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Rams to the Super Bowl? Don’t bet on it, at least not yet

Rams players celebrate after defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship game on Jan. 20 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Rams players celebrate after defeating the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship game on Jan. 20 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

Fans thinking of making the trip to Nevada to bet on the Rams winning an NFC or Super Bowl championship should consider a superior strategy.

The Rams are the defending NFC champions. They’re one of the most underrated teams of the 2019 season at 6-2 against the spread (ATS), tied with New Orleans atop the league. Yet they’re priced about 11/1 or 12/1 to repeat as conference champs and in the range of 22/1 to 30/1 to win the Super Bowl.

Aren’t those great returns?

Not really. Not for a team that sits in third place in the NFC West with a 5-3 record. The Rams are only about 67% to win Sunday at Pittsburgh based on a late-week money line of L.A. -200, Pittsburgh +170. That means there’s an immediate 33% chance of becoming an even longer shot.

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And a win might not register much on the futures board with these tough ones on the horizon: vs. Baltimore (6-2), vs. Seattle (7-2), at Dallas (5-3) and at San Francisco (8-0).

Catching the Niners at the top of the NFC West will be difficult. Circa Sports in Las Vegas has the Rams +1200 to win the division, which has a 9% win equivalent. William Hill is showing +750, or 12%. That means there’s roughly a 90% chance the Rams will miss the playoffs or need to sweep the brackets as a wild card for futures tickets to cash.

A superior betting option is to see where the Rams stand in about a month. If they fall off the pace in a crowded wild-card race, you saved your money. If they surge, you can then begin what many people call a “rolling parlay.” Bet the Rams on the money line to win any game they “need” to qualify for the postseason, then roll over your return — stake and profit — game by game through the playoffs.

Whatever stake you were considering for a futures bet, start with that as your risk in the first game. Riding that to an NFC title is likely to pay better than an 11/1 or 12/1 return. Riding that through a Super Bowl win would pay better than 25/1 or 30/1 unless all possible opponents lose their best players between now and kickoff. If the Rams fail in the playoffs, your futures bet would have lost anyway.

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Futures prices rarely pay off at true odds or better. Rolling parlays create better returns because your money compounds more effectively.

As for Sunday, the sharps — professional bettors — have preferred Pittsburgh through the week. The point spread opened with the Rams as four-point favorites but has fallen to -3.5. Vegas shops are unlikely to drop to the key number of three because Rams fans would race to the counter at that cheap price. Sportsbooks don’t want unbalanced action when a key number is involved.

USC opened as a -1.5-point favorite on the road at Arizona State on Saturday. However, the Sun Devils are now two-point home favorites at -2 despite sitting at 2-6-1 ATS this season. USC has fallen to 4-5 ATS.

UCLA has a bye this week after covering its last three spreads by 14 at Stanford, 13 vs. Arizona State and 10.5 vs. Colorado. Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington will likely close as a 10-point favorite at Oregon State on Friday, Stanford should close as a 3.5 or four-point favorite Saturday at Colorado and Washington State should close as a 7.5 or eight-point favorite at California, also on Saturday.

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In the NBA, bettors will be attracted to Friday night’s game at Staples Center matching Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat vs. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers. The Heat covered by 32 points in a 129-100 win over Houston in Butler’s return to the lineup. Let’s hope Butler doesn’t get scratched for “load management” reasons on the second night of a back-to-back with the Heat traveling from Phoenix. The Clippers are already making national headlines with their conservative use of Kawhi Leonard in fatigue scenarios.

In college basketball, USC will be a home favorite Friday vs. Portland. Same for UCLA on Sunday vs. UC Santa Barbara.


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