LAS VEGAS, NV – Let’s be honest, nobody is looking to read anything other than something about the Super Big Game (exhale Short Matt), specifically the numbers, whether it be for your pools, boxes, bookies or whatever. So… Today’s Total (54) is down a tick from 55 early last week as my opinion had the over/under number at least three points too low. Lines-makers base their point spreads on public perception, with the goal of even play on both sides as the house takes the 10% vig on losing bets. These guys are great at what they do and there is a reason why the “numbers” are where they are. The over seems to be the popular bet if you listen to everybody’s predictions. Mysteriously however, the one-point dip in the total signifies money placed on the under, despite the offensive prowess of both teams and Lucas Oil Stadium’s fast track – home to the NFL Combine. When something looks too good, do some research and critical thinking. I’ve come up with this:
Hearing almost zero talk about each team’s running games, and rightly so when you have a Manning and Brady slinging the ball all over the place, ground yardage will definitely be there for the Patriots and Giants if they boldly deviate from their offensive bread ‘n butter. Both run defenses give up 4.5 yards a clip in an NFL where rules favor passing attacks. The difference between the two teams is how they run the ball—NY an anemic 3.5 per and NE at the desired 4 per carry. With NE threatening dime packages on defense enticing the run to minimize big pass plays and the team most likely to tweak their offensive game plan featuring more rushes themselves, favors the under.
Having two weeks to prepare (or illegally video his opponent), I can see Bill Belichick running a four-minute offense – or longer – at each half’s end to play keep away from Eli “The Two-Minute Assassin” Manning. Big Blue fans will remember a certain Defensive Coordinator giving Buffalo running lanes all game before Norwood’s famous miss in XXV. The Giants and Kevin Gilbride are much less likely to change an offensive game plan that only runs out of necessity and is just about the worst short yardage offense I’ve ever seen. An “Omaha” audible is always a run and unsuccessful at that.
As diverse as the Patriots offense is, a lot of what they do runs through Rob Gronkowski and his injury slows them down just a bit and only helps keeping the score down. New England’s other TE, Aaron Hernandez, is also an athletic load and there’s little doubt in my mind he will attempt an option pass lining up out of the backfield. If you can find a prop bet on this, jump all over it! Factor in both teams boasting punting specialists capable of turning any game into a field position battle and Under 54 is a heavy $election.
As for game action, I like a competitive perfectionist at quarterback motivated to rid the bitterness of 18-1 four years ago and the emotion of a team who lost an influential part (Myra Kraft) of their team. NE (-3) score: 31-19.
Tomorrow, West Coast Craig will have a play by play account of the Big Game. Or not.