, with the defending champion Patriots listed as 4.5-point favorites with a 48-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Brady and the Patriots are shooting for a record-tying sixth Super Bowl win. Brady is also trying to become the first quarterback to lead the league in passing yards and lead his team to the championship in the same season. Teams with the league’s most prolific passer are 0-5 straight-up all-time in Super Bowls.
The Eagles, who are 15-3 SU and 12-6 against the spread, are an underdog for the seventh time this season. The good news, for Eagles backers and/or Patriots loathers, is that they are 4-2 both SU and ATS as a ‘dog this season, with one of the losses coming in a nothing game in Week 17.
While quarterback Nick Foles can run hot and cold, his offensive line has protected him very well so far in the playoffs. The Patriots, who were eighth in the league in sacks but 25th in yards per pass attempt allowed, cannot afford to give a quarterback time to make his reads.
Philadelphia’s most-used running back, Jay Ajayi (ankle), should be 100 percent by kickoff. The Eagles have had some key pieces on defense, cornerback Ronald Darby and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, each need days off due to illness but each also practiced fully on Friday.
The Patriots, who are 15-3 SU and 12-6 ATS, have the edge in experience, with 31 players retained from the 2016 championship team, as well as the seven Super Bowl trips over the previous 16 years for the game-day brain trust of head coach Bill Belichick and Brady – the focus of many of the Super Bowl 52 prop bets set for Sunday.
Brady, despite seeing Gronkowski go down, did thrive in the AFC Championship Game against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that was second in the NFL at 6.0 yards per pass allowed, just ahead of the Eagles’ 6.5. The Patriots might have to be pass-happy in order to negate an Eagles defensive front led by Fletcher Cox, and Philadelphia is decidedly average at covering tight ends and slot receivers – a spot where New England is in good hands thanks to Gronkowski and Danny Amendola.
Bettors will have to decide how pertinent the many positive Patriots trends are to this particular matchup. The Patriots are 9-1 SU and ATS in their last 10 games after an against-the-spread loss, but their last Super Bowl loss, in 2012, came after they did not cover in the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots are also 14-2 SU in their last 16 games after losing the previous game in a matchup, but that 2015 defeat against Philadelphia did not involve the current Eagles coaching staff under Doug Pederson.
The total has gone over in seven of the Eagles’ last nine games as underdogs, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. Meanwhile, the total has gone under in 10 of the Patriots’ last 14 games.
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