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Underdogs Rams, Patriots cash on classic Championship Sunday

Under a super blood wolf moon Sunday night, it appeared there might be some new blood from the NFC and AFC in the Super Bowl.

The stage was set for a rematch of the Rams’ 54-51 win over the Chiefs in November as Patrick Mahomes rallied Kansas City from a 14-0 halftime deficit against New England in the AFC title game.

The Chiefs twice took a four-point fourth-quarter lead. But Tom Brady and New England answered the call each time in a fourth quarter that featured 38 combined points to give over (56½) bettors an unlikely winner.

The Patriots then put together a 75-yard touchdown drive in overtime, capped by Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard run, to pull out a 37-31 win as 3-point underdogs and plus 150 on the money line.

The drive sent New England to the Super Bowl for the third straight year and fourth time in five years and gave William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich a case of Pats fatigue.

“I’m tired of rooting against them. I’m ready for some new blood,” he said. “They looked like shells of their former selves in the regular season. Then the postseason comes and they flip a switch and now they look unbeatable again.”

Patriots Super Bowl favorites

New England opened as a 1-point underdog to the Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 in Atlanta. But the Patriots quickly climbed to 2½-point favorites at William Hill and Station Casinos. The consensus total is 58.

“When push comes to shove, they’re going to bet Brady over (Jared) Goff every day,” Bogdanovich said.

While the Rams-Chiefs matchup would’ve been a bookmaker’s dream, Bogdanovich and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito expect the Rams-Patriots showdown to set a Nevada record for wagering handle for the fourth consecutive year.

“It’s a rematch of the 2002 Super Bowl, where Brady and Belichick got their first ring,” Esposito said. “I think it’s a phenomenal matchup.”

Saints robbed

The NFL’s top four playoff seeds and highest-scoring teams produced two overtime games for the first time ever on Championship Sunday.

Los Angeles rallied for a 26-23 overtime win over New Orleans as a 3-point underdog and plus 145 on the money line. The game stayed under the closing total of 55.

The Rams erased an early 13-0 deficit and won on Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal in overtime. But the Saints would’ve almost certainly won in regulation if not for a blown call by the officials in the final minutes.

With the game tied at 20-all, Drew Brees completed a 43-yard pass to Ted Ginn to the L.A. 13 with 2:07 left. On third down, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman committed a blatant pass interference penalty with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Tommylee Lewis well before the pass arrived. The officials inexplicably didn’t call it, and the Saints were forced to settle for a field goal that made it 23-20 with 1:41 left.

Zuerlein then tied it on a 48-yard field goal with 15 seconds left, and the Rams won in overtime after Brees threw an interception.

“It was horrible. It switched the teams who were in the Super Bowl. It’s that simple,” Bogdanovich said. “They would’ve either scored a touchdown or run the clock down and kicked a field goal with 10 seconds left.

“Several guys blew the call.”

Big bets

There was some heavy action on Sunday’s games. At the MGM, a bettor lost a $500,000 wager on Rams-Saints over 57 and another gambler lost $125,000 on the over.

Imagine the emotional roller coaster experienced by high rollers on the Patriots-Chiefs. An MGM bettor lost $470,000 on four separate bets placed on the Chiefs minus 3, and a William Hill bettor lost $345,000 on K.C. minus 3.

On the flip side, an MGM bettor won $750,000 on a $500,000 money-line wager on New England at plus 150.

The teams traded touchdowns on four straight possessions in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs went ahead 28-24 on Damien Williams’ 2-yard run with 2:03 left. The Patriots answered with Burkhead’s 4-yard TD run with 39 seconds left.

Mahomes then marched K.C. 48 yards to set up Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal that sent the game to overtime.

“What an unbelievable finish,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “The young kid goes down and does what he needs to do, but the old cowboy comes back in on his white horse and wins the game for New England.”

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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