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SUPER BOWL 2018: Want to know who is going to win?

Las Vegas, the only legal game-betting location in the United States, managed over $150 million dollars of Super Bowl wagers last January. It was chump change.

The American Gaming Association estimates that $4.5 billion more dollars were bet illegally in venues ranging from office pools to international crime rings. The big news this week is that an individual person has bet several million dollars on the Eagles.

That wager helped drop the official point spread to 4.5 and then to 4 points in several bookie locations. If you want to get in on the action before the game becomes a pick ‘em, you better place your bet early.

Statistics… statistics

There are plenty of analytical articles explaining tendencies and offering predictions based on the Eagles and Patriots’ regular season, playoff history and Super Bowl experiences. You can review statistics of how the teams fare in various stadiums, certain weather, or against different types of defenses.

None of that matters. Statistics lie, especially in Super Bowls. Tendencies are broken. Stars become non-descript participants and bench players provide everlasting memories. No one would remember David Tyree played football if not for that one play in Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl loss.

Momentum is overrated, too. Philadelphia’s dominant victory over the Minnesota Vikings is no indicator of how they will fare against the Patriots. Nor is the Patriots’ difficult time against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two weeks is an eternity in the NFL. Game plans change. Injuries heal. Heads clear. Predictions become difficult.

Here are a few non-technical predictors for you. Statistics back up these fortune-telling maneuvers, too. Consider them carefully before sharing your prediction on Super Bowl XII.

Looking the part

New England is the home team in Super Bowl LII. As such, they get to choose their uniform first. Traditionally, the home team wears dark-colored jerseys, but Bill Belichick picked white for his team.

He made his choice based on two factors. First, the Belichick-era Patriots are 3-0 in Super Bowls when they wear white. The team wore blue in two losses. Furthermore, 12 of the past 13 Super Bowl champions wore white.

That is a good trend, but it is not perfect. There is still that 13th team for one thing, and the pre-Belichick Patriots lost a Super Bowl in white. Earlier this season, New England lost a game against Miami in their white uniforms.

Belichick’s choice allows the Eagles to wear their midnight green uniforms. Philadelphia is 10-0 this season in midnight green if you choose to ignore their meaningless Week 17 snore-fest.

But, the Eagles also lost their two previous Super Bowls while sporting their green jerseys.

ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

Can Brady beat history?

Tom Brady led the league in passing yardage this season. He led the league in passing yardage in 2007, too. That was when he suffered his first Super Bowl loss. Only four other Super Bowl quarterbacks led the league in passing the same year. None of them won the big game, either. It has never been done.

Before kickoff, we will find out who is the NFL’s 2017 MVP. Tom Brady is among the favorites to take the prize. Since the 2000 season, no reigning MVP has also been a Super Bowl champion.

ADVANTAGE: EAGLES

Who has the most likely surprise star?

Bill Belichick manages every minute detail. He knows unlikely stars decide Super Bowls. This season, he brought in candidates to do just that.

Phillip Dorsett toiled in obscurity behind TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief in Indianapolis. When the Patriots sent quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Colts, Dorsett was the player Belichick traded for. I immediately wrote an article predicting Dorsett would catch the winning pass in the Super Bowl.

But that was before Belichick grabbed Kenny Britt off the waiver wire after Cleveland cut him for collecting a salary without working. Britt has continued to do nothing with New England, making him an even more likely candidate to be the surprise star of Super Bowl LII over Dorsett.

James Harrison will have a big play or two on defense. Would a game-clinching pick-six shock many people?

Philadelphia is ill-prepared for this scenario. They used every player on their roster all season. Almost every one of their running backs and wide receivers has led the team in yardage for a game. Both backup tight ends have had big moments. There are no real surprises left.

Except for that quarterback guy. But will it really be a surprise if Nick Foles throws for 400 yards? The Eagles adapted the offense to what Foles ran in 2013 when he made the Pro Bowl.

The only interesting offensive player is LeGarrette Blount. He led the Patriots to the Super Bowl last year before the team eagerly replaced him with Mike Gillislee. I’d like to see Blount be the Eagles’ MVP, but it wouldn’t be the big surprise we’re looking for.

ADVANTAGE: PATRIOTS

Karma

Besides Blount, defensive end Chris Long saw limited time as a Patriot in last year’s game. He would feel good to rack up a big game against his former team. There is also the team revenge factor. The Patriots beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. But no current Eagle played in that game, so it is more of a fan motivation than locker room inspiration.

Philadelphia is trying for their first Super Bowl win. Their only hope for good karma is that the football gods feel pity and let them taste a championship. On the bad karma side, their NFC Championship game did nothing to lessen their reputation as hooligans.

If they remember this billboard which mysteriously popped up a few years ago outside the stadium, they can’t feel great about their chances.

by Pat Opperman
by Pat Opperman

New England has little going for it in the karma department, either. Years after the Spy-gate and Deflate-gate mini-scandals, the Patriots are still accused of cheating every time they win.

Patriot-haters also feel the officials try to help New England extend their dynasty. The lead official in this game, Gene “index card” Steratore, has officiated a higher percentage of Eagles victories (10-3) than Patriots’ (12-5), so that seems to be a non-advantage.

Neither city has suffered a natural disaster or high-profile tragedy recently, so there is no reason for fans to pull for them in sympathy. Philadelphia does have the Nick Foles story going for them. A likable, underdog athlete with a chance to reach the league’s biggest pinnacle is better than nothing.

ADVANTAGE: EAGLES

So that means…

That give the Eagles two advantages and the Patriots… two advantages. Hmm. Maybe this game won’t be as easy to pick as I thought. Before you go flipping coins, be sure to check back here at Small Teaser for more facts and figures on both teams leading up to the big day. You’ll make the right choice eventually if you stick with us!