Breaking Down Super Bowl XLIX

Brady
Brady
I believe Super Bowl XLIX will come down to a final drive and Tom Brady will be under center for it. Will he be successful?

My favorite part of the the two weeks leading up to the playing of the actual Super Bowl is… The playing of the actual Super Bowl.

On Sunday night, we will be able to finally stop worrying about deflate-gate, what Marshawn Lynch says or doesn’t say and whether Idina Menzel has messed up the national anthem or not. In short, it will finally be time to play football.

Choosing who to go with in Super Bowl XLIX has not been easy. There are so many factors that must be considered for both teams and of course we can never predict turnovers or how the game is called by the officials. Nevertheless, I think I have a good read on this game so see whether you agree or not by reading on.

Super Bowl XLIX New England Patriots (-2) vs Seattle Seahawks (O/U 47.5) – Let’s take everything off the field off the table. That means let’s focus on the two teams and not deflate-gate or Marshawn Lynch’s hat.

Tom Brady is making his sixth start in a Super Bowl and he’s lost his last two which were both against the New York Giants. In the prior five Super Bowls, the game has come down to the final drive and I feel this one will be no different.

Seahawks
Look for both Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas to be involved with covering Rob Gronkowski.

If we analyze both of the Patriots’ losses, the Giants were able to get consistent pressure up the middle on Brady and most of that pressure came from just the front four defensive linemen. The Seahawks are significantly better than the Giants were in the secondary but can they get the same type of pressure the Giants did?

My assumption is that the Patriots will learn from Denver’s struggles last year in the Super Bowl and they will not abandon the run. The problem is whether Josh McDaniels chooses to use LeGarrette Blount or another running back like Jonas Gray. Seattle must also decide how they are going to cover Rob Gronkowski. Will they attempt to keep a linebacker on him or will Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas be stuck with that assignment?

When the Seahawks are on offense, they will know that Bill Belichick typically likes to take away his opponent’s best player. Common sense points us to that being Russell Wilson or Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be prepared and I think you’ll see more read-option from Seattle than we’ve seen recently from them this season.

If they find any success with that, the passing game will open up, especially on the edges and to the tight ends. Will that be enough to keep New England on it’s heels defensively?

Obviously the one area we can’t forget is special teams. Turnovers or major mistakes here are likely to be disastrous as close as I expect this game to be.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of New England’s last eight games… Seattle is 6-2 straight up in their last eight games against New England… The Patriots are 2-6 against the spread in their last right games against the Seahawks… Seattle is 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games.

Key Injuries: NE C Brian Stork QUES/Knee, CB Brandon Browner QUES/Knee… SEA S Earl Thomas QUES/Shoulder

The Pick:  No one holds a lead as well as the Seahawks but I think they will fall behind early. Tom Brady has an opportunity to seal his legacy as an all-time great with a win and to do it, he’ll need a touchdown to win the game late. I think Seattle takes its’ first lead in the second half and holds on to win 27-23. Take the Seahawks and the points and take the OVER.

Things Take an Interesting Turn in “Deflate-Gate”

Goodell
Goodell
Robert Kraft entertained Roger Goodell at his home the night before the AFC Title Game.

I can’t help but laugh at all of this but at the same time the issue surrounding deflated balls is much more serious than perhaps we really believe. Regardless, here’s the latest news and more importantly, here is my take on what’s about to go down.

The National Football League has zeroed it’s investigation on a Patriots’ locker room attendant. According to several sources, the NFL has spoken with the attendant and also claims to have video of him as well. At some point, he took the balls from the officials’ locker room and on to another location.

Ted Wells, the man hired by the NFL to investigate this, claims even with this new development the investigation is likely to take several weeks. I’m all for being thorough but if this alleged video is a smoking gun of sorts then why wait?

So now that we know this, where is this headed? Here’s my take.

Goodell
While all 32 owners are Roger Goodell's bosses, it's become clear that no one has more control over him than Bob Kraft.

First of all, Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will both come through this as clean as a whistle. I say this because it’s clear that of the 32 NFL owners, no one has the ear of Roger Goodell more than Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. Don’t think so? Take a look at this article from GQ Magazine.

Should they really skate on this issue though? Of course not, but you know as well as I do how this thing will unfold. The attendant in question will be pressured to give up the golden goose. Investigators will do their darn-best to make this guy tell them who ordered him to release air from those balls.

Common sense will tell all of us that Tom Brady is the man who asks this attendant to manipulate the game balls and has likely done so for several years. Whether or not this is something that Brady requests each week or just when there is precipitation is unclear, but ask yourself this question?

Do you really believe a New England Patriots’ locker room attendant would, on his own accord, decide to deflate 11 of 12 game balls for the AFC Championship Game?

What would his motivation be? Would he even know that releasing air from the ball would make it easier to throw, catch and hang on to? Tell me, what would this guy possibly have to gain?

The only explanation for what went on is the simplest one out there. Tom Brady told his teammates in a meeting last week that he “likes the ball a certain way.” Why would he tell them this after spending 30 minutes in front of the press denying having anything to do with the issue?

I believe it highly unlikely that his attendant will give Brady up. My guess is that he will fall on his sword and has already been provided with an excuse for tampering with the balls as well a nice financial settlement as he gets “fired” for his illegal behavior.

What about Belichick you ask? Belichick will do just as he did during his impromptu presser the other day. He’ll deny any knowledge of the arrangement the attendant and Brady allegedly had and he’ll ride off into the sunset with his three or perhaps four Super Bowl titles.

I guarantee you that Roger Goodell and Robert Kraft have already spoken about how to proceed now that the attendant has been discovered. Kraft and the majority of other owners know Goodell makes them money and that’s all that matters.

Where There is Smoke, There are the Patriots

Belichick
Belichick
Bill Belichick is being questioned again about his ethics but this is nothing compared to SpyGate.

You know what the biggest shame in this latest assertion against the New England Patriots is? It’s that the team doesn’t need to do this type of stuff. It’s well-coached and has more than enough talent to be winning without spying on other teams and deflating footballs.

Let’s be completely honest here first; the New England Patriots did not win on Sunday night because the footballs Tom Brady was allegedly throwing were softer than they should have been. Brady could have been throwing and handing off marshmallows and the outcome would have still been in their favor. That’s just how dominant they were over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Title Game.

Therefore, this isn’t anything like SpyGate where the Patriots were clearly gaining an advantage over their opponents. There is no doubt in my mind that a portion of their success prior to being caught was due to the illegal taping and observing of their opposition.

My assertion is usually countered by Patriots’ fans who claim the great Pittsburgh Steelers’ teams of the 1970’s were “all on steroids.” They, and many other teams of the 70’s were indeed dabbling with roids and here’s the key part; they weren’t illegal then. What the Pats were doing in SpyGate was illegal and that’s an overwhelming distinction.

Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers said yesterday he actually likes to "over-inflate" the ball due to his large hands.

So here we are again with more allegations of a Bill Belichick-led team doing something against the rules. My honest opinion here, and it was kind of backed up by Aaron Rodgers yesterday, is that most teams mess around with the game balls to a certain extent. In case you missed it, Rodgers said he liked balls to be “over-inflated” because he has larger hands.

In case you aren’t aware of the rules, an official NFL game ball must be between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds of air per square inch. If you take air out of the ball, it becomes easier to grip and to catch. Brand new NFL footballs are not as “new” as you might think when they actually hit the field. Teams are given game balls a few days in advance so that quarterbacks can smooth out the leather.

Some QBs will do this themselves while others rely on ball boys to do it. Essentially, it involves rubbing the balls over and over. This gets perspiration into the leather and takes away that hard, coarse feel to them. Now assume these balls are going to be wet. Taking some air out helps quite a bit in terms of grip.

The irony of the current situation is that D’Qwell Jackson of the Colts was the one who brought it to the attention of his team and Head Coach Chuck Pagano. He did this following an interception in the first half. For a linebacker, a guy who rarely touches a ball, to notice an obvious difference tells me that there is something to this.

The problem is Rodgers’ statement though. You have the league investigating a situation where two of the most high-profile quarterbacks in the league are now involved. What will come of this in my opinion is nothing other than a serious “talking to” by NFL officials.

Honestly? That’s really all it should be because “deflate-gate” is not anywhere on par with SpyGate. But why do these things keep following New England? Perhaps that’s the bigger question in all of this. I can’t recall one team being a part of so many odd things as this one has.

Keep an eye on the smoke because there is likely to be a Patriot nearby.

Prop Bets for the NFL Championship Games

Wilson
Wilson
Think Russell Wilson gets into the end zone on Sunday? It might be worth your money.

Thanks to our friends at Bovada, I’m providing you with a bevy of prop bets coming from both games this Sunday. My best advice on wagering these is to consider this; I believe you will significant scoring in both games. When I say “significant” I would look for the NFC Title game to be played in the mid to upper 20’s and the AFC Title Game to be played in the 30’s.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Who will record the most Passing Yards?

Andrew Luck (IND) QB 5/4

Tom Brady (NE) QB 2/1

Aaron Rodgers (GB) QB 3/1

Russell Wilson (SEA) QB 7/1

 

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Who will record the most Rushing Yards?

Marshawn Lynch (SEA) RB 10/11

Eddie Lacy (GB) RB 11/10

Dan Herron (IND) RB 7/1

Russell Wilson (SEA) QB 10/1

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Who will record the most Receiving Yards?

Rob Gronkowski (NE) TE 3/1

Jordy Nelson (GB) WR 4/1

Randall Cobb (GB) WR 5/1

T.Y. Hilton (IND) WR 5/1

Julian Edelman (NE) WR 6/1

Brandon LaFell (NE) WR 9/1

Doug Baldwin (SEA) WR 10/1

Jermaine Kearse (SEA) WR 15/1

Dan Herron (IND) RB 15/1

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Which game will have the higher TV rating?

GB vs SEA EVEN

IND vs NE -140

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Which market will have the higher TV rating?

Green Bay 5/4

Seattle 9/5

Indianapolis 5/1

Boston 3/1

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Will either game go to Overtime?

Yes +750

No -1500

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – How many calls will be overturned both games combined?

Over 1½ (-120)

Under 1½ (-120)

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS – Will anyone from the Patriots besides Tom Brady attempt a pass during the game?

Yes +1000

No -2000

(GB @ SEA) – Total Passing Yards – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over 260½ (-125)

Under 260½ (-105)

(GB @ SEA) – Total Completions – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over 22½ (-125)

Under 22½ (-105)

(GB @ SEA) – Total Passing Attempts in the game – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over 34½ (-125)

Under 34½ (-105)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over 1½ (-180)

Under 1½ (+150)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over 2 (+110)

Under 2 (-140)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over 2½ (+140)

Under 2½ (-170)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

0 4/1

1 21/10

2 11/5

3 3/1

4 or more 7/1

(GB @ SEA) – Total Interceptions – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

Over ½ (-155)

Under ½ (+125)

(GB @ SEA) – Total Interceptions – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

0 6/5

1 7/5

2 9/2

3 or more 9/1

(GB @ SEA) – Total Passing Attempts in the game – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over 27½ (-130)

Under 27½ (EVEN)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over 1½ (-140)

Under 1½ (+110)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over 2 (+140)

Under 2 (-170)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over 2½ (+240)

Under 2½ (-300)

(GB @ SEA) – Total TD Passes – Russell Wilson (SEA)

0 3/1

1 7/4

2 11/5

3 5/1

4 or more 9/1

(GB @ SEA) – Total Interceptions – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over ½ (-130)

Under ½ (EVEN)

(GB @ SEA) – Total Interceptions – Russell Wilson (SEA)

0 1/1

1 7/5

2 5/1

3 or more 15/1

(GB @ SEA) – Total Rushing Yards – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over 39½ (-125)

Under 39½ (-105)

(GB @ SEA) – Total Rushing Attempts in the game – Russell Wilson (SEA)

Over 7½ (-115)

Under 7½ (-115)

(GB @ SEA) – Will Russell Wilson (SEA) score a Rushing TD in the game?

Yes +250

No -325

Luck
Like Andrew Luck for two or more TD passes? Then lay some money down!

(IND @ NE) – Total Passing Yards – Andrew Luck (IND)

Over 295½ (-125)

Under 295½ (-105)

(IND @ NE) – Total Completions – Andrew Luck (IND)

Over 25½ (-130)

Under 25½ (EVEN)

(IND @ NE) – Total TD Passes – Andrew Luck (IND)

Over 2 (-140)

Under 2 (+110)

(IND @ NE) – Total Passing Yards – Tom Brady (NE)

Over 285½ (-115)

Under 285½ (-115)

(IND @ NE) – Total Completions – Tom Brady (NE)

Over 24 (-115)

Under 24 (-115)

(IND @ NE) – Total Passing Attempts in the game – Tom Brady (NE)

Over 36½ (-115)

Under 36½ (-115)

(IND @ NE) – Total TD Passes – Tom Brady (NE)

Over 2 (-150)

Under 2 (+120)

 

 

 

Saturday Sports’ Bullets for You to Ponder

Bumgarner
Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner and the Giants have achieved dynasty status in my opinion.

There are s many things going on this time of year in the sports’ world that I just can’t find one to focus on so why not give you my thoughts and the latest news in the form we all appreciate? Let the bullets fly!

-One of the more hotly debated subjects this past summer was whether or not we should consider the San Antonio Spurs a dynasty. First of all, that term is thrown out way to often and while the Spurs under Gregg Popovich have been consistently good, I don’t view them as a dynasty.

-What does constitute a dynasty is the San Francisco Giants who have now won three World Series titles in the last five seasons. Some will make the argument that a dynastic team needs to at least have back-to-back titles somewhere in their championship run. I don’t see it that way. Bruce Bochy and company are a dynasty in my mind.

James
LeBron has to be glad to have that first home game out of the way.

-I really don’t blame LeBron James for that rock concert turned basketball game the other night in Cleveland. I mean, yes, he’s to blame for some of the craziness that has followed him from Cleveland to Miami and back to Cleveland but what about these fans? Aren’t these the same ones who burned his jersey and took to social media with hate-filled rants? Apparently everything is OK as long as we return home.

-It may have been a surprise to some on the outside but the resignation of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon wasn’t that shocking at all to those in the know around Ann Arbor. The Michigan fan site www.MGoBlog.com came into the possession of emails between Brandon and disgruntled fans. For a savvy businessman like Brandon to even reply to these was bad enough but his communications were immature and unwarranted.

-As for Michigan going forward, look for a permanent AD to be in place in the next six weeks and a new head coach in place in time for the recruiting push in January.

-I have a feeling Ole Miss goes down for the second week in a row today. Their defense hasn’t given up more than 20 points yet this season but Auburn hasn’t scored less than 20 points since Gus Malzahn took over as head coach. Factor in the loss of linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and the diverse and up tempo Tigers’ offense and I just have a feeling the Rebels go down.

-Tomorrow of course brings us Brady vs Manning XVI and with both players shining brightly right now with their play it will be very interesting to see who blinks first. My gut tells me that Manning will put up better numbers but look for the Patriots to get the running game going early which will keep Denver’s pass rushers on their heels. Tom Brady just doesn’t lose at home either.

-If Kobe Bryant isn’t suspended for his use of the ‘N-word’ directed at Dwight Howard then all of the goodwill that Commissioner Adam Silver has built up will have been for nothing. The argument will be made that black players use that word as a “term of endearment” with fellow black players. Let’s be clear; that was not Bryant’s intent when he caught on camera. Let also not forget that Bryant has been fined in the past for gay slurs as well. Silver simply can’t tolerate this behavior from any player let alone his stars.

Tips for Your Fantasy Football Team Through Two Weeks

Brady
Brady
Is Tom Brady giving you the numbers you need as your starting quarterback in Fantasy Football?

Today you find yourself in one of three positions with regards to your fantasy football team; you are 2-0 and atop your division, you are 0-2 and staring up at everyone or you’re 1-1 and not sure how to feel about your team.

I play in two fantasy football leagues. One is a typical, PPR-type league where we draft every season and use just a teams’ defense and special teams. Starters include a QB, two RBs, two WRs, a TE, a ‘flex’ player, a kicker and the defense/special teams.

The other league I participate in is a dynasty league where you keep all of your players year to year or cut as many as you want. The draft includes rookies coming into the league and any free agent players that are not on teams.

In this league, you play a QB, two RBs, three WRs, a TE and kicker. Defensively, you play 2 DL, three LBs and three DBS.

I’ll try to keep my advice as general as possible but will specify which type of league I’m referring to where necessary.

If you’re 2-0… Where are the bulk of your points coming from? If your QB is lighting it up and is creating a good deal of your scoring that’s great, but what is your back-up plan? Can you survive if Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning goes down?

Carlos Hyde
In dynasty leagues, Carlos Hyde might be worth a pick with Frank Gore getting older.

If the majority of your points are coming from your receivers/tight ends then perhaps you need to look for a QB or RB on the waiver wire. There are already a few guys not on most teams that are putting up respectable numbers. Trades are always a possibility. I have ‘that’ guy in a league who takes the top two QBs available to him as trade bait for later in the season.

Even though you’re unbeaten right now, there are areas you can do better. Look at you roster and also look at the schedule coming up for key players.

If you’re 1-1… This means you’ve likely got a hole somewhere. You’ve got a roster that can score or you just got lucky in a low-scoring affair to gain the victory but either way you need an upgrade to at the very least your bench.

It’s important to have options at key spots like receiver and running back especially after the rash of injuries last week. With regard to backs and receivers in dynasty leagues, having established players is good but you need to think long term.

Don’t be afraid to take guys like Odell Beckham or Carlos Hyde. Their time might not be yet, but it could be coming.

If you’re 0-2… You’ve either lost to teams that just flat-out went off or your team just isn’t putting it together for you. Obviously you have to start at QB. What kind of production have you gotten through two weeks?

There’s been a lot of talk about Tom Brady not being a being fantasy guy this year. That doesn’t mean you bail on him because chances are that he’ll still put up numbers but if it continues for a couple more weeks than you might need to move on.

Latest Super Bowl XLIX Odds

Manning Brady
Manning Brady
The window is closing on both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Will either lead their teams to Super Bowl XLIX?

Now that our nation’s little foray in Brazil is over, we can turn our attention back to the type of football that I prefer. Believe it or not, we are about a month away from the Hall of Fame game which is the traditional kick-off to the NFL’s Preseason. The Buffalo Bills, who will be playing in that game against the New York Giants, report to camp two weeks from today.

Hard to believe, but are you ready for some football?

Here are the latest Super Bowl XLIX odds from our friends at Bovada. My best bets are in BOLD.

Denver 13/2 – Teams that have lost the previous Super Bowl rarely make it back but the Broncos are ‘all-in’ on trying.

Seattle 13/2 – We haven’t seen a repeat champion since the Patriots back near the beginning of this century. Can Seattle handle the crown which has brought many players (Sherman, Lynch, Wilson, etc) significant personal attention?

San Francisco 7/1 – Colin Kaepernick has a new deal, but will age catch up with the defense?

New England 9/1 – Speaking of age, when will Father Time finally force Tom Brady to the sidelines? I’m not sure, but his offensive weapons are still lacking a bit.

Green Bay 12/1 – How much will the defense be improved? If it makes a big jump, then this could be a sexy pick right here with Aaron Rodgers running the offense.

New Orleans 14/1 – How often does a head coach testify against one of his players? That’s what Sean Payton had to do in Jimmy Graham’s hearing. Will that be a factor this season and how do the Saints replace Darren Sproles?

Chicago 18/1 – Is Jay Cutler worth the monster deal the Bears signed him to? He has plenty of talent around him so there are no excuses.

Indianapolis 18/1 – Andrew Luck enters his third season and is 0-2 in the playoffs. In a weak division, he needs to get back and get a playoff win under his belt.

Foles
I like the future for Nick Foles and I think this could be a big year for him in Philly.

Philadelphia 25/1 – Like Green Bay, the Eagles have some appeal because of offensive firepower. Can the defense improve though?

Atlanta 28/1 – The question here centers on last year. Was it just an anomaly or a pattern of things to come? This team has a lot of holes to fill too.

Carolina 33/1 – The same could be said of the Panthers. Should we expect more of the same from them or will they revert back to a .500 or worse team?

Detroit 33/1 – Defense, defense, defense… If they can cover receivers and if Matthew Stafford can take better care of the ball then watch out. I have my doubts on both ends however.

Pittsburgh 33/1 – The youth movement has begun in the Steel City. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is there, they have a chance but the defense has to create more pressure.

Arizona 40/1 – The Cardinals won 10 games last year and missed the playoffs. They need splits with the Niners and Seahawks and great play from Carson Palmer.

Baltimore 40/1 – How long will Ray Rice’s suspension be and will it matter? He was very unproductive last year and has the defense improved at all?

Cincinnati 40/1 – This is all about Andy Dalton.

Kansas City 40/1 – Competitive, but I see a fall back year.

NY Giants 40/1 – Can Eli limit the turnovers?

San Diego 40/1 – Bolts need another good year from Rivers and a better effort on defense as well.

Cleveland 50/1 – How soon before we see Johnny on the field?

Dallas 50/1 – Loss of Sean Lee hurts an already bad defense.

Houston 50/1 – This defense will be fun to watch but the offense? Yikes.

Miami 50/1 – The Dolphins were right there last season and now they need to make the jump. Can they is the question especially without Mike Pouncey.

St. Louis 50/1 – Sam Bradford, this is it for you man.

Tampa Bay 50/1 – Lovie Smith will turn this team around immediately. Don’t be surprised to see them push for a playoff berth.

Washington 50/1 – Which RGIII will get this year?

Minnesota 66/1 – Teddy Bridgewater will start at QB on day one. You heard it here first.

NY Jets 66/1 – Personally, I don’t think Vick is going to help the development of Geno Smith but that’s just me.

Buffalo 75/1 – Loss of Alonso is a heart-breaker.

Oakland 100/1 – Is Ken Stabler returning?

Tennessee 100/1 – This team will be better under Ken Whisenhunt. Mark my words.

Jacksonville 200/1 – At least they have “cool” uniforms.

Taking My Shot at Props for Today’s Games

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
You can be sure Jim Harbaugh is not discussing his pants with Colin Kaepernick.

I’ve spent all week breaking down the AFC and NFC Championship Games and I’m ready to just have a little fun instead of grinding away at over/unders and spreads and who is on what streak and who isn’t. Therefore, I’m just going to throw out everything possible that comes to mind in terms of some prop bets you might want wager on. Don’t laugh; some of these will be off the wall.

AFC Championship

Most Passing Yards – I like Peyton Manning because the Pats will force him to throw more than is probably expected.

Most Rushing Yards – Most will go with LaGarrette Blount here based on last week but I’m going to go Stevan Ridley. He will benefit from all the attention paid to Blount.

Most Receiving Yards – I think Manning will spread the wealth among his many targets and with that thought I like Julian Edelman who will thrive underneath the backers of Denver.

Most Field Goals – This is probably a prop a kicker doesn’t want to win because that means his team is settling for field goals rather than touchdowns. I like Stephen Gostkowski here and I hope that isn’t bad news for him.

Game Props

Most Personal Fouls – Very few people can frustrate a defense the way Tom Brady can. That thought in mind, take the Broncos with the most personal fouls.

Most Challenges – Patriots because Bill Belichick is the smartest man alive.

Manning
I expect that Manning will stop using 'Omaha' and will switch to 'Papa John's.'

First Team to Score – Denver. Manning and Company will come out of the gates quickly.

First Player With a Personal Foul – Jaime Collins

Most Penalties – Aggression wins, take the Patriots.

Coin Toss Winner – Denver because the coin thinks Peyton Manning has funny commercials.

First Player to Score – Stevan Ridley

Over/Under on Phil Simms Expressing His Undying Love for Tom Brady – 12, get it?

Over/Under on Number of Times Peyton Manning Yells ‘Omaha’ – Zero. Here’s hoping he comes up with something else like ‘Papa Johns.’

NFC Championship Game

Most Passing Yards – Go with Colin Kaepernick because he has more weapons at receiver and tight end and I believe throwing will win this game.

Most Rushing Yards – I really want to go with a quarterback here but I’m going to go with Marshawn Lynch. I think his ability to break tackles will be the key.

Most Receiving Yards – I have to go with the guy that San Francisco got for a meager 6th-round pick and that’s Anquan Boldin. This is exactly the reason the 49ers wanted him.

Most Field Goals – In a game that is expected to be a low scoring slugfest, field goals will be important. I like the home-team kicker in this one and that means Steven Hauschka.

Game Props

Most Personal Fouls – In a game where trash-talking and late hits will be coming from all angles I think the Seahawks will take the cake here.

Most Challenges – This is too easy. The whiny Jim Harbaugh is likely to take this prop.

First Team to Score – San Francisco. Because they need to get the crowd out of the game immediately.

First Player with a Personal Foul – Richard Sherman or Aldon Smith. Take your pick.

Most Penalties – Seattle. Although San Francisco could push this because of false starts due to crowd noise.

Coin Toss Winner – Seattle because the crowd noise will force the coin to go their way.

First Player to Score – Steven Hauschka

Over/Under on Amount of Times Jim Harbaugh’s Pants are discussed – 9 because that’s allegedly how much spends on them.

Over/Under ob Number of References to the ’12th Man’ – 12 is way too low so let’s double that to 24.

 

AFC Championship Game: Trends, Points and Pick

The AFC Championship will be played on Sunday in Mile High City between the host Denver Broncos and the visiting New England Patriots.

The rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will be renewed in this matchup, while odds makers have given the shortest price on Denver at home for the entire season.

The two quarterbacks are easily the focal point of this game. Their play could be the deciding factor of which team wins the AFC Championship and moves on to the Super Bowl.

The Patriots are 13-4 SU and 9-8 ATS, while the Broncos are 14-3 SU and 10-7 ATS.

This could and might be the last time the two face one another with so much on the line. Manning turns 38 next season, while Brady turns 37.

Denver is looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999, while the Patriots will attempt to reach their sixth Super Bowl during Brady’s tenure as quarterback.

The Patriots are 4-0 SU and ATS against Denver since 2011. The latest New England win was this past November 24, when the Pats came back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to defeat Denver 34-31.

Overall, New England has a record of 10-4 SU and 7-5-2 ATS during Brady’s starts versus a team with Peyton Manning at quarterback.

The current line at Bovada has Denver at -5. The total points on topbet and betonline are sitting at 56. On sportsbook.com, the line has moved from an opening of -6 for Denver to -4.5 and back up to its current -5.

New England has used its ground game of late behind LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley. Blount, the 250-pound powerful back had 166 rushing yards and four TDs versus Indianapolis last week.

However, the Patriots will also look to attack a weak defensive secondary for Denver. During the game in November, Brady threw for three touchdowns and 344 yards. Denver will be without Chris Harris one of its starting cornerbacks who tore his ACL last week versus San Diego.

Denver will look to throw first and run second against the Patriots. However, they will use their running game to keep New England’s offense off the field and eat up the clock. The Broncos were 9 for 13 on third down conversions last week.

However, Denver is a passing team and their biggest plays will come from Manning and his corps of receivers.

Trends

  • New England is 1-5 ATS over its past 6 games on the road.
  • New England is 0-5 ATS over its past 5 games played on grass.
  • New England is 0-4 ATS over its past 4 AFC Conference Championships.
  • Denver is 7-2 ATS in its past 9 game played on grass.
  • Denver is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 games overall.
  • The OVER is 8-2 in the past 10 games New England has played during January.
  • The UNDER is 4-1 in the past 5 games New England has played on grass.
  • The UNDER is 4-0 in the past 4 games Denver has played on grass.
  • The OVER is 4-1 in the past 5 games Denver has played in the postseason.
  • Head to head New England is 4-0 ATS over the past 4 games versus Denver, while the OVER is 4-0 over those same four games.

Pick: Denver 31-28

Mid-Week Rants From Around the Sports World

Brady and Manning
Brady and Manning
Love them or hate them, take time to appreciate Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as their careers wind down.

Appreciating Manning and Brady

It’s Wednesday. Are you tired of the AFC Championship Game hype yet? Peyton Manning this and Tom Brady that but hey, this is what we get this time of year and I’m trying hard to do the right thing.

If you’re wondering what the right thing is, it’s to actually slow down and breathe in what could be the final match-up between these two future Hall of Famers. That doesn’t mean you have to actually tune in to ESPN on a 24 hour basis from now through Sunday because I sure as hell won’t. What it means is that you could be witnessing the end for these two.

This is something that should be enjoyed rather than loathed and trust me, it’s hard because the hype is overwhelming.

I believe this because I lived through every year of Michael Jordan and in the case of Manning and Brady, their careers are winding down. Much like the career of Jordan, appreciating what both Brady and Manning have accomplished is important. These are two guys who have played the quarterback position about as well as anyone in the history of the game.

For my money, Jordan is the greatest NBA player of all time with the slightest of exceptions being Wilt Chamberlin but I never had the chance to see him play so I’m admittedly biased. I am grateful however that I was able to see every year of Jordan’s career from his time at North Carolina to his final seasons in Washington.

With all this said, take a moment to appreciate both Brady and Manning whether they play for teams you love or teams you hate. It won’t be much longer before both are no longer in the league.

Clark Cub
Clark the Cub has already taken his share of abuse after just being unveiled.

A New Mascot for the Cubs. Yikes.

You’ve probably seen it by now but the Chicago Cubs have unveiled a new mascot and it hasn’t exactly received a lot of positive views. Clark the Cub is a cartoonish looking bear who looks more like he belongs on Cartoon Network than walking around Wrigley Field. It’s a tough thing to accept for long-suffering Cubbie fans who haven’t seen their team win a World Series in over 100 years.

I’ll spare you the specifics but many ‘creative’ folks have taken liberties with Clark in a NSFW fashion. Leave it to the people of social media to take a cartoon mascot to the levels of adult film.

Why the Cubs decided after more than a century of existence to have a mascot is beyond me. The easy answer is that they want just one more way to create revenue. This particular mascot also will be used to pull in children as well. Good marketing idea or bad? The bigger question is what are people thinking these days?

Take the Money and Run

Former Arizona Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt surprised a lot of people this week when he decided to take the head coaching job in Tennessee rather than the one in Detroit. The Lions clearly have more talent on both sides of the ball and especially on offense where Whisenhunt excels, but it was revealed yesterday just why he chose the Titans over Detroit.

According to several outlets, Whisenhunt was offered a million dollars more to take the job in Tennessee rather than the one in Michigan. If you blame him, just stop and look yourself in the mirror. Would you turn down a million dollars more per year? I wouldn’t either. I don’t think money was the only issue though. Detroit isn’t exactly a franchise with a winning attitude so that may have played into his thinking as well.