Our Super Bowl 52 picks go beyond the hype to predict an ATS winner!
The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots hookup in Super Bowl 52 Sunday and odds on the perennial favorite Pats have been dropping since Day 1.
Thanks to their unprecedented success during the mainstream era of technology and sports, the New England Patriots have without a doubt become the most well-known NFL team in history.
Disagree? Think back to 2003, when Tampa Bay and Oakland mixed it up in Super Bowl 37. Before gameday, most people had no hope of telling you who the starting quarterbacks were. Football fans knew, as did casual sports fans, but the 17-year-old hostess at your favorite restaurant didn’t know. Neither did the bank teller nor the guy doing your books.
Times have changed and right now, it would be harder to find one person that didn’t know Tom Brady than finding 100 that did.
As bettors, we need to look past the fluff and try to find some measurable evidence to support our picks. Brady is great and so is Bill Belichick, but Super Bowl 52 is not going to be won on reputations. Here is what I’ve come up with.
SUPER BOWL 52 PICKS: EAGLES vs. PATS
The Pats are a slow-play type of team in past Super Bowls, as we discussed briefly in our Super Bowl Props Contest article. They are not concerned with who scores first or who leads at half-time. When you make adjustments like Belichick, these matters become trivial. But that doesn’t mean the Eagles can sit back and wait.
New England was tied for 3rd this year with a 7.72 yards per pass attempt average (YPPA) and that is standard form for them. Their playoff record at home when they hold an advantage in this category is 12-3 SU but only 8-7 ATS, thanks to an average line of -9.6 points. When New England is away from the confines, however, their playoff record in this category is 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS with all five games staying under.
The average line in those five games was -4.3 points and the past four games in this string, New England did not score more than 18 points. The one straight up win was, you guessed it, Super Bowl 39 against Philly. They won that game 24-21 straight up but it was not enough for a cover.
Philly’s season average for YPPA is 6.73 and as you might expect, the average from Week 9 out decreases slightly to 6.0. Unexpectedly, the Eagles have averaged an impressive 7.9 (DF) and 10.5 (CC) YPPA in their two playoff games. Single-digit playoff dogs that have averaged more than 8.5 YPPA their past two games are 21-7-2 ATS on an average line of +4.7 points.
Throwing the ball too often could play right into D-Co Matt Patricia’s hands but when Nick Foles does drop back to pass, he needs to make each one count.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Watching the Kansas City Chiefs put up 42 points on the Pats in Week 1 seems like ancient history, but many of the armchair QBs touting Philly are still citing ‘Defense’ as the Eagles’ best chance at winning. Philly did have a slightly better overall number (tenth of a point) through Week 17, but in the second-half of the season, playoffs included, no team has allowed fewer points than New England (14.6).
New England has also averaged a league-leading 4.5 sacks per game since Week 12, boosting them to 2.94 on the year. Philadelphia ranks 16th at 2.33. In the past 11 Super Bowls, the team with more sacks went 8-3 SU but keep in mind that only three of those eight victories were by more than four points.
A key to the Eagles defensive strength in this game will be their ability to shutdown the run. New England’s playoff success is littered with breakout games by little-known backs that somehow managed to avoid the D-Co’s gameplan.
Overall, Philly has the edge in this category, allowing 3.7 RYPC to New England’s 4.7 (31st). One thing to consider about the Pats D, though, is that although they started bad they were continuously improving all season. From Game No. 13 out, New England only allowed 3.6 RYPC.
It’s naturally making people (including me) wonder if this Belichick D could be ready to hit their pinnacle just in time for the biggest game of the year. They might, but when I ran a profile for playoff dogs with a better overall run D (Philly), playing against a foe that has suddenly become incredibly stout against the rush, we get a 10-3 ATS record for the Eagles. Generally speaking, dogs in all rounds of the playoffs beyond the Wild Card have a 63% ATS hit rate. For Super Bowl 52, I am giving Philly the overall edge in D.
SP SUPER BOWL 52 PREDICTION
The NFL teams that won straight up this season finished 84% against the spread. In all playoff games since 2001, excluding Super Bowls, the straight up winner slips to 81% ATS. Yes, Super Bowl winners from the first 51 have an impressive hit rate of 88%, or 43-6-2 ATS. And the Pats could win this game straight up but after capping Philly’s offense, I’ve projected them to score around 23 or 24 points. One of the props I’m considering is on Philly’s team total “Over” 21 points but from a flat bet perspective, I’m taking the Eagles with all the points I can find.