First things first: Super Bowl betting is either the best thing in the world or the worst. There really is no middle ground here.
If you like full-fledged stupidity, people wildly spending money on things they know nothing about and bookmakers raking in cash hand over fist, all the heart-shaped emojis go to East Rutherford, N.J. You can literally (Chris Traeger voice) bet on anything.
I could not pick Renee Fleming out of a lineup if she were wearing a sweater that said "National Anthem Singer Renee Fleming" on it, but there are six different prop bets that involve her name at Bovada. Do you know that Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana use? Well, you will if you bet the +400 on whether an announcer speaks of the wacky weed during the broadcast. Hoping to see middle-aged white rockers with their shirts off, the Red Hot Chili Peppers could have you covered at even-odds.
Again: Nothing is off-limits Sunday.
That kind of makes it strange that the spread for Seahawks-Broncos has settled in at the most standard line possible: Broncos by a field goal. Denver is technically the "home" team for this contest, and even though there was no vig put into that, the public money makes it seem like the Broncos will have a home-field betting advantage.
With that in mind, let's check in on some of the more sane props and the latest betting news for Super Bowl XLVII.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|Seattle Seahawks||+3||+115||47 (-105)|
|Denver Broncos||-3||-135||47 (-115)|
In-Game Prop Bets Worth Taking
Demaryius Thomas: Receiving Yards (75.5)
Take: The under (-115)
This one is working under a pretty simple premise: Richard Sherman will spend most of his day covering Thomas. Because we're not privy to the intricate details of Pete Carroll's game plan, it's impossible to know whether that's the case. Sherman's responsibilities oscillated from Vernon Davis to Michael Crabtree depending on the alignment, and Julius Thomas is skilled enough to make it possible we'll see similar activity Sunday.
That said, based on the respect the two men have given each other this week, it seems like they're preparing for getting to know each other intimately. Sherman, the dude who told America last week that Crabtree was mediocre and not on the same plane as he, was surprisingly effusive in his praise of Thomas, per Mike Coppinger of NFL.com:
I definitely think he's top five. He put together the type of year and done everything in his power to put himself in that conversation. He's made big catches, he's got a lot of run after the catches, he turns some small plays into huge plays, and I think that he's a great receiver. He's a great competitor, and I'm sure it's going to be a fun night for both of us because we're both intense competitors and good players.
The big concern here, as Sherman notes, is allowing Thomas to get behind him. Thomas is one of the most physically gifted receivers on the planet, a 6'3" piece of chiseled rock able to turn the slightest separation into a touchdown. Sherman is huge and quick in his own right, but he's still not at that level of speed.
Where Sherman holds the advantage here on film, though, is physicality. Thomas isn't a player who likes getting jammed at the line, and he'll often lose his route or get out of position against Sherman-esque bullies. Cian Fahey of Football Outsiders did a nice job of breaking down how Thomas can lose the battle even against the DeAngelo Halls of the world.
The Broncos will probably align their offense so that Thomas is on the offensive left side—Sherman typically aligns on the defensive left—whenever he's Manning's first read. Either way, getting to 76 receiving yards is a ton considering the competition. Even if the Broncos purposely align Thomas across from Byron Maxwell or Walter Thurmond on every play, this seems like an overzealous number.
Will Knowshon Score a Touchdown?
Take: Yes (+250)
This, admittedly, is a bit of a risk. The Seahawks aren't a world-beating run defense the way they are against the pass, but they're still pretty darn good. Football Outsiders' DVOA ranked them eighth against the run during the regular season, and while Colin Kaepernick torched them for 130 yards last week, something tells me they're not going to line Knowshon Moreno up behind center.
In the regular season, Seattle tied Denver for the seventh-best rushing yards against. But it also allowed just four touchdowns, tied with the Panthers for an NFL-low.
The secondary gets the credit. Just don't go thinking the Seahawks aren't among the best handful or so run defenses in the league during their spare time.
So...why bet yes? Process of elimination and a good hunch, I guess. No matter the greatness of Manning and the Broncos' record-setting passing attack, they're not going to be able to just go out and ball on everyone Sunday. Sherman, Earl Thomas and Co. are just too good. And even if the conditions at MetLife Stadium aren't going to be some cold, horrendous blizzard, it's still not going to be ideal.
Weather.com currently has the high temperature set for 38 degrees and the low of 23, with inoffensive weather the days leading up to the game. But that's still cold winter weather. It's not going to be pleasant, especially if the winds decide they want to pick up. The narrative that Manning can't play in cold weather is nonsense, but it would sure help him out if the Broncos could establish a semblance of a running game.
That's where Moreno kicks in. Montee Ball has been a more prominent figure during the postseason, but Moreno is Denver's most consistent and reliable back. With Ball and Moreno both coming in at equal +250 odds to score, it feels like a gimme when deciding between the two.
It's possible that Manning throws down near the goal line and renders this moot. But the Seahawks aren't giving up 50-yard touchdowns. Denver will need to methodically drive, and that gives a far better than 2.5-to-1 odds that Moreno scores in my book.
Pick a Winner, Bet QB for MVP
We're just playing the likelihoods here, people. The last four Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks. Since the turn of the century, only two players not directly tied to throwing or catching the ball (Ray Lewis in 2001 and Dexter Jackson in 2003) have won the award. That means a decade running, someone involved with the passing game has taken home the hardware.
Some will say that's an affirmation of the NFL as a pass-happy league. Others will note that's just voters being lazy and fawning over stats instead of watching the game action. The reality is a combination of both, but that's not why we're here.
Merely looking at recent history eliminates all players 20-1 or higher, though Sherman stands as the one possible monkey wrench. If Manning has a bad game and Sherman gets a pick, he has the narrative strength and possibly enough momentum to carry the vote.
Still, probabilities. That's what you're betting. And, frankly, there is no Bronco other than Manning who seems even remotely logical. The voters won't award Thomas or Wes Welker or Eric Decker if they have a sterling game against this secondary; they'll hand the dude who threw them the ball the hardware. Manning is the most famous football player on the planet, a beloved media figure and just had the best statistical season for a quarterback in history.
It would take a massive aberration for him to not win if Denver does, which is exactly why he's the favorite at 11-10.
Wilson (15-4) is highish odds for a quarterback, and that's mostly related to his uninspiring individual stats of late. He returned to form as a passer during the NFC Championship Game, but we'll be nearly two months removed from his last multitouchdown performance by kickoff. There's was a narrative put to bed last week that the NFL had figured Wilson out, yet he's still a bit of a nerve-racking choice on the surface.
Who wins Super Bowl XLVIII?
One quick point: The Seahawks need Wilson to play well. Denver is quietly one of the league's best run defenses, consistently holding opponents under 100 yards and coalescing at the right time. Where Jack Del Rio's defense can be had is in the secondary, where Chris Harris' injury leaves Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie working with a patchwork crew.
Get a fully healthy Percy Harvin for the first time all season plus Golden Tate? Perhaps Wilson's struggles could disappear at the perfect time.
(odds via Bovada.lv)
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