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Super Bowl 45 Prediction and Analysis

Betting Line: Packers -2.5

Over/Under 44

2/6/11

There was a stretch of time where Super Bowls were somewhat easy to handicap. There were plenty of handicappers with streaks of picking x number of Super Bowls in a row correctly, including yours truly. But that was at a time when there were some very big differences between the AFC and the NFC with each taking turns being superior to the other. The NFC had a long stretch where it always seemed to be on top.

That was then, this is now. The NFL over the last decade has achieved it's goal of parity. Heck, once upon a time it was possible to find multiple solid selections week to week during the regular season. Now more than ever, handicapping the NFL on a week to week basis is almost impossible. Any handicapper having a "great" NFL season is doing so with a great deal of luck. There are no "bad" NFL lines. There is no "inside information". Those things existed once upon a time. Not in 2011.

This is only magnified with the Super Bowl, the single most popular sports betting event of the year. No bettor is going to find an "edge", betting on the side or the total of the Super Bowl. The lines are correct. All that can possibly be known about both of these teams is known. It's out there. These two teams are very similar in make up.

Both have very good QB's that can move around in the pocket and take off if they have to. Both have some great targets to get the ball to. Both have had their problems running the ball. Both have had their offensive problems at times this year and both have tremendous defenses. Both coaches have proven themselves. Perhaps Tomlin has an edge having been to and won a Super Bowl already.

In fact if you're looking for any edge at all, and it could be a big one, it would have to be Super Bowl experience. The Steelers have it from the coach on down. The Packers don't. Packers coach Mike McCarthy has never been to the Super Bowl. Not as a coach. Not even as a spectator. There are only two players on the Packers roster who have been to the big game. There are 28 players on the Steelers, 15 starters and 13 backups who have Super Bowl experience.

In many of the Super Bowl blowouts of yesteryear, it was the team with the Super Bowl experience on top. Makes sense as well. Often times this game is won or lost in the preparation stages. How the team handles the layoff, how the team handles the media, and so forth. Often times the inexperienced team was just happy to be there. So if you're looking for any edge to hang your hat on, there it is. The problem with that edge, if it exists, is that you would be guessing, going in, that it will be a factor. It may, it may not. The Saints won last year, having never been to the game before.

Professional sports bettors will focus on prop bets on Super Bowl Sunday. There, you WILL find mistakes in the lines. Many of them. Aside from mistakes by oddsmakers, professional bettors will also look to take advantage of mistakes the general public makes when they bet on props. The public loves to bet on anything that involves scoring or success by a team or individual. They'll bet on players to have x receptions or more. They'll bet on a QB to have xxx number of passing yards or TD passes. They'll often do so to the point that it forces the sportsbook to move the lines so much that it creates tremendous value on the other side of those props. Make a chart and track the line moves on props. You'll likely find some good wagers, going opposite those moves. Might even find some middles and scalps. 

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As far as the game itself, these two teams have almost identical yards per point numbers, with both being very good defensively. Both have great turnover margin numbers with the Steelers at +16 and the Packers at +13. They both outscored their opponents on average by a score of 25-15. They both average about 4 yards  per rush and 12 yards per pass completion. The biggest difference statistically looks to be in rushing defense where the Steelers are #1 in the NFL at 62 yards per game and the Packers are #11 at 108.

But remember, the Packers have had trouble running the ball all year long. The have a pass first offense. What doesn't show up in the stats are the short passes that are just as effective as a run, ala Peyton Manning and the Colts.

A strong case can be made for either team, so that's what we'll do.....

The Steelers: In making a case for the Steelers to win this game, we'd focus on the rushing game and the experience angle. The team figures to be better prepared and figures to handle the Super Bowl and all that comes with it, better than the team with just about zero experience. Aside from the experience, football games are won and lost in the trenches, particularly with how well a team can run the ball and stop the run. The Steelers do both, better than their opponent. Success with the running game for the Steelers opens up the passing game. In this scenario, expect huge games from Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger as well as the Steelers secondary as the Packers get desperate. If this scenario plays out, a double digit Steelers win is likely.

The Packers: The case for the Packers lies with QB Aaron Rodgers and a Packers offense that is built for speed. Who needs a running game when you have 5 receivers to choose from with at least one or two of them open every play? Playing inside in Dallas, with the roof closed, should be a big edge for the Packers speedy receivers. The Packers were just 2-2 in domes this year but outscored their opponents 99-51 and played one full half without Rodgers due to a concussion. If the Packers can slow down Mendenhall and the pass rush can keep Roethlisberger on his toes and rushed then it could be a big day for the Packers secondary.

Which scenario is it going to be? Flip a coin. This game will be decided by things you can't predict. An unsung hero who has the game of his life. A huge turnover at a key juncture that creates a momentum run that steam rolls. A big special teams play, etc. etc.

From a hunch standpoint, it seems as though it may just be Aaron Rodgers time. He has emerged as one of the top QB's in the game today after sitting behind Brett Favre for years. He is on the verge of "Super Star Status". All that's missing, is a Super Bowl ring. If the lack of a running game was a factor, they wouldn't ne here in the first place. Fact is, they have a running game. It just doesn't show up in the stats. To find their running game, you'd have to create a new stat category for short passes.

Everything is in place for the Packers to do well here. They should be able to move the ball on this fast surface. Rodgers should find open receivers all day long. After all, they have already moved the ball against some pretty good defensive units here in the playoffs under much worse playing conditions. Defensively they are every bit as good as the Steelers.

This is not a Key Release, but we won't wimp out and not take a stand one way or the other. We're going to go ahead and take the Packers here in a game that should be close most of the way.

Packers 24 Steelers 17

Packers -2.5

 

 

 

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