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SUPER BOWL 44
PREDICTION - ODDS - ANALYSIS
Each year we start our Super Bowl article with a warning. So here goes. It's just another game. There is no need to treat this game any different than any other game you bet over the course of the year. If you find an edge, you make a play. If you don't, you pass. In fact, on Super Bowl Sunday, there are likely to be better opportunities with prop bets or even basketball games than there are on the Super Bowl winner itself. Each year we see guys who had losing years try and get it all back on the Super Bowl. Likewise we see guys who had winning years bet all of their winnings on the Super Bowl. Idiotic is the only word to describe it. Don't be a square.
Ok, on to the game. I'm going to talk a little bit about the game by the numbers. The I'll touch on what I think will happen, and I'll also discuss how I personally played the game.
The Super Bowl used to be an easy game to handicap. There was generally a dominant conference, and that carried over into the game. Look back over the last 43 years and you'll find many blow out games, particularly in the 80's and 90's. You'll find scores like 52-10, 49-26, 52-17 and so on. Looking back, as a bettor, it was really a time of easy money. Spotting the dominant conference, and team, was easy. Then all you had to do was bet that team, and the cover was sure to follow. During the 80's and 90's it was a game that the "public" actually did very well with.
Fast forward to the 2000's and the past decade. News Flash - The Super Bowl has turned into a very exciting, competitive game. 7 of the last 8 years the game has been decided late. Chalk it up to salary caps. The NFL has it's parity. Not the best scenario for bettors and those looking for the easy score. But for the NFL, it's a home run. The biggest game of the year between the two best teams should come down to the last drive.
This year, you'd have to agree that the two best teams are in the game. Bettors have short memories. They tend to remember only what a team has done most recently. Many will judge the Saints by their performance in the NFC Title game but that would be a mistake. If you pick apart each teams seasons from start to finish this year, the Colts and the Saints were the best the NFL had to offer. Neither of these teams lost a game until late December. Technically, the Colts still haven't lost a game. These two teams did what they had to do when it counted the most. They deserve to be here.
So how does the game shake out by the numbers? Well, there are lots of ways to make a number on an NFL football game. There are many formulas that involve rushing yards, passing yards, yards per play, yards per point and so on, that will give you a predicted score or margin. There are power ratings, some very complex and involved, others very simple to compute. There are simulations. I know them all and use many of them on a weekly basis during the season and can tell you that there is not a method out there that has the Colts winning by 6 points or more.
In Fact, every method I'm aware of, and I've been around a long time folks, has this game either a toss up, or the Saints winning straight up. So, the value side here, in terms of traditional handicapping methods, is the Saints plus the points. As many as you can get. For that matter, the value side on the money line is also the Saints. If the numbers suggest close to a tossup, and you're getting +180 each time, over the long haul, you're going to make a lot of money with the proposition.
If you just look at the game from a common sense standpoint, you should come to the same conclusion. I don't think either one of these teams is going to be able to shut down the others offense. The Saints were the best in the league offensively and at one point in the year were the 3rd most potent offense of all time. They are going to get their points Sunday. There's nothing to suggest otherwise. No one has kept them out of the end zone all year.
Even the Jets, who had but one receiver that posed a deep threat, were able to find that receiver, Braylon Edwards for a long TD pass. Brees and the Saints have far more weapons than the one dimensional Jets did. The Colts defense is fast and is underrated, but they are not going to shut out Brees and company. They can only hope to slow them down.
Likewise for the Colts. The Saints have a decent defense, but who are we kidding? If Brett Favre and Tony Romo were able to find some soft spots, what do you think Peyton Manning will do? Put another way, if Peyton Manning were the QB of the Vikings last week, the Saints wouldn't be in this game. The potential for a big day from Manning is looming.
So how to the Saints win? They win by doing to Manning what they did to Favre. They roughed Favre up. He could barely walk after the game. Every defensive coordinator in the NFL will tell you that the way to beat Manning is to disrupt his rhythm. Get him out of sync. Knock him around and rough him up. Even on plays you can't get the sack, let him know you're there and send him to the ground a few times. Problem is, very few teams have been able to do that to Manning throughout his entire career.
What do I think will happen? I think Peyton Manning finds a way to win this game. Put Manning on a .500 football team and that team instantly becomes a 9-7 or a 10-6 team. Put Manning on a "good" football team and they do what the Colts did this year and end up in the Super Bowl. Manning adds wins to a team regardless of the talent around him because he makes the talent around him that much better by what he can do.
Put another way, if you have a game that on paper is a toss up, and you then insert Manning into the equation, well, I like my chances that Manning is the difference in the game. Here, the winner of this game is going to be the team that makes the big DEFENSIVE play or two. Or, the team that DOESN'T make the offensive mistake that leads to the big defensive play. Again, it's not a knock on Brees but I like my chances with Manning.
I saw an interview with future hall of fame QB Kurt Warner this week. He said the difference between Manning and the rest of the QB's, himself included, is that Manning is able to decipher what a defense is going to do BEFORE the snap, and react accordingly, while the rest of the QB's are simply reacting to what the defense does after the ball has been snapped. That's a pretty high compliment coming from a guy who wasn't so bad himself.
When the dust clears on a great Quarterbacks career, all anyone cares about is how many rings he won. Great quarterbacks end up with more than one ring. If Manning wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Brady, Bradshaw. Montana, Aikman, Elway and even Big Ben, then he needs to win this one as you never know if you'll ever make it back to this game. Manning is arguably better than all of them, but history won't care if he doesn't have the rings.
How did I play the game? I was able to jump on the Colts money line when it was first posted immediately after the Title games. I figured that the line would quickly rise based on each teams performance in the Title game, which it did. I was then able to buy back most of the other side at a price of 40 cents better, putting myself in a position where I now have the Colts for a normal unit size at a price of about -110. With the current money line on the game at -200 or more, I did fairly well, eh?
I think the Colts win this one. I can't advocate laying points and I certainly can't advise laying -200 or more on the money line. It's just not a smart bet. So, I apologize that I can't give you a stronger play on behalf of Bettorsworld, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Not every game is playable. Although, if I am correct, and the Colts win, there's a very good chance they will also cover a number of -5 or less. (line will likely continue to drop)
If you bet the game, good luck. Don't forget to look real close at the props as you'll likely find better opportunities for profit there. Two sportsbooks with some great prop bet offers are Bet Jamaica and Sportsbook.com. Check them out. Enjoy the game!