Super Bowl Countdown

Bring on Brother Bowl I! In the world of eleven to ten, there’s nothing quite
like Super Bowl week. In this case, it’s two weeks, as the teams have two weeks
to prepare for the Big Game. It’s also one of the most creative weeks of the
sports betting season. While there’s only one game left on the football
calendar, there are still ample opportunities for betting with hundreds of
creative props by various oddsmakers.

For example, you can bet on the
exact score of the game by each team, who will score first, or how many yards a
player has. A year ago QB Tom Brady was projected over/under 300 yards and 2.5
TDs (he finished with 276 yards, 2 TDs, going under for both).

Two years
ago, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers’ TD passes was over/under 2 (he threw 3 against
Pittsburgh). His first pass to be incomplete was +210 (it was). Three years ago,
Pierre Garcon scored the first TD at 10-to-1 odds. Four years ago, RB Gary
Russell was 18-to-1 to score the first TD in the Super Bowl and did on a
one-yard run. He finished with minus-three yards rushing but cashed that
exclusive prop.

Six years ago, if you bet on Chicago return specialist
Devin Hester to score the first touchdown of the game you would have cashed a
25-to-1 prop ticket after he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards. 14 seconds
in cashing a 25-to-1 ticket is the best way to watch a Super Bowl!

can wager that no TDs will be scored by either team, often at 50-to-1. Of
course, that has never happened as we head to Super Bowl 47 next week. There
also has never been overtime, though you will be able to wager on “Will there be
overtime or not?” There will be “over/under” lines offered on how many touchdown
passes a quarterback might throw, the first team to turn the ball over and even
the coin flip. There will be creative wagers offered such as how many receiving
yards one player might get matched up against the number of points the NBA’s
LeBron James might have as the Raptors/Heat battle before the Super Sunday

The Super Bowl brings out the best in the creative minds of
oddsmakers. Smart bettors will search through all the props, totals and side
bets offered in an attempt to find an edge and add to their bankrolls. Since
Super Bowl X in 1976 between the Steelers and Cowboys, there have been 21
“overs” and 16 “unders.”

Why so many “overs?” One factor is that coaches
with a lead are less likely to sit on the ball in the second half in a Super
Bowl. If a team is up 17-0 at the half of a December game, for example, a coach
might be inclined to go conservative, run the clock and avoid injuries. In the
postseason, it’s the final game of the year and no lead is safe. No coach wants
to play super-conservative and be remembered as the guy who blew a 20-0 lead in
the biggest game of his career. Since it’s the last game of the season, coaches
often put in trick plays and new offensive wrinkles in an attempt to maximize
scoring opportunities.

Despite the excessive “overs” the last thirty
years, as far as reaching the big game, you can’t overlook the importance of
defense. The Saints and Packers didn’t win a playoff game last season despite
all those flashy offensive numbers, while the defensive-oriented Giants, 49ers
and Ravens made it to the Final Four.

In fact, in the Conference
Championship games two years ago all four teams in the Top 10 in yards and
points allowed met. Remember four years ago in the conference championship
games, the Steelers, Ravens and Eagles were 1, 2 and 3 in the NFL in total

In 2008 and 2012 the big story was the flashy offense of the
Patriots as a favorite each time, but who came out ahead? The great defense of
the Giants kept the game close and was the main reason in their 17-14 and 21-17
victories. Who can forget a decade ago when the No. 1 offense (Oakland) faced
the No. 1 defense (Tampa Bay)? Oakland’s great offense was a 4-point favorite,
but Tampa’s defense dominated in a 48-21 rout. In fact, seven of the last 12
Super Bowl champs have had statistically better defenses than their offenses,
including the 2005 Steelers (4th in defense) and 2008 Steelers (No. 1). Three of
those champs, the 2001 Patriots, the ’02 Buccaneers and the ’07 Giants, were
Super Bowl underdogs.

You’ll be able to find creative point spread
props, too. Six years ago, the total number of field goals was 3½ over +135. The
Colts and Bears combined for 4 field goals as the over just made it. Seven years
ago Seattle RB Shaun Alexander had these over/under props: Total yards 89½,
carries 21½, and longest rush 19½. The final tallies: 95 yards, 20 carries, with
the longest rush of 21 yards. Eight years ago the number of passing yards by QB
Tom Brady: 237½. The “under” ended up being the winner, but not by much: Brady
finished with 236 passing yards.

Key numbers will come into play, as
well, as books are petrified of getting middled. 13 years ago the Rams were a 7
to 7½-point favorite against the Titans. The Rams won by seven points, 23-16.
The most famous example was in 1979, forever known in Las Vegas as “Black
Sunday.” The Steelers opened a 2½-point favorite over the Cowboys, were bet up
to 5, then back down to 4. Books everywhere were sick when the Steelers won,
35-31, landing on the dreaded ‘M’ word!

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