Super Bowl LI (51) is turning out to be one of the most anticipated Super Bowls in history. How do we know this little factoid? According to the major sports books in Las Vegas, wagering is going through the roof right now; $140 million just in Nevada alone. The experts expect $4.7 billion will be wagered on the game worldwide. We have two teams that can — and most likely will — score a lot of points. The over/under for the total score is now 58.5.
That means 58 total points is within the spread and 59 beats the spread — there won’t be a push on the over/under bet for the total score.
At any rate, the New England Patriots are not so heavy favorites, most of the money is being gambled on the Pats, but the point spread is only 3.
For most any NFL game, and most especially a Super Bowl, 59 is a high over/under, but the Patriots averaged 27.6 points per game this season and the Atlanta Falcons 33.8 — the best in the league.
My Packers were 4th on the list at 27.
Get this: The San Diego Chargers — now the Los Angeles Chargers — are 9th on the list with 25.6 points per game. Their point average was higher than these playoff teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (24.9), Kansas City Chiefs (24.3), Miami Dolphins (22.7), Seattle Seahawks (22.1), Detroit Lions (21.6), New York Giants (19.4) and Houston Texans (17.4).
What’s wrong with this picture? Oh yeah, they played in the same division as the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, plus their defense gave up way too many points. They ended the season 5-11. How many times did they lose the game in the 4th quarter?
Back to the Super Bowl. The Patriots’ highest scoring games came on October 30 against the Buffalo Bills (41-25) and December 24 against the New York Jets (41-3). The following week, the last of the regular season, New England beat Miami 35-14. They scored 30 or more points nine times during the regular season and in both playoff games they played: 34-16 against the Texans and 36-17 against the Steelers. Really. That was one of the big surprises of the post-season. No one expected the Pats to over power the Steelers like that.
The Falcons highest score of the regular season was on October 2 when they beat the Carolina Panthers 48-33. The week before they beat the New Orleans Saints 45-32, on November 3 the beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 43-28. They beat the Los Angeles Rams 42-14 and a week later the San Francisco 49ers 41-13.
The Falcons scored between 30-39 points seven times. So that’s 12 times they scored 30 or more points in a game — this season.
In the playoffs they beat Seattle 36-20 and then the Packers — my Packers! — 44-21. Effin’ Packers … I just might become a Chargers fan.
And Dean Spanos, c’mon man! You finally had a San Diego mayor (Kevin Faulconer) bending over backwards to keep the Chargers in San Diego. WTF! One bit of good news for San Diego Chargers fans: LaDanian Tomlinson is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s a great guy and a big asset to the San Diego community.
On paper it looks like the Atlanta Falcons are clear favorites. They have the best offense in the league this season — number 2 isn’t even close — and they dominated just about every team they played. But, the Patriots have the 4th best defense in the league and as the saying goes: a great defense will beat a great offense.
But the point of it all is: if you’re betting on the game, pick the over on the total score and pick the Pats to beat the spread. Statistics show the over bet on the total score pays off more times than the under, as does betting the winner beats the spread.
The Falcons could win the game of course; in which case betting on Atlanta to win would be a great bet. Or betting they beat the spread. They have that potential. Best offense in the league, a pretty good defense that held the Green Bay Packers scoreless for the first half and started the second with their 5th touchdown of the game, before the Packers could get on the board. If ever there was a statement game that was it. It says the New England Patriots don’t have a lock on the win. The bookies even suggest the spread could shrink before game time, which is 6 p.m. East Coast, 5 in the Central time Zone, 4 in the Mountain Time Zone and 3 out here on the Left Coast.
The one, rather weak, knock on Atlanta’s win over Green Bay: the Packers were a banged up team going into the playoffs. Their star wide receiver was playing with broken ribs and for some inexplicable reason the Packers secondary dropped a couple of key passes that could have been game-changing interceptions. Apparently Green Bay had the flu bug go through the team in the week leading up to the NFC Championship game. The players will tell you illness and injuries are not excuses and a final score of 44-21 is a big deal. If the spread had been ten points or less the illness/injuries argument would hold more water. Take two of Atlanta’s TD’s away, assuming those two dropped interceptions had been made, the Falcons still come out ahead. Effin’ Packers …
Professional odds makers are seldom wrong. The casinos are into sports gaming to make money and they don’t make money if their predictions are wrong so they pay the pros big money to get it right. It’s a rare day (as in I can’t remember the last time it happened for a Super Bowl) when you get one or two rogue odds makers defying the wisdom of all the other pros in the industry. Every casino is posting the same odds, spreads and other data needed to field all the bets being wagered on the game. Like: The primary color of Lady Gaga’s hair when she performs her halftime show. The odds of what color Gatorade gets poured on the winning coach … does Bill Belichick allow it?
The odds are 99/1 the power goes out in NRG Stadium during the game. I would make that bet because with all the power getting drained before and during the game — what with all the network trucks, the halftime show, the pregame nonsense, the halftime gabfest, etc, etc, blah-blah-blah, there’s a really good chance the stadium — and the next 50 blocks around it — could suffer a power shortage. It happened in 2013 for Super Bowl XLVII, in New Orleans. All it needs is one sensor to detect an abnormality and voila: power outage. That’s the kind of thing engineers just can’t plan for. As the old saying goes: shit happens.
As fans may recall, the Ravens were ahead of the 49ers by 22 points before the power outage. After power was restored 34 minutes later the Niners went on a 17-point run, closing the gap to six. Colin Kaepernick became a huge star that day, leading his team on that comeback. Sadly, their final drive ended when they turned it over on downs. Ravens won, 34-31.
But, we can be like most people and just watch the game on TV, eating way too much of the wrong food and falling asleep in the third quarter … not that I’ve ever done that. Okay, there was that one time … maybe twice, but I swear …
Or, go to a friend’s Super Bowl party and eat way too much of another person’s wrong food, or a sports bar and watch it with hundreds of people you don’t know and pay way too much for not enough of the wrong food. Should you opt for the latter … well, never mind. Some sports bars are far more male-oriented than others, that’s all I’m saying.
Enjoy the big game. Below are some of our sports reports from Super Bowl Week, including excerpts from the press conferences of commissioner Roger Goodell, the two coaches, Bill Belichick and Dan Quinn, Lady Gaga and players from both teams, including the quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.
My heart tells me to root for the Falcons because Brady, Belichick and Patriots owner Bob Kraft are all great friends with President Donald Trump … but the bookies tell me the Pats are gonna win this one.
And Tom Brady is the best QB n NFL history. Did you know there is an over/under bet on how many times Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (two announcers calling the game for Fox) say “greatest of all time”? No kidding. It’s 5.5. Take the over on this one. It’s already been used to death in the past two weeks. And c’mon man! Give Joe Buck a break. Let the man do his job without these stupid petitions to have him removed from doing the broadcast. There are over/under bets on the primary color of his tie. Really, look it up.
We need more guacamole.
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UPDATE: It was the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. It became the greatest game in Super Bowl history and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has cemented himself in history as the greatest to play his position in history.
They didn’t fold when they were down by 21 points and every announcer was quoting the statisticians who said no team had ever come back from a 14-point deficit. They didn’t fold, after dropped passes, a lost fumble and a pick 6.
Kudos to the New England defense for stopping the Falcons after Atlanta’s 4th TD in the third quarter. And the New England offense then scored 21 unanswered points to give the fans the greatest Super Bowl in history.
When the Patriots won the coin toss for the overtime period, you just knew — the Atlanta Falcons knew — Tom Brady was going to march his team down the field to score the game-winning touchdown. They have done it before. When the football world had them counted out the Patriots came back and won it in dramatic fashion with a two-yard run by running back James White.
Tom Brady had 466 yards passing with two TD’s and one interception. Their running game had 104 yards with two TD’s. Matt Ryan and the Falcons seemed to have the game won. the defense kept the Pats out of the end zone for the most part and the offense was moving the ball — until the third quarter. This one will sting for the Falcons. If they are the great team they showed us this season, the memory of this loss will fuel their season come September. But for now, they will have to listen to every critic, professional and otherwise, ask how they blew a 25-point lead.
The better question is: where did the Patriots find the extra juice to turn this game around and win it? The Falcons didn’t lose it, the Patriots won it.
The finals score: New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28.
One more thing: Tom Brady was named the game’s MVP, the only player to win the title four times.
Photos by Claudia Gestro unless otherwise noted
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