Patriots set as early betting favorites on Super Bowl odds

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Both teams won conference championship games on the road in overtime, but the way that the New England Patriots went about it, along with their well-earned reputation, has led to some early line movement on the Super Bowl odds.

New England, playing in their ninth Super Bowl in the last 18 seasons with Tom Brady at quarterback, are now 2.5-point betting favorites against the Los Angeles Rams with a 57-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for the February 3 contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta

New England, which has seen the line move in their favor this week, outgained the Kansas City Chiefs by 150-plus yards in regulation time in the AFC championship game and are 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 playoff games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. However, they are 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS as a favorite in the Super Bowl.

The Rams are 4-0 ATS in their last four games and 8-0 straight-up in their last eight games against AFC teams.

The Patriots, who are 13-5 SU and 11-7 ATS on the season, scored 78 points over two playoff wins that reflected the adage that lines wins championships. New England’s offensive line, anchored by tackles Trent Brown and Shaq Mason, cleared the way for Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead to furnish the rushing attack that makes Brady lethal in big games.

The Rams have dominant defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the interior of their defense, but it’s not clear whether a team that allowed a NFL-worst 5.1 yards per rush in the regular season will be able to match up against an opponent that uses two-back and/or two-tight-end sets with such great frequency.

The Rams, who are 15-3 SU and 9-7-2 ATS, are likely not being underestimated with the current line, but that might change if it swells to greater than a field-goal margin. With a relatively mistake-proof quarterback, Jared Goff, and an at-times devastating rushing attack with Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson, the Rams might be equipped to avoid having to play from behind, a pratfall that befell both New England opponents.

The Patriots have scored only three first-quarter points in eight Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Super Bowls and a recurrence of that trend could help the Rams settle in, especially if the Atlanta crowd adopts them as the home team.

Interestingly enough, the teams’ previous matchup in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 started a run where underdogs are 13-4 on the point spread, which also includes being 6-1 SU in the last seven games.

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last eight games in the playoffs, and has also gone OVER in their last three Super Bowls. The total has also gone OVER in five of the Rams’ last seven games as the underdog.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Two teams are set to dominate the 2019 NFL Draft: Patriots and…the Raiders?

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The owner of the 2019 NFL Draft? Oakland, with rookie GM Mike Mayock, who counts Bill Belichick as one of his best friends in football.

The power broker, potentially, of the 2019 NFL Draft? New England, which will have the ammo to move up, down and sideways—and Belichick has always loved wheeling and dealing on draft weekend.

The Raiders have four picks in the top 35. The Patriots have one pick in the top 55. But that’s a misleading part of the story. There’s great depth in this draft from pick 25 to 100 and even deeper, some scouts at the Senior Bowl thought. So there could be fine value in the Patriot picks when they are slated to choose five times in a 45-pick span from 56 to 101.

Raiders and Patriots picks in the top 110 overall choices of the draft, as of today:

• New England: 1st round, 32nd overall; 2-56; 2-64; 3-73; 3-97^; 3-101^

• Oakland: 1st round, 4th overall; 1-24; 1-27; 2-35; 3-66; 4-106

^ Projected compensatory picks for the losses of Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler in free agency, as calculated by Over the Cap’s Nick Korte.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America by clicking here

Bengals coach Zac Taylor has had no time to process the Rams’ crushing Super Bowl LIII loss

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Don’t you always wonder what it’s like for a man to coach in the Super Bowl, then, a day or two later, get introduced as the new coach of Team X? It’s crazy. Happened twice last week. The Patriots found it odd that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was in their Atlanta lobby at 9 a.m. Monday, 5.5 hours after the Super Bowl victory party ended, to ferry new coach Brian Flores (ex-Patriots defensive coordinator) to south Florida to be introduced as coach Monday afternoon. Zac Taylor had a few more hours to get his family to Cincinnati. The former Rams quarterback coach’s introductory press conference was Tuesday.

So it was interesting to hear Taylor’s reaction over the weekend when I asked him: “How disappointing was it to play the way your offense played in the Super Bowl?”

“I haven’t had a chance to process it, quite honestly,” he said from Cincinnati. “There just hasn’t been time. I haven’t watched the game. Honestly, I’m conflicted. It’s devastating to work so hard to get to the championship game, and for your entire team to pour everything they’ve got into it, and then to lose like that.

“But five or six hours after the game, I’m on a plane to Cincinnati, on the way to fulfill a dream I’ve had for so long—to be a head coach in the NFL. And then your brain goes there. It’s just … it’s just the way it is, and you’ve got to turn the page.”

There was some discomfort in his voice, bordering on pain. It’s easy to sit back and say, Buck up, buddy. You’re about to make millions to coach a football team. True, but if you’ve been a football coach for a while, and you help your team get to the Super Bowl, regardless of the outcome, it’s got to be odd to just walk out the door a few hours after the biggest game of all of your lives, no time to process or adjust, and you move on while everyone else wallows.

One other question. I asked Taylor if he’d had much of a chance to consider how close the Rams came to taking a lead with four minutes left in the third quarter, when Jason McCourty, panic-stricken, ran 20 yards in 2.4 seconds (per NFL Next Gen Stats) to bat a decisive touchdown away from Brandin Cooks in the back of the end zone. If Jared Goff was a millisecond quicker with his throw, the touchdown would have given LA a 7-3 lead and put huge pressure on New England. Instead, the Rams settled for a field goal to tie it, 3-3.

Taylor: Sigh.

“In football, you just miss by inch sometimes,” he said. “You can be an inch from … “

Sigh again.

“That’s football in a nutshell. That’s football.”

I thought that would be it from Taylor, but he brightened, as his mentor Sean McVay would have. Taylor continued, “Criticism, pressure, adversity. We want our staff and our players to understand that this is the NFL. This is why you do this job. The energy, the camaraderie, can’t be duplicated, except maybe at the craps table in Vegas when you’re on a roll.”

The Bengals have needed some energy, and an offensive spur. I’m looking forward to seeing what Taylor can provide.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America by clicking here