Austin Montgomery's Super Bowl gambling preview and prediction


Credit: Los Angeles Rams

The NFL waited over two decades to bring the Super Bowl back to the city of Los Angeles. I really think this Super Bowl is going to give us a show to remember.


While we can focus on the matchup and lavishness that is SoFi Stadium, this will also be the most bet on the Super Bowl in history. With sports betting becoming more mainstream, the dozens of prop options, and the event the Super Bowl has become - I wouldn’t be surprised if legal action reached the multi-billion mark across the country.


So since all of the degenerates just can’t help themselves on Super Bowl Sunday, I feel like it’s my responsibility to give one more detailed breakdown for the Big Game. So without further to do here is the breakdown.


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Super Bowl LVI: Cincinnati vs. Los Angeles


Spread: Los Angeles (-4)


Over/Under: 48.5


When Cincinnati Has the Ball:


This game is going to come down to how well Joe Burrow does against pressure- he is going to face tons of it. Los Angeles ranks second in pass rush win rate, (first if you count the postseason) which resulted in 50 sacks this season- third best in the NFL. On the other side, the Cincinnati offensive line has been abysmal ranking 31st in pass block win rate, and 31st in sack percentage. It really has not gotten better in the playoffs. Burrow has been sacked 12 times in the postseason. Cincy gets their toughest test of the season this week.


On the other side Burrow has been sensational when he needs to be. It’s the definition of clutch. Burrow was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year Thursday night after throwing for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. Burrow does an amazing job of identifying coverage, putting the ball in places where it makes it easier for receivers to get up field after the catch, and he is just tough gun slinger that is able to put the ball in tight windows despite having a 300 pound man inches of ripping his face off. We have seen this type of greatness since his senior year at LSU.


And I think that’s the method of attack. Cincy doesn’t really have any major statistical or metrical advantages. They rank 19th overall in offensive DVOA while Los Angeles ranks fifth overall. Sean McVay is very familiar with Zac Taylor’s offensive style - vice versa. Cincy is going to have to change their strategy when it comes to first down. Cincy is running on first down over a 60 percent clip, and LA ranks 1st in EPA defending 1st down runs. With negative plays on first down, Joe Burrow is basically playing Canadian football trying to get the ball down the field using two downs.


The main question is how Cincy is going to attack LA’s secondary, and how defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is going to deploy Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey shadowed Tampa receiver Mike Evans on 70 percent of snaps but was only on San Francisco's Deebo Samuel for 50 percent of snaps. Cincinnati has the best second receiving option in Tee Higgins that Los Angeles has seen in a few weeks. The six-foot-four Higgins may be a tough guard for LA’s opposing corner Darious Williams who is just five-foot-nine. In order for Cincy to move the ball, their receivers have to win their one on one matchups. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s fair to note Cincy played the easiest schedule of offenses this season. San Francisco was the only team they played that finished in the top 10 in defensive DVOA.


LA is a huge step up in class, and I think they will have trouble moving the ball. Aaron Donald and Von Miller will have huge days. Ja’Marr Chase is going to have created some big play opportunities. We will see if Burrow can overcome all the obstacles going against him.


When Los Angeles Has the Ball:


While Burrow gets all the accolades and attention for the Cincy turnaround, the turnaround of the defense has been astounding to see. The team spent a ton of money in the offseason and it has paid off. After ranking in the bottom five in virtually every defensive category, Cincy’s defense has emerged as an above average unit ranking 11th in scoring, 13th in yards per play, and 19th overall in DVOA.


It all starts with defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who leads the team with 14 sacks. The Cincy defense shut down the Kansas City offense in the second half, forced three turnovers against Tennessee, and shut down a Las Vegas comeback in the final drive. This unit has kept them in games all postseason. They play a conservative style playing a quarters/cover 2 look, and they drop back eight a lot of the time. They are elite at not giving up the explosive play, they have solid linebackers who can fill and stop the run. Jesse Bates is one of the best safeties in the back end.


The challenge will be defending one of the craftiest offenses in recent memory. LA ranks sixth in scoring offense, second in yards per play, and eighth overall in DVOA. LA has an elite vertical passing game commanded by Matthew Stafford. They have the Offensive Player of the Year in Cooper Kupp. Teams have been able to move the ball on Cincy during the postseason. Cincy has been elite at getting teams off the field on third down and forcing turnovers. Stafford is prone to the occasional mistake, throwing 17 interceptions on the season. McVay may want to make some exotic calls, but he is going to have to play safe here. They have to find a way to get the ground game going (something that has been non-existent in the postseason). And they need to focus on methodically moving the ball down the field. I think LA has significant advantages at the receiver position versus the Cincy secondary- that’s how they attack here.


The pick:


Now that you spent five minutes wasting your time going through those paragraphs, it’s time to give you what you came for. My final bet of the season.


So in Aaron Torres fashion, I’m not going to have a pick on the spread or regular total of the biggest game of the year. I feel like the number was set perfectly, so we are not going to invest there. Instead, we are going to lock in the first half under 23.5.


Both teams are going to come out tight. It’s the first Super Bowl for many Cincy players, and LA is playing on the biggest stage in front of their home city. Both coaches are some of the more conservative coaches. Cincinnati is not going to be able to move the ball with their regular flow of offense. The pressure is going to be a problem, and I see LA getting to Burrow. Meaning big third down stops, punts, settling for field goals-etc. Cincinnati ranks 30th in the NFL in pace, and Los Angeles ranks 4th in the NFL in yards per drive. Meaning when LA scores, they typically move methodically down the field-good for the under. So let’s lock that in under 23.5 in the first half. We got one last ticket to cash.


The pick: First Half Under 23.5 (-110)


Final Score prediction: Rams 23 Bengals 20


MVP: Aaron Donald


Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive

 

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