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.

Peter King reflects on Bart Starr’s determination, NFL legacy

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In his last interview—and that is a stretch, really, because the “interview” was 23 courageous and arduous words long, and it lasted well over an hour—Bart Starr tried to accomplish his goal just as hard as he tried to burrow in for the biggest touchdown in the history of the Green Bay Packers in the Ice Bowl. Two strokes, a heart attack and a brain-scrambling disease called aphasia can make uttering 23 words like climbing Kilimanjaro. I know. I witnessed it, late last August in Starr’s office south of Birmingham, Ala.

The effort that day said so much about Starr the man. I had come to Birmingham to convey the level of the relationship between Rodgers, 34, and Starr, 84. Though they were a half-century apart in age, they had a bond. When Rodgers took over the Packer QB job in 2008, Starr wrote Rodgers a letter, and Starr kept writing him. Encouraging things. “It meant so much, coming from a man who had been in my shoes with this team,” Rodgers told me a few days later. “I was a big football fan, and big Packer fan. Here was Bart Starr, writing to me. It always meant a lot to me, because I knew I had the support of one of the greatest players of all time.”

Bart Starr died Sunday morning at 85. He was a great player, a Hall of Fame player, quarterbacking the Packers to the NFL championship in 1961, 1962 and 1965, and the larger Super Bowl championship in the 1966 and 1967 seasons. Pretty good for the 200th pick in the NFL draft in 1956, exactly 44 years before Tom Brady was the 199th pick in the draft.

You know what I really wanted to ask Starr that afternoon in Birmingham? You completed 14 of 24 throws in minus-46 wind chill in the Ice Bowl, against that great Dallas defense, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and a rating over 110. How? How’d you do it? But it wasn’t the place or the time; the memory bank just wasn’t there. But I did want him to know how good he was if no one reminded him about it much anymore—his 104.8 career rating in NFL playoff games has never been surpassed in the last half century by the greatest of the quarterback greats. But he didn’t care.

What he cared about that day was doing something nice for his friend. These 23 words were his Bob Lilly, his big foe.

I, and an NBC crew, had come to Birmingham, and would proceed to Green Bay a few days later to speak to Rodgers, for an NBC story on the warm relationship between the great Green Bay quarterback of the sixties and the great Green Bay quarterback of modern day. Starr and his personal assistant, Leigh Ann Nelson, had written a short note for this story. Starr would tell of his relationship with Rodgers. Nelson knew the message had to be short, because Starr simply didn’t have the ability to say much, at any volume, because of the strokes.

When Starr walked in, steadied by Nelson, he sat down on a couch and I told him how much I appreciated him making this effort.

He stared at me, opened his mouth. “Glad,” he said, and then it took a few seconds, “for Aaron.”

This was for Aaron. Anything for Aaron. Bart and Cherry Starr, his wife of 64 years, loved Aaron Rodgers.

Read more from Football Morning in America here

Why the New York Jets deserve the controversy, dysfunction surrounding them

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1. I think the Jets architecture job is not the one to take if you want to run a franchise, Peyton Manning. To be charitable, the Jets are not close to contention.

2. I think I won’t be the first to use this rationale for my opinion about what happened when Mike Maccagnan got dismissed the other day as Jets GM, but it’s the first thing that occurred to me: The Jets truly deserve this controversy. A few points:

• I have no sympathy for Maccagnan, who lorded over a 14-35 team since New Year’s Day 2016. Only Cleveland and San Francisco have won fewer games since then. But by my math, Maccagnan just spent $235 million in free agency this offseason, a gargantuan sum. He just had the keys to the draft and, apparently with minimal input from the head coach, made Quinnen Williams the third overall pick in the draft. He was fired 19 days after the draft. What owner in his right mind allows a GM he figures he may well fire run a crucial off-season? Christopher Johnson, that’s who.

• Adam Gase is going to have a major say on who becomes the next GM of the Jets. Gase was 23-26 in his three-year stint coaching the Dolphins, and, though the quarterback position was plagued by injuries while he was there, he’s supposed to be a quarterback guru, and the Dolphins, again, are starting from scratch at the position after firing Gase four-and-a-half months ago. I like Gase well enough. But what exactly has he done, first, to earn a head-coaching job after his three years in Miami … and, second, to play a significant role in picking the architect of the new Jets?

• I assume the reports of Gase not wanting Le’Veon Bell for $13.5 million a year are true. (I don’t blame him.) But the leaks in that building are never-ending, and in this case, the leaks could drive a wedge between a guy who doesn’t seem very happy to be a Jet in the first place, Bell, and the guy who’s going to be calling his number this fall. Gase better figure a way to tamp that down. I don’t know if he can.

• How do you have faith in the Jets to get this GM thing right now? And what smart GM-candidate type (Joe Douglas or Louis Riddick or Daniel Jeremiah) would want to take his one shot—because most GMs get one shot at running a team—working for Christopher Johnson?

• If I were Mike Greenberg, I’d be burying my head in my hands this morning, wondering why oh why did I get stuck loving this franchise? How can season-ticket-holders send in their money this year thinking they’re going to see the turnaround season of a team that’s won 5, 5, and 4 games the past three years?

• Sam Darnold doesn’t coach.

Read more from Football Morning in America here