Super Bowl 56 picks and props from winning NFL analyst FairwayJay
Betting on Super Bowl 56 between the Rams and Bengals has been going on for more than a week. We've seen the online sportsbooks move the line from Rams -3.5 to -4 and more 4.5. Yet more leading online sportsbooks are showing fairly even action so far with the Bengals actually taking more bets and a bit more money according to data I've received from U.S. sportsbook operators.
But despite a spectacular regular season picking underdogs at a 28-12 ATS clip with 21 outright winners, we're not buying the Bengals in the Super Bowl. Rather, it's time to be Ram tough, and I forecast a sizable Rams romp, perhaps in the 34-17 range and no surprise if the game gets out of hand as the Rams roll.
Pick: Rams -4 (BookMaker) and Opinion Over 48.5
I've not taken a real strong position in the Super Bowl since the Eagles flew over the Patriots 41-33 as an underdog in 2018. I did bet the Falcons to beat the Patriots the in 2017 as well, and was on the right side and the worst Super Bowl defeat of all-time in a complete meltdown by the Falcons (+3) losing 34-28 in overtime - the only OT in Super Bowl history. I had a solid position on Under the total when the Broncos collared Cam and the Panthers 24-10 in 2016. And I'd have to go back to 2010 and the Saints 31-17 win over the Colts as underdog for another game I took a solid side position. It was more than a decade prior when I really bet more on the Super Bowl in back-to-back years cashing in on the Broncos in 1998 and 1999 as underdog over the Packers and favorite over the Falcons.
Now, I have a strong position on the Rams in the 2022 Super Bowl. I added to my bet on the NFC (pk) over the AFC during the regular season with a little more at -3.5 and the opening Super Bowl spread feeling the line would not only go up, but that the Rams edges and strength would provide a solid victory.
Fairway's Forecast NFL 2022 Playoffs
NFL Playoff Picks - Sides (4-0 ATS)
NFL Playoff Picks, Opinions and Leans - Sides every game (9-3 ATS)
NFL Playoff Picks - Totals (1-2 and overall 1-4 including Opinions and Leans)
NFL Regular Season - Sides, underdogs only (28-12 ATS, 70%)
Rams vs Bengals
A dominant Rams defensive front and run defense has really shined in the playoffs ranking No.1 in run stop win rate and pass rush win rate. Those that following my NFL rushing stats and point of attack guidelines know that teams who out-rush their opponent by at least 30 yards in a game, and/or run the ball at least 30 times per game are proven winners at better than 74% ATS this season and for the past two decades. And teams that run the ball less than 23 times in a game are big losers both SU/ATS.
In the 2022 playoffs, teams that have rushed the ball at least 30 times are 4-0 SU/ATS and the Rams did it twice, and rushed 29 times against the 49ers in a win/half-point non-cover. Teams that run the ball less than 23 times in a game are 1-9 SU and 2-8 ATS in the playoffs, and the Bengals had the only win with their victory over Tennessee despite getting out-rushed 140-65 and out-gained 6.8 to 5.4 yards per play. In fact, the Bengals have been out-gained in all three playoff games, and Cincinnati is the first team in NFL history to make the Super Bowl after losing yards per play in three playoff games. Three other teams had a bye and lost yards per play in two games to make the Super Bowl, but two of them had very dominant defenses - the Broncos in 2015 and Seahawks in 2013, who both had the No. 1 defense in DVOA and Cincinnati ranks No. 19 this year in DVOA.
The Rams have held all three stronger NFC playoff opponents to 61 yards or less rushing, and 20 rushing attempts or less. So we expect more point of attack play advantages knowing too the Bengals have a below average pass rush and are hurting a bit along the defensive front heading into the Super Bowl.
The Rams offense has also rushed the ball 32.3 times per game in the playoffs, while the Bengals average 23.3 and really struggled at Tennessee. These are proven, winning fundamentals.
Now factor in the Rams stronger regular season schedule and division, along with more match-up and coaching edges, and I forecast a sizeable win margin for the Rams. Only a greater number of Rams turnovers, unforeseen plays like blocked punts or poor officiating and dumbo penalties could derail the Rams from a Super Bowl victory.
Matthew Stafford has so many top weapons and the Offensive Player of the Year in WR Cooper Kupp. Stafford should shine against the Bengals defense that uses more man coverage and is below average in pass rush and less than full health.
In competitively lined games this season (6 points or less) the team that won covered the spread at a 94% rate. It’s 8-1 SU/ATS in the playoffs, meaning if the favorite wins they cover the spread, and obviously if the underdog wins outright they cover - 21 outright 'Dog winners for us during the 18 week regular season. The Rams had four turnovers against the Buccaneers on the road in the divisional round and still won, and were dominating enough to build a 27-3 lead before gifting the Bucs back into the game. The Rams then turned the tables on the 49ers and rallied while shutting San Francisco down after falling behind in the third quarter.
After playing the stronger regular season schedule and in the strongest division, the Rams have been the more dominant team in the playoffs while out-gaining three solid opponents and dominant yards per play edges over the Cardinals and Bucs.
Super Bowl 56 Prop Bets
This is the week for bonus offers and prop bets, which have continued to grow and gain more interest in recent years with regulated sports betting spreading to nearly 30 states in America. I don't have any novelty props to recommend, as I haven't bet any or spent any time analyzing them. Perhaps I'm missing more fun, but when I bet props I'm looking for an edge, and added insight from bettors and connections providing information I may have missed or just not enough time to cover all the options.
I'll be watching and wagering on the Super Bowl with in-play live betting as well. We'll find out if some of the leading online sportsbooks mobile in-play platforms can handle the record betting and action that will come in before and during the Super Bowl. The American Gaming Association reports that a record $7.6 billion is expected to be bet on the Super Bowl with 31.4 million American's placing a bet on the Big Game. Despite so much betting already, more than 85% of the bets and money will come in on the Super Bowl 24-48 hours before kickoff.
So, here are some prop bets of interest, and I'll try to add some more this weekend before Sunday's kickoff. We may not get the best numbers at this point or near Super Bowl game day, but you can determine if you want to make the bet, as we chipped-in a pair of receiving prop winners during the Divisional Round.
- Rams WR Odell Beckham - Over 5.5 Receptions (+115)
- Rams more first downs (-150)
Check out these prop bets at the top online sportsbooks, and I'll dig into more before Sunday kickoff.
Odell Beckham has been more involved in the offense with greater impact as some other players have missed action. Beckham has been a bigger threat against man coverage, and has better match-ups against the Bengals than versus the Bucs and 49ers when he caught 6 passes for 69 yards and 9 for 113 yards.
Obviously I'm high on the Rams, and thus I also like the Rams to have more first downs than the Bengals. A pro bettor strongly suggested this bet in agreement, and while it's up to -150 now, we like our chances with the stronger team to have more success moving the ball, making big plays and also have their more dominant defense slowing down the Bengals and dumping QB Burrow.
More rushing yards and running backs to consider with stats from TrueMedia. The Rams running game relies heavily on 11 personnel, which accounts for 78% of the team’s handoffs to running backs this year. Cam Akers has had a higher rate in the postseason, but also lost two fumbles against the Buccaneers that nearly proved disastrous after LA build a 27-3 lead over Tampa Bay.
The match-ups work more against the Bengals, whose overall numbers versus 11 personnel are near league average and allow 4.5 yards per carry to running backs and much worse 5.9 YPR in the playoffs. You can bet Cam Akers to lead all running backs in rushing yards (+110).
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and he crushed it in the 2021 NFL season going 28-12 ATS (70.0%) on his underdog picks. FairwayJay chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay