Impact Sports Staff picks Super Bowl LIII

WDBM Sports Staff

Sunday, February 3, 2019 — 6:30 p.m. ET — CBS

Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

New England Patriots (11-5, 5-1 AFC East) vs Los Angeles Rams (13-3, 6-0 NFC West)

Betting Line: New England (-3.0)

Over/Under: 56.5

Kyle Turk (@KyleTurk5)

Score Prediction: Los Angeles 38, New England 34

Reasoning: As much respect as I have for a Patriots team that just beat Kansas City twice, the momentum in LA to me feels like too much for the Pats to handle. Their skill on both sides of the ball feels superior to New England’s in my eyes but the experience factor for Tom Brady and company cannot be understated.

Cliche alert: whichever team gets into halftime in better position has a really good shot at winning. Both defenses are capable of creating quick three-and-outs and turnovers, and if one of them can get a lead and start to run the game gets that much shorter. That said, the way the modern game is going I see both teams ending up in the thirties.

Favorite Prop Bet: Both players to score a touchdown: CJ Anderson (LA) and Julian Edelman (NE) +200

Don’t mind if I do! Both of these players have come up with big-time scores for their teams in the playoffs. Given the chance to win 20 dollars on a $10 bet, it’s easy to snap up.

Joe Dandron (@JosephDandronMI)

Score Prediction: Rams 37, Patriots 24

Reasoning: The Rams have had a season where many thought they would simply defer to the Saints in the playoffs. Obviously, the missed call changed things for the Rams and saved their season in many ways but the Saints had every opportunity to win that game prior to that play. I’m picking the Rams because they have amassed the necessary talent on the defensive line to do the exact thing you must do to beat TB12, Belichick and Co. You gotta get to the man under center. I believe Donald, Fowler Jr., and Suh, will do exactly that and give Tom nightmares in the backfield.

The Rams also have two big personalities at corner in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters (who are going to give Gronk trouble) along with a near-MVP running back who needs to bounce back after a quiet few weeks and a young quarterback that is balling. I understand the Patriots are good at taking away what you are best at, and in this case it’s play-action, but Goff will be ready. Give me the Rams by double digits as LA closes the curtains on what has been one of the most impressive dynasties in sports history.

Favorite Prop Bet: Will Tom Brady throw an interception?: Yes

If he throws a pick then the Rams will win. I love this one because it feeds right into my prediction, if LA can get pressure on TB12 and force him into a very rare unforced error this will change the outlook of the ball game. My explanation isn’t as complex as Rabinowitz’s to his Gladys Knight pick, but I do know that if Tommy Terrific turns it over, then the Rams sure as day have got a shot to take SB LIII home.

Luke Sloan (@LukeSloan_7)

Score Prediction: Rams 28, Patriots 24

Reasoning: The Tom Brady and Bill Belichick tandem is the greatest quarterback-head coach duo of all time, and they’re on a mission this postseason after so many doubted them following a subpar regular season for their standards. As hard as it is for me to predict this, their comeback tour will come to a screeching halt against the up-and-coming Rams.

Sean McVay and Jared Goff may lack in age and experience compared to their counterparts, but the momentum they’ve been riding through the playoffs looks to be borderline unstoppable.

Los Angeles boasts an offense with an explosive play-action passing game and a plethora of speedy pass catchers on the outside. Look for Todd Gurley and CJ Anderson to pound the rock effectively again, setting up the pass to guys like Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, who hold an advantage over the aging defensive backs of the Patriots.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams are led by veteran coordinator Wade Phillips, who’s recently hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Denver Broncos. He’s savvy, aggressive and has been around the block. It will be important to pressure Brady and force him to vacate the pocket, Phillips will do just so with the ferocious defensive linemen at his disposal in Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler Jr. and Ndamukong Suh.

The cherry on top will be a passing touchdown on a fake field goal, perfectly executed by tricky special teams coordinator John Fassel and holder Johnny Hekker, who’s got an absolute cannon.

Favorite Prop Bet: Which team will score first?: Rams

Brady has appeared in eight career Super Bowls, of those eight games the opposing team has scored first a whopping six times. Jake Elliott opened last year’s Super Bowl with a 25-yard field goal, Greg Zuerlein, otherwise known as “Legatron,” will nail one from 47 yards out to give the Rams an early lead. Easy pick.

Hikaru Kudo (@HikaruKudo1)

Score Prediction: Patriots 27, Rams 24

Reasoning: I honestly do not think the Rams deserve to be in the Super Bowl. Before y’all start tweeting me right and left about how ONE PLAY doesn’t change the outcome of a football game, hear me out. Football games fluctuate between highs and lows on either side of the ball on either team. I am a firm believer in ONE PLAY changing the outcome of an entire game. I believe the Saints should be in this Super Bowl. BUT, I still think the Rams, with what I saw in the playoffs, are highly qualified.

However, knowing the fantastic duo between Belichick and Brady, I’m on their boat. The stats simply turn in their favor and I honestly believe they deserve this one. The field goal will come within the final two minutes. Don’t know when but it will. It’s gonna be tight all game long. But Belichick will find a way to get his last field goal. Mark my words.

Favorite Prop Bet: Which team will score first?: Rams

Let me put this in simple terms. Brady and Belichick will come in with their classic “we got this” mentally as they do for almost any Superbowl appearance they have made in their careers. They’re going to be “caught off guard” as the Rams not only score first but better yet, they get a touchdown. Patriot fans will be “surprised,” Rams fans will be happy, and we could see a upset coming…except it won’t. I just have a feeling the Rams will begin with the momentum and the Patriots, thanks to Belichick, Brady and Gronk, will make a comeback to win the game.

Alex McRae (@amac535)

Score Prediction: New England 27, Los Angeles Rams 21

Reasoning: The Rams are young, extremely talented and they were my pick to win the NFC in the preseason, but unfortunately they just had to run into the best quarterback/ head coach duo of all time in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Even though the Patriots suffered a heartbreaking loss last February against the Eagles, they still know how to win. In addition, it’s never smart to bet against Tom Brady, regardless the odds.  

Favorite Prop Bet: Which team will record the first QB sack?: Rams

I love the defensive line of the Rams, I believe it has played a huge role in them making it as far as they have. As a Lions fan knowing that Detroit could have had the Ndamukong Suh/Aaron Donald combo still pains me to this day.

Kyle Hatty (@kyle_hatty)

Score Prediction: Rams 34, Patriots 24

Reasoning: The Rams are talented on both sides of the ball. Sean McVay is a coach that utilizes the strengths of his team well with implicating a lot of play action in his offense. The Rams will run the ball well, opening up play action opportunities for Goff and company, allowing the Rams to move the ball well, putting up 30+ on offense. But what I think allows them to do what the Chiefs couldn’t, is a secondary that will neutralize Brady enough to win.

Favorite Prop Bet: How many rushing yards will Todd Gurley have?: Over 72.5

I think Gurley has a great day on the ground once the play action makes the Patriots defense have to respect Goff. Backing up the Pats secondary opens up space for Gurley, including one run that breaks big for 50+ yards.

Sam Britten (@sam_britten)

Score Prediction: Rams 28, Patriots 21

Reasoning: The Rams might have been an up and down team in recent weeks, but when this team is at its best, no one can stop them. I know that betting against Brady is always dangerous, but it just feels different this year than it has in years past. The Rams are well built on both sides of the ball, but the Patriots will bring their all this time. I think Todd Gurley will turn back to his true form and New England won’t be able to contain him. Suh and Donald will confuse and frustrate Tom Brady and he will remain with just one hand full of rings.

Favorite Prop Bet: What will be the main color of Adam Levine’s top at the start of halftime?: Any other color

I think Adam will surprise no one with this one and go with a top other than black. He needs to ruffle some feathers and show people what he’s made of.

Ryan Rabinowitz (@RyanRabinowitz4)

Score Prediction: Patriots 28, Rams 24

Reasoning: The Rams have had an impressive season, no doubt about it. They have weapons on both sides of the ball and are led by perhaps one of the greatest minds in football in Sean McVay. The one weakness that the Rams do have is that they aren’t coached by Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady is not their QB. The experience on the New England sideline is very simply too much of an advantage for the Rams to overcome.

A completely healthy Patriots roster will be well prepared and armed for an explosive Rams offense. Jared Goff will need to play the best game of his career on Sunday for the Rams to even have a chance, and I don’t believe that he will be able to do it. On the other hand, as long as Tom Brady doesn’t get lost on his way to the stadium, he’ll find a way to walk out of Atlanta with his sixth Super Bowl ring.

Favorite Prop Bet: How long will it take Gladys Knight to sing the National Anthem?: Over 1:47 (-145) Under 1:47 (+105)

I’ve lost many hours of sleep over the past week going back and forth with this one. However, I’ve done the research, I’ve broken down the science, and I have reached my conclusion. Do yourself a favor, and bet the deed to your house on the under for this one. I carefully reviewed some audio of Gladys singing the Anthem back in 1991, and she hit a clean 1:44. Fast forward 28 years, I can’t imagine Gladys’ vocal chords have gotten any stronger, and don’t expect The Empress of Soul to be holding out notes like she could back in 1967 when she made us all weak in the knees with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”

Ian Drummond (@idrumma)

Score Prediction: Rams 33, Patriots 31

Reasoning: It’s hard to bet against Brady and Belichick, especially in the postseason, but I think that the Patriots will find themselves stumbling against a younger rising star coach for the second year in a row. The Rams have demonstrated that their run game works even with CJ Anderson signed just off the street carrying the rock, and they have a lethal play-action game to punish opponents who want to play the run. On the other side of the ball, they have a defensive line with Aaron Donald, likely heading for his second straight DPOY. Defending the Patriots will require getting consistent pressure, and Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Dante Fowler on the same defensive line is a great way to do that.

I think that the Rams’ raw talent will counteract a tough Patriots team that will no doubt be playing angry, fueled by another year of doubters who thought Tom Brady was done after Week 4. But McVay has motivation too – he would be the youngest coach ever to win a Super Bowl, and is out to establish his own legendary team on the West Coast. I’ll take the new hotness over the old and busted this year.

Favorite Prop Bet: Will a kick hit the upright or crossbar?: No

The “doink” of a kick hitting the post is one of the most satisfying sounds in football (unless you’re a Bears fan), so I’m glad to see it on the prop sheet. Unfortunately, this match features two of the best kickers in the league: LA’s Greg Zuerlein (nicknamed “Legatron”), and New England’s Steven Gostkowski. Both of these kickers have been booming long-range kicks like they were chip shots for years, and although Gostkowski was shaky against the Eagles last year, I think he’ll look like his old self this time. I’ll be trying to summon a doink from my dorm room, but I’m expecting a flawless kicking game from both teams this year.

Aidan Hunt (@TheAidanHunt)

Score Prediction: Rams 30, Patriots 26

Reasoning: In last year’s Super Bowl prediction, I took the Eagles just for the sake of not picking the Patriots, even though betting against the Patriots is always a tough one to make. And it worked. So we’re going with the opposing team again this year, especially since this Rams team is much better than last year’s Eagles. The Rams’ offense has too many options and weapons for the Patriots to keep up with, despite losing Cooper Kupp to injury earlier in the season. Look for Brandin Cooks to score two touchdowns against his former team in the biggest game of the year.

Favorite Prop Bet: Will there be a flea flicker attempt in the game?: Yes

Absolutely. You think Sean McVay will be able to resist throwing MULTIPLE trick plays in this game, let alone a simple flea flicker? Not even a question.

Nathan Stearns (@NathanStearns9)

Score Prediction: Patriots 28, Rams 20

Reasoning: It seems every time I pick against Brady and the Pats, I end up regretting it. Picking against the best player-coach combo of all time is not a recipe for success, especially against a rather young and inexperienced Rams coaching staff. McVay may be one of the best young minds in the NFL today, but I think giving Belichick two weeks to prepare for the Rams will be a rude awakening for the 32 year old McVay. If the Rams want any chance of hanging with the Pats into the 4th quarter, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh must constantly move Brady off of his spot and make him throw outside of the pocket. Adding to the fact that Todd Gurley has looked like a shell of himself lately and this game has all the makings of a patriots wire to wire win.

The Rams remind me of a team who feels lucky to just get to this point in the season after the NFC title game and the refereeing fiasco. Brady has looked like a man possessed after the media was pronouncing that the Belichick-Brady reign of terror was over earlier in the season. Look for experienced secondary members Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty to physically dominate Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods at the point of attack. The Rams deserve props for getting this far, but New England will once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

Favorite Prop Bet: Will Aqib Talib have at least one personal foul tomorrow?: Yes

Aqib Talib has established himself as one of the most no-nonsense players in all of football the last several years. He also has the reputation of being a dirty player who sometimes goes overboard in trying to assert his physicality against his opponent. From drawing the ire of Steve Smith on Monday Night Football in 2013 to getting suspended in 2017 after a violent altercation with Michael Crabtree, Talib often has the temperament to commit stupid and costly fouls, whenever he is getting beaten like a drum during a game. I think the Patriots receiving core of Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman will get the better of Talib and staying true to form, his temper will eventually boil over and result in a costly personal foul penalty that will give Brady and company a free 15 yards, which is never a good idea.