Sunday, January 29, 2012

Robalini's NFL Picks: Super Bowl Edition

Here's my results for week 20
W-L-T record: 1-1
Playoff record: 6-4
Final regular season record: 73-60-7
Total record: 79-64-7

Well, the conference championships have been played, and now, after a 20-week season, the NFL is leading up to the biggest game of the year: the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

Okay, maybe it's not the biggest game, but this year it may be the best post-season bet. And so, as a bonus for Robalini's NFL picks SB XLVI edition, I will lend you my pick for the game...

Pro Bowl

I have a general feeling about betting on pre-season games: if the players playing don't really give a shit who wins, why should I? And that's a good general rule about the Pro Bowl as well, the one major league sport all-star game that just isn't taken seriously. The NFL, for all its marketing successes, has kryponite when it comes to this one, which in no way can match the MLB summer classic or the NBA all-star game. Even the NHL has a better track record.

Of course, that may be slowly changing, thanks to what is probably the best decision made yet by Roger Goodell during his reign over the NFL. It was a modest proposal: play the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl rather than the week after. There were many people (myself included) who thought it was a bad idea before it was tried two years ago: by playing it before the big game, all Super Bowl participants would be ineligible, and thus the talent level at the game would be diluted, leading to an inferior game. But after the game, when viewer ratings came out and were through the roof, Goodell was immediately vindicated. And in retrospect, the results shouldn't have been a surprise. Of course viewers don't want to watch the Pro Bowl the week after the Super Bowl. After the Super Bowl, any game is decidedly anti-climatic.

And so, the new apparent tradition of having the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl enters its third year. This year, the effect on the game is particularly noticeable. The Patriots have eight selections missing the game due to their participation in the Super Bowl. Eight players are nearly 20 percent of the roster. In contrast, the Giants only have two selections who are ineligible. Even worse is the biggest name from each team out of the game. The AFC loses Tom Brady, far and away the best QB in the AFC this year. The NFC loses Eli Manning, who, while proving all season once and for all what a clutch passer he is, isn't missed that much, especially since his replacement is Cam Newton.

It would be pretty tough in any case for the AFC, as the NFC has been stacked far greater with talent all year. But looking at the list of QBs on each team really says it all. For the NFC: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees & Cam Newton. For the AFC: Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers & Andy Dalton. In a game notorious for defenses taking the day off, which group on gunslingers would you trust to really light it up? (And while Rodgers and Brees have been off-the-charts nearly the whole year, it may be Newton who comes up as the game's MVP, as his ludicrous athletic skills are just the kind of playing that dominates a game like this.) Considering all this, it's hard to believe the NFC is only favored by four points. I say give the points and bet on them...

NFC (-4) Over AFC

Super Bowl XLVI

Only a fool would bet against Tom Brady in a big game. So says I, who has voted against Brady and the Patriots in both their playoff games. The result haven't been too bad actually: I lost with Tebow and the Broncos, but 13 1/2 points still was a smart bet, and while the Ravens did lose, they lost by less than a touchdown, and thus I won the bet. But even with my .500 record, it still is a really bad idea to bet against him unless you have a good reason.

In this case, there is a great reason (and not just my obvious hatred of that pretty-boy wuss and his fellow New Englanders.) My feeling (and the feeling of many others) is the Giants have Brady's number. Push comes to shove, expect New York to win in the final two minutes on a Eli Manning TD pass. It's a pretty good bet, especially since Vegas is giving a field goal in the point spread.

The only problem with this: while the Giants are getting three points, they're also a -120 bet rather than the normal -110. To the beginner, that means to win $100, you have to bet $120 rather than $110. To put that in pure mathematical turns, that means the Giants would have to be on the winning side of the bet 6 out of 11 times, rather than 11 out of 21. That's 55 percent as compared to 52 percent, and while that difference seems small, it is a major difference, especially over the long haul.

Simply put, a -120 bet for Giants is a bad bet, period. You're risking too much with a bad opportunity for a return, based on the dynamics of the game. It would be far more worthwhile to give the three points, bet on the Pats and get the even return on your bet. On pure points, I'd side with Brady on this one.

But there's another way...

Rather than bet with points, you could use the Money Line, i.e. betting without a spread but by odds. It's not as popular in football games, but it is common enough. In the case of the SB XLVI, the Giants are +120, meaning that for every $100 you bet on New York, you get $120 in return. In pure math, that means the break even point for NY is winning five out of every eleven games, a winning percentage of 45%. I have more confidence the Giants will win this game 45 percent of the time than I do they'll be within a field goal 55 percent of the time. That's a 10-point percentage shift, a pretty large difference...

New York Giants (+120 ML) Over New England Patriots

All bets are placed at Station Casinos:

To check Las Vegas odds, The Konformist


1 comment:

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Since it was elway would prolly have to pay someone to take it.