Here's to being man in middle of Super Bowl action

By Brent Musburger  (VSiN managing editor) 

February 1, 2019 09:56 PM

Las Vegas

My Super Bowl betting strategy is simple: I’m picking the Patriots to win a tight game, but I’m going to try for a “middle” by using the Rams in a seven-point teaser.

The tricky part is I will also have to nail the over-under on a two-team ticket. So let me explain.

I’ve already bet the Patriots –2½ (laying 11-10 at the South Point). I’ve been waiting to see if the spread will move to Rams plus 3. If and when that happens, I will tease the Rams up to plus 10, the over-under up to 63½, take the under and keep my fingers crossed that a close game doesn’t go to overtime. The real danger here is OT.

Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff have been together with the Rams for 34 games. There have been only two times over the last two seasons when they weren’t within one score with possession in the fourth quarter. That obviously means that two things can go completely haywire with my “middle” strategy. First and foremost, the Rams can win this game outright. Secondly, they’re explosive enough to carry the total into the 60s, which could wind up costing me both ends of my “middle” play. But that’s why they call this gambling.

If the Patriots win by at least a field goal but no more than nine points, then we cash both ends, provided the two teams don’t total more than 63.

As for the game itself, the Patriots must control the Rams’ Aaron Donald. Here is where their offensive strategy may help them. They use the traditional two backs (fullback and running back) more than any team in the league with the exception of the San Francisco 49ers. In his sixth year out of Brown, James Develin is the Patriots fullback. Their offensive line will double Donald almost the entire game, but Devlin will be needed to help if the producer of 20½ sacks this year gets free – or if Ndamukong Suh continues his hot hand in the playoffs.

Patriots running backs Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead are not power runners who break a lot of tackles, but they do possess great skill at cutting to daylight. So the absolute key to a Patriots victory will be the performance of their offensive line plus a fullback working together against the Rams front.

There’s one intangible that causes me concern regarding the under. The officials. Based on the New Orleans controversy, I expect this crew to call pass interference on anything that’s close. That’s just human nature. They don’t to be hung out to dry like the crew that botched the NFC Championship. Much easier to err on the side of throwing the flag.

That presents this problem. Pass interference is so penal in the NFL that it will give these two offenses more scoring chances as the game unfolds. And here I’m counting on Bill Belichick and Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to come up with something that turns those touchdown opportunities into field goals.

Oh, well. If this strategy fails, there’s always next year. But even as the teams and faces change through 53 Super Bowls, one thing stays the same. Cashin’ tickets is what it’s all about.

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