With high-scoring offenses now being all the rage in today’s NFL betting enthusiasts everywhere need to know whether they should wager on a defense or offense in the quickly-approaching Super Bowl LIII matchup between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. Let’s examine that question right now.
Betting on the Offense or Defense for Super Bowl LIII
50. Peyton Manning (2008) 16. Adrian Peterson (2012) 3. Tom Brady (2007)Ranking every MVP season of the @SuperBowl era: https://t.co/j9rZaNJTx9 (via @adamrank) pic.twitter.com/iyExlQbMpG — NFL (@NFL) January 22, 2019
Los Angeles Rams (15-3 SU, 9-8-1 ATS, 9-9 O/U)
- Total Yards: 421.1
- Passing Yards: 281.70
- Rushing Yards: 139.40
- Points Scored: 32.90
- Field Goal %: 82.90
As you can see from the graph above, Los Angeles averages a stellar 32.9 points per game to rank second in scoring while also ranking an encouraging fifth in passing and even more impressive third in rushing. Los Angeles scored at least 30 points 13 times this season including the playoffs while topping the 40-point plateau once and the 50-point plateau one time as well.
- Total Yards: 358.60
- Passing Yards: 236.20
- Rushing Yards: 122.30
- Points Scored: 24
- Field Goal %: 89.30
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams are allowing 24.0 points per game to rank an uninspiring 20th in points allowed defensively, but what NFL bettors really need to know about this unit is that they’re led by the man I believe is the best defensive coordinator in NFL history in Wade Phillips and L.A. hits the Super Bowl coming off back-to-back impressive defensive performances.
Los Angeles limited Dallas to just 22 points in the NFC divisional round and were even more impressive in limiting the high-scoring New Orleans Saints to just 20 points in the NFC Championship while holding future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees to just 249 passing yards and Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas to just four catches for 36 yards.
New England Patriots (13-5 SU, 11-7 ATS, 7-11 O/U)
- Total Yards: 393.40
- Passing Yards: 266.10
- Rushing Yards: 127.30
- Points Scored: 27.20
- Field Goal %: 84.40
As you can see from the above chart, Tom Brady and the Patriots put up a healthy 27.2 points per game to rank fourth in scoring while ranking eighth in passing and an even more impressive fifth in rushing. More importantly, the Pats will enter Super Bowl 53 having scored 37 points or more in each of their last three games dating back to their regular season finale while covering the spread each time out.
- Total Yards: 359.10
- Passing Yards: 246.40
- Rushing Yards: 112.70
- Points Scored: 20.30
- Field Goal %: 86.20
On defense, New England limited their opponents to just 20.3 points per game defensively to rank an impressive seventh in points allowed. While the Pats finished a respectable 11th against the run, the Patriots pass defense was mediocre at best in finishing 22nd.
Okay, now, let’s take a look at the past 10 Super Bowl outcomes and whether a defensive team or offensive team brought home the bacon each season. In 2009, Pittsburgh beat Arizona 27-23 in a matchup of two teams featuring elite quarterbacks. However, it was Arizona’s lack of defense that led to their downfall, so…there’s that.
A year later, the offensive-minded Saints spanked Indianapolis 31-17 and the following year, the same thing occurred with Green Bay getting past Pittsburgh 31-25 mostly because of the offensive exploits of superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In 2012, the Giants and their fantastic defense shut down Tom Brady and the Pats to get the 21-17 win in Super Bowl 46. A year later, the defense-first Baltimore Ravens got past San Francisco 34-31 in a high-scoring affair, but it was their defense that won the game for them, or maybe you don’t remember Ray Lewis.
Seattle used their lockdown defense to bash Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl 48 and New England used a great defensive play on the game’s final play to beat the Seahawks 28-24 a year later. Denver’s stout defense shut down Carolina to win Super Bowl 50, 24-10 and the Patriots got past the Falcons a year later by shutting down the high-scoring Falcons in the second half (okay, they collapsed).
Last year, Philadelphia simply exploded on the Patriots to win it all 41-33.
By my count, that five offensive-minded teams have brought home the Super Bowl hardware and five defensive-minded teams have managed to win it all. Two offensive-minded teams have won the last two Super Bowls, but defensive-minded teams won each of the previous four.
The old adage that defense wins championships is still true to this very day. The biggest question heading into Super Bowl 53 is can the Rams play defense at the same level they’ve shown the last two weeks and I believe that answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. If L.A. can shut down Drew Brees and the Saints, they should be able to keep Tom Brady and the Pats largely in check in Super Bowl 53. On the flip side of the coin, it’s going to be interesting to see if New England’s mediocre pass defense can keep Jared Goff and L.A.’s explosive passing attack from going off.
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