Should You Bet on a Defense or Offense in Super Bowl LI?

Posted by Peter Boysen on January 24, 2017 in

We’re still 11 days away from Super Bowl LI — but there are still plenty of things to think about as the big day gets closer and you have to place your wager. New England was a three-point favorite as the lines opened, and the over-under point total sat at 59. However, the team that has entered the Super Bowl as the favorite has gone 0-5 straight up and against the spread in the last five contests. The Patriots have shown that they can put up points at a fast click while getting stops on the opposition — but so have the Falcons especially since the midpoint of the regular season. Should you choose the offenses or the defenses to take over the game? Let’s take a look at the Super Bowl LI betting predictions.

Should You Bet on a Defense or Offense in Super Bowl LI?

Consider the recent point total trends

In three of the last four Super Bowls, the point total has gone over. The New England Patriots put up 36 points in the AFC championship against a Pittsburgh defense that was, to be fair, inconsistent at best all year against the pass. The Atlanta Falcons put up 44 points on a Green Bay defense that had some major holes in the secondary.

If you think about those scores, then that 59-point over/under threshold suddenly seems pretty small. But remember that the Patriots bottled up Le’Veon Bell, whose runs had broken the will of Pittsburgh’s opponents in the wild card and divisional round. Also remember that the Falcons found a way to shut down Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, who had led his team to 8 straight wins to finish the regular season and make their way to the NFC title game, throwing 40 touchdown passes in the regular season to lead the league.

Look at how the defenses did what they did

Atlanta brought a ferocious pass rush behind the work of defensive end Vic Beasley, Jr., which meant that Rodgers did not have 10 or 15 seconds to dance around the backfield waiting for wide receivers to pop open. They also have a young — but talented — secondary that has closing speed in case someone breaks open. New England found a way to shut those creases that were opening for Le’Veon Bell in their wild card and divisional round wins. That made the Pittsburgh offense rely on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm, which meant the Patriots could force third-and- long situations (especially once Bell went down to injury) and bring heavy pressure.

Here’s the skinny

The Patriots allowed just 15.6 points per game during the regular season, and the Falcons led the league with 33.8 points per game. The Falcons haven’t run into a defensive mind with the versatility of Bill Belichick — but the Falcons have a lot of weapons. So I don’t see this settling down to a defensive battle, because the Patriots have trick plays that will fool the young Falcon defense, and the Falcons have speed all over the field. So even though this over/under total is the highest ever in the Super Bowl, it wouldn’t surprise me to see that total shattered.