Super Bowl Analysis and Picks
You are reading my final NFL post of this season.
Barring the unforeseen, 2018 will be my fifth winning season out of seven. Since I began posting weekly picks here at my website, I’m slightly ahead. I’ll post the updated figures later. All I know is, after more than 1,000 picks posted in advance since 2012, producing a profit is something to be proud of. A win is a win.
This season, after 136 recommended wagers, I’ve picked about 55 percent winners overall, netting a nice profit of about 48 percent on top of my original starting bankroll. However, my futures wagers tanked badly this season, reducing my net profit to only about 15 percent overall. Nonetheless, I will take a 15 percent return on investment anytime I can get it.
I would be less than honest with you if I were to say I’m excited about this year’s Super Bowl. I’m not. Despite many thrilling games and wonderful moments for football fans these past five months, the NFL is such a disgusting entity that I grapple with the efficacy of promoting an appallingly mismanaged league lacking in honesty and integrity, and especially it’s awful leadership and disconnected ownership. I doubt any media outcry or means of public protest would do much good given our distraction-obsessed culture and fascination with sports. I only want to express my outrage and admit some measure of hypocrisy continuing to do what I do by making sports picks in this final post of the season.
If you care to read more of my thoughts, please click the link here and follow me on Facebook and Twitter:
2018 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $14,834. [+ $4,834.]
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 73 wins / 59 loses / 4 pushes
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 1 — 2 — 0 (- $360)
FIRST HALF — LA RAMS +2.5: LOST $33o
FIRST HALF — NE PATRIOTS +2.5: WON $300
NWE /KC UNDER 56.5 — LOST $330
Leans: 3 — 0 — 0
LA Rams +3; LA Rams-New Orleans UNDER 57; New England +3
SUPER BOWL ANALYSIS:
Some general thoughts:
(1) The Super Bowl is one game. The best advice I can give is — don’t increase your bet size simply because it’s the last game of the season or the championship. It’s just one game.
(2) You (or I) don’t know anything more than anyone else about this game and what will happen to the side or total. Quit kidding yourself. The line and total (and other big volume betting options) are lined exactly where they should be, taking into account millions of opinions and billions of dollars. The market knows more than both of us. Trust me.
(3) Don’t fall for the false hype about gamblers hauling in duffle bags of cash, tweet braggers, insider newspaper stories, sportsbook managers stroking the egos of suckers, so-called whales, and assorted pigeon followers who believe the size of a wager has any bearing on the validity of the value. I’ve met thousands of bettors during my career in the gambling industry and have met some $50-betting wizards and lots of $10,000-betting fools. Big bets mean nothing, except more vig for the house.
(4) The only “sharp money” was bet a long time ago, back when the lines first opened up at LAR -1. Perhaps a few outliers also caught the LAR getting +3 at one point. The “sharps” are not one one side or the other at the current number, which is NWE -2.5 (-110). The sharps are about evenly split.
(5) There’s lots of garbage floating around out there, but there’s also some really good information, especially on betting the props. Props are where the most value is, although many numbers are now stale. Stale means they were bet into shape and less (or perhaps no) value exists any longer. I hesitate to release many prop recommendations so late because we could have gotten better value on most of these a week earlier. That said, I’m still posting the plays since many readers will be interested.
PLAYS: For the Super Bowl, I bet 12 propositions. I also have 8 strong leans.
My wagers are based upon a few predictions:
- Both defenses will tire as the game goes along.
- And indoor stadium and ideal conditions will help both kickers, which are excellent.
- The Patriots will be the more aggressive team in terms of play-calling.
- The Rams have the superior pass rush. This will be a factor in the game.
- The Rams have the superior rushing attack. I’m uncertain if this will be a factor in the game.
- Tom Brady is Tom Brady. Enough said.
- Teams playing in their first Super Bowl have a surprisingly strong record against the spread. The team which clearly has the most first-timers is 9-2 ATS since 2000.
- This could possibly be the last championship game ever for the greatest dynasty in NFL history, a factor no one appears to be talking about. I think this gives the Patriots an intangible advantage which is impossible to measure.
- I have no prediction on the side. I loved NWE at +1. I would also love LAR if I could get +3.5. I think NWE -3 is the right number. Since the line is NWE -2.5 (-110) that provides very small value taking the favorite, but not quite enough to make a wager. So, I am passing on the side.
- I have no opinion on the total, which appears to be lined about right at 57.5.
TEAM TO RECEIVE THE OPENING KICKOFF
— RAMS at -130 (wagering $130 to win $100)
If NWE wins the coin toss, there’s a good chance they will defer and kickoff. That’s why NWE is favored on this prop. However, NWE did surprise everyone by electing to receive the KO in the AFC Championship game. Otherwise, this number might be higher. LAR have not looked good on their opening drives in either playoff game, so that might motivate Belichick to give the ball first to the Rams (see correlated prop below).
OPENING KICKOFF WILL BE A TOUCHBACK
— YES at -220 (wagering $220 to win $100)
In the slightly less chance the Rams do kick off to Patriots, there’s a strong likelihood of a touchback. The Rams have one of the strongest-legged kickers in the NFL (Zuerlein) and inside a dome on rubber grass, the ball should easily fly out of the end zone. New England’s kicker (Gostowski) is also very good, though his touchback numbers aren’t quite as strong. Nonetheless, neither team likely wants to run the ball out of the end zone, risk possible bad field position, or worse suffer an injury at the start of a Super Bowl game. These two kickoff-related wagers are a good early correlated prop for those who want action with instant results.
TEAM TO SCORE FIRST WILL WIN THE GAME
— NO at +150 (wagering $100 to win $150)
Given a close-predicted game, higher volatility of scoring reflected by a high total, two explosive offenses capable of putting up lots of points, two suspect pass defenses, and the proven comeback capabilities of both teams, I believe there’s a better than 3:2 chance that the team which scores first will not win the game. Obviously, the best-case scenario is for one team to kick an early field goal, which makes this prop much more likely.
WILL THERE BE AT LEAST ON DEFENSIVE OR SPECIAL TEAMS TOUCHDOWN
— NO at -210 (wagering $210 to win $100)
This tends to be a popular “yes” wager for many bettors. Memories might be skewed as we recall recent Super Bowls with freakish plays and unconventional scoring — such as special teams and turnovers run back for touchdowns. However, both of these specials teams are excellent. Neither quarterback throws pick-6s very often. Both teams also protect the ball well. In short, I don’t expect anything other than standard touchdowns and field goals, given how well-coached both teams are, and play-calling which doesn’t lend itself to erratic mistakes made by either offense.
TEAM TO SCORE LAST WILL WIN THE GAME
— NO at +185 (wagering $100 to win $185)
This is all about value, getting +185. It’s an impossible prop to predict what will happen. However, given the higher-than-average predicted score, lots of offensive volatility, and some backdoor potential, I believe this prop provides a better value than is indicated by laying nearly 2-1 against. If either team builds a sizable lead in the second half, this becomes a very nice overlay to cash.
WILL THERE BE A MISSED EXTRA POINT KICK?
— NO at -31o (wagering $310 to win $100)
I like my chances with both of these solid kickers. I’m willing to lay slightly more than 3:1 one of them will not miss an extra point in a domed stadium. Gostkowki (NWE) made 49/50 this season. Zuerlein (LAR) made 35/36. The lay price should be higher than this, probably somewhere closer to -400.
IN WHICH HALF WILL MORE POINTS BE SCORED
— SECOND HALF (AND OVERTIME) at -125 (wagering $625 to win $500)
This is my best bet on the board. Super Bowls tend to be more conservative during the opening two quarters. Play-calling is often geared towards not making a mistake or losing the game early on. However, once the second half is underway sometimes all hell breaks loose. Add the defenses getting tired (perhaps the Rams running the ball effectively or the Patriots throwing the ball in a come-from-behind mode) and more points are likely to be produced in the second half than this lay price indicates. This has typically been a strong wager for Super Bowls over the past 20 years and given the nature of the two strong offenses and some glaring weaknesses on defense, as well, I believe this is as close to any (roughly) even prop that provides us with the best betting value. We also get the added bonus of points being added to our score if the game goes into overtime.
LONGEST FIELD GOAL (YARDS) BY EITHER TEAM
— OVER 46.5 at -125 (wagering $125 to win $100)
Two excellent kickers, both with long-range distance, playing inside a dome — that increases the chances of more long-range attempts. Given both teams should be able to move the ball on offense (800+ total yards predicted combined), I expect we will see at least one kicker line up to attempt a 50+ kick, and have a good chance of making it. Since this yardage O/U is much shorter at 46.5, we get even more value. After Zuerlien’s 57-yarder last week to send the Rams to the SB, there’s no doubt they’ll attempt just about any kick inside that range. This means any Rams drive that stalls between the 30-40 yard line becomes a likely FG attempt. Patriots attempt window range is probably narrower at 30-37 yards, and reduced by Belichick usually being willing to go for it on fourth down. This is probably Zuerlein’s prop to break.
LONGEST RUN BY RAMS RUNNING BACK C.J. ANDERSON
— OVER 11.5 yards at -115 (wagering $115 to win $100)
C.J. Anderson has carried an increasing workload in the playoffs for the Rams. Expect him to get even more opportunities in this game. Projection is for 12 total carries. Anderson is the type of RB who breaks tackles and the Patriots do give up the occasional burst along the defensive line. I certainly can foresee the Rams OL opening up at least one big hole, so look for Anderson to break at least one long run since he’s expected to continue getting added attempts in this game. If Gurley looks to be ineffective early as he was last week, Anderson’s chances are even better. He’s averaging 6.0 yards-per-carry in the playoffs. Anderson will get the ball.
TOTAL RUSHING YARDS BY RAMS
— OVER 113.5 at -120 (wagering $240 to win $200)
Rams enter the game with the third-best rushing attack in the NFL at 139 yards-per-game on average. Rushing total here forecasts a 20 percent dropoff in production, presumably based on Rams playing from behind as the underdog and some valid questions about the effectiveness of RB Gurley. Patriots allow an average of 127 yards-per-game this season, so the total here does look low. Given the way the Rams ran the ball in the previous two games, combined with a young team playing in its first Super Bowl, I expect they will stick with this grind-it-out formula. Betting this a little heavier since the number looks off.
WILL PATRIOTS CONVERT A -FOURTH-DOWN ATTEMPT?
— YES at -140 (wagering $140 to win $100)
Belichick likes to take chances. He’s done this his entire career. Anything around 4th and 3 at midfield and perhaps on the opponents 1-yard line is a go-for-it situation for the Patriots. If they’re playing from behind in the 4th quarter, this prop becomes almost a given to cash.
WILL RAMS CONVERT A -FOURTH-DOWN ATTEMPT?
— YES at -140 (wagering $140 to win $100)
Rams fake punt last week late in the second quarter was arguably the early turning point in the game. That tells us head coach Sean McVay is willing to gamble, when necessary. Add having a pair of big running backs to chose from in 4th and 1 situation, and Rams are probably confident in getting short yardage when needed. I also saw QB Goff take the ball on sneaks on 4th downs this season in very tight ballgames. Worth the lay price based on what we’ve seen from the Rams in close games. If they’re playing from behind in the 4th quarter, this prop has even better value.
Strong Leans (but no wager):
New England -2.5 at -110
Will Tom Brady throw an interception? Yes at -105
Will Jared Goff throw an interception? Yes at -140
Combined interceptions by both teams in the game: Over 1.5 at +120
Shortest touchdown of the game: Under 1.5 yards at -170
Greg Zuerlein total field goals made: Over 1.5 at -160
Total number of different players to have a passing attempt: Under 2.5 at -115
I lean strongly to the OVER in the second-half, assuming the first-half is low scoring.
Late Scratches: Bets I would have made, but scrapped at the last minute after thinking them through a bit more.
TOTAL QUARTERBACK SACKS BY RAMS
— OVER 1.5 at -135
To win, the Rams defense must come up big, in the manner the Giants front four in a similar matchup dominated Brady and the Patriots offensive line ten years ago in the massive upset. Looks for Rams to take some chances, blitz, and try to keep Brady out of his comfort zone. Wade Phillips is way too smart as an experienced defensive coordinator not to realize he can’t let his unit sit back and beat the Patriots conventionally. Last week, Rams defensive line made a huge difference, pressuring QB Brees all day long (2 sacks). Brady isn’t nearly as mobile, so I think the OVER 1.5 sack total will get there.
REASON FOR SCRATCH: Brady has not been sacked in either playoff game, so far. Those games involved lots of pass attempts and situations ripe for a sack. If Patriots are ahead, Brady might not need to throw as much, so with less passes, the chances for at least two sacks is reduced. The lay price at -135 is also troubling. I might bet this at even money, but don’t think the evidence matches up well with laying 4:3.
Here’s a link to a fun discussion about “Best and Worst Super Bowl Stories.” Click the link below to join the fun.
NFL SEASON WIN TOTALS [FINAL RESULTS UPDATED – $3,475]:
Arizona Cardinals OVER 5.5 wins -180 — LOST $450
Buffalo Bills OVER 6 wins EVEN — PUSH
Cincinnati Bengals OVER 6.5 wins -170 — LOST $400
Dallas Cowboys UNDER 8.5 wins +110 — LOST $500
Detroit Lions UNDER 7.5 wins EVEN — WON $400
Houston Texans UNDER 8.5 wins +120 — LOST $400
Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 9 wins -145 — LOST $725
Indianapolis Colts UNDER 6.5 wins +170 — LOST $400
New Orleans Saints OVER 9.5 wins -145 — WON $500
Seattle Seahawks UNDER 8 wins -150 — LOST $1,500