Sunday, February 1, 2015

Useless Last-Minute Super Bowl Betting Tips

In the first 48 Super Bowls...

The NFC Champion has won 26, the AFC Champion 22. Not a huge difference there. But if you count teams that started in the old, pre-1970 merger NFL, including the Steelers and Colts, then it becomes 33-14 NFC. You really shouldn't count the Ravens, even though they began as the Browns (who began in the AAFC before becoming an NFL team anyway); but if you do, then it's 35-12 NFC. The Seattle Seahawks actually started as an NFC team in 1976, but were switchd to the AFC the next season, but have been an NFC team against since the 2002 realignment of the conferences from 3 divisions to 4. The New England Patriots started out as the Boston Patriots of the AFL. Based on this... Advantage: Seattle.

The team wearing the white jerseys has won 30, including the last 3, and 8 of the last 9. The Patriots will be wearing white. Advantage: New England.

Teams whose primary (dark) uniform color is blue have won the most Super Bowls, 16 -- but have also lost the most, 18. Red has the best winning percentage, at 10-6; Black is 11-8, Green is 7-7, Purple is 4-4, and Orange is 0-4. Keep in mind that the Patriots wore red in their first Super Bowl, and have had blue as their primary color since. But the Seahawks also wear blue. Advantage: Neither.

The older of the two teams has won 31 times -- and if you accept the old Browns/Ravens as an "old" team, it becomes 33 times. Advantage: New England.

The Jets are the only team to reach the Super Bowl with a mascot that is an inanimate object. (No, I'm not talking about Fireman Ed.) The only other such team in the league could be the Browns, depending on what you think a "Brown" is. Advantage: Neither.

Teams with human mascots are 36-22 in Super Bowls. Teams with animal mascots are only 11-26. Pat Patriot is human, while Blitz the Seahawk is animal. Advantage: New England.

Teams with bird mascots, such as the Seahawks, are only 3-5. Teams with non-human mammal mascots are 8-20. Advantage: New England.

Teams playing their home games on natural grass are 24-23; on artificial turf, 23-25. Both teams play on the plastic stuff. The game is being played at the University of Phoenix Stadium, which uses the real stuff, a form of Bermuda grass. Turf teams having to switch to grass for the Super Bowl are 13-10, but since that applies to both teams, no advantage. Grass teams having to switch to turf for the Super Bowl are 9-8, while teams playing on turf and staying on turf are 11-12. Not a whole lot of help there.

Having the more experienced head coach doesn't help much: Teams with the less experienced coach are 26-22. The Seahawks' Pete Carroll has been a coach since 1973, an NFL coach since 1984, and an NFL head coach as far back as 1994. The Patriots' Bill Belichick has been a coach, and an NFL coach, since 1975, and an NFL head coach since 1991. So while this particular advantage leans toward Seattle, it may be utterly meaningless.

The team that is closer in distance to the site of the Super Bowl is 27-21. And Seattle, Washington is a lot closer to Glendale, Arizona than Foxboro, Massachusetts is. But in the era of every team flying their own private planes, and with nearly a week to acclimate to the location of the game, is that really an issue?

Finally, teams from States that were Red States -- won by the Republican nominee for President in the most recent election -- are 25-21 in Super Bowls. Teams from Blue States -- won by the Democratic nominee in the last election -- are 23-27. But this doesn't matter on this occasion, as Massachusetts and Washington are both Blue States. Washington has gone Democratic in every election since 1988. So has Massachusetts; in fact, it has gone Democratic in every election but one since 1960.

The last 4 Super Bowl winners have been from Blue States -- but so have the last 5 Super Bowl losers. The last Red State team to win was the Saints, 5 years ago. The last team from a conservative city to win was the Colts, 8 years ago.


At the moment, the point spread is "Pick 'em" -- no spread at all. 

The 1968-69 Jets, the 1969-70 Chiefs, the 1980-81 and 1983-84 Raiders, the 1982-83 and 1987-88 Redskins; the 1990-91, 2007-08 and 2011-12 Giants; the 1997-98 Broncos, the 2001-02 Patriots, the 2002-03 Bucs, the 2009-10 Saints, the 2012-13 Ravens and last year's Seahawks -- 15 of the 48 winners -- won the Super Bowl despite being the underdog. While the 1975-76 Cowboys, the 1988-89 Bengals, the 1995-96 Steelers, the 2003-04 Panthers, the 2004-05 Eagles and the 2008-09 Cardinals -- 6 teams -- beat the spread, but did not win the game. The 1996-97 Packers were 14-point favorites to beat the Patriots, and beat them by exactly that, 14 points. And the 1999-2000 Rams were 7-point favorites to beat the Titans, and did so. On those 2 occasions, the Super Bowl point spread was right on.

My recommendations? I have two:

1. Don't bet on the game. You need the money more than your friends do, and especially more than any bookmaker does.

2. Enjoy yourself, but don't eat too much.

You could go for the team wearing the less ugly uniforms. Since the Seahawks will be wearing their dark blues with that hideous lime-green trim, and the Patriots their road whites, that would mean the Pats.

But, as a New York Tri-State Area sports fan, I cannot bring myself to root for a New England team. Unless they're playing a Dallas or Los Angeles team. (And, even then, I would take the Lakers over the Celtics. And, with my Rutgers bias in mind, despite them being in different leagues the last few years, if Boston College were to play USC or UCLA, I'd take the L.A. team over BC.)

A definite case can be made for using your head to pick the Patriots. But if you're a Giant fan, a Jet fan, or a New Yorker or New Jerseyan who doesn't particularly like either one, but you still support any local team in any sport, your heart says to support whoever's playing New England.

Go, Hawks, Go!


One final stat: Before "Spygate" was revealed, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady reached 3 Super Bowls, winning all of them in very close games, decided by a field goal's worth of points or less. After it was revealed, in 8 seasons, they have reached 3 Super Bowls, but have, thus far, won none.

Also, look at the teams they've played. The 2001-02 Rams, the 2003-04 Panthers and the 2004-05 Eagles were teams whose primary focus was offense. But the 2007-08 and 2011-12 Giants? Their hallmark was defense, and they smacked Brady around and shut down his receivers, and then scored just enough points to win. The current Seahawks? They have a high-powered offense, but it is their defense that is the true difference-maker.

This is why I think the Seahawks will win: Brady will see the Seahawks as another Giants. So the question is, Can Belichick find a way to cheat his way to victory again? My answer: Even if he does, it may not be enough to beat a team that hung 43 points on a good Broncos team a year ago.

Yeah, I picked the Broncos in last year's Super Bowl. I was very, very wrong. But I've picked 7 of the last 9 right, and 13 of the last 16. Before that, though, it was about a 50-50 chance of me getting it right.

If you must bet, consider what I've said here, take it with a pinch of salt, and use your head.

But if the oddsmakers are right, and this game really is, for all practical purposes, an even match, then no betting tips may help.

Let's hope, first and foremost, for a good game, with no major injuries, and no moments like Peyton Manning's over-the-shoulder snap on last year's first play from scrimmage. No "Leon Lett Play." Nothing that would make an announcer say, as Verne Lundquist said after a wide-open Jackie Smith of the Cowboys dropped a sure touchdown pass in Super Bowl XIII, which ended up making the difference, "Aw, bless his heart, he's got to be the sickest man in America!

Nobody deserves to have that happen to him.

Well, maybe the Patriots do. They deserve to be -- wait for it -- deflated. Whether it's Spygate, Deflategate, the Red Sox with their steroids and headhunting, the Celtics and Bruins with their environmental controls, the New England Revolution with their diving and dirty tackles, or UConn with their recruiting violations...

Same New England, always cheating!

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