The Super Bowl is the gambling mecca of professional sports. Betting exists in all sports—probably even in Olympic curling—but the Super Bowl is where the biggest bets and biggest payouts can be found.
In fact, ESPN's RJ Bell tweets out just what makes the big game a huge event in the gambling world:
Over 90% of money bet on the Super Bowl will come from recreational (non-professional) bettors - via bookmaker Johnny Avello— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 21, 2014
Betting blindly on the Super Bowl is not a good idea. Many of the recreational gamblers will do just that. Without examining storylines or key matchups, these people will place their bets.
In order to properly bet on this Super Bowl, you'll need to understand why the point spread is so close. Each team has different strengths and weaknesses that will play into how this game ends.
Before checking out a few reasons why the line is so close, here's a refresher on the game's most important information.
When: Sunday, Feb. 2, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Betting Lines (via Bovada)
- Over/Under: 47
- Spread: Denver (-3)
Russell Wilson is not Peyton Manning. The second-year quarterback is still learning the position, and he doesn't have anywhere near the experience No. 18 does.
Here's a colorful image from ESPN Stats & Info's Twitter account that displays just that:
Peyton Manning has more than 10 times as many career pass attempts as Russell Wilson pic.twitter.com/lGEilsvaTT— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 27, 2014
Denver might have the advantage in quarterback play, but Wilson's reputation as a big-time gamer helps to keep the point spread close. He is infallible under pressure and demonstrates great poise in the pocket.
Even when plays break down, Wilson doesn't panic. He has the arm strength and mobility to make things happen on the fly. His deep ball is very accurate, and the Seattle Seahawks could surprise the Denver Broncos with a few plays over the top of the defense.
Here's an example of Wilson's mobility and arm strength in action:
Wilson probably won't win the game for the Seahawks, but he certainly won't cost them the game. That's something that helps keep the spread close.
The Legion of Boom
The Legion of Boom can keep the Seahawks in any game.
Seattle's secondary is second to no defensive unit in the NFL. It is so dominant that teams must adjust their game plans prior to facing it. Otherwise, Richard Sherman and Co. will have a field day making the opposing quarterback's life miserable.
Peyton Manning put together the best season as a quarterback in NFL history, but he didn't have to face a secondary this good at any point this year. He's the most intelligent quarterback in the NFL in terms of preparation and in-game audibles, but even he will have a tough time figuring out Seattle's coverage schemes.
Look for Seattle to neutralize at least two of Manning's four receiving threats (Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas). If it can do that, then Denver will have a very tough time running its offense. Manning relies on spreading the ball around and finding the open receiver.
By covering some of his top targets like glue, he'll have no choice but to force passes to some of his other wideouts.
Seattle's "ground-and-pound" mentality gives it an edge in frigid temperatures. It's a lot easier to allow your running back to pick up yards on the ground as an offense when the quarterback may have problems keeping his throwing arm and shoulder warm and loose.
Will Manning struggle in the cold?
The Broncos can certainly run the ball—Knowshon Moreno was one of the biggest breakout stars this year—but they rely on passing the ball downfield and picking up big chunks of yardage.
When you throw in the fact that the Legion of Boom will already be causing Manning some potential hiccups, then it's easy to see how the cold can only make things much, much worse.
Seattle has a ton of factors playing in its favor in this one, and the weather is perhaps the most important. It's out of the Seahawks' hands and far beyond their control, but it may end up being the neutralizing factor in a game between the NFL's two best teams.