How good are the Los Angeles Rams?
Betting markets overshot the mark much of the season on the up-and-coming league power. Has public sentiment for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots moved the market too far the other way heading into Sunday’s Super Bowl (CBS, 6:30 p.m. ET)?
Through much of 2018, the market was pricing the Rams as one of the best teams of the last decade! VSiN has documented that for you on these pages through the season with estimated “market” Power Ratings compiled by Jonathan Von Tobel (of “Betting Across America”) and me.
Los Angeles was -7.5 at Seattle (same as -10.5 on a neutral field), then -2 at New Orleans in a regular season meeting (same as five points better on a neutral field). Even in mid-December, the Rams were -13.5 at home against eventual NFC wildcard Philadelphia. The sum intelligence of oddsmakers and sharp influences saw LA as well clear of other “playoff caliber” teams.
Backers learned the hard way that the Rams weren’t THAT good (yet). Sean McVay, Jared Goff, and company went 2-8-1 through an 11-game stretch against inflated point spreads (8-3 straight up).
So, the 2018 Rams probably aren’t one of the best teams of the last decade. Are they good enough to beat the Patriots on a neutral field?
Some of you may be thinking that the relative gift LAR received from officials in the NFC Championship game in New Orleans is a disqualifier.
“If they weren’t good enough to legitimately beat the Saints, I’m not going to bet on them to beat the Patriots.”
Whether or not they “deserve” to be in Atlanta, the Rams are clearly “Super Bowl caliber” based on their playoff stats.
- LA outgained New Orleans two weeks ago 378-290 on the road, winning yards-per-play 5.6 to 4.5. It held the Saints rushing attack to just 48 yards on 21 carries, and controlled flow of play after adjusting to the noise challenges of playing indoors in front of a hostile crowd. (From 13-0 down, the Rams won the rest of regulation 23-10 with a stat edge of more than 150 yards.)
- LA outgained Dallas in its playoff opener 459-308 with a 273-50 bulldozing on the ground.
Lucky? Yes. But able to express statistical superiority vs. quality opponents.
Sunday is still “Goliath vs. Goliath.” The NFC representative is a relatively young Goliath trying to find it’s coordination and balance after a two-year growth spurt. Regular season markets didn’t appreciate challenges of the learning curve. A playoff yardage advantage of 837-598 may be a sign the Rams are now ready.
The AFC representative is on the other end of the spectrum, an aging Goliath in a battle against time. We’ll talk more about the New England Patriots and reasonable Super Bowl expectations Sunday in our final football report of the season. You might be surprised to learn how difficult its been for the Brady/Belichick tandem to get scoreboard distance from NFC champions.