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Inside Edge Super Bowl special: A game for the ages

In this week’s Inside Edge analysis, Joe Mellor and Nick Haynes at Form Labs – a division of Bettorlogic – take a look at this weekend’s jam-packed sports schedule, with the Super Bowl LV set to be the biggest sports betting event of the year.

After quite a sombre January, the sporting world brings us the most entertaining weekend of the year to date. England’s cricket team kick-off their series against India, who will still be basking in their first ever victory at the Gabba to take a 2-1 series win over the Aussies, and with Stokes and Archer back in for the visitors this promises to be one of the most competitive test series in recent memory.

The Six Nations gets underway this weekend too with England and Wales both looking to become the first side to reach 40 Six Nations titles, while the Italians would take the avoidance of a sixth successive wooden spoon as a huge victory.

Monday sees the start of the Australian Open with Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin looking to defend their crowns, while Liverpool will be hoping to avoid three successive home league defeats for the first time since 1963 on Sunday, but their visitors Man City are on a hot streak of form and are the shortest price they’ve ever been at Anfield (that we have odds data for since 2000/01).

Though for all that entertainment, the biggest sporting event of the year for bettors comes from the states on Sunday night, as the Chiefs look to become the first side to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy in successive seasons since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. 

Super Bowl LV

Tom Brady has successfully guided the Buccaneers (+150) to their first Super Bowl since 2002, while on the personal front, the former Patriots QB will be competing in his 10th Super Bowl this weekend. Brady led his side to a respectable 11-5 regular season, though three straight playoff road wins should be lauded for the first season at his new franchise. The Bucs will make history this weekend as the first franchise to compete in a Super Bowl at their own stadium, and that will be a big boost for them in a game that they go into as underdogs.

The Chiefs (-175) finished the regular season 14-2, and even their defeat to the Chargers in the final week of the season came as they rested their star players. They survived a scare in their first playoff game of the season against the Browns when Patrick Mahomes had to leave the field, though there’s little doubt he’ll be ok for this clash and quite frankly, there’s very little any side can do to stop the Chiefs when their QB is singing.

The only statistic that throws caution to the wind over this side is the fact that from the beginning of November, none of their final eight regular season games saw them win by more than six points. However, while some of those games were as close as the scoreline suggests, some were flattering to their opponents, not least their 27-24 victory over the Bucs just over two months ago.

The Chiefs ran out a 17-0 lead after the first quarter and spent the rest of the match keeping the Bucs at bay rather than going gung-ho, and if it weren’t for two late scores when the game was effectively already won, that would have been a rollover and despite the spread sitting at just three this time out, that’s exactly what we’d expect.

If it weren’t for Brady, we’d likely not even be discussing the Bucs chances in this game, and while their QB has been instrumental in their run here, fortune has also played its part with the utmost respect. In their last two playoff matches, the Packers capitulated in the Championship game and the Saints just couldn’t keep hold of the ball in the Divisional round.

That’s not to say this side doesn’t have the skillset required to get here, though those two sides are the only two that they’ve managed to beat that had a winning record this campaign, and we just can’t see the Chiefs making the same mistakes. Their record speaks for itself and if the last meeting is anything to go off, the three-point spread should be covered with ease. 

Brady and Mahomes – Overs or Unders?

This certainly is a game for the ages as the greatest QB of all time goes up against the biggest talent of the next generation in Patrick Mahomes, who will be hoping this game serves as a passing of the torch if he leads this Chiefs side to back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

What comes with a great Quarterback is a great passing offence, so it’s no surprise to see both sides rank in the top four in the NFL for passing yards and touchdowns this season. As far as game plans go, there is absolutely no doubt that the Chiefs are going pass whenever they can. Not only do they have the best passer in the league as their QB, but the Bucs have the best rush defence, ranking first in both yards per carry (3.6) and touchdowns (10).

We’d therefore expect Mahomes to have at least 40 throws this match. He’s averaged 8.1 yards per attempt this season and with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as his two main receiving options, we’d expect Mahomes to hit the overs this game against a Bucs defence that rank 21st in passing yards allowed this season.

While Brady will want the ball in his hands if it gets to crunch time, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs were to run the ball a lot. They’ll want to slow the game down and keep the ball away from Mahomes as much as they can, and with the Chiefs ranking 21st in rushing yards allowed this season there’s every suggestion that that could be an effective play. It’s on that basis that we’d expect Brady to go Unders on this occasion, though in the Red Zone we’d be surprised if he gave up control.

Novelty Bet – National Anthem

The biggest question of the night though: how long will the national anthem be? Country artist Eric Church will be taking to the field alongside R&B/Hip-Hop sensation Jazmine Sullivan, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that combination would provide a more upbeat version of the Star-Spangled Banner than we’ve become accustomed to in recent years, though we have reason to believe otherwise. You only need to look back as far as 2019 to remember Church’s iconic 17 song medley at CMA fest, where a more considered approach was taken to his usual fast-paced melodies, and if there’s any time to rekindle that caution, it’s at Raymond James Stadium in front of the watchful gaze of millions around the world.

Sullivan’s tiny desk concert should serve as a prelude to Sunday evening, and if that’s anything to go by, then she’s never far away from going off on a tangent. Her soulful tones are Aguilera-esqe, so if and when she finds a big note, don’t expect her to lose it anytime soon. Throw in there the added competition of a duet and you have yourself a lengthy ballad. We feel these two can take each other to new heights, and an overs bet here looks to be the smart play.

Liverpool (5/2) to weather the City (11/10) Storm?

Man City have shortened into 1/8 to lift the Premier League title this season from 1/4 after they beat Burnley 2-0 midweek, while rivals Liverpool limped to a 1-0 defeat hosting Brighton. 

The Reds missed Sadio Mane and Alisson badly in that recent defeat, losing back-to-back matches now at Anfield following a run of 68 unbeaten fixtures here prior to that (W55-D13). To make things worse, those losses came against bottom-six teams with the other being Burnley, while their last four matches here dating back to Christmas have all been winless, as their solitary strike across those came against relegation bound West Brom. 

The Citizens are riding a wave of form at the minute, winning each of their last 13 outings across all competitions. That didn’t look likely to happen after Leicester beat them 5-2 in their second outing of the season, but they’ve done superbly well to regroup. Those impressive performances have come without star striker Sergio Aguero, who’s played just 7% of their total minutes this term, while Kevin de Bruyne has missed the last three matches through injury, and is set to miss this one. 

Without the Belgian midfielder in the side City have struggled since the beginning of last season. Indeed, they’ve gone W6-D1-L4 from their 11 he hasn’t started in that time, beating Bournemouth, a below-par Arsenal side, Sheffield Utd, West Brom and Burnley twice. Moreover, that includes going just W2-D1-L3 on the road. That compares to a record of W34-D7-L7 in the 48 he started over that time, netting nearly a goal extra per game on average. Although the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden are performing in his absence, the Belgian will be missed. 

Liverpool may be out of touch, but they’ve never lost three league games on the bounce at Anfield in the Premier League, while you have to go back to their defeat hosting West Ham in September 1963 for the last time that happened. Furthermore, their record against the Citizens here speaks for itself, with the last time Man City won here coming back in May 2003. 

Jurgen Klopp’s men have still managed to keep things tight at the back in Virgil van Dijk’s absence. Indeed, they’ve kept their opponents to a maximum of one goal in all 17 outings since the centre backs injury against Everton in October, including just six first half goals. 

The visitors, on the other hand, possess the best centre back partnership in the Premier League by quite some distance at the minute. John Stones and Ruben Dias have conceded just one goal in 11 games when starting together. For all their success though, the visitors have still only gone W3-D3-L2 against the top half of the table this term, with each of their victories coming over the three teams at the bottom of that bracket – Arsenal, Villa & Chelsea – prior to Spurs hosting the Blues on Thursday night. 

Interestingly, this is the shortest price City have been when travelling to Anfield in the league that we have data for (since 2000/01), and we just can’t be getting behind them considering that. 

2021 Six Nations

  • The winner of the Six Nations has finished either first (x2) or second (x4) the previous season in each of the last six editions of the tournament – Last year England & France finished 1st & 2nd respectively. 
  • The longest priced winner of the tournament over the last seven years has been Ireland at 6.4.
  • Since 2000, a goalkicker has been the top points scorer in all 21 editions of the tournament, with 10 being from the tournament winning side.
  • 20 of the 21 Six Nations Championships have had an outside back as the top try scorer, with 10 being from the tournament winning side.

Stat of the day

  • Liverpool haven’t lost three successive league games at Anfield since September 1963. 

Form Labs delivers bespoke editorial covering a variety of sports to a number of sportsbooks. Click here for more information or contact Nick Haynes on [email protected].

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