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Best of Gary Trask
Top-10 Super Bowl betting facts and figures1 February 2010
History was never one of my favorite subjects in school. But one thing I've learned over the years as a sports bettor is that you have to consider what has happened in the past if you want to try and predict the future.
No, past results don't always repeat themselves in the NFL, or any other sports league for that matter. Sports betting brings a human element into the equation, meaning anything can happen at any time, no matter what history says.
But it's always worth looking at past track records. It's why you grab a racing form when you enter the horse track. You want to see what these ponies have done in recent history, and also how others in similar situations have fared.
So, before you do your duty as an American sports fan on Sunday and make sure you have "an interest" when the Colts and Saints finally tee it up in Super Bowl XLIV, here are 10 things to consider and remember. And we had a couple of respected bookmakers in Las Vegas comment on a few of our facts and figures. Hopefully, reading these items will in some way help your bankroll expand, rather than deflate, come Sunday night.
10. The public is expecting fireworks
Despite this unusually high total, money is still pouring in on the over.
"We have it at 56 and a half and I don't see this number going anywhere but up," said the Director of Race and Sports at M Resort in Las Vegas Mike Colbert, who added he wouldn't be surprised if the state of Nevada breaks the Super Bowl record for the amount of money wagered on the game this Sunday. "I don't think we've taken a single bet on the under and if we have, it wasn't a significant one. I actually lean to the over myself because I think the Saints are going to score and Peyton Manning, of course, is going to find a way to put points on the board."
Only six Super Bowls have seen 60 points or more put up on the board and just seven of the previous 43 Super Bowls have had a total higher than 50, with the over coming in three times. When last year's game went over, it snapped a streak of four straight Super Bowl unders and overall we've seen six unders in the last 10 years. Before that, the Super Bowl was trending toward the high-scoring side with 11 overs out of 15 between 1985 and 1999.
9. The Saints aren't used to the underdog role
"I think the line will finally settle at around six, but I would have thought as high as seven before the Freeney info," Vaccaro told us on Monday. "At one point we had it at six and it got bet back down pretty quickly. I think if it's announced on Saturday that Freeney is going to try and play, we might get some late action on the Colts again. Freeney isn't a Lawrence Taylor or Troy Polamalu type of player where he can affect the line by a point or two. But he's close."
Meanwhile, Colbert had the line at 4.5 on Monday, the lowest of any book in town, or offshore.
"We're the only ones in the world that have this game under 5 right now," said Colbert, an employee of Cantor Gaming, which handles the sportsbook at M Resort and the "in-game betting" at The Venetian and Palazzo. "I really think that by kickoff, everyone may come back to us and have this game at 4.5."
Either way, New Orleans will be the underdog and that puts the Saints in unfamiliar territory. If you take away the last game of the regular season when the Saints were resting their starters and were listed as a nine-point underdog to Carolina, New Orleans has not been an underdog all season.
In fact, the Saints – long known as "The Aint's" – have been a dog just 10 times in the last three seasons – a span of 50 games – and have only been catching five points or more twice during that same span. Ironically, one of those games in which the Saints were a big underdog was the season-opener in 2007 against the Colts, who prevailed 41-10 as a 6-point favorite.
8. New Orleans has been eating money
New Orleans started the season with six straight covers and rewarded their backers in eight out of their first 11 games. But since tearing apart New England in that huge Monday Night Football game back on Nov. 30, New Orleans has covered just once, the divisional playoff game against Arizona. So the Saints will come into Sunday's game on a 1-6 slide where it counts the most.
7. The Colts have been pointspread darlings
6. 21 is an important number
But since many observers believe both of these teams will get up and over that 21-point plateau on Sunday, we researched this trend even further and found that when both Super Bowl participants score 21 points or more, the favorite is 5-5 all-time, but is winless at 0-5 the last five times it happened, including last year when the Steelers (-7) beat Arizona, 27-23, and failed to cover.
5. 30 is a key number for Indy
If the Colts want to win and cover on Sunday they'll likely have to do slightly better than their season average since during the last 20 years Super Bowl favorites that score less than 30 points are 3-11 against the spread. One of those three victories, however, was the Colts in Super Bowl XLI when they beat the Bears, 29-17, as a 7-point chalk. Adding more credence to this trend is that the Colts are 7-1 against the number when they score 30 points or more this season. But keep in mind, the Saints only allowed more than 30 points twice this season.
4. Comebacks are rare
But one thing we haven't seen much of on Super Bowl Sunday is come-from-behind victories. Teams that hold a first-quarter lead have won the Super Bowl 22 out of 32 times and the team that leads at the half is 33-8. So keep this in mind if you happen to be doing some "in-game" betting this Sunday.
3. Dogs have been barking
2. Is a moneyline bet the smart play?
That, however, has changed in recent years as three of the last six Super Bowl losers have been winners at the betting window. This year the Colts are around -220 on the money line, even though they are a 5.5 favorite.
"Usually a favorite like that is around -260 or -270 on the moneyline," Colbert said. "A lot of people that like the underdog in the Super Bowl tend to play the moneyline. And people who like the favorite tend to just lay the points. But I think if you like the Colts there is a lot of value in betting the money line."
1. The Saints are the "value" bet
I can understand why the Colts are the favorite. They have been impressive all season – particularly in the playoffs – and deserve to be the chalk. But I do not think Indianapolis is a touchdown better than the Saints. And neither does Colbert.
"If this wasn't the Super Bowl, Indy would probably be around a 2 and a half or three-point favorite," he said. "But this is the Super Bowl. The public is betting Indy, because the public always loves the favorite."
The only reason this number is so high is that the public always fixates on what it saw last. And the last time we saw these two teams, the Colts were taking apart a very good Jets defense in the second half of the AFC Championship and the Saints were lucky to beat the turnover-happy Vikings. Quite frankly, the line on this game is inflated and even though I hate to go against a guy like Peyton Manning when he is clicking on all cylinders, I simply can not make the overlay and bet the Colts.
Instead of dwelling on the NFC Championship Game, I'm calling for Sean Payton to get his team geared up to play like he did against the Giants after a bye week on Oct. 18th in a battle of undefeated teams, a game New Orleans won easily 48-27. I'm expecting to see the Drew Brees I saw back on that aforementioned Monday Night Football showdown in which he and his team dominated New England, 38-17. And don't forget the near perfect game the Saints offense played just two weeks against Arizona in an impressive 45-14 victory. If we see anything close to that kind of methodical performance from the Saints, they surely won't get run over by mighty Indianapolis.
My humble advice? (And by "humble" I mean tread lightly since last year at this time I suggested playing the Steelers minus the points). Take the Saints plus the points, and don't be afraid to grab that moneyline at +190. As far as I see it, the Saints will come marching in on Sunday and the party on Bourbon Street will be like Mardi Gras on steroids. New Orleans wins Super Bowl XLIV, 31-23.
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