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Super Bowl 48

Pick

Odds and Analysis

Seahawks

vs.

Broncos

2/2/14

The Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will tee it up on Sunday at 6:30 pm est. in Super Bowl 48 at Giants Stadium. The Seahawks opened up as high as -1.5 point favorites at some sportsbooks while 5 dimes sportsbook opened the game pick em. (Betonline opened Sea -1). The Bronco money quickly started flowing in though, and within 12 hours, the Broncos were -2.5 point favorites across the board. Since then, and as of Tuesday the 28th, the line has settled in at Denver -2 with a total of 47.

If we take a look at the betting trends feature at sportsbook.com, we see that 71% of the wagers taken at that sportsbook for this game, have come in on the Broncos. Let's go ahead and call it what it is. That's all Peyton Manning money. Some of it coming in on Manning and the Broncos because bettors think Manning is the difference in this game while others are no doubt backing the Broncos for sentimental reasons. People simply like Peyton Manning. He's all over our TV screens in TV commercials all year long and most people want to see Manning win another Super Bowl and get those remaining critics off his back.

A great case can be made for the Seahawks in this game. In fact, it's easier, for me, to make a case for the Seahawks than it is the Broncos. All of my numbers point towards Seattle here, starting with our score prediction model. Our model makes predictions based on stats from a specific number of games. In this instance, we used stats from the entire season, stats from the last 7 games, and stats from just the last 4 games. This way, we get a look at how the teams have performed over the course of the entire season, the 2nd half of the season and then only the most recent games.

Here are the results from the model using the different parameters mentioned above:

Entire Season Stats - Seattle 32 Denver 21

Last 7 Games - Seattle 28 Denver 13

Last 4 games - Seattle 21 Denver 13

Different scores, but the pointspread result remains the same as the model has Seattle winning by a minimum of 7 points and by as many as 15.

Yards per point numbers are a great predictive tool and those of you who follow us regularly know we place a great deal of trust in those numbers as a handicapping tool as it gives a very quick but complete snapshot of a teams abilities on both sides of the ball. The higher the ypp number is on defense, the better that defense is. The lower the number is on offense, the better that offense is. Yards per point numbers show us how far a team has to travel to score 1 point and how far their opponents have to travel to score one point on their defense. A ypp number of 14 on offense means a team scores 1 point for every 14 yards it gains. When we take look at both teams numbers using the entire season to date including the playoffs, they look like this:

Denver off = 12.5 def = 14.5 for a differential of +2

Seattle off = 13 def = 19.3 for a differential of +6.3

On a neutral field, which Giants Stadium is, the Seahawks would be favored by 4.3 points using the ypp differential.

Next we can look at both teams ypp numbers on the road, this being a road game for both teams.

Den off = 12.7 Den def = 13.5 for a +0.8 differential

Seattle off = 14.3 Sea def = 19.3 for a +5 differential

On a neutral field, using road numbers only, Seattle would be favored by 4.2 points.

So, whether we are using the entire season or just the road games, the ypp numbers say Seattle is 4 points better than the Broncos and by the way, that 13.5 number on defense on the road for the Broncos is simply horrendous and not typically the type of number you would see from a Super Bowl quality team.

There are several ways to make your own line for a football game. A couple are illustrated here, yards per point is one, as is our model. There are several other ways to get a number to gauge the actual point difference between two teams and just about all of them come to the same conclusion. Seattle plus the points has some value. However, models, power ratings and stats cannot take intangibles into account and this game has a HUGE intangible named Peyton Manning.

Manning is one of the few players in the history of the NFL to have such a single handed impact on the outcome of a football game and the success or failure of an individual team. He'd be on the very top of my list of QB's who have had the largest impact on their teams and the outcomes of games and I have seen many of the greats play, going back to Namath, Stabler and Bradshaw and then more modern times with Montana, Elway, Marino, Brady and so on. All great, but how many of them could have been traded to other teams and at the age of 37, take that team to the Super Bowl? Montana couldn't do it.

Win or lose, Manning is one of the best if not the best to ever play the QB position. So when looking at this game, while the numbers point towards Seattle, I have to ask myself one simple question. In a close game, with everything on the line and less than 5 minutes to play, who would I trust more, Russell Wilson, or Peyton Manning?

The Seattle defense is very good. However, it's also a very basic, simple defense. No complex schemes. Nothing to confuse Manning and no looks Manning has never seen. They are quick, very good, but basic. Manning is going to have his opportunities.  Two of the three predictions from our model have Seattle holding Denver to 13 points and I just don't see that happening. Obviously, if Denver only scores 13, they lose. The prediction using the entire season as a parameter, has Denver scoring 21. That's a little closer to reality I think. I'd guess Denver will be in the 24 to 28 point range so the Seahawks will have to do some scoring of their own to win this game.

In a game where the Seattle defense dominates, a low scoring, 17-14 type game, I'd like my chances with the Seahawks. But I think this will be a game where both teams have some success offensively and in that type of a set up, I have to take my chances with Manning. The Broncos certainly aren't known for their defense but they have held their last 4 opponents to 13, 14, 17 and 16 and that last one was a Tom Brady led Pats team. So while the Denver defense isn't great, it's had it's moments and there's no time like the present.

So there you have it. In the real world, I won't be betting this game. Many of you will bet this game simply because it's the Super Bowl. I don't see anything wrong with that providing it's a small "fun" wager (unless of course you feel you have an edge one way or the other). Most sharp bettors will make a nice profit on the Super Bowl, but it won't be from betting on the Broncos or Seahawks, it will be from betting props, of which there are literally hundreds if not thousands posted at various books offshore and in Vegas. 5 dimes sportsbook is known for having the widest selection of prop bets.

Enjoy the game. I wish I had a solid opinion to offer one way or the other, but that can't always be the case. My best guess is that Manning is the X Factor here and the Broncos come out on top. Which means a lean on Denver -1.5

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