This Monday Really Sucks But There is a Silver Lining

Omaha
Omaha
The end of football season sucks but at least you don't have to hear "Omaha" for awhile.

For the vast majority of us in the workforce, few days are as bad as Monday. It’s the first day of the work week which means that after Monday, there are still four more days to get through. Even for those of us who enjoy our jobs we must admit that Monday is often very tough to get through.

Today is Monday. This particular Monday however is a little more excruciating than really any other Monday on the calendar for a decent percentage of us. Last night, the Super Bowl was played and I don’t yet know the winner because I’m writing this early so I can watch the game. Be that as it may, today we embark on a long journey of days without football.

Some of you will make the smooth transition into college basketball, the NBA or the NHL but some of you will loathe the next five to six months when you find yourself digging through old DVR recordings of games from this past season. Still, it isn’t the same.

Oh sure, there’s the NFL Combine coming later this month but how many fans really tune into that expecting it to take away their ‘no football blues?’ When the combine ends, the on campus workouts begin and free agency gets underway and it is often enough for us to be satisfied if ever so slightly for our taste in football.

NFL Draft
The NFL Draft will be here soon enough so don't dispair football fans.

As you comb over the multitude of mock drafts looking to see who your favorite team is interested in you start to get the itch but you can’t scratch it because training camp is still a couple of months away.

The draft comes and you comb over the players your team has selected and then you start to read about whether this guy is a ‘reach’ or that guy is a ‘bust’ or maybe that third-rounder is a real ‘gem.’ Regardless, it only satisfies you a little.

Eventually the summer rolls around and before you know it you’re setting off fireworks in the backyard to celebrate Independence Day. Now, just weeks away is the start of training camp and thought of your team being on the field once again brings a small tear to your eye as your long wait is over.

Football will be back.

Until then, take solace in the fact that there are a few things you won’t miss. These are the things that will make up your silver lining.

  • No more discussions about whether Richard Sherman or Bill Belichick is the ‘real thug.’
  • No longer have to hear half of ESPN’s NFL crew butcher the English language.
  • You won’t have to sit through reviews which are ‘reviewed’ purely so the NFL can get in another series of commercials.
  • You’ll no longer have to listen to the following question each week from your significant other; “What time do the (insert your team here) play?
  • You’ll get a substantial reprieve from seeing Jim Harbaugh pout like five-year old on the sidelines or in some cases on the field.
  • No more ‘Omaha!!!!’
  • No more ’12th man’
  • No more Cris Collinsworth
  • You can forget hearing about whether Tony Romo is a choker or not.
  • You can also forget hearing about what stupid thing Roger Goodell thinks up next.
  • You’ll be glad not to hear about Mike Shanahan and RGIII twelve times a day.
  • No more close-ups of Archie Manning whose fame is far greater as a father than it ever was a player.

These are but a few of the things you will be happy to be without for the next several months and today is only Monday. The worst Monday of them all.

Bookmakers Win Big in Super Bowl XLVIII Rout

Bookmakers cashed in big on Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday night with some expecting records for both the handle and the profit. One odds maker called it the busiest Super Bowl ever.

Indications from the different sports books such as Bovada, topbet, sportsbook.com and betonline are that the Super Bowl should be a record handle for them and it should be a huge profit for them as well.

The improbable Seattle Seahawks blowout of 43-8 over Denver sent huge shock waves through the gaming industry Sunday night helping the books to a huge win.

Many bookmakers in Vegas said the handle was 20% higher than last year’s Super Bowl and their holds on handles of between $90 million and $100 million were between 17% and 20%.

Despite the hype and talk of the best defense and the best offense bringing about a classic Super Bowl, the 48th Super Bowl was similar to the Super Bowls of the 1980s that were so one-sided including Denver being on the losing end of three of them.

This year, the public played most of its money on Denver, which was helped by the books not moving the line to Broncos -3. A few shops in Vegas did move their line to -3 but quickly shut that door after sharp money ran to the window for their bets.

Not only was it good for many books on the big win by Seattle, but also on the OVER (47.5) cashing with the point total hitting 51.

Many books offered odds of 50 to 1 on a safety being the first scoring play for Seattle and bettors taking that prop cashed in well, as that is just what happened when Denver’s center snapped the ball out of Peyton Manning’s reach and the ball went into the end zone for a safety.

It is the third consecutive Super Bowl that included a safety and the second in the past three years that the first score was a safety. Some books took a heavy loss on the prop.

Even though there were losses recorded by books on some props, overall the books did very well, recording another win on the Super Bowl. In Vegas, the Gaming Commission of Nevada starting keeping records on games in 1991, and since then, the books have only lost twice on Super Bowls.

Records and totals for the handle and profits in Vegas will be released on Monday with many expecting both the handle and profit to break all time records.

For many books, the high season on betting has come to a close, as the NFL represents up to 55% of total betting for some of them. However, with the NBA continuing, Major League Baseball preparing for its spring training and the World Cup scheduled for June of this year, the odds makers will continue to have their hands full.

Who I Like in Super Bowl XLVIII

Chancellor and Thomas
Chancellor and Thomas
Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas must play well in order for Seattle to win.

The last two weeks have been about Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch and Peyton Manning. Today, we finally get to see all of the other players as the 48th edition of the Super Bowl is played this evening.

When compared to past Super Bowls, these two weeks have been rather tame even though the throng of media has been greater than ever. Much of that is due to the location where the media is literally everywhere you look, but also because the game just continues to grow in terms of a social phenomenon.

Earlier this week I broke down why each team would win Super Bowl XLVIII and now it’s time for me to make my final analysis and pick for the game.

Super Bowl XLVIII Seattle vs. Denver (-3) – Hours after their respective conference title games, the line was established at even but soon shifted to Denver giving three points. This is exactly where it has stayed.

Welker
Welker has a tendency to disappeaar in games and this cannot be one of them.

This game features the fifth meeting in Super Bowl history between the NFL’s top-ranked offense and top-ranked defense. In the previous four meetings, the top-ranked defense has prevailed three times. Despite being 1-3, top ranked offenses still have averaged 33 points but that’s a bit misleading. Remember that among those scores used for the four top-scoring offenses is the 55 that San Francisco hung on Denver in Super Bowl XXIV.

There are a lot of directions one can go when analyzing this game and many of them favor Denver which is why about 70% of the wagering action had been on the Broncos. Consider that Peyton Manning 37 touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone this season and he’s only been sacked three times. It’s incredibly hard to go against that type of statistic and that makes it easier to see why the action is going in their direction.

The gameplan is simple for both teams. For Denver, it’s all about letting Manning dictate things on offense. He rarely throws the ball deeper than 20 yards so I expect Seattle to force him to be more aggressive than he usually wants. If the Broncos, through a combination of the run and pass can stay in third down and short situations then it will be a long day for the Seattle defense.

Offensively for Seattle, the running game behind Marshawn Lynch and an athletic offensive line will be top priority and that won’t change much. I do believe you’ll see the Seahawks use more play-action earlier in the game than normal. This will be in an effort to set up the run and keep the Denver safeties deeper than they’d like to play.

On defense for Denver, they must stop Lynch on first and second down. If they can force Russell Wilson to become a pocket passer that will be OK with them. I don’t expect that to happen however so that means the Broncos will need to contain Wilson when he scrambles or gets on the edge.

Seattle’s defensive gameplan is going to be very intriguing. Will they attempt to blitz Manning at will or will they allow their big secondary to disrupt routes? What Seattle has to be careful of is forgetting about the run because Manning will audible to it if he finds it working.

Both teams have gone under the number in the last five games and that could favor Seattle with the number today being 48. Don’t pay much attention to Seattle’s 3-6 record against the spread in their last nine meetings with Denver because neither QB was playing for his respective team in 2010. This was their last regular season meeting.

I have a strong feeling that someone will make a big special teams play and I think Seattle finds a way to force Denver into field goals. Take Seattle getting the three and take the under. I like Seattle 23-21.

Books See Heavy Action on Denver, Point Total Inches Up

It is finally here. Super Bowl XLVIII will be played tonight between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. The two teams were preseason favorites in their conferences. The two have not disappointed their fans as they both ended the regular season 13-3. The futures had both teams in the top 3 most of this season.

The early money on the Super Bowl went to Denver, which was a slight underdog when betting opened two weeks ago, but flipped to a 2.5-point favorite within hours of the line being released. As of late Saturday, the Broncos remained a favorite by 2.5 points.

Most sports books, including topbet and Bovada, are long on Denver money, but have also seen action on Seattle at +2.5.

The point total opened at 47 and stayed that way for much of the two weeks, but moved up to 48 last this week, as the weather forecast became less of a factor. The latest weather report shows possible rain early but not during game time.

Seattle is 15-3 SU and 12-5 ATS this season. Offensively they are more prone to run than to pass. Their biggest running threat is Marshawn Lynch, but quarterback Russell Wilson can break a defense’s heart with long scrambles down the field.

Wilson also has a great arm and will only run if all his options are exhausted on the play. He also will stand in the pocket and take a hit before releasing the football, which gives his receivers an opportunity to get open.

The Denver defense hopes to pressure Wilson. The offensive line for Seattle is not its strong point. The Broncos must be disciplined when they rush Wilson and not allow lanes to open or Wilson will run past them faster than they are rushing at him.

No team in the NFL passed for more yardage than did Denver during the regular season. The Broncos enter this game 15-3 SU and 11-7 ATS. However, no team in the NFL gave up fewer yards against the pass than did Seattle.

The pass rush for Seattle is ferocious and the secondary for the Seahawks can change games. Denver on the other hand has not given up a quarterback sack in the postseason and own one of the league’s best corps of receivers.

Everything will focus on Peyton Manning when he is on the field. He now has over 6,000 yards between the regular season and postseason.

Some sharp money on betonline and sportsbook.com has waited until late to take Seattle believing a tough Seattle pass rush will rattle Manning and force him into making mistakes.

The other thought is if the pass rush does not slow down Manning, can the secondary stop them? With Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, the Seahawks will have a good chance.

Prediction: One of Seattle’s biggest strengths, its home crowd, will not have the factor they do at CenturyLink Field. The offense for Denver is too strong for any club to shutdown. I like Denver 28-17.

Must-Have Super Bowl Prop Bets

Super Bowl XLVIII
Super Bowl XLVIII
There is no shortage of great prop bets for this year's big game.

Prop bets for the Super Bowl have grown significantly over the last few years. The original prop bets started with what team would score first or what team would pass for more yards but now the coin flip has become the norm as has the length of the national anthem.

I like some of the traditional ones but I’ll share some more obscure prop bets as well so let’s get to it!

Odds to win Super Bowl XLVIII MVP – Peyton Manning (11/10) and Marshawn Lynch (15/4) are your top favorites but I’m going to give you a couple of long shots I like. I like Trindon Holliday (25/1) and Julius Thomas (40/1) for Denver and Doug Baldwin (40/1) and Kam Chancellor (75/1) for Seattle.

Odds on who scores the first touchdown – Marshawn Lynch (11/2) and Wes Welker (7/1) are your favorites but here are the longer shots I like. Tight ends Zach Miller (25/1) and Jacob Tamme (18/1) are good picks and don’t count out Manning at 40/1.

Will Wes Welker score a touchdown – Yes +105 No -135 I say no.

Total receiving yards for Julius Thomas – 55.5 Over -105 under -125 I like the over.

Total receiving yards for Golden Tate – 45.5 Yes -125 no -105 I say yes.

Will Doug Baldwin score a touchdown – Yes +215 no -275 I say no.

Who will throw the first touchdown pass – Wilson +175 Manning -215 Have to take Manning here.

Who will throw the last touchdown pass – Wilson +160 Manning -200 Common sense says Manning but I’m taking Wilson.

Fleming
Will Renee Fleming challenge the National Anthem record?

Far Out Props I Love

Length of the National Anthem – 2 minutes, 25 seconds Over +135 Under -175 The standard is still Whitney Houston’s performance in 1991. This year’s anthem will be sung by opera singer Renee Fleming. I’m actually going to go the over here.

Will Renee Fleming wear gloves when she begins the National Anthem – Yes -175 No + 135 I’m all over yes.

Will Knowshon Moreno cry during the Anthem – Yes +150 No -200 Hell yes! If he cried during a regular season game at San Diego why wouldn’t he cry here?

How many times will Archie Manning be shown on TV – 1.5 Over -150 Under +110 Take the over and don’t second guess it for a second.

Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during the Halftime Show – Yes -200 No +150 Normally I would say yes but because this is the ‘stuffy’ NFL of Roger Goodell I’m betting the shirts stay on.

What will the TV rating be for the game – 47.5 Yes -130 No -110 The Peyton Manning factor will force me to say yes.

I could probably go on for days with some of the prop bets that are floating around out there but I want to share some with you that you can do with friends, family and colleagues if you’re watching with a big group.

Super Bowl Squares – Don’t just do the traditional ‘payout after each quarter,’ try doing payouts for every score of the game. A lower scoring games means bigger payout, but either way, you should get more people in the winner’s circle and that means people usually have more fun.

Troy Aikman Comments – I think Aikman does a pretty good job with analysis, but he tends to harken back to his Cowboys’ days a bit too often for me. Set an over/under for the number of times he does this.

Erin Andrews/Pam Oliver – Get the ladies involved by laying some money on who will have the best hair or best hat or best coat. Sounds sill but I guarantee you will hear comments on this.

The Peyton Shoulder Shrug – The Manning’s have a very interesting move when things aren’t going well. They typically shrug their shoulders a lot as if re-adjusting their shoulder pads. Put an over/under on that.

Enjoy the Super Bowl!

Arizona laying 4.5 at California, Syracuse Favored by 2.5 vs. Duke

Saturday’s lineup of college hoops is highlighted by two great matchups featuring the top two ranked teams in the country. In one, No. 2 ranked Syracuse hosts No. 6 ranked Duke, while in the other No. 1 ranked Arizona visits a tough California team.

Syracuse is 20-0 SU and 13-3 ATS this season and has gone 6-0 against the number in his past six games. They will face a Duke team that is 17-4 SU and 13-8 ATS. Duke also has cashed tickets as they have covered in their past 4 games during a 5-0 SU run.

Duke is shooting over 41% from 3-point territory and has 194 treys on the season, which is sixth in the nation. The Blue Devils love an up-tempo game and average over 81 points per game.

Duke has not played since Monday, giving them ample opportunity to practice against the formidable zone defense of Syracuse.

The Orange is holding opponents to just 58 points a game on 41 % shooting overall.

The defense for Duke is no slouch, over the past five games, the defense has held its opponents to 42% shooting while forcing over 13 turnovers each game.

Jim Boeheim the Syracuse head coach said that Duke is currently playing as good as or better than any other ACC team.

The UNDER has cashed in 7 of the past 8 Syracuse games. The Orange has gone 6-1-1 over its past eight games at home.

Duke has a record of 7-3 against the number over its past 10 games versus teams with a winning percentage higher than .600.

Bovada currently has Syracuse listed as the favorite by 2.5 points.

Pick: Duke 72-69

The Arizona Wildcats are tops in the nation at 21-0 SU and 13-7 ATS. They have gone 0-3 ATS over their past three games. Tonight they face a tough California team that is 14-7 SU and 10-10 against the number.

Sportsbooks like topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com have Arizona favored by 4.5 points.

Arizona has struggled against the Golden Bears of California. Last season Arizona lost at home 77-69 to California and is 1-3-1 ATS over the past five games versus California.

On Wednesday, Arizona showed why it is number one in the nation holding the Stanford Cardinal to just a single field goal in its last 16 possession to earn a big 60-57 victory.

Arizona however was just 18 of 29 from the free throw line. Stanford also outrebounded the Wildcats.

While Arizona has played well of late, Cal is 0-3 SU as well as 0-3 ATS over its past three games including a loss at home 89-78 in overtime to Arizona State. Cal is now 10-1 SU at home this season.

The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS over their last six games on the road and 14-5 against the number in their past 19 games against a team with a winning percentage above .500.

Cal has a record of 11-5 ATS over its past 16 games versus teams that have a winning percentage higher than .600.

The underdog has a record of 3-0-1 ATS over the past four games between the two schools.

Pick: Arizona 73-65