Super Bowl picks: You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
This Sunday is the last football Sunday of the year. And if last weekend tv was any indicator, we’re in for some bad Sunday TV watching times ahead.
Instead of football last weekend, I watched the NHL’s “skills competition”, the NHL All-Star Game, and the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
Man, I guess I better pray for some better weather so I’m not stuck inside watching “sporting events” like these, with the addition of golf.
In the NHL Skills Competition, I was treated to watching Alex Overchkin’s 4-year old son toddling down the ice in ankle-breaking style. I got to see good NHL hockey players not playing hockey, but shooting pucks at a golf green and then using hockey sticks to attempt to putt a golf ball into the hole. I saw guys in bare feet shooting hockey pucks at surfboards. I saw hockey players trying to be funny by dressing up and shooting (not hard) at a poor former goalie who has been retired for several years. And I saw LOTS of commercials, so many I thought for sure I was really watching a cable reality show or CNN. By the end of this “extravaganza” I was making use of my clicker to check such must see TV as Home Shopping and the 400th replay of “Chopped”.
The All Star game itself was certainly an exhibition of the great skills of the players, but it wasn’t hockey. There were only three skaters on the ice for each team, and body checking, shot blocking, as well as hockey strategy, all seemed to be prohibited. Also, there were way more laughs and smiles from the players during the game than competition.
The NFL All Pro game is now a flag football game. And the NFL is always willing to capitalize. I saw an ad on TV that there were still tickets available to the game for “only” $35. Thirty-five dollars to watch flag football from the rafters!!?? Are you kidding me? The people there, to me, merely proved P.T. Barnum was correct. If you like flag football (which is NOT real football) I suggest you check out the High School Girls Flag Football League, which is a varsity sport in Southern Nevada. There is a great deal more intensity and passion.
Mixed in, there were competitions where really big guys had to unload some weights off of a platform and then drag the one ton platform 10 yards. There was a competition where long snappers were attempting to long hike a ball way up a wall. In NFL games, it’s generally a bad thing when your long snapper hikes it really high and far, but Sunday, the farther, the better. There was one match where NFL wideouts were jumping on trampolines and attempting to catch one or two footballs while spinning in midair. I remember my kids doing the same thing on our trampoline in the backyard when they were 10, with just as much excitement and more commitment. And of course, there were lots of cheerleaders, not one of whom looked like most of the women I see at Walmart (my wife asked me if I own a mirror after she proofread this).
If I got bored with the two All-Star “extravaganzas”, I could, and did, turn on golf, and watch Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen play golf instead of football. It’s interesting to me that Josh Allen claimed he was too injured to participate in the no contact flag football game but was fine to play 54 holes of golf. No worry, his place was taken by the first time all-star Tyler Huntley, who became an all star this year by playing in only 6 games and throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. But I would compare watching professional golf on TV to watching paint dry if all the paints were named Jordan or Justin. At least we don’t have to listen to the phony sound of the ball in the cup anymore, but we still, for some reason, get the close up of the ball in the air. And of course, we’ll never escape the whispering, on course commentators.
To sum up, I am praying for an early spring so I can play, not watch, golf. Until the NCAA Tournament, there’s not much on TV. We had football, and after Sunday, we won’t. As Joni Mitchell sang in the ‘70’s song, “Big Yellow Taxi”, sometimes, “…you don’t know what you got till it’s gone”.
Luckily, we have this week-Super Bowl Sunday! Squares, prop bets, and over/unders are part of all of our lexicons for a week. Generally, statistically, the Chiefs are better on offense and the Eagles are better on defense, and everyone knows defense wins championships. The Eagles are mostly healthy but the Chiefs have several injury concerns, most notably their QB and all their wideouts. Both teams enter the game with identical 16-3 records, but the Eagles have been much more impressive lately and have been better against the point spread. Both the Las Vegas bookmakers and the public seem to like the Eagles. Both teams are better than last year, but the Eagles seem to be far better than they were before. Sportsbettingdime.com says Philadelphia’s chances of winning are 52.7%. Everything seems to be pointing Philadelphia’s way.
Not so fast, at least, not this year. I think the Chiefs will win. See you next year.
A friend from Southern Nevada texted me this week with a question? “How are the Eagles down to -1 ½ when nobody I’ve talked to is betting the Chiefs?” Setting aside that I’m not sure I agree with the premise, if you believe in the reliability of sportsbook statistics, 62 percent of the total bets on the point spread and 66 percent of the money have been bet on the Eagles, according to Wager Talk. Covers.com reports 65 percent of total tickets on the side have been bet on the Eagles.
That makes this one of the few times in the past six years that the Chiefs haven’t been the most popular bet, and not coincidently, this is just the 10th time in his career that Patrick Mahomes has been an underdog. In the previous nine times, his record against the spread is 7-1-1.
Fundamentally, I think this game comes down to the two quarterbacks. I question how effective Jalen Hurts can be if he’s forced to throw on third and long – by metrics he ranks 27th in the league in that category. But I also question how successful the Chiefs can be in consistently getting him into those situations.
The Chiefs lead the NFL in yards per game and points per game, and the Eagles rank third in both categories. Both teams rush the passer extremely well, with the Eagles leading the league with 70 sacks, and the Chiefs putting up a very respectable 55. Thus, it’s kind of surprising to me that the Eagles are -130 to have the most net yards in the game, -170 to have the most time of possession and -160 to run more offensive plays, when the money line on the game, which is literally the price to score the most points, is -125.
I think the prices on those yardage, time of possession and number of play props are overpriced compared to the game line, and offer a slight value to the Chiefs.
Also, based on how I view the game playing out, I see the Eagles being aggressive on early offensive downs to try to avoid third and longs, and that lends itself to a couple of other prop bets:
A.J. Brown over 72 ½ receiving yards: Brown is the Eagles’ big-play receiving threat, but he’s also capable of putting up yards by volume as well as explosiveness. I think the Eagles are going to use their RPO game on early downs, and end up throwing the ball more than they have so far in the playoffs. So along with that, I’ll also take…
Devonte Smith over 5 receptions: I liked this better at 4.5, but I’ll still bet it at 5 with a plus price, +110. Smith is the Eagles’ leading receiver by receptions, and Brown is their leader by yardage.
Ultimately, if the game comes down to the two quarterbacks, I’d rather have my money on Mahomes, who has proven he can pull out a late win in clutch situations, over Hurts, who hasn’t been relied upon in these playoffs and so has never had to carry a team to a victory in a game like this. I’ll take Chiefs +1 ½ and throw a peanut on Chiefs -3 1/2 at +185.