…And then there were two. You know it’s Super Bowl Week because the NFL gave us a practice Sunday to figure out what to do with ourselves without football for the next six months. But that’s next Sunday’s problem. This week, we’ve got the “Game to Determine the Annual League Champion” on tap! (You dig that title I came up with? “Super Bowl” feels played out. All these Roman numerals are getting complicated. Let’s see if it catches on.)
For 30 fan bases, casual fans, and those tuning in for the commercials, it’s about more than a football game. It’s about drinking heavily, eating snacks for dinner, and calling in sick on Monday when everyone knows you’re hungover, but no one cares because everyone else is, too. On top of that, it’s also about betting hard-earned money on complete nonsense. Coin flips, how long it takes to sing the national anthem, colors of liquid dumped on the winning coach? C’mon. All nonsense. What we’re going to prepare you for are all of the profitable bets you can make, either legally or “for fun” at your Super gathering of choice.
Standard disclaimer – Super Bowl Betting Lines
All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines for the Super Bowl Betting Lines.)
Additional Disclaimer – Prop totals can vary significantly, especially for Super Bowl Betting Lines. If you’re legally wagering, as always, shop around for the best number.
Last Week Accountability
The playoffs have been a cruel mistress this year. Two four seeds in the Big Game? The worst combined regular-season record for two Super Bowl participants ever? In the immortal words of Vince Lombardi, “What the hell’s going on out here?” Two QB’s who had a combined playoff record of 0 – 3 coming into these playoffs went 6 – 0 in these playoffs. Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass Hysteria! – Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters, 1984
Cincinnati at Kansas City – “I can’t go against the Chiefs right now. They’re too hot and historically too good in the playoffs to fade.”
All of which was true, for about 29 minutes and 55 seconds of the first half. Then things got wonky. I don’t have a problem with Andy Reid going for the touchdown there. He’s got the best QB in the league out there. He’ll certainly know the ball HAS to be thrown into the end zone or out of bounds, not into the flat where the receiver can be easily tackled and have the clock run out before they can kick a field goal to end the half up three touchdowns. Right? He knows that, right?
I’m 1000% convinced Mahomes’ hero ball antics to end the game and in OT were a direct result of his brain cramp decision at the end of the first half. Sorry if I’m reopening the wound, Chiefs fans. At least your team didn’t lose without giving up an offensive touchdown.
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams – “I think this time the Rams keep their foot on the gas and polish off their rivals.”
Unfortunately, the Rams never put their foot on the gas until the start of the fourth quarter, and we got taken down by the hook. Such is life.
Last week: My picks: (ATS) 0 – 2, (SU) 1 – 1; Analytics: (ATS) 0 – 2
Season: My picks, (ATS) 75 – 79 – 1, (SU) 7 – 5; Analytics, 74 – 77 – 4
Super Bowl Betting Lines
Game of the Week of the Year
Cincinnati at Los Angeles Rams – Analytic Line: LAR (-5.5), Vegas Line: LAR (-4), PL: KC (-3.5)
I’ve gone against the Bengals every step of the way during these playoffs and been wrong at each step, but I’m going back to the well. This is all about the home field for me. So-Fi Stadium is not normally a significant source of home-field advantage for the Rams. It’s big, it’s sterile, and they just moved to a market that has never been hot for NFL football, so they have a relatively minuscule, non-rabid fan base.
In addition, the Bengals get as many tickets allocated for their fans, and what’s left are mostly NFL-partner corporate giveaways, most of whom will be backing the underdog Bengals. So there’s a small number of actual home team fans there relative to a regular-season home game. All that being said, this isn’t about in-game home-field advantage. This is “being home for the most non-normal game week imaginable” advantage.
While the Bengals spend an entire week on the road, the Rams are practicing at their own facility and sleeping in their own beds. While the Bengals are waiting out an hour-long halftime, the Rams are chilling in their own locker room. As much as everyone wants to say, “This is just another game.”, it’s not just another game. It’s completely unlike any game most of them have ever played before, as there’s little previous Super Bowl experience among the players in this year’s game.
The advantage in “normalness” should serve the Rams well. Oh, and Aaron Donald is going to wreck the Bengals O-Line. That’s a thing that will happen, too. Cinci gave up nine sacks to the Titans and still won because Ryan Tannehill threw three astonishingly bad interceptions. You might (should) get one from Stafford, two on a bad day, but hoping for three is asking too much, …probably. Just ask Jaquiski Tartt.
Rams 27, Bengals 19, Under 48.5
1st Quarter – Under 10 Points (-170)
Love this number. Both teams started slowly in their respective Championship Games, combining for three 1st quarter points. In the last 11 Super Bowls, the eventual loser has scored either 3 or 0 points in the 1st quarter. Many books have moved this number down to -9.5, which I obviously like significantly less, but I would still take the under if that’s the only number available.
Total Game Sacks – 7 or More (+250)
Probably my favorite number. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Rams hit this total by themselves, and the Bengals are no slouches at getting to the QB, either.
Aaron Donald to Record a Full Sack – Yes (-200)
I don’t love the -200 juice, but I expect multiple sacks from Donald, so this still feels like free money.
Cincinnati Exact Field Goals – 4 or More (+850)
From my final score prediction, you can see that I’m on the Bengals kicking a lot of FG’s. Evan McPherson has been on fire the entire playoff run, I think the Rams play bend, don’t break defense, and +850 is too juicy a number not to lay a unit or two on.
Cincinnati Total Field Goal Yardage – Over 60.5 (-115)
Correlated to the number of FG’s above. If you think they kick more than one, which I do, this is an easy one. Doubling down on Money McPherson.
Cincinnati Total Touchdowns – Under 2.5 (-140)
Another correlation. If they’re kicking all those field goals, they’re not scoring touchdowns.
First Touchdown Scorer – Cooper Kupp (+500)
Kupp is an insane -190 to score an anytime TD, so it’s an easy pivot to the plus money 5 to 1 odds to score the first.
Team to Score the Most Touchdowns – LA Rams (-130)
The Rams are -200 on the Money Line, so since scoring more TD’s is highly correlated to winning the game (thanks, Captain Obvious), I’ll take the significantly lighter juice on this line instead.
Most Valuable Player – Aaron Donald (+1600)
Yes, quarterbacks win this award most of the time, but defensive players have won the MVP in 9 of the 55 Super Bowls. That works out to about once every six years. The last time it happened? Six years ago, when Von Miller won it in Super Bowl L (AKA 50). We’re not only due for it to happen. We get the best player in the game, in his second Super Bowl (following a poor performance in his first appearance), in his home stadium, with a really tasty matchup. I’ll take those 16 – 1 odds all…day…long.
Enjoy the game, everyone, because the void beckons!