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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Punters should expect a slow start in Minneapolis

Don't expect early points in the Super Bowl

New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski
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Live on BBC1 & Sky Sports Main Event, 11.30pm Sunday

There are countless statistics about New England's seven Super Bowl appearances under coach Bill Belichick but one is probably more surprising than any other.

Even though five of those showpieces have resulted in Patriots victories, in none of them have Belichick's team made a scoring play in the first quarter.

But that should not be the only reason to anticipate a slow start in Minneapolis.

The big-match experience of quarterback Tom Brady is hailed as one of the great advantages New England have over Philadelphia, who are under the stewardship of back-up Nick Foles and a nervy opening from the Eagles man would be understandable.

Philadelphia could also use up plenty of early clock by utilising their strong running game so there may not be many scoring opportunities and it makes sense to have faith in there being fewer than ten points in the opening quarter.

Philadelphia have scored a total of seven first-quarter points in their last three games - they have not topped seven since Foles took over from the injured Carson Wentz in Week 15 - while the Patriots' stats have been low as well.

They are averaging 5.3 first-quarter points which is down significantly from the 8.1 they posted last season.

Conditions will be freezing outside in Minnesota but the conditions inside the US Bank Stadium should be great for kickers and two of the best in the business will be on show.

New England's Stephen Gostkowski did not miss any of his 25 kicks inside 40 yards during the regular season and Belichick can have plenty of faith in his kicker, who has been successful in all four of his attempts over 50 yards.

Philadelphia's rookie Jake Elliott is five from six from beyond 50 and has made a three-pointer from 61 yards this season, so don't be surprised if the 47.5-yard longest-field-goal line is eclipsed.

Television producers will be hoping for the sort of tense finish the Patriots and Atlanta dished up last year and many would regard it as predictable if Brady led a winning drive late on for the Patriots.

New England showed how strongly they can finish matches by overturning a ten-point fourth-quarter deficit against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game and even though Philadelphia can cover the handicap, 13-8 about the last scoring play being a Patriots touchdown looks a decent bet.

The final score has been a field goal or safety in just two of the last 13 Super Bowls.

Under 9.5 first-quarter points
2pts 11-10 bet365, Betfred, Hills
Longest field goal over 47.5 yards
2pts 17-20 Betway
New England touchdown final scoring play
2pts 13-8 BoyleSports

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The final score has been a field goal or safety in just two of the last 13 Super Bowls
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