With over 239 betting markets to choose from, anything and everything is an option on Super Bowl Monday.
If head-to-head betting isn’t your thing, don’t stress, there’s plenty of value to be found in the player performance market ahead of Monday’s Super Bowl match-up. With Tom Brady manning the offense, we’re guaranteed some touchdowns, and since the Eagles have become the masters of playcalling deception, there’s every chance this one turns into a shootout.
But who exactly should punters be placing their faith in? Let’s take a look.
New England Patriots
Cooks has been quiet… too quiet. In his two postseason games, the Patriots’ breakout star has accounted for just 132 yards and nine receptions. Okay, that’s not so bad, and Cooks did reel in six of those catches against a dangerous Jaguars defence, but so far the 24-year old has come up empty-handed in the end zone. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles allowed 24 passing touchdowns during the regular season, but they also gave up 10 deep plays of 40 yards or more – the ninth most in the league.
For a pass to be considered “deep” in the NFL, it has to travel 20 yards or more. Why should you care? Cooks made a killing on those very same routes: 608 yards to be exact. The Eagles will be keen to pressure Brady early and often, but they need to err on the side of caution. Overcommitting to the blitz with anything more than a four-man rush leaves their secondary vulnerable, and as well we know, giving Brady any kind of space down field could spell trouble for Philly, but money for punters riding Cooks.
Rightfully so, a lot was made of Brady’s comeback efforts in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons last year. Lost amongst the emotion though, was running back James White and his casual 110 receiving yards. White has been used primarily as a third-down back for most of this season, and with the emergence of Dion Lewis, it’s unlikely we see a repeat performance this year. The good news, however, is Lewis is legit – he rushed for 896 yards during the regular season, but more importantly caught for 214 yards and three touchdowns in the air.
There’s a lot to like about Lewis’ match up against the Eagles. For one, Philadelphia allowed the second most receiving touchdowns in the league to opposing running backs last season. Second, big things come in small packages…
The above is Lewis’ draft profile. At 5’7 and now 195-pounds, he’s far from the biggest dude on the field, but like he said himself, “I’m small, but I’m not little”. The 27-year old was one of the strongest running backs after initial contact this season, finishing with 239 yards after the catch. On the ground he was also a force – when hit in the backfield Lewis turned what appeared to be a loss into positive yardage 42.9% of the time. With the Eagles looking to flood Brady with the pass-rush, Lewis should see his fair share of handoffs on the day, and with two small children for thighs, he’s a good bet to cross the goal line.
The Eagles traded for running back Jay Ajayi towards the midway point of the season, and while he did contribute, the former Miami Dolphin has been pretty silent for most of the playoffs. So far we’ve seen plenty of LeGarrette Blount running it up the gut on first down, but Ajayi will again play a part in one of the Eagles’ most important forms of attack.
Philly has become well known for executing the run-pass option to perfection, a play call that allows the quarterback to fake a handoff and throw the ball, or scramble and pitch the ball to a back. Defenses are well aware of how dangerous the Eagles are when they run this option, but are yet to discover the answer. The Patriots themselves found out the hard way two week’s ago when they faced the Jaguars, as they were torched by Jacksonville for three quarters while Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette ran the run-pass option all day long. This time around they face the Eagles, a team that has run the option 207 times this season. Here’s a recent example:
— Ryan Cook (@RyanCook13) February 2, 2018
Philly’s offensive line is what makes this scheme run so smoothly, and since Ajayi is the one running back that has both the speed and the hands (two fumbles all season) to create some yards, he could finally find the scoreboard on Monday. Throw in the fact the Patriots allowed 4.71 rushing yards per attempt this year, and you might have a fairly safe bet.
One of the biggest offensive breakouts this year has been Nelson Agholor. He finished with 768 yards and eight touchdowns, a career high for the third year receiver. On the surface that looks like a pretty accomplished season, especially with a superstar like Alshon Jeffery on the roster, but when we dig deeper, there’s a lot more to Agholor than meets the eye.
Although the Eagles like to keep things fresh on third down, Agholor has been targeted a whopping 30 times. He’s dropped five passes all season but is often one of the first receivers Foles looks to on run-pass options as well as on quick slant routes. With Jeffery likely shadowed by one of the league’s top cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore all game long, it should open up space for Agholor to put up 40.5 yards or more at a very handy $1.87.
Betting against the GOAT? Nope, not that crazy.
Take a look at Tom Brady’s two Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants, and you’ll notice one thing: both of those opposing defenses ranked inside the top four in pass rush. The Eagles racked up 38 sacks during the regular season while also forcing 14 fumbles, and since Brady himself has thrown five interceptions in his seven Super Bowl appearances, he’s certainly not immune to a turnover.
You could make a case for any of the Eagles’ defenders here, but the fact that only two defensive players have won the MVP award in the last 10 years makes it a slim chance. If Foles does indeed join the MVP list, it will be the full-stop in one of the most crazy seasons in NFL history.