The end of the 2017 NFL season is upon us as we enter the second month of 2018. Super Bowl LII pits the New England Patriots from the AFC and the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFC in the battle for the Lombardi Trophy.

The Patriots are currently 4.5-point favorites, a number which has been bought down from the opening 6-point spread. It might wind up being even lower; some books are teasing a 4-point spread.

I agree with the tightening of the line. The Patriots should be favored, but both history and these Eagles say this figures to be a close affair.

New England doesn’t blow teams out in Super Bowls. They win a lot more than they lose as of late, but the games are almost invariably close.

Patriots 34, Falcons 28 in overtime

Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

Giants 21, Patriots 17

Giants 17, Patriots 14

Patriots 24, Eagles 21

Patriots 32, Panthers 29

Patriots 20, Rams 17

Some of those New England teams had more overall talent than the current edition, and this Philly team – with a big variable at quarterback – might be one of the better they’ve faced too.

In fact, if I trusted the Eagles at quarterback more, I’d be pretty inclined to pick them. That is not a slight at Nick Foles either, because the way he’s played in the postseason is absolutely strong enough to lead his team to a win. I would even entertain the argument he’s more likely to pull the upset than Carson Wentz, the injured second-year starter he’s filling in for so capably.

The problem for Foles and Philly is the two-week break. You’d better believe Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia and the Patriots exceptional coaching staff will find every possible way to expose the Eagles’ few weaknesses. I love the Eagles offensive line, notably the combination of Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks on the right side. The offensive balance is great, with an impressive barrage of RBs who can fit divergent styles, sort of the way the Patriots have deployed their own backfield in recent years. In Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, Philly has weapons in the passing game, too.

But they do not have Tom Brady. They do not have the experience, or confidence in knowing they can rally from deficits and make big plays in the most critical situations. Nobody does that better than the Patriots. Atlanta did everything right for the better part of three quarters last year and still blew a 28-3 lead. I think that inherent confidence and significance of accomplishment cannot be overstated in favor of New England.

And with that, the final score…

Patriots 30, Eagles 27

Now for the prop bets…

One in particular really caught my eye, and it ties in nicely with RealGM’s basketball wing:

Which will be higher?

James Harden assists+pts+rebounds vs CLE on Saturday (-130)

Patriots + Eagles combined points (+100)

Harden posted a triple-double with 60 points on Tuesday night, and the Cavaliers defense remains one of the worst in the NBA. Conservatively, I think Harden puts up a line of 33/8/6. That’s 47. Guess what the over/under total on the Super Bowl is…48. This is why taking Harden to prevail is so tough. 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists is a monster game. Then again, he averages 31/5/9. It’s easy to see him exceeding his season averages against an old Cavs team with deep defensive issues beyond effort. Gimmie Harden.

The same prop is available for LeBron in the same game. I like the Super Bowl over LeBron’s total in part because I think he’ll struggle to get assists against the Rockets.

Over/under 2:00 for Pink to sing the national anthem

Pink is at her best as a singer with quicker pace, and I think she’s smart enough to know that. Take the under.

How many times will Carson Wentz be mentioned, over/under of 3.5

I’m taking the over on this one and think it will pay out by the end of halftime.

Will any members of N’Sync appear with Justin Timberlake?

You cannot keep Joey Fatone away from this one. I love the +300 “yes” on this prop.

Will Al Michaels refer to the spread during the game?

To quote Michael Keaton in the underrated 80s movie Gung Ho, “Is a frog’s ass water tight?” As Gedde Watanabe learned, it is indeed affirmative.

Will Donald Trump be mentioned on the broadcast?

He’s tight with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Tom Brady is a known supporter, plus he’s been involved with football in the past. I think he does get mentioned in those contexts.


Tom Brady is the obvious choice, but his payline of -110 isn’t worth it. Gimme the random Patriot to capture it. Chris Hogan at +6600 is worth an investment. Brady is going to win it, however.