Super Bowl XLVIII is simply not kind to bettors.
With potential harsh weather looming over a matchup that pits Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks and their "Legion of Boom", the odds do not favor bettors who had the idea of cashing in on the nation's biggest sporting event.
The lines have moved little since their inception, and the same thing can be said about the forecast, which still calls for potential snow and precipitation, per CBS Sports' Will Brinson:
This makes for great football in the outdoors, but not an ideal betting environment. All in all, the heavyweight bout is a true test for the bravest of bettors.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|Seattle Seahawks||+3||+115||47 (-105)o|
|Denver Broncos||-3||-135||47 (-115)u|
Total: Over/Under 47
At first glance, this one has the look of an offensive shootout, mainly because Peyton Manning is surrounded by a host of weapons that are seemingly impossible to stop.
While it is true that Manning and Co. were able to break a host of records during their impressive run this season, they have yet to encounter a defense quite like Seattle's, which ranks No. 1 against the pass and touts elite corner Richard Sherman, who was quite effective this year, as NFL.com's Elliot Harrison details:
Here's your 3:18 PST stat of the day... Richard Sherman unofficially thrown at 59 times, allowed QB's a 48.37 passer rating...lowest in NFL— Elliot Harrison (@Harrison_NFL) January 24, 2014
I think we’re good – whatever we put out there, we have to be able to execute it. Like you said, they are the No. 1 defense. They have a great defense and we have a great offense. This is what you play for. I think we’ll be fine.
Thomas should be worried, especially with the weather set to have an impact on the game. One can take either side of the narrative that Manning struggles in cold weather, but as Bleacher Report's Christopher Hansen writes, the forecast favors Seattle:
Not that Manning can't throw in the elements, but there is no doubt a cold, wet environment would favor the Seahawks.— Christopher Hansen (@ChrisHansenNFL) January 21, 2014
That advantage means the Seahawks will heavily rely on running back Marshawn Lynch, who has three scores in two playoff games so far. But Denver is quietly suited for this type of physical showdown, as the defense ranks in the top 10 against the rush.
In sloppy conditions, the Broncos will also look to get an advantage on the ground with Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.
The over is simply not a good bet given the circumstances. It was iffy at best to begin with given the matchup itself, but add in a forecast that will surely ground aerial attacks and the writing is on the wall—take the under.
Spread: Denver -3
To further illustrate just how evenly matched these two sides are, here are some eye-opening numbers, courtesy of ESPN:
Peyton Manning: Sacked or under duress on 14% of dropbacks this season, lowest in NFL; Seahawks pressured QBs on 32% of dropbacks (led NFL)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 23, 2014
Believe it or not, those numbers give a slight edge to the Broncos.
With the forecast a mess, those aforementioned weapons will come in handy in the face of a stout Seattle pass rush.
Big plays down the field will be limited, so an importance will be placed on short passes that turn into large gains. Denver excels in this department thanks to options like Wes Welker and chain-moving tight end Julius Thomas.
Pick against the spread?
But most of all, the Broncos have an edge because of Demaryius Thomas, who was among the league leaders in yards after the catch this season. He specializes in catching short passes and taking it the distance, a skill that may be magnified in slick conditions.
Seattle has similar potential in Percy Harvin, but he has been hurt most of the year, Russell Wilson has struggled mightily in the second half of the season and the Seahawks do not have comparable weapons like a Welker to take the attention off of Harvin.
Denver and Manning will cover the spread in cold conditions, as the weapons around him will insulate the future Hall of Famer, and stymie a stingy defense.