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Staff NFL Playoff Picks: Super Bowl LIII

NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl LIII

We’re back for the NFL post-season with some of our Gridiron staff writers. The guy to pay extra attention to is Brad Castronovo, who was 165-89 (64%) for straight-up winners, and 142-114 (55.5%) against the spread for the 2018 season.

Question: Who Will Win And Why?

Zach Greubel: I’m not supremely comfortable picking the Rams here, but my disdain for the Patriots trumps any logic. Bill Belichick and company have two weeks to make their game plan and prepare for 24-year-old Jared Goff and the potent Rams, not to mention they’ve been here before – a lot. The Rams’ path to success is on the ground and in the form of Aaron Donald. If Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson can keep Tom Brady and the Pats offense off the field then I like their chances. And we’ve seen how Brady performs under pressure throughout his career. No one is better at pressuring quarterbacks than Donald – the Defensive Player of the Year front-runner. I’m choosing the Rams, but by the slimmest of margins.

Mike Rigz: I’ll be cheering for the Rams, but I don’t think Tom Brady loses two Super Bowls back to back. The Rams will be one of the toughest defenses the Patriots will face throughout this playoff run, but coaching is a concern for me. While McVay is one of the brightest up and coming minds of the game of football, this is his first Super Bowl and I feel the edge easily goes to Belichick here. From the double doink to the blown calls last week, this whole 2018/19 NFL playoffs has felt like one big heartbreak. I think this game will be no different.

Jesse Jones: While McVay is getting a ton of attention for being the offensive mastermind to know in the league, Belichick is still the defensive wizard to beat. The Hoody will figure out how to force Goff into mistakes and Tom Brady will do Tom Brady things and walk away with another trophy.

Jason Willan: I’m expecting a close game and the Rams absolutely have a chance to win the Super Bowl. But at the end of the day, I think quarterback play will be the most important aspect of the game and I can’t side with Jared Goff over Tom Brady. The Patriots will likely scheme to take away the Los Angeles running game and force Goff to beat them. The Rams quarterback should have a decent yardage total, but a mistake or two in key moments might be all it takes for New England to bring home another championship.
Anthony

Tom BradyAdam Strangis: I’ve picked against Tom Brady and the Patriots every round so far. Needless to say, that hasn’t worked out although I did think the Chiefs almost had them in the AFC Title game(thanks a lot Dee Ford). Anyways, I think Sean McVay represents the new wave of coaching in the NFL and that is certainly not a hot take. He’s going to upset the master in this one in another classic game, and we’ll continue our run of great Super Bowls. The New England defense shouldn’t be underestimated, but McVay will find the path that Andy Reid couldn’t. It will also help to have Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the defense, which the Chiefs did not have. Those two getting [pressure right up the gut is going to be one of the keys of the game and they’ll do just enough to get Brady flustered.

John Ferguson: As fun as it is to root against the Patriots, this is the Super Bowl we’re talking about now. We can talk about how tired we are of seeing Brady and the Pats in the Super Bowl until we’re blue in the face, but they’re not going away yet. While there will be a lot of focus on these two high powered offenses, the defense is what’s really going to make the difference in this game. The Patriots have been masterful at eliminating their opponents biggest threats on offense. It’s tough to peg exactly what that even is for the Rams right now as Todd Gurley has been non-existent and Jared Goff has only thrown one touchdown in the postseason. Meanwhile, Tom Brady and the Patriots have averaged 39 points per game this postseason and dominated in time of possession. This young Rams team has a bright future, but they’re going up against the greatest here.

Anthony Cervino: Although the Patriots are out-matched by the Rams on paper, I believe their experience will prevail when it’s all said and done. Not only will this be Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl appearance together, but Jared Goff and Sean McVay haven’t even been an NFL quarterback and head coach for a combined nine seasons. What’s more, the Patriots have been out-matched from a talent perspective on paper during their postseason run in wins over the Chargers and Chiefs. New England won those games by executing Belichick’s game plan and must have a similar balanced performance on Super Bowl Sunday as well to pull out the win. One matchup I am watching closely is Rob Gronkowski against the Los Angels defense. Despite a regression from Gronk in the regular season, the future Hall of Fame tight end came alive in the AFC Title game again Kansas City hauling in the 6-of-11 target for 79 yards. Facing a Rams defense that has surrendered the ninth most fantasy points to enemy tight ends during regular season play, Gronkowski could be in line for his best outing of the 2018 season in what could be the final game of his decorated career.

John Ferguson: As fun as it is to root against the Patriots, this is the Super Bowl we’re talking about now. We can talk about how tired we are of seeing Brady and the Pats in the Super Bowl until we’re blue in the face, but they’re not going away yet. While there will be a lot of focus on these two high powered offenses, the defense is what’s really going to make the difference in this game. The Patriots have been masterful at eliminating their opponents biggest threats on offense. It’s tough to peg exactly what that even is for the Rams right now as Todd Gurley has been non-existent and Jared Goff has only thrown one touchdown in the postseason. Meanwhile, Tom Brady and the Patriots have averaged 39 points per game this postseason and dominated in time of possession. This young Rams team has a bright future, but they’re going up against the greatest here.

Brad Castronovo: I wrote this year’s Super Bowl LIII preview. Check it out for all my thoughts on the game here.

 

Question: What’s One Super Bowl Prop Bet You Like this Year?

Brad Castronovo: I’ll take James White to win MVP at +2200. Let’s not forget, this man scored 3 TDS in the Super Bowl against the Falcons including the game winner. Tom Brady won the MVP that year, but many thought it would be White. He has the ability to take over a game and at the odds, we’re being given on him, I love this prop.

Mike Rigz: I’ll take the over on Robert Woods receiving yards (74.5). The game plan for the Patriots usually involves taking out one of your most explosive offensive weapons, and considering Brandin Cooks was playing for the Patriots last year, they’ll be more familiar on how to eliminate him from the game. If I had to predict a stat line for woods, I would say 6 receptions of 85 yards.

Adam Strangis: I’m taking Todd Gurley over 70.5 yards rushing. I think the NFC title game hurt him deeply, since he may have been pushed to the side. I give him a ton of credit for being a true team guy after the game, but he’s coming into this one with redemption on his mind. McVay has said when they planned on splitting work with Gurley and C.J. Anderson and is talking about how Gurley is going to play a major role. I believe him and Gurley buries the lackluster postseason to this point

Jason Willan: As noted in my game prediction, I expect the Patriots to focus on limiting the Rams rushing attack, forcing Jared Goff to beat them. While I think he ultimately comes up short of a victory, Goff averaged 293 yards passing this season and New England has given up 331 yards and 295 yards in its two playoff games. I like the over prop bet on Goff’s passing yards at 289.5.

John Ferguson: I always like taking a look at some of the random, miscellaneous prop bets out there so let’s have some fun with this. One that I like is “How many plays will Tony Romo correctly predict?” The over/under here is 7.5. If you break that down on a quarterly basis, Romo needs to call just two plays per quarter correctly to hit the over. That seems totally doable as it’s essentially his job to predict the outcome of each play and he’s been on an absolute roll doing so. Romo will be like a kid in a candy shop calling his first big game and I’m looking forward to his enthusiastic commentary.

Anthony Cervino: In skimming through Super Bowl 53 prop bets, I found one that is a lot of fun — how many times Tony Romo and Jim Nantz will refer to Rob Gronkowski as “Gronk” during the broadcast. The over/ under total is 2.5. If Gronkowski is featured in the New England passing attack, and he should be — the Rams gave up the ninth-most fantasy points to enemy tight ends in the 2018 regular season, which is a matchup for Tom Brady to exploit — then I believe the name Gronk will be said all throughout the CBS broadcast. I’m taking the over on one of the most intriguing and off the wall prop bets on the slate.

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