So, we’re here. After five months of football, and two weeks of waiting, it’s time for Super Bowl XLVI. We know the teams, we know the players, we know every storyline imaginable (unless someone gets arrested with a hooker in their car this weekend, or goes off their meds and is missing for 10 hours, or Plaxico’s themselves…). So the only thing left to do is sit back and watch the game. Oh, and find as many prop bets as possible to get some extra money down on before kickoff…
Disclaimer: Gambling on sports is illegal unless you are in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Also, if I’m horribly incorrect with these picks – as I have occasionally been in the past – I’m sorry in advance. If you can’t afford to lose, don’t play. John Anthony – “The Million Dollar Man with the Billion Dollar Plan” – is not a real person. All lines from Bodog or **SBRForum** are accurate as of the time this was typed – 7pm Wednesday. Home teams in CAPS. That about covers it.)
Before we get to the actual game pick, let’s parse through the props and find a few gems with some nice returns. As of the time I’m typing this, there are 337 prop bets for this game on Bodog.com (Or Bovada.com… or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves these days). I’m not making a pick for all 337. I couldn’t give two shits about what Madonna is wearing or how long it takes Kelly Clarkson to sing the National Anthem. Zero interest. I care about football, football players and/or their immediate family members, and football-related bets. So the ground rules are simple – I’m sticking to those. Going into this game, I’m 6-4 for the playoffs, after finishing the regular season at 124-122-10. So, my year has essentially been a break even, though not by much.
How Many Times Will Peyton Manning Be Shown On TV? (Live shots only, between opening kickoff and final whistle, Halftime doesn’t count): This is an Over/Under bet, and it is set at 3.5. I think this is pretty much a gimme that we’re going to see an over – There’s no doubt he’ll be in a shot at the opening of the game, and probably one at the end no matter the outcome. I’d fully expect to see at least two more shots of him either celebrating a good play by Eli, or rolling his eyes at a bad one. The Over seems like free money, which is probably why it is set at (-130).
Super Bowl MVP: I’d forgotten that there are actually four former Super Bowl MVPs playing in this game: Tom Brady (twice), Eli Manning, and Deion Branch. For obvious reasons, the two QBs are the lowest odds on the board. Tom Brady sits as the favorite at 9/5, Eli Manning is right behind him at 7/4. Since 1999, eight of the thirteen MVPs have been give to QBs. The other five went to a Linebacker (Ray Lewis), Safety (Dexter Jackson), and three Wide Receivers (Deion Branch, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes). So it’s a pretty safe bet that a QB is going to go home with the hardware, and if not, then a Wide Receiver is next in line. Let’s assume that everyone is going to put something on the QB of the team they think will win. Among the other players listed, I like Victor Cruz (8/1), Wes Welker (15/1), Jason Pierre-Paul (25/1) as my “secondary favorites”. And I really like a small bet on both Justin Tuck and Vince Wilfork at (75/1) as a long-shot. But let’s be honest – one of the QBs is probably going to win this one; either Brady is going to tie Montana’s record with three MVPs, or Eli is going to catch up to Brady’s two. The returns on their bets might suck, but they’re better than losing.
How Many Times Will Giselle Bundchen Be Shown On TV? (Live shots only, between opening kickoff and final whistle, Halftime doesn’t count) – O/U 0.5: Another freebie – unless she stays well hidden in the back of a luxury box, there’s no chance that NBC will pass on an opportunity to show Tom Brady’s wife, one of the most beautiful women in the world, at least once. And this Over is paying even worse than Peyton; it’s set at (-160). And yes, I’m only including this prop as a reason to run a photo of Giselle Bundchen in this post. It sure beats having a photo of Archie Manning up here.
Total Sacks – Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora (0.5 sacks each): These are two separate, individual player bets, but they’ve got the same number and currently the same return. In both cases, I like the Over, even though the payout is only (-205). Judging by the previous history of the Giants’ defensive line, I’ve got to think that both of these guys will at least get a half of a sack, and a push on the bet.
Eli Manning Total Passing Yards (315.5): This is a tough one. I firmly believe Eli is capable of doing this, perhaps even before the end of the third quarter. The question comes down to the Giants’ game plan, which I have to believe is going to be to run as much clock as possible to keep the Patriots’ offense off the field. While New York obviously isn’t going to ignore an opportunity to pass the ball against a porous defense like New England’s, I wonder if they’re going to try to force the run a little more than they normally might, in order to own the time of possession. In the end, with a bet like this it’s usually best not to overthink it, so I’m going to recommend the Over.
Eli Manning Total TD Passes (2.5): I’m taking the Under (-175) here – I’ve got Eli down for 2 passing TDs. Along those same lines, Bodog offers an Exact Bet for Manning’s TD passes; 2 TDs pays out at (+225). I like that number a lot. And a parlay on the Under and Exactly Two TDs pays out at a little better than 4/1… love it. If you’re curious, the Over pays at (+145), and the Exact TDs pay out at (+500) for zero TDs, (+250) for one, (+350) for three and (+400) for four or more. I’d recommend parlaying your Over/Under choice with each of the possible options for maximum return – the best payout is parlaying the Over and 4 or more TDs, paying at just over 11/1.
Tom Brady Total Passing Yards (320.5): I’m fairly surprised that the Over on this is paying out at (-125). I would have expected it to be a lot lower, maybe even -200 or worse. When these two teams met earlier this year, Brady threw for 342. This postseason, he has thrown for 363 against Denver (and took his foot off the gas in the 4th quarter), and 239 against a better defense than the Giants, in one of his worst playoff performances ever. In the regular season, Brady topped 320.5 in nine of 16 games, and finished at exactly 320 in Denver seven weeks ago. I wouldn’t say that the Over is a lock, but I would definitely be surprised if he didn’t get there. Oh, and KWSN – I like the Over on your prop from Tuesday’s Happy Hour, but I wouldn’t bet it. I hate having to wait to cash a bet that’s only going to pay at roughly (+150). I need Futures-type of return (4/1 or better) to wait more than a couple hours. Yes, I’m a degenerate.
Tom Brady Total TD Passes (2.5): Just like with Eli, there’s an Exact TD Pass bet as well here for Brady. I really think he’s got a 3 TD day in him, minimum, so I like the Over here. As for the exact bet, zero TDs pays at (+700), one TD is (+400), two pays (+250), three pays (+300) and four or more TDs pays (+200). Yes, the oddsmakers are expecting a 4+ TD day out of Brady. So again, pick your Over/Under choice, and then parlay it with each of the possible combinations with the exact TD number. The best odds currently lie in a parlay of the Under (+110) and Zero TD passes – that combination pays at just shy of 16/1. And my Over/3TDs would pay just under 6/1.
Total Receptions – Chad Ochocinco (0.5): That’s just sad. As much as I find it hard to believe that Belichick (and even more, Brady) won’t try to get the ball to Chad at least once in his first Super Bowl, I’ve seen very little this year to suggest that he’ll catch it. Or even be in the right place to catch it. Hell, he might even get deactivated before kickoff in favor of another tight end, if Gronkowski can’t go. Personally, I’d stay away from this altogether; the (-140) on the Over and (+115) on the Under just aren’t enough of a return to waste money on.
Player to score the first touchdown in the game: Alright, let’s use my “Never place a prop bet that won’t automatically cover all your other action on the prop” rule for this bet. Right now, Rob Gronkowski has the lowest odds at 6/1. So, if I’m betting the same amount across multiple players, I’m not picking more than six players for this bet. And based on the list that Bodog is offering, the six I like most are Gronk (6/1), Cruz (7/1), Bradshaw (8/1), Welker (8/1), Nicks (8/1), and The Field (8/1), to cover the potential defensive/special teams TD. Personally, I like Bradshaw & Welker the most in that group, but $100 bet on each of those will guarantee you no worse than a push if any of your choices actually wins. Or… a $600 loss if none of them do.
Margin of Victory: There’s a slew of options here, all of them paying out no worse than 9/2 (Patriots by between one and three points). I’ll give you the fourteen choices with payouts, but my pick will have to wait until the end of this post… Giants by 1-3 points: (11/2)… Giants by 4-6 points: (8/1)… Giants by 7-10 points: (7/1)… Giants by 11-13 points: (12/1)… Giants by 14-17 points: (12/1)… Giants by 18-21 points: (15/1)… Giants by 22+ points: (20/1)… Patriots by 1-3 points: (9/2)… Patriots by 4-6 points: (13/2)… Patriots by 7-10 points: (5/1)… Patriots by 11-13 points: (9/1)… Patriots by 14-17 points: (9/1)… Patriots by 18-21 points: (12/1)… Patriots by 22+ points: (10/1)
And now… the Main Event…
Super Bowl XLVI – Patriots (-3) vs. Giants – Over/Under (54): Call it redemption. Call it Revenge. Call it a Repeat. Neither of these teams wants to talk about anything but this Sunday. Although the franchises are the same, the teams are very different than they were in 2007. Eli Manning is no longer an unproven quarterback trying to justify his #1 overall pick and the hefty price the Giants paid to get him away from the Chargers, the team who drafted him, but for which he never would have played. Tom Brady is no longer the unquestioned best QB in existence, the unassailable playoff deity, more myth than man, inflated by years of unparalleled success and a near invincible postseason aura.
The Patriots are in the Super Bowl despite having the second worst defense in the league, and despite being the single-worst defense to ever play in a Super Bowl. They are playing for the right to call themselves inarguably the best NFL franchise of the 21st century, to prove their doubters wrong; and for coach and quarterback, to grant themselves automatic inclusion in every single discussion of “Greatest Ever” from now through forever.
The Giants are playing to prove that they made the right decisions all season long, that defense still wins championships, but that it sure helps to have a really good offense as well. That the media-driven animosity toward a Head Coach who has done nothing but win in his New York tenure was completely unfounded, and to guarantee Eli Manning the first seat at the family dinner table every Thanksgiving.
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what each team uses for motivation. Judging by our author’s picks at the bottom of this post, the Patriots could be riding a “Nobody Believes in Us” wave, while the Giants can reflect on their amazing postseason run of beating three teams at each of those teams’ greatest strengths. But in the end, this game, like every other football game, is going to come down to who is best prepared. Who makes the fewest mistakes. Who doesn’t get caught up in the hype of the “SUPER BOWL!!!”, and who goes onto the field, does their job, and does it best. And I think that, although it’s going to be awful close, and one hell of a good game to watch, the Patriots will do just enough to overcome the memories of their “One Giant Loss”, and finish this season with their own personal redemption.
THE PICK: New England Patriots 31, New York Giants 27
MVP: Tom Brady