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February 4, 2018

There is one pick today.

It was released a few days ago at the beginning of February.
 

Take New England Patriots -4 spread against Philadelphia Eagles for 3% of the bankroll.

It's finally here; The time has come. The biggest game of the season in what ultimately turned out to be a showdown between the #1 seed in each conference! It doesn't get any bigger than the Super Bowl and if there's one thing history has taught us, it's that the bigger the stage, the more Tom Brady and company shine. Whether you like the Patriots or not, you have to admit that what Bill Belichick and this organization have achieved are unparalleled and nothing short of remarkable! 

Tom Brady led the league with 4577 passing yards this season and while no previous passing leader has won the Super Bowl in the same season, we believe he's the exception. Quarterbacks entering the Super Bowl as the passing leader are 0-5 in the big game much like many newly-crowned MVPs have struggled as well. However, the ageless wonder that is Tom Brady has defied odds all throughout his career and continues to prove doubters wrong. We believe he'll lead his team to a 6th Super Bowl and futher raise the bar as the greatest of all-time! 

Nick Foles deserves a lot of credit for filling in for Carson Wentz. Wentz was an MVP-candidate himself before going down with a season-ending injury late in the regular season and had this Eagles team soaring high. It took Foles a bit of time to get on the same page with his receivers but that is now in the rearview mirror and the game against the Vikings was proof of that. He had a nearly flawless game against what is the best defense in the NFL in our opinion! And yet we're not quite sold. Why is that? There are a couple of reasons. First of all, Minnesota simply had a bad day in the office. It's inevitable during a long season that each team has an off game where they play uncharacteristically and unfortunately for the Vikings, that came in the conference championship! Nonetheless, we believe if you replay that game 9 more times, Minnesota would win it more often than not and would probably be hosting the Super Bowl. We also don't believe Foles will be able to replicate those same throws. He caught fire in that game and couldn't miss! Good for him. He deserves credit but we don't believe he'll be able to repeat that performance. A second factor that many have forgotten about is that he was abysmal in the first quarter and missing badly before the Eagles defense got him on the scoreboard by returning an INT for a touchdown! From that moment on, something clicked. He realized that he doesn't have to do it all on his own. And it completely shifted momentum. But the fact that it was the Philly defense scoring the first 7 points of the game for them is telling. It came as a huge psychological relief to a QB that was struggling big time. Can he bank on the Eagles scoring another defensive touchdown to get him going? Is that something you can count on? Likely not. 

Rob Gronkowski will be on the field after missing much of the game against Jacksonville due to concussion-like symptoms. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and while we respect Malcom Jenkins, we believe he will struggle to cope with him, if he, alone, is put up to that task. It's simply impossible for any individual to contain Gronk single-handedly and yet if teams double-team him, Brady will simply find the mismatch elsewhere and dish it out to one of his many other capable weapons. Giving him extra attention means someone else is left open and yet giving him one-on-one coverage means Brady will have a big advantage targeting the giant tight-end! This New England offense is as good as we've seen thanks to the fact that they can hurt you in a number of completely different ways. They have capable backs in Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead who can all punish you on the ground or as a receiver out of the backfield! And yet even if you do a good job containing them, which is next to impossible itself given that they do it as a committee and each one of those individuals poses certain threats, it'll then be Gronk or one of the wide receivers that will get open. Brandin Cooks will provide a deep-threat and has a point to prove against a team that almost traded for him last off-season before ultimately not pulling the trigger which allowed the Patriots to come in and strike a deal with the Saints. And if Cooks is kept quiet on deep passes, it'll be Danny Amendola that does big damage on intermediary routes as he displayed against the stout Jaguars defense! Finally, let's not forget about Chris Hogan who showed a penchant for showing up in big games last year and yet has been very quiet recently. It was always going to take him a couple of games to find his footing after missing much of the season out injured. We don't expect all of these aforementioned players to do well but the fact remains that if even a few of them do what they have all season, the Pats will be scoring points. They simply have too many different weapons to hurt opposing defenses. You can't take away all of them! You have to pick your poison and that's what will allow Brady to march up and down the field. We can see the Eagles perhaps limit them to field goals here and there but we don't think there will be too many empty possessions.

Last but not least, let's remember that when it comes to the big game, experience matters. This is unlike any other matchup! The attention is far bigger, the world's eyes are locked in, everyone's watching, there's media day... there are extra distractions and more than anything there is an incredible amount of pressure on the shoulders of each individual entering the field! Does it help then if some have been there and done that as opposed to experience it all for the very first time? Yes. The Patriots have 32 players that have participated in a Super Bowl game! The Eagles, on the other hand? They have 6 such players. With the stage at its biggest and the lights at their brightest, some thrive under pressure while others cave. Foles and Philadelphia are a wild card here. They may rise to the occassion but it is unlikely given that they are going up against a team that has a proven history of being clutch. Consider the fact that even if the Pats fall behind big, they have the mental strength to know they can get back in it. It doesn't get more daunting than a 28-3 score with just 18 minutes left to play! Can the Eagles say the same? Will they have the same confidence and resolve if they get in a big early hole? We doubt it. Doug Pedersen and Philadelphia deserve a ton of credit for making it here but this is likely where the journey ends especially given that several key players including Nelson Agholor, Timmy Jernigan and Ronald Darby were all dealing with flu-like symptoms throughout the week and Agholor in particular required intravenous fluids! Look for New England to pull away at some point and cover this reasonable spread.




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