Joe Santoro: Don’t stand pat on the Pats | NevadaAppeal.com

Joe Santoro: Don’t stand pat on the Pats

Joe Santoro

The Los Angeles Rams aren't getting much respect in the days leading up to this Super Bowl. The game opened in most Nevada sports books as pick 'em or even with the Rams as a one-point favorite. As Sunday's game approaches, though, the New England Patriots are now 2.5-point favorites. Take the 2.5 points. The Patriots could be 0-10 in Super Bowls. Yes, they've won five but all five have been by six points or fewer. Two of the Super Bowls the Pats won were with ridiculous luck (over Seattle in 2016 and Atlanta in 2017). The other three were because of a kicker. Nobody denies the greatness of this Pats' dynasty. We'll never see this again (nine appearances in last 18 Super Bowls). Nobody denies the greatness of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Our point is the Patriots are never a sure thing in Super Bowls. You might not cover those 2.5 points until a last-second field goal in overtime.

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The Los Angeles Rams just might be the better team on Sunday. The Rams were 13-3 this season. The Pats were 11-5. The Rams passed for 4,730 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushed for 2,231 yards and 23 scores. The Pats passed for 4,405 yards and 29 touchdowns and ran for 2,037 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Rams' defense is every bit as good as the Pats' defense, even when they don't run into opposing receivers and hope the officials don't see it. Everybody (bettors, media, fans, the city of New Orleans) the past two weeks, though, has been telling the Rams they shouldn't even be in this Super Bowl. The Rams need to take that personally. The Rams helped start this Patriots dynasty in the 2002 Super Bowl. They can put an end to it in the 2019 Super Bowl.

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Will the city of Los Angeles be able to deal with a loss to the city of Boston in the Super Bowl just 98 days after L.A. lost to Boston in the World Series? Clayton Kershaw, after all, just took the ice off his left arm a week ago. This would be the shortest span of time one city has lost to the same city in the Super Bowl and World Series. New York (Jets, Mets) beat Baltimore (Colts, Orioles) in the 1969 Super Bowl on Jan. 12 and the World Series in October, a span of nine months. Then again, if one city can survive losing the Super Bowl and World Series just three months apart, it's L.A. since half the city doesn't even know the Rams moved back home from St. Louis yet.

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Northern Nevada does have a stake in this year's Super Bowl, just like it had in the last two Super Bowls. McQueen High graduate Kyle Van Noy is an outstanding linebacker and one of the keys to the New England Patriots offense. Van Noy has spent three seasons with the Patriots and has gone to three Super Bowls. He had one tackle and a half-sack against the Atlanta Falcons two years ago and five tackles against the Philadelphia Eagles last year. He also had 10 tackles and two sacks in the AFC title game against the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks ago. The 27-year-old BYU graduate is simply a winner, having also won a Nevada state title in 2008 with McQueen, and one of the greatest athletes this area has ever produced.

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The Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team is 20-1 right now and just 10 victories away from its program-record 30th victory of the season. The Pack has 10 regular season games remaining and another nine possible in the Mountain West and NCAA tournaments combined. So the first 30-win season seems to be a given. Since we're on the subject of bets this week, the bet here is the Pack will get victory No. 30 in the final regular season game March 9 at Lawlor Events Center against San Diego State. What better way to say good-bye to seniors Cody and Caleb Martin, Jordan Caroline, Tre'Shawn Thurman, Try Porter, Corey Henson and David Cunningham than with a school-record 30-1 season and a Mountain West regular-season title? Don't bet against it.

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Caleb and Cody Martin were quoted this week in an ESPN article that they had little knowledge of the Wolf Pack or even the city of Reno when they signed with the Pack in 2016. It seems like the Martin twins thought they were actually signing with UNLV. "I thought it was Las Vegas," Caleb said. "I didn't even know it existed," said Cody of Reno. "I had no idea where I was going to." It's obvious the Martin twins came to the Wolf Pack for two reasons. Eric. Musselman.

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We all need to stop paying attention to the Top 25 rankings. The Wolf Pack won its only game last week by 40 points and dropped a spot to No. 8 in this week's Associated Press rankings. That sort of strange math happened earlier this year when the Pack beat Tulsa, Massachusetts, Loyola Chicago and USC and dropped over a two-week span from No. 5 to No. 6 to No. 7. ESPN's Joe Lunardi who had the Pack as a projected No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA tournament in early January and as a No. 2 seed for much of January and February, now has Nevada as a No. 4 seed.

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Of course, all of the bias against the Pack is because of the Mountain West. The Mountain West has all of two victories this year over teams ranked in the AP Top 25. And one of those wins was New Mexico over the Wolf Pack (the other was the Pack over Arizona State). The ACC, for example, has 26 wins (as of Thursday morning) over Top 25 teams. The Big 12 has 21, the Big 10 has 28, the SEC has 17. All of the conferences west of Texas, though, have just six combined (the Pac-12 has three). All of this eastern bias in the rankings could change if Nevada meets Gonzaga in the national title game.