Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
The biggest party day of the year is no longer New Year’s Eve, that ended years ago. The biggest party day of the year is Super Bowl Sunday.
I’m putting together my invitations to “The Big Game” (really?) now, and in today’s climate, I am thinking more of whom I DON’T want to be around me during the day rather than the people I DO want to party with. It is in that (mean?) spirit that I put together the following categories I want to be nowhere around me on Feb. 7.
First is anyone who shushes me during commercials. Let me be clear- I DO NOT watch the Super Bowl to see the commercials. I watch the Super Bowl because it is, usually, the two best football teams in the world playing each other. It’s great football, and I like to give what I think is “expert” analysis when the game is not going on. Sadly, for the non-football fans who watch “The Big Game” for the commercials, usually the time the game is not going on coincides with commercials. It’s the time when all of us talk, not a time to pay attention. I don’t care if J-Lo or Justin Beiber or Carrot Top is pitching candy, chips, cars, or beer, or how spectacular the explosions are, the commercials during Super Bowl are as big of a pain in the butt as commercials during “Teen Mom”.
Second is anyone who talks about politics or work during the game. A few years ago, two ex-friends spent the entire first ever Super Bowl overtime arguing over funding for the Clark County School District! Turning up the volume as a subtle hint only made them talk louder, plus makes my wife mad at me. And there is no better way to turn a good day into a bad one than for some fool to bring up the accuracy of the last presidential election.
Third is the mooch who doesn’t bring any food or drink, but is always there for “just one”, or just “just a little” drink or food. My friend’s dad gave me great advice when he told me to, “Knock on my door with your elbows” when coming to his house. Drinking a beer or having some of the six foot sub is a lot like eating a Lay’s potato chip-nobody can eat “just one”.
Fourth is the guy who brings his dog. When did things change and people think I want to see their dog at my house? An invitation to you DOES NOT include your dog, no matter how many false claims he, “doesn’t shed” or, “only poops in his own backyard”. Not to mention this means a miserable day for my old dog that does not want to play and that I can’t leave my sub unattended lest it be gobbled up. Leave your dog at home!
Finally are the people from whom I want to extract revenge. I admit this is possibly due to advanced “cantankeritis” brought on by advancing age. In this group is the neighbor who has a boom box stereo in his car that is already very loud, so he has to turn it up more so he can hear it, and that he warms up for 15 minutes, loud music and all, at 4 a.m. And the guy who blows all the crap off his lawn into the street so everyone can enjoy the crap he doesn’t want on his lawn. And the guy who lets his dog poop on my lawn, but conveniently never has a poop bag. And the guy who has the loud parties. And the guy who needs four German Shepherds that only see the light of day through holes in the fence, but the neighborhood is constantly treated to their barking.
When I apply my list to potential invitees, no one qualifies. So, I’ll watch the Superbowl. Alone. With my dog.
To say my record predicting NFL games this year has been bad is like saying the Titanic had an issue. Luckily, there is only one more game for me to get wrong this year, so here I go (again).
Kansas City and Tampa Bay played each other this year on Week 12. The game was in Tampa and the Chiefs won by 3, 27-24. In that game, Tyreek Hill was unstoppable in the first half, catching three touchdown passes for over 200 yards. Hill didn’t do much the second half, although I would argue he had already done enough. Even though the score was pretty close, Kansas City had a pretty big lead, and my impression was that the Chiefs could have won by more. The total of 51 did not go over the total on that day, and would not go over the Super Bowl number as of now of 56.
Since then, the Bucs have been on a tear. The injuries that plagued Tampa’s receivers and pass rushers have mostly healed. Tampa’s secondary has been opportunistic, and is close to the postseason record for takeaways. The Chiefs have shown an ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks, and Bucs’ QB Tom Brady is prone to throwing the ball to the other team when pressured. And, there’s the Kansas City offense with two weeks to prepare. Don’t forget the Bucs are playing in their home stadium, and since that’s never happened before in Super Bowl history, we don’t know how much a factor that will be.
It’s a tough game to call, and unless you have a stronger opinion than I, you would do best to not bet the game or the total. Because I still like to bet the game, I would instead focus on “prop” bets, because I believe both teams will pressure the other quarterback leading to sacks, interceptions, and the possibility of defensive score(s).
All that being said, I think the old adage, “It’s not who you play in the NFL, it’s when you play them” applies here. Tampa Bay is hot, is playing at home, has an opportunistic defense, and has the best big game quarterback in NFL history. Plus, they’re getting three points. I’m taking the Bucs and the points in a lower scoring game than most “experts” figure.
Every time I take a trip to Las Vegas, my favorite stop along the way is the Death Valley Nut & Candy store in Beatty.
Likewise, my favorite part of every Super Bowl is looking through the prop menus. If, as Jim says, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest party day of the year, a Super Bowl prop sheet is the equivalent of the biggest candy store in the world for football bettors.
And just like in Beatty, when you go to the prop store, you can’t buy just one piece of candy.
I’ve tried throughout the past two weeks to find a hole in the line or an angle I could exploit, but as I go down the list of betting rules I follow, I keep getting stuck on the same one – Never lay points against Tom Brady in the postseason. I violated that rule with the Saints three weeks ago, and I’m still paying the self-imposed penance. I won’t do it again, so even though I don’t love the play, the only way I could bet the game would be to take the Buccs plus the 3 points.
But fortunately, the Super Bowl offers plenty of other ways to get involved without having to pick the winner of the game. Here is a sampling of the morsels I’ve chosen, at the lines they were when I bet them. Prop lines fluctuate rapidly, much more so than pointspreads, and unlike pointspreads they also vary wildly between different sportsbooks, so if you have options, look for the best lines on the angles you’re looking to play.
Under 6 ½ punts (–140): If you think the game is going to be high scoring, as the posted over/under of 56 suggests, then this is a no brainer. But the game could still be fairly high scoring and still go under. But there’s several reasons I like this. I do think both teams are going to score into the 20s, and one of the will probably reach the 30s. A game like that also lends itself to going for it on fourth down a time or two, and in fact, I found a line for a successful 4th down conversion at -350. But even an unsuccessful 4th down conversion means no punt, and I think both coaches are going to try for it on 4th and short.
Successful two-point conversion yes (+210): The more scores there are in a game, the more likely a team will try a two-point conversion, and both of these teams have used creative plays on the goal line. I think chances are greater than 50-50 that someone will try one, and greater than 50-50 that they make it if they do. I’ll take a 2-1 shot that someone makes one.
First team to score 10 or more Buccs (+120): The Chiefs’ MO in big games has been slow starts. I’m betting on another one.
Chiefs second quarter (– 1/2 even): When the Chiefs fall behind, they typically come roaring back. I’m thinking they give up an early score or two, then come back before halftime.
Mahomes over 40 pass attempts (-115): I don’t think the Chiefs will run the ball very successfully, and I don’t really think they’ll try that much. Mahomes threw 31 times against the Browns before getting hurt, and 38 against the Bills, and I think he’ll exceed that rate. He’s thrown 40 or more passes in a game 10 times this season.