Every week, when I do the "Best Bets" post, part of the process is going back to the previous week's "Best Bets," gathering the data, and cutting and pasting my revised ongoing record for the season.
As you can gather, if you've been betting my picks this season, that's been a painful process this year. I'm frankly going to be relieved more than anything else once the Super Bowl is over on Sunday
and I inevitably get that pick wrong, too.
Seriously, now I know how the Texans felt playing out the string in December. Gambling, like football, is supposed to be fun.
This has been the 2-14 of wagering seasons for me.
So let's get this over with...
First, a few prop bets that I like for this weekend's extravaganza:
1. Peyton Manning UNDER 290 1/2 passing yards I think this game could go one of three ways with respect to Manning -- 1) Manning slings the ball all over the field and rains down yards and touchdowns on the Seahawks, 2) the Broncos play ball control and run the ball and grind out a win (or a close loss), or 3) the Seahawks bottle up the Broncos and contain Manning. Of those three scenarios, I think the first one is the least likely, especially in the cold. Manning has a 56 percent completion percentage in cold weather (below 40 degrees) playoff games.
2. Marshawn Lynch OVER 21 1/2 rushing attempts Marshawn Lynch is the quintessential "running back who gets better the more you feed him the ball," so unless this game gets crazy sideways on Seattle early (which I don't see happening) and they have to abandon the run, I think even a slow start by Lynch would still see them feeding him the ball until he busts something. (See: San Francisco game, Lynch's 40-yard touchdown run in the second half.)
3. Total penalties both teams OVER 12 1/2 Between the Seahawks' propensity to clutch and grab, an inevitable downfield shot that gets a P.I., a few "OMAHA"-induced offsides, a possible roughing the passer or two, and the usual combination of adrenaline and testosterone that has guys all amped up, I feel pretty confident in this one. Potential "GambleCast" fantastic finish on this prop bet would be a late game unsportsmanlike conduct on a garbage touchdown in a blowout.
(NOTE: "GambleCast" is my mythical network that attacks every game from a gambling perspective and on which the announcers have money on every prop bet and the outcome of the game.) 4. National anthem UNDER 2 minutes 25 seconds -140 Renee Fleming is singing the national anthem. She's an opera singer who I had no idea existed before she was chosen to sing the national anthem. You know who also had no idea Fleming existed before she was chosen to sing the national anthem? YouTube. I know this because there is literally no footage of Fleming singing the national anthem. So unlike previous years, where singers like Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera were performing and there were literally dozens of prior anthems archived on the web, we are flying blind on Fleming. So I'm going to assume that the books have baked 10 to 15 extra seconds into the line to account for her "opera" background and the propensity for opera people to love the sound of their own voices. Just realize, 2 minutes and 25 seconds is a really long time.
5. Russell Wilson MVP +400 If I like the underdog to win the game (and we are building up to my game prediction, as you can probably sense), I will usually take their quarterback to win the Most Valuable Player award instead of taking their team on the moneyline. Better value, and quarterbacks are usually the default for MVP regardless of who wins.
Which brings me to the game itself...
I'm taking the Seahawks, and here's why. I think in the Broncos' first two playoff games, they were able to wear down teams with average front sevens and take advantage of the altitude. Well, this game is being played at much lower altitude, in a neutral site and against a team that has six really good defensive linemen they rotate, an outstanding set of linebackers, and the best secondary in football. For Seattle, I think the key is the return of Percy Harvin and I don't think that Harvin needs to make a big play for the Seahawks to win. I just think he needs to be on the field, because the threat of Harvin is almost as valuable as actual plays from Harvin.
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FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 23, Broncos 20
BEST BET: UNDER 48
Last week: 0-2 Season record: 44-69-4