Freedman’s Second-Favorite Super Bowl 53 Penalty Prop Bet: Will Rams, Patriots Rough the Passer?

Freedman’s Second-Favorite Super Bowl 53 Penalty Prop Bet: Will Rams, Patriots Rough the Passer? article feature image

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady

  • Matthew Freedman continues his series featuring one of his favorite prop bets for each day of 2019.
  • He looks to Super Bowl 53 and highlights one of his favorite penalty props for the big game, regarding whether the Rams or Patriots will draw a roughing the passer penalty.

Each day, I publish at least one quick-n’-dirty piece highlighting a favorite prop of mine.

For more information on my research process and the resources I use, see the master list of my 2019 prop bets.

2019 Year-to-Date Record

18-17-3, +8.23 Units

  • Golf: 2-3-1, -0.70 Units
  • NFL: 5-5-0, +6.83 Units
  • NBA: 6-5-0, +0.30 Units
  • NHL: 5-3-2, +2.80 Units
  • NCAAF: 0-1-0. -1.0 Units

Freedman’s Second-Favorite Super Bowl 53 Penalty Prop Bet: Will There Be a Roughing the Passer Penalty?

  • Yes: -130
  • No: +100

UPDATE (Feb. 3, 5:40 p.m. ET): I’ve found a roughing the passer penalty specifically for the Rams: Yes -150, No +110. This line is egregiously priced, and I am officially making an addition to No +110 on Rams roughing the passer penalties.

I already wrote a piece on the total number of penalties we could see in Super Bowl 53 — I mentioned it on the Super Bowl 53 Propapalooza podcast with Sean Koerner — but then I found this prop and felt I should highlight it as well.

This one might actually be my favorite penalty prop for Super Bowl 53 (Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS).

This regular season, there were 114 roughing the passer penalties in 256 games, excluding penalties that were declined or offsetting (per Pro Football Reference). That comes out to a mere 0.45 per game.

But while it might seem low, this year’s average is the highest we’ve seen over the past decade, as the NFL has increasingly focused on player safety and looked to protect quarterbacks.

  • 2018: 0.45
  • 2017: 0.41
  • 2016: 0.33
  • 2015: 0.39
  • 2014: 0.39
  • 2013: 0.35
  • 2012: 0.34
  • 2011: 0.39
  • 2010: 0.34
  • 2009: 0.26

Even so, the 2018 average suggests that we should expect to see a roughing the passer penalty in a game no more than 45% of the time, whereas the +100 odds carry an implied probability of 50%.

On top of that, there are usually fewer penalties called in the playoffs. During the regular season, there was an average of 13.46 penalties per game. In the postseason, that number has dropped to 11.20.

With fewer penalties in general, we should expect to see fewer instances of a passer being roughed.

Given these numbers, there’s value on “No.”

And there are additional, team-specific reasons we’re unlikely to see a roughing the passer penalty.

The Patriots and Rams this year were in the bottom quartile of penalties, respectively averaging just 5.81 and 6.0 per game. These are two disciplined, well-coached teams that don’t commit a lot of penalties.

Especially after he benefitted from a questionable-at-best roughing the passer penalty in the AFC Championship, it’s easy to think that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could get a similarly favorable call from the referees in the Super Bowl, but the historical numbers suggest otherwise. 

Over the past decade, Brady has drawn just 0.16 roughing the passer penalties per game in 178 starts, including declined and offsetting penalties (per NFL Penalties). As for Rams quarterback Jared Goff, he’s drawn just 0.15 per game across his career.

Why have these quarterbacks drawn so few roughing penalties relative to other passers?

Perhaps because they both have fast releases. Brady and Goff tend to get rid of the ball quickly, which gives defenders fewer opportunities to make borderline contact that could be construed as roughing by the referees.

For many reasons, it’s doubtful that we’ll get a roughing penalty in the Super Bowl.

Of course, if we do see one, the odds are -500 that it’s on Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (I’m joking, but not really.)

I bet this at +100. I’d bet it to -120.

The Pick: No (+100)
Additional Pick: No Rams (+110)

Freedman’s Super Bowl 53 Prop Bets

For more insight on Super Bowl props, use the FantasyLabs Props Tool to help you find the sportsbooks that offer the most value on player props. In the tool, we grade each prop on a 1-10 scale. Since Week 1, the props with a bet quality of at least eight have a 57.9% win rate.

Here are the Super Bowl 53 props I’ve written about so far.

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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