Stuckey: My 15 Favorite Super Bowl 53 Prop Bets for Patriots-Rams

Credit:

Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rams tight end Gerald Everett

• While I don't see much value in the Super Bowl 53 spread (unless it gets to 3), I did bet a number of Patriots and Rams props.
• I highlight my favorite 15, featuring a mix of game situation and player props based on how I think the game will play out.

Even before Championship Sunday, I knew I wouldn’t be betting a side in Super Bowl 53. That is unless I saw a King 3, which may still happen.

That meant I had two weeks to zero in on which props I would be betting. Well, after taking a few long shots, I have finally narrowed down my regular props list to 15. My final list has a little bit of everything:

• Two defensive props
• ,Two game situation props
• Three special teams props
• Eight player props

After handicapping the game from every angle, I essentially choose my final props based on how I think the game will play out — in addition to the probability the odds suggest. Let’s dive into the list and reasons why, starting with my favorite area: special teams!

Stuckey’s Favorite Super Bowl 53 Props

• Over/Under: 56
• Time: Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET
• TV channel: CBS

1. Johnny Hekker Does Not Attempt a Pass (-550)

From a purely mathematical perspective, this line looks about right. At -550 to not throw a pass, the odds imply a 15% chance he will throw a pass. If we look back at his career stats, including postseason, Hekker has attempted a pass in 19 of his career 115 games or 16.5%. (Hekker has 20 career pass attempts, but two occurred in the same game.)

However, I’m looking at this more from a situational perspective. Google “Johnny Hekker.”

Two of the first three stories under the news section are about his arm and fake punts. Do you not think the Patriots are aware of this? The most prepared team in the NFL, coached by a guy who could write a thesis on every starting long snapper in the league? Come on.

I’m sure we will see a ton of “safe” punt return unit coverages out of New England, which will be perfectly content to fair catch the ball and get Tom Brady on the field. It’s not like the Patriots possess an explosive punt return game or need to rely on non-offensive scores.

Plus, I doubt the Rams would even try it one game after Hekker changed the momentum against the Saints with a fake punt completion.

If McVay were to fake a punt, I’d think he’d use the Patriots’ hyper-awareness against them with a misdirected snap to run the ball or something along those lines.

I’ll side with no on this prop and bank on Hekker not attempting a pass in consecutive games for just the second time in his career.

2. Gostkowski No Touchback on First Kick (-145)

I hate to disagree on this one with my man Bales — who put together his own personal Super Bowl 53 props piece, which is certainly worth checking out. (He did also get +180, which is a much different story.)

I’m just convinced the Patriots will start this game out with a short kick just shy of the goal line, which Gostkowski can do with extreme precision.

Belichick prefers not to kick touchbacks with the new rule bringing the ball out to the 25 since Gostkowski’s moon ball kicks give his defenders time to get down the field to pin the opposing team deep. A non-touchback also provides the opportunity for a turnover and/or a penalty to back up a team even more.

To back up my statement, take a look at some of these stats:

• The Patriots are one of only six teams with a touchback percentage under 50%.
• Their touchback percentage in their last three games: 23.81%
• Including the postseason, this prop would have went 12-6 in Patriot games this year.
• In the past two Super Bowls, Gostkowski has only kicked three touchbacks out of 11 total kickoffs. And in both games, the first was not a touchback.

You might fear this prop as a result of the perfect conditions in Atlanta, but it should only help increase Gostkowski’s precision.

I also think Belichick will have even more of an incentive to kick it short against a Rams team that has struggled in the kick return game all season. During the regular season, the Rams ranked 21st in the NFL in average kick return yards (21.4). In this postseason, the Rams have only returned one kick for 17 yards?

They would rather take the touchback and start at the 25-yard line each possession. And Belichick knows that.

Look, Gostkowski could kick it a yard too far and we lose this bet, but given his track record and what I believe the Pats will want to do on kickoffs, I will bite at -145.

3. Gostkowski Under 1.5 Field Goals Made (+130)

This is primarily a math play, but also partly due to the aggressive play-calling I expect from both coaches throughout this game. I think both McVay and Belichick know that field goals won’t win this game.

But let’s get back to the numbers, as I think 1.5 seems like a more fair number for Gostkowski field goal attempts — not makes. The former Memphis kicker has made 37 career field goals in 27 career postseason games for an average of 1.37 per playoff game. Solely based on that fact, I like the value of under 1.5 makes — especially at plus-money.

And that’s before even accounting for the aggressive play-calling I mentioned and the fact that Gostkowski had a down year for his standards at 84.4%.

This prop has an extreme amount of variance for a single game, but the math makes sense overall based on how I think the game will play out.

4. Marcus Peters Interception (+500)

From a purely mathematical perspective, this prop (which implies a 16.67% chance of interception) has value if you just look back at Marcus Peters’ career numbers.

The Rams cornerback has 24 interceptions in 67 career games (including the playoffs) — or an average slightly better than one pick every three games. And remember, that includes games this year when he had to play out of position while dealing with an injury. Even if you focus solely on the postseason, he has two INTs in just six games.

Now, I don’t think the probability is as high as his career stats suggest. He will be facing one of the all-time greats in Tom Brady, who averages just 0.66 interceptions per game for his entire career.

However, I think Peters will get plenty of targets in a defensive backfield that really has no glaring weaknesses. With Aqib Talib now back, Peters can play the aggressive route-jumping style he prefers on the other side with more help. I also expect defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to bring pressure, increasing the chances of a Peters pick on a jumped route.

5. Patriots Over 1.5 Sacks (-175)

Don’t be afraid of the juice here, as I think the Patriots have a good shot at getting to Jared Goff at least three times — something they have done in seven of their eight Super Bowl appearances under Bill Belichick.

The one exception came last year when they didn’t get to Nick Foles one single time. That will be fresh in their minds.

I also think they know they have to bring pressure to disrupt LA’s offense. If you look at some of the regular season numbers, the Patriots didn’t get much pressure at all, ranking 30th in Adjusted Sack Rate.

However, they have utilized twists and stunts at a much higher frequency in the playoffs, sacking Philip Rivers twice and Patrick Mahomes four times. Yes, LA has a great offensive line, but so did Kansas City.

Most importantly, for this prop, I went back to 2016 and looked at the last time the Patriots played Jared Goff. They disguised their looks and blitzed him relentlessly, sacking him four times on the day. Goff finished 4 of 13 against the blitz with an interception.

Belichick even said after the game that Goff’s “eyes watch the blitz when he gets pressured.” I can’t see the Patriots changing up that approach against a quarterback they feel can get rattled under pressure and a quarterback that can hold the ball too long at times.

I think the Patriots get multiple sacks for the eighth time in nine Super Bowl appearances this century.

6. Score in Final 3:30 Yes (-170)

From a mathematical perspective, this line implies a probability of just under 63% that we will see a score in the final 3:30. Well, if we look back at all past Super Bowls, this only occurred in 32 of the 52 — or 61.5% historically. That translates to a fair line of -160, implying no value on this prop.

However, the game has changed over the years for a number of reasons. As a result, teams have scored in the final 3:30 in 20 of the past 25 (80%) Super Bowls. This prop has also hit in all eight Patriot Super Bowl appearances since 2000.

I ultimately think this is a very tight game with two great offenses and two reliable kickers, which makes this prop even more likely to come through.

7. Both Teams Have Lead in 4th Quarter or OT (+280)

This is fairly correlated with the previous prop. My reasoning is pretty similar and I think this hits for the fourth straight time in a Patriots Super Bowl.

I still find it stunning that the winning team took the lead in the final 3:30 in seven of the eight New England Super Bowl appearances. They are essentially a Marshawn Lynch run, two last-second field goals and Atlanta’s historic collapse away from a 1-7 Super Bowl record.

(Although Patriots fans could flip that logic around the other way. And there are many reasons why they consistently win these close games.)

8. Brandin Cooks Under 5.5 Receptions (-160)

From a pure numbers perspective, Cooks had 80 catches in the regular season for an average of exactly five per game. On the surface, the number seems about right with the under juiced to -160.

However, it’s not rocket science: the Patriots take away the strengths of opposing offenses better than any team in the NFL. And the New England staff is clearly familiar with the dangerous Cooks, who spent a season in Foxboro.

I think the Patriots ultimately put Stephon Gilmore (ranked No. 1 in coverage among all corners this year, per PFF) on Robert Woods and use their other speed at corner with help over top to help contain Cooks. Or they put Gilmore on Cooks. Either way, it’s not ideal.

New England also did a superb job at defending the deep ball all season, which is Cooks’ specialty. Per Football Outsiders, the Patriots ranked No. 2 in the NFL against the deep ball.

And as I said above, I think the Patriots will blitz Goff often, which will take away time to throw down the field.

Who do I think will benefit from the scheme I anticipate seeing from the Patriots? Josh Reynolds, Todd Gurley and Gerald Everett.

9-10. Josh Reynolds Props

• Over 3.5 Receptions (-105)
• Longest Reception Over 19.5 Yards (-110)

When in the game, Reynolds will directly benefit from the coverage I expect from New England. Since he will most likely avoid Gilmore and not see help over the top often, I also think the Rams will take a few shots with him down the field with all of the attention on containing Cooks in that area.

Reynolds became a starter about halfway through the season when Cooper Kupp went down. And in his last eight games, he averaged six targets per game. I think six is a slightly conservative target assumption for this upcoming Sunday, so I’ll gladly take my chances on him hauling in four catches.

Reynolds has also had a reception of at least 26 yards in four of his last five games. The one that he didn’t, his long was 19.

11. Todd Gurley Over 30.5 Receiving Yards

I can’t really get involved in any of the Rams running back props. There is just so much uncertainty with who will get the workload. I’m still not sure if Gurley is 100% healthy, which means he might not be able to handle a full workload of carries.

That said, I think he will have a few big plays in the passing game.

One of the Patriots’ biggest weaknesses the past few seasons has been defending backs in the passing game. Teams can exploit their lack of speed at the linebacker position, much like the Chiefs did in the AFC Championship with Damien Williams, who finished with five catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

12-15. Gerald Everett Props

• Scores a TD (+330)
• Over 2.5 Receptions (+110)
• Over 23.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
• Longest Reception Over 12.5 Yards (-110)

I don’t see any value in Gurley scoring a touchdown at -130, as the Patriots can shift their resources to focus even more on him in the red zone. Everett can specifically benefit from that.

The South Alabama product should also get some looks up the seam when the Patriots bring pressure — especially if they have to start utilizing their safeties if Gurley gets going in the passing game.

I’m primarily investing more in Everett than Reynolds because I expect to see a lot of 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) from the Rams. They did so against the Saints with great success and it’s a formation the Patriots struggle with.

Everett, one of the most underrated tight ends in football in my eyes, has great value across the prop board. I think he has a big day in his return to Atlanta.