Saturday, January 24, 2015
Taking Seahawks to Deflate Patriots
Though the offi cial opening line on today’s fray favored the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks by a fi eld goal, the line most of America first saw was ‘pick.’ At press time, a rush of New England money had moved the line to Patriots -1. But before you get caught up in sparring with the pointspread or shopping for the best lines, you may want to ponder this sobering fact: the outright winner of the Super Bowl stands 40-6-2 ATS all-time. That’s right, only six times in the history of the most gambled-on sporting event in America has the favorite on the game straight-up and failed to cover the number. Translation: if you can just pick the winner on the scoreboard, the odds are extremely favorable that you’ll cash a ticket as well. And if today’s battle royal between New England and Seattle stays near the current price range, picking a winner should be easier to fi gure than past Super Bowls. That’s because the combined pointspreads for the previous 48 Super Bowls fi nd the chalk laying an average of just over 7 points per game. Since that isn’t the case here, let’s focus on fi nding the SU winner in what looks to be an evenly matched contest at University of Phoenix Stadium.
COMMONALITY – SB XLIX marks the second consecutive season – after a 20-year drought – that the No. 1 seeds from each conference slug it out for the Lombardi Trophy. As you might expect, both teams arrive with identical 14-4 records. Looking deeper, each squad squared off against five common opponents this season, namely the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers (twice for Seattle), the Kansas
City Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers. Seattle compiled a 4-2 SU and 2-4 ATS mark in those games with the Seahawks winning the stats by an average of 62 yards per game. Meanwhile, New England went 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS against the same foes while losing the stats by 29.6 YPG. Edge: Seattle
HEAD-TO-HEAD – The Patriots are 8-8 SUATS versus the Seahawks since Seattle entered the NFL in 1976. However, the Seahawks hold a 6-2 SUATS edge in the eight most recent series meetings. Edge: Seattle
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING – We’ve all heard that “defense wins championships” and while that statement may require significant research to prove, it certainly holds true on Super Bowl Sunday. Teams with the better defense have won a whopping 40 of the previous 48 Super Bowls, including a 13-3 SU all-time mark for teams possessing the No. 1 ranked overall defense. It just so happens that Seattle’s defense is currently ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL, surrendering only 274 yards per game while allowing a league-low 16 points per contest. The Patriots’ 11th-ranked stop-unit is no slouch but they still give up 341 yards per game (19.5 PPG). New England counters on the offensive front where Tom Brady and company score more points than anyone else in the league, averaging 30 PPG (5 more than Seattle).
This marks just the eighth time in Super Bowl history that a team with the No. 1 scoring defense has faced the team with the No. 1 scoring offense. In the seven previous matchups, the top-ranked defense won six times, including Seattle’s drubbing of Denver last year. And when it comes to another tried-and-true analogy in the NFL – rush the ball, stop the run – 38 of the 48 previous Super Bowl winners
managed to outrush their opponents. Edge: Seattle
LOGISTICALLY SPEAKING – Teams arriving to the Super Bowl off three consecutive home games (New England and Seattle) are 3-6 SU and 3-7 ATS since 2000, including 1-5 SUATS off a win of 6 or less points (Seahawks). Super Bowl favorites of 5 or less points in ‘double rest’ affairs – a week of rest before the first playoff game and week of rest prior to the big game – are 1-8 SUATS (Broncos last year; check the closing line this year). Edge: The Underdog
BEHIND CENTER – To no one’s surprise, both quarterbacks bring terrific QB Ratings into this contest. New England’s Tom Brady finished the regular season as the league’s 5th-ranked signal caller among starting quarterbacks at 97.4 on 33 TDs and 9 INTs. Seattle’s Russell Wilson owned a 95.0 QB Rating, with 20 TDs and 7 INTs. However, the postseason QB Ratings show Brady at 99.8 while Wilson’s
numbers have regressed during the playoffs, down to 81.9. Brady is 1-1 SUATS in his two career starts versus Seattle. Wilson is 1-0 SUATS in his only start against New England. Tom Terrific stands 180-55 SU and 134-96-5 ATS overall in the NFL career, including 20-8 SU and 12-15-1 ATS in the postseason, and 9-4 SU and 10-3 ATS in his NFL career versus NFC West opponents. But some important Brady stats have slipped in recent years. In 2011 and 2012 combined, Gisele’s guy threw for 300 or more yards in 22 games while failing to reach the 200-yards-passing mark only once. Compare that to Brady’s last two seasons where he totaled 12 games with 300+ passing yards… and 15 sub-200-yard outings! Wilson is 42-13 SU and 36-18-1 ATS as a starting QB with the Seahawks, including 7-4 SU and 10-1 ATS in games where Seattle is not favored. His main claim to fame is a sterling 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS mark in games versus Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. However, he’s thrown for 300 or more yards only 5 times in his career while totaling 24 games where he tossed for less than 200 yards. Edge: New England
ON THE SIDELINES – New England’s Bill Belichick, The Man In The Hoodie, who knows nothing about the use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship game, arrives with a 21-9 SU and 13-16-1 ATS postseason career mark, including 3-2 SU and 1-4 ATS in Super Bowl games. Ironically, Belichick replaced Seattle’s Pete Carroll, who left Foxboro after coaching the Patriots from 1997-99. Carroll is 8-4 SUATS in his NFL playoff career and 14-2 SU in games when playing off a SU win and ATS loss. But while he owns a moneymaking 11-5 SUATS mark versus all AFC East opponents, he’s found the going tough against the division’s better teams as evidenced by his troublesome 2-7 SU and 1-6-2 ATS versus AFC East foes with a win percentage of .642 or higher. Conversely, Belichick’s troops tend to step-up in games versus quality opponents, going 52-24 SU and 47-27-2 ATS versus .750 or greater foes behind the former Spygate mastermind.
Edge: New England
SUPER BOWL HISTORY – Defending Super Bowl champions returning to the Super Bowl the following season are 8-2 SU and 6-4 ATS, with six of the ten games playing ‘Over’ the total. • The NFC has controlled the last 33 Super Bowls, going 22-11 SU and 21-10-3 ATS, including 5-1 SUATS the last six years. However, the AFC actually holds the upper and of late, going 10-7 SU the last 17 years.
• 18 of the last 21 winning quarterbacks have owned a QB Rating of 92.6 or better.• Teams who won their last two playoff games against foes that were off a playoff road win (Patriots this year) are 5-8 SUATS, including 2-5 SUATS since 2000. • Teams who score 20 or fewer points in the game are 6-31 SU and 9-34 ATS. Teams who score 21 or more points in the game are 41-12 SU and 37-14-2 ATS.
UPS AND DOWNS – The oddsmakers have done their best job posting Over/Under totals on Super Bowl games. That’s confirmed by the fact that there have been 25 ‘Overs’ and 22 ‘Unders’ in this history of the big game – with no total available in the inaugural game. The big story in the world of NFL Over/Under totals last season took place in nonconference matchups (AFC vs NFC) as these games were an amazing 50-15 to the Over, including last year’s Super Bowl. This year, however, non-conference games played to 33 Overs and 31 Unders. In games in which both teams were off SU wins, though, these same affairs tallied 4 Overs and 7 Unders. Edge: None
THE BOTTOM LINE – We hate to invoke the ‘D’ word here but Seattle’s multi-miracle comeback win over Green Bay last week had ‘team of destiny’ written all over it. And if New England should remain the favorite at kickoff, we’ll never turn down going into battle with an underdog boasting the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense. As a final nod to our tireless Playbook database, we’ll leave you with this recently mined
gem: since 1996, teams who score 40 or more points in an NFL playoff game (Patriots) are 10-17 SU and 3-23-1 ATS in their following game. In what should be a classic battle between East and West here tonight, it’s Seattle – back-to-back.
Marc Lawrence can also be found at Playbook.com - One Click Handicapping