It’s the Superbowl! Falcons vs Patriots

It’s finally here, the culmination of the hard work put in by the 32 teams who started the season with hopes of reaching the final game. Out of those teams 10 or so held realistic hopes of reaching this point. Ironically the Falcons were probably not among those teams, in fact they had the 6th worst odds at the start of the season at 150/1 (18th September on WillHill, they took 184 bets on them at odds of over 100/1) but have shit on all predictions to make the final game with arguably the best offence of the century and one of the best of all time. They easily beat the Seahawks and just overrun the Packers in the championship game a fortnight ago. Unsurprisingly the Patriots were the favourites, and despite their best ever QB being suspended for the first 4 games of the season for his knowledge of having slightly deflated balls, they strolled through the season 14-2 (having the cushiest schedule in the league helped of course) and shrugged off the bum Texans and the depleted Steelers to reach this moment.

There’s a myriad of stats, figures and various number available to support pretty much any opinion you want to put across on this game. For me. It’s too close to call a winner on the handicap, set with the Patriots as 3 points faves. I have flipped and flopped all week over who I think will win and at the time of writing I think it will be the Patriots. Looking compartmentally they’re fairly equal on offence and special teams, but the Pats win on defence, and experience. So I think they’ll win it. (Stat to back it up… It’s Dan Quinn’s first game vs the Pats. Bellichek is 3-22 against coaches having their first match against him) However the main reason I think the Pats will win is located on a little place far from the madding crowd called Narrative Street. Brady and Bellichek will of been pissed off by the sentence given to them over “deflategate” they lost Brady for 4 games, they lost draft picks. They’ll be determind to rub it into Goodells face and laugh at him when he has to hand them the Lombardi trophy at the end of the match.

One bit of the game line I am fairly confident on, is the unders on the total. This might seem counter intuitive given the offensive abilities on show, and the fact that Superbowls are generally higher scoring matches, but… The Falcons defence has improved over the season and conceded an average on 19 in the playoffs. The pats have the best scoring defence in the league (as mentioned they had a cushy schedule) but to me. It seems it will be under the record total set at 58.5. From everything I’ve seen/read/heard the pros are waiting for 59 to go on the unders. While the general public money seems to be on the overs, which is why the line is going up. I know who I’d choose to follow there.

Tough to know where to start on this write up, there’s currently 290 markets available on bet365 and they don’t even have the joke markets up, see my post from earlier in the week for those… So as you can imagine there’s a ton of things to look at and try to find value from! I’ve scoured the internet, oddschecker is my usual go to for obvious reasons, don’t seem to list a lot of things so going to pages directly is the best way to go. I’ve listened to countless podcasts and read numerous articles this week so that I’m as educated as I can be for this matchup! (Which may well all prove completely moot come 3am Monday morning)

Just a small warning, there’s a lot of things I’ve tipped in this write up, and a lot of points staked, obviously I wouldn’t expect people to follow all of them, but they may bring to light something you wouldn’t look at yourself, or hopefully back up your own thinking. A lot more on the Pats side of the ball than the Falcons, which surprises me a bit to be honest, bit it happens that way sometimes.

We’ve analysed these teams week in, week out and not that much has changed since the championship games, so given the amount of prop bets. There’s a couple of things to note though, which I believe are relevant to this match up specifically… As we know, Bill Bellichek is the best coach of all time, and he usually schemes to take away a teams best weapon, this week that’s Julio Jones, the issue with this is the fact that the Falcons have so many other weapons that taking him away could leave them vulnerable elsewhere, Sanu, Gabriel, Coleman or Freeman, Hooper, Toilolo are all viable targets, even big Paddy Di Marco when he’s on the field. I think it’s likely that Eric Rowe will get safety help with Julio, and Sanu will be left one on one with either Malcolm Butler or Logan Ryan. Then they’ll cover Gabriel when needs must with whomever is left. It’s worth noting that the Patriots have only given up 100 yards to one no.1 receiver all season (Antonio Brown in week 7). Julio’s yards are as high as 102.5 on WillHill, I’ve got to be thinking the unders on him, can I recommend it was confidence? No… It’s Julio fricking Jones, did you see his TD the other week?! He could get 75 yards at the drop of a hat. Because of their ability to shut down the no.1 target on a team, the supporting cast will need to step up, and the Falcons supporting cast is one of the better lot in the league. I would therefore expect Mo Sanu to get a fair bit of the action, his yards are set as low as 44.5 on Skybet, and his receptions are at 4.5 on 365. The only worry I have with going over on the 44.5 is that they have so many targets to aim for, if Julio is covered, and Sanu looks a dangerous pass there’s 6 or 7 other guys out there that Ryan trusts equally. Taylor Gabriel’s yards are all set to around 50, that’s too high for me to consider going overs, but again I can’t confidently say go under either. One that I have gone on (and mentioned on the preview post last week) is Austin Hooper rec. yards. They were set at 11.5 on Skybet, that has since gone up to 15.5, I still believe that’s a good bet, his yards are at 22 everywhere else, so it’s still a good 30% lower for him to get than everywhere else. I’ve personally gone 4 points on the o11.5, i’d recommend 2pts on o15.5 rec. yards for Austin Hooper.   Having looked at the majority of the prop bets, the ones I will definitely avoid would be the rushing yards, the Pats’ run D, allowed only three runs of 20-plus yards and just six rushing TDs on almost 400 attempts — both lowest in the league, so safe to say, stay away from the rushing yards… Having said that…and I know it doesn’t make logical sense, but for some reason that I can’t explain or completely justify I think it will be a Tevin Coleman game… I’ll be staying away from his yards, but he’s 11/8 anytime and 10/1 for 2 or more at 365, I’ve gone for 2pts on each of those. The good thing about him is his ability to catch out of the backfield. I have just realised I haven’t even mentioned the (probable) league MVP… Matty ‘Ice’ Ryan. He’s had a ridiculous year, throwing TDs to 13 different players, 10 of them have multiple TDs, both of those things are records, he leads the league in most measurables. He’s not thrown and interception since week 13, he leads Brady 38:28 on Touchdowns on the season, and has a higher completion rate than him as well, at nearly 70%. He ranks no. 1 in passes under 10 yards (86), 2nd in 11-20 (96.1) and 2nd in 20+ (98.8) QBR. Led the league in yards per attempt. – Ryan’s 54.3 fourth-quarter QBR ranked 19th in the NFL; when trailing, his QBR in the final two minutes was a dismal 2.2. They didn’t trail much in the fourth quarter though, so i’m not sure how relevant that last one is, after their bye week, the Falcons converted a league high 47% of their third downs, there is a market for most 3rd down conversions which I was going to be all over, but Brady has also been extremely good there so I’ve given it a miss.

So, onto the Patriots. We all know how good Tom Brady is, and so do the bookies, so I’ve not even looked into his yards, completions, etc… I’ll be avoiding them all. He’s the best of all time though, no doubt in my mind. He’s won the MVP 3 of the 6 times he’s played in the Superbowl, thrown 13 TDs in those games, unsurprisingly, he leads the way in passing yards in Superbowl’s, along with having that, he also has the record for most consecutive completions with 16. – Given all those amazing stats and figures about Brady, it’s ridiculous that unbelievably, the Patriots haven’t scored in the first quarter in any of those 6 matches. Now I’m not sure that really means much in the grand scheme of things for this season, but add to that the fact that the Falcons have scored a TD on 8 consecutive opening drives, and taking Falcons +0.5 in the first quarter seems to make sense! 2pts at 4/6 on Skybet, if you’re feeling especially bold, then you could take them -3.5 at 2/1 on bet365, I shall not be doing that though. The Pats passing game is as good as ever, with Chris Hogan turning out to be the star man last week, finishing with the exact same figures as the big man on the Falcons team, he and Julio both finished with 9 for 180 and 2 TDs, while I don’t doubt he COULD do that again, it seems unlikely. However nearly every catch he makes is for more than 20 yards (he’s had 6 targets of o20 yards in the playoff games). In the 2 playoff games they’ve had he’s had longs of 45 and 39, add to that he’s going up against the worst team for Yards after catch in the entire league, and at 24.5 yards on Paddypower you’ve got me interested. 2pts on Chris Hogan longest reception o24.5 on there. Now a guy who may have led to the upsurge on Chris Hogans form over the playoffs is Malcolm Mitchell who was out for the Texans game, and although active for the Steelers match, and playing 60% of snaps, didn’t get many targets. I feel he’s been overlooked by the bookies this week because of that. He was a trusted player by Brady during the season, and although Tom Brady hasn’t thrown a completion to any rookie in any of his Superbowls, I think that will change this week. William Hill have his yards set at a friendly 20.5 – I’ve got 4pts on the overs on that. The main chain mover for the Patriots in the passing game is of course Julian Edelman, a man who down the stretch, targeted on 33.5 percent of his routes — the NFL’s second-highest frequency. He has topped 100 yards in his last 3 games, in fact, he’s topped 70 yards in all of his last 10 games. That’s amazing. However, I still can’t bring myself to back over 84.5 for him despite the fact he will probably get it. I can’t go for him scoring TDs either, in those 10 games, he’s only scored 3, and while i’m pretty confident he’ll top the 7.5 reception mark, I can’t recommend that either. He is their key man, but no good for betting purposes. One man I shall be having a punt on is Martellus Bennett. He’s been an ample replacement for Gronk this year, providing TDs when needed, but more as a blocker where he’s very very good, now his yards are set high, in my opinion, so i’m happy to take the unders on him. u42.5 yards – 5/6 at Paddypower – 3pts; He’s not topped that mark for 6 weeks now, and hasn’t been targeted more than 5 times for 10 weeks. I don’t expect Danny Amendola to do much, which is a shame as I liked him last year as a player, injuries have ruined his season this time around though. Finally, on to the RBs. Deon Lewis has been a huge plus for the Pats in the playoffs, his elusiveness and freshness after missing a lot of the season has been great for them, that 3 TD game against the Texans (that we tipped up…) marked his return in style, and with the Falcons being so poor at wrapping players up, he could be in for a big game. I believe the Falcons have also given up the most TD to pass catching RBs in the league, if not top then they’re very close to it. Also worth noting that New England have NEVER lost when he’s played in the match, he’s 11/8 to score anytime, 10/1 for 2 or more. Apparently he’s their Tevin Coleman. I’m going to chuck 2pts on him scoring first for New England at 7/1 (Paddypower/Skybet) If it’s not Lewis catching from the backfield then it will be James White, he’s a poorer version of him, but still effective when he gets the chances. The bruiser in the Patriots team and still their main workhorse guy is LeGarrette Blount, he’s had 15 or more carries in 10 of his 14 games this year and that’s his line at WillHill – 2pts on o14.5 carries. A sensible way for the Patriots to limit the Falcons offensive abilities is to keep the ball, this would mean either dink and dunk, or running it a lot. If they go this way then it should be a lot of Blount, was tempted with his yards at 55.5 on the same site, but prefer his carries, despite him facing the 7th worst team in terms of rushing yards conceded.

And I believe that’s about it for the skill players on both sides. If you can find anywhere that offers Edelman having a rush attempt at all, and it’s 3/1 or something then it could be worth a play, in fact I’ll put in a request a bet for that, and anyone other than the QBs to throw a pass and see what awful odds i’m offered.

The two kickers in this game are amongst the best in the league and it’s in a dome, so don’t expect any misses, that’s about all I have to say on those guys, if the game goes the way the seasons have for these teams they’ll be used mainly as extra point kickers, so not much to mention really.

A couple of nice prop bets on the game I manged to pick out – Shortest TD scored, under 1.5 yards – 4/6 – 4pts – 16% of TDs in the NFL are from the 1 yards line, with this game expected to be high scoring, if there’s 7 TDs (quite possibly) there’s about a 70% chance of one of them at least being scored from inside the 1. With the passing game these teams play as well, if there’s a Pass interference call in the end zone, that spots the ball at the one. Also, each championship match had a 1 yard TD in, Pats scored one, Falcons conceded one, and the playoff games before that both teams ran one in from the 1. So that’s 4 in 4 in the post season games they’ve played between them.

Players to throw a pass… o2.5 on WillHill, Sanu in the Wildcat? Edelman for the Pats? Could be worth a look at 7/4 if you fancy it.

Total 3rd down conversions o12.5 – 10/11 again, on WillHill, both QBs have been great at converting them this season, last week every 3rd down the Falcons got seemed to be converted with ease. – 2pts on this

Most 1st downs? The Patriots frequently win games with worse stats than their opposition, they play a bend don’t break offence (no.1 in the league for yards after catch) so it figures for the Falcons to win this – 5/6 – 2pts again, WillHill

One last thing to mention is the MVP race, I made a mention of it in the preview preview last week, I think instead of going for a winner of the match, if you think the Pats will win go for Brady MVP at 10/11 if you think the Falcons will win then Ryan 15/8. It’s unlikely that someone else will win it, although at the odds, you might want to throw a quid or two at Lewis at 33/1 (Various) or Coleman at 66/1 (Ladbrokes) if you think they’ll have the multiple TD games I’m hoping for. – The MVP vote is 80% journalists and 20% public vote. If you think it could be a defensive player then you’re probably looking at Vic Beasley at 66/1 now, but I doubt it will be someone on that side of the ball.

I’ve asked Jay for a couple of correct scores, and I’ll go for a couple myself, they’re all 100/1 on Skybet, It won’t surprise you to know we’re going half point stakes on these as they’re obviously quite unlikely to land!

Jays – 34-31 to ATL, 34-41 to NE; Mine – 27-31 to NE, 24-31 to NE

I have requested a random Request a bet at Skybet – Hooper, Coleman, Lewis to score TDs, u58.5 and Pats win. If that gets priced up I’ll be having 2 pts on that too. Expecting around 50/1 on it. Hooper Coleman Lewis all to score is 25/1 by itself

Summary (A long summary) 2pts unless mentioned –

  • Total points – under 58.5 – 10/11 (Various) – 4pts
  • Austin Hooper o15.5 rec. yards – 10/11 (Skybet)
  • Tevin Coleman – anytime TD – 11/8 and 2 or more 10/1 (Both 365)
  • Falcons +0.5 in the first quarter – 4/6 (Skybet)
  • Chris Hogan longest reception o24.5 – 5/6 (Paddypower)
  • Malcolm Mitchell o20.5 rec. yards – 10/11 (WillHill) – 4pts
  • Martellus Bennett u42.5 rec. yards – 5/6 (Paddypower) – 3pts
  • Lewis to score first NE TD – 7/1 (Paddypower)
  • Legarrette Blount o14.5 carries – 10/11 (WillHill)
  • Shortest TD scored u1.5 yards – 4/6 (StanJames) – 4pts
  • Total 3rd down conversions o12.5 – 10/11 (WillHill)
  • Most first downs – Atlanta – 5/6 (WillHill)
  • Various correct scores – 2pt total on them at 100/1 each.

35 pts total outlay.

I think that’s about it from me on this match, and the season, hopefully we’ll sign off in style with some big winners. Don’t forget to check out my stupid punts at –

If everyone who reads to this point could retweet this and spread the word as much as possible it will be much appreciated!

Thanks for reading, and good luck.

Adam (@cavey007 @TouchdownTips)


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