NFL: Liver's 2009 Super Bowl Pick

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NFL: Liver's 2009 Super Bowl Pick

Where did the season go?

It would appear that it is time to bid farewell to another football season. I have to admit it; I’m very depressed over this. You wait almost eight months for the season to begin, and then the next five months go by like a love or judgment induced blur. It’s like a drug, or a woman.

You wait all week for Sunday, make love to it literally all day, have a hangover the next day (hopefully a victory induced one), and get your strength back the rest of the week—only to do it all over again the next weekend. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Football season really is the time of year that makes The Liver sing and breathe. 2009 was an emotional season to be sure, quite possibly one of the most emotional. The Liver is at the height of his powers, picking against the spread NFL winners like a seasoned Vegas sharp, ultimately finishing with a win percentage of over 56 percent.

Had we been in Vegas and could’ve make our bets before kickoffs after ALL injury reports were made public, that number easily jumps over the 60 percent mark.

It’s gotten so good that I can actually handicap the odds on my relationships with women now with astounding accuracy. Take the points and the under by the way.

Texas makes it to the ultimate “What If” game, a.k.a. the 2009 National Championship vs. Alabama, before Colt McCoy goes down early in the first quarter, never to return.

The Dallas Cowboys end their 13 year playoff drought, only to get stopped hard by Minnesota in the divisional round. The future truly is bright, though, for the Dallas Cowboys for the first time in over a decade, and MARK MY WORDS…that is a Super Bowl team in 2010, playing the big game at home for the first time in NFL history.

Football truly is the sport that mirrors life in all its glory and pain. Effort, desire, inches, and luck make all the difference.

Please God, can we just do away with the Pro Bowl? You can’t even blitz the QB! Not even The Liver bets on that game. I literally watched ZERO seconds of it. Obviously some people did, as it garnered the highest ratings ever for a Pro Bowl. Congratulations Roger Goodell, your evil plan worked.

Super Bowl week is definitely the greatest gambling week of the year. So far, the early public money went on Peyton Manning and the Colts, as that’s who John and Jane Q. America (who never bet during the year) think is going to win.

The line opened at Colts laying 5 ½ and actually got as high as six before Saints money started pouring in (an overreaction to Dwight Freeney’s status I say), and the line settled at Colts laying 4 ½.

As far as prop bets go, I love the Colts to score first, and the over for Kim Kardashian shots at five.

I want to thank all that have followed The Liver this season and past faithfully. I’m proud that many of you were able to make mortgage payments based on The Liver’s picks this year.

It takes a lot of work to put these columns together and I really appreciate the loyal following. If this does end up being the final ever Liver post, I don’t want to leave any thanks or appreciation left unsaid.

Special thanks to my weekly nation-wide text friends (Brian the Cowboys fan, Slyrus the Cowboys fan, Brad the Colts fan, just to name a few). You all make my December and January overspending on my monthly nationwide text plan worth every penny. I could do without the fights/make-ups with girls via texts during games though.

Chris the Steelers fan (my dear friend and long suffering roommate, or is it the other way around?) This man truly knows the highs and lows that come with dealing with The Liver during football season. A monument might be an insult for you.

Eric the Lions fan; thank you again for allowing The Liver to go to THREE highly emotional winner-take-all games (one Texas National Championship game, and two Dallas Cowboys playoff games) in the span of 10 days at your humble, soundproof, and shatter-free abode.

Hopefully next season The Liver will be posting his picks to all of you while living in Vegas with a $250,000 stake that he will turn into a cool million by season’s end.

Football, women, and the painful knowledge of my own mortality have a way of getting to me, for better AND for worse.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I will always remain three steps and three drinks ahead of the world. It can be a frightening, lonely place that frequently scares those that you love, but it can also be a place of great peace and comforting wisdom even when everything around you is disintegrating.

I will say this and I mean it from the heart to ALL OF YOU…do whatever it is you want to do that makes you happy. Life really is too short. Don’t f**k around and make excuses…DO IT. Because when you’re dead…you’re dead for a long f**king time.

I leave you all with this from one of The Liver’s top five favorite films of all time…

“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain...Time to die.” Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in Blade Runner

Of course, it goes without saying that the following pick AGAINST THE SPREAD are for RECREATIONAL USE ONLY.

Only Rick Pitino, LeGarrette Blount, Donte’ Stallworth, Braylon Edwards, Bob Griese, Miguel Cabrera, Tila Tequila, Bill Belichick, Steve Phillips, Travis Henry, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Tony Romo, Elizabeth Lambert, Mariah Carey, Tiger Woods, Richard Heene (a.k.a. Balloon Boy’s father), the Liver’s biological father (a.k.a. The Most Interesting Man in the World), and all Somali Pirates would be drunk enough to question the Esteemed Liver's pick.


Final 2009 record against the spread (regular season and playoffs):  146-113-7 (.563)


Sunday, February 7

Super Bowl XLIV

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts (-4 ½)

At first I was surprised that the line was so high, but then when you consider that the Colts have won EVERY game this season where their starters have played, and the Saints were just insanely lucky to win against the Vikings, maybe it’s not so surprising.

If the Vikings don’t turn the ball over five times, they win that game. If the Saints don’t win the coin toss in OT, the Vikings win that game.

Then again, maybe Vegas is reading too much into that. Usually a line that opens between five and six points means that even Vegas isn’t quite sure how the game is going to play out. Now it’s down to four and a half.

I don’t think there’s any question about who has the advantage at QB here. Drew Brees was the runner-up in the MVP for a reason. That’s because his opponent is better.

Both teams can score, but defense and the run game will determine the winner here.

Can the Saints pass rush beat the living hell out of Peyton Manning as they have Kurt Warner and Brett Favre so far in these playoffs? Warner has since retired, and Favre is…well, you know about Brett and retiring.

If Gregg Williams hopes to duplicate the Saints pass rush success in the playoffs, he’ll have to send six man blitzes at Manning and limit his time in the pocket. Even with a blitz heavy defense, Manning still has a QB rating of over 100 against the blitz this season.

New Orleans needs to save those blitzes for the fourth quarter, not the first. Just ask the Jets. They blitzed the hell out of Manning in the first quarter, then Manning figured it out in the second, and the Colts won going away.

Neither team can stop the run effectively. The Saints have to force the Colts to run the ball, their weakness on offense, if they hope to stay in the game. The Saints have the better run offense, and should have some success against a bend-but-don’t-break Colts run defense.
 
Injury-wise, the Colts are far more banged up then the Saints. Dwight Freeney’s questionable status has been the big story obviously. Even if he does play, he’s got a torn ligament in his right ankle, so he’ll be a decoy at best, and certainly won’t command a double team.

I still think that it is a possible gambling red herring that has brought Saints money in on this game.

The speed of the Colts defense in the red zone is fast, so New Orleans must score TDs and not settle for field goals. The Colts can win this game without big plays; the Saints can’t. The Colts can win scoring in the 20s; the Saints have to score 30 to win.

Coaching-wise, you have to love Sean Payton over Jim Caldwell, especially with Payton’s creativity in the red zone, and the fact that Caldwell still doesn’t seem to have a beating pulse.

I think pulling the starters in Colts/Jets I might have been the best thing for Colts fans so they could actually hear the man speak. If the Colts win, does the Gatorade bath fall on an invisible umbrella Caldwell has over his head?

I hate betting against Peyton Manning though, especially this season. I’ve gone back and forth with this at least NINE TIMES this week, but after listening to some Vegas insiders, I can’t bet against Peyton Manning here. He’s playing for his legacy, history, and a guaranteed spot in the Top five QBs ever to play the game discussion.

I, like many other football fans, thought as early as five years ago, that he was the ultimate choke artist, and that he would never win a Super Bowl.

Now, he’s in a zone unlike any QB you’ve seen over the last 10 years not named Tom Brady, and he has a chance to possibly surpass Brady as the QB of his generation.

Now, he makes me question myself when I question his ability to win big games. We might be watching one of the greatest athletes of our time at his peak. The only other athlete I can think of that can compare to Manning if he wins this is Michael Jordan when he was at his peak. You just couldn’t bet against him and feel good about it.

Then you have these stats, which are against the spread (ATS) trends for the Colts:

Colts are 5-0 ATS in their last five games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.

Colts are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine games as a favorite outright.

Colts are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a ATS win.

Those numbers don’t lie. Neither does Manning right now. Much like a chazzer is a pig that don’t fly straight. I snuck in the first of my bi-annual Scarface viewing last week so you understand. Hey, it could be worse…it could’ve been the first of my bi-annual Godfather I and II viewing.
 
The only question that will remain after this game is “Could the Colts have gone 19-0?”

Straight up and against the spread…Pick: Colts

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