Bettors can lay money on almost any sporting event these days and this year is no exception, with some sports fans having made large sums of cash by backing the right horse or dog-breeder. Although the majority of the action takes place on the field, the off-field drama between the players and the coaches can make for some interesting match-ups, with several intriguing storylines heading into Super Bowl LII.
This year’s biggest sporting event is almost here, with the New York City championship game set to kick-off on Sunday 4th February at 6:30pm Eastern Standard Time (US). The big question is which team is favoured to win the title? Let’s find out.
The New England Patriots Are Undefeated
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a sports fan or an avid reader of sports betting news, otherwise, why are you here?
Inevitably, as the title sponsors are sponsoring a team that is not in the Super Bowl, there’s a good deal of pre-game action surrounding the matchup. Even without the backing of one of America’s biggest brands, the New England Patriots remain one of the world’s top-winning franchises. Year after year, they prove that being underdogs is not a disadvantage. In fact, it can be an advantage.
Although they haven’t gone up against a common foe this year, the Patriots are still riding high on the wave of success that had washed over them in the aftermath of the 2016 season. That was when they became just the fourth team in NFL history to win 16 games after losing the first two games of the season. It was also the first time they’d reached the Super Bowl in a decade.
It was a memorable season for the club, with quarterback Tom Brady setting a Super Bowl record for most passing touchdowns (21), and Julian Edelman leading the league with 10 receiving touchdowns. The team’s offense was unstoppable, as they scored at least 30 points in 10 of their 16 games.
But their greatest story was the defensive side of the game, as they finished fifth in the league in total defense, allowing just 18.9 points per game. It was the best performance by a defensive team in Super Bowl history, and it earned New England a trip to the big game. Even head coach Bill Belichick admitted that the unit’s performance was the best of his career. Naturally, this year’s Patriots have a leg up on the competition.
The Los Angeles Rams Are Undefeated
The Los Angeles Rams are also making their first appearance in the big game in over a decade, so there’s a similar buzz surrounding their 2017 campaign. That was a special season for the Rams, as they finished the year with a perfect 16-0 record, becoming the first team in NFL history to finish the year undefeated.
The highlight of the season was undoubtedly their playoff game against the Carolina Panthers, as quarterback Jared Goff threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns in a 46-29 victory. The Rams were subsequently named NFC West champions for the first time since 2007, with Todd Gurley finishing the season with 1,880 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, earning him the AP NFL MVP.
The question is, can they maintain this perfect start to the season in the big game? The Rams are one of the best home teams in the NFL, boasting a 12-3 record at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, so they can expect a packed house on Sunday. Can they continue their perfect record in the Super Bowl?
The Atlanta Falcons Are Flying High
The Atlanta Falcons are in the other conference, but they’re still regarded as one of the NFL’s best teams. A lot of this has to do with their quarterback, Matt Ryan, who last year became the first QB to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season. The Falcons finished the year with a 12-4 record, making the playoffs for the 11th time in the last 12 years.
The defense has always been good enough for the Falcons, but they’ve taken the field this year boasting an elite unit. Cornerback Desmond Trufant led the NFL in interceptions (8) and pass deflections (27) in his first year with the team. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was named first-team All-Pro and fellow defensive end Takkedrick Young was second-team All-Pro. Safety Keanu Neal also emerged as one of the NFL’s top defensive players, ranking 5th in the league in interceptions (3) in just 8 games.
Along with Ryan, the Falcons’ other QB, Kyle Shanahan, led the league in pass-efficiency rating (131.8). Atlanta will need to rely on its passing game if they want to succeed in February. The Falcons are 16-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
The Saints Are Looking For Their Second Straight Win
The New Orleans Saints are coming off back-to-back losses in the NFL and they have a lot of motivation to turn things around in the final game of the year. After a rough start to the season that saw them lose four of their first five games, the Saints have since found their stride. They’ve won five of their last six games, most recently defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29-27 in overtime.
They’ll need to be at their best on Sunday. The team has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, including wide receiver Michael Thomas, who had 9 touchdowns last year, tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Defensive end Sheldon Rankins also had 9.5 sacks last year and he’ll look to continue his dominant performances in the playoffs. New Orleans are 4.5-point favorites over the Falcons on Sunday.
The Oakland Raiders Have Surprised Many
The Oakland Raiders are yet another team that have surprised many with their performance this year. A lot of that has to do with the return of Jon Gruden, who was hired by the club in January and decided to change the culture in the California sports town. The team went winless in 2016, but they’ve picked up where they left off in 2017, winning five of their last six games, most recently defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 27-16.
Oakland has a lot of offensive firepower, with Derek Carr leading the league in passing yards (4,849) and touchdowns (36). He also added five more scores in the postseason, including a career-high six in a divisional round triumph over the Houston Texans. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is on pace to have a monster year, hauling in 98 receptions for 1,296 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns through 11 games. Defensive end Bruce Irvin had seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2017 and finished the year with 47 sacks in just 48 games. The Raiders are 5.5-point underdogs to the Saints on Sunday.
Which NFL Team Is Favoured In The Super Bowl?
We’ve now come to the part of the article where we reveal our overall predicted winner of the Super Bowl — and it’s not the New England Patriots. Although they’ve had a great year, it’s the underdog Los Angeles Rams who we believe are going to triumph on Sunday night.
The Rams are 16-point favorites over the Falcons, while the Oakland Raiders are also big favorites, with the Saints close behind. The New England Patriots are a touchdown underdog against the Los Angeles Rams.
For those who backed the underdogs in the AFC championship game, this is probably the best Super Bowl you’ll ever see. It would be a shame to overlook a defensive line featuring the likes of N.E. Rams’ Chris Long and Oakland’s Darius Leonard. This is going to be good!