FIWK the NFL: The Big Game

There are two things I love about the Super Bowl. One single, highly competitive game to determine the NFL Champion. And the commercials. Seriously, I love Super Bowl commercials. They're fun, funny and entertaining. Well, not all of them. This poses a big problem for me if I want to drink a few beers (or any liquid for that matter). It's hard to find time to go to the bathroom. I don't want to leave the room during the game, because the game of football is awesome. I don't want to leave during the commercials because I like to laugh. I'm guessing there are other people out there that love the game play and the commercials, so I'm here to help. Step 1: skip the half time show. It always sucks. Step 2: Watch this commercial. Yes, it's cute and funny and good. But more importantly, you will already have seen it. So when the commercial comes on this Sunday, use that opportunity to go to the bathroom while everyone else enjoys the little Darth Vader.

Commercials are such a huge part of the game now. You can even bet on who will have the best commercial. See? Bud Light is the current favorite and Budweiser in a close second and how the hell are those not the same company? And where are all the other beer companies? I mean, they're not even listed. And if Bud Light/Budweiser have such a dominant lead, why spend so much money on multiple Super Bowl commercials? Maybe because they have a little extra cash lying around by adding water to beer then charging the same price...but I'm not bitter about it or anything. Man, that was a horrible, unintentional pun. Taking a look at a few other prop bets available that have nothing to do with football...apparently just betting the over/under length of the national anthem just isn't enough these days. Now you can bet on how long Christina Aguilera will hold the last note, "brave" and whether or not she will wear a cowboy hat. However, there is one prop bet that has been around for a long time that continues to be the stupidest bet ever. The coin flip. Because they took a 50/50 bet and turned it into a pure profit maker for the house. They're going to get half the bettors on one side and half on the other and collect 5% no matter what the result.

As for some legitimate prop bets that I like...the first one I mention is not based on my own analysis, but on reading and listening to people I trust. Heath Miller over receiving yards. I don't know what the number is, but take the over. (Ed. note: 38.5 yards and 3.5 receptions are the two Heath Miller prop bets) Apparently those that analyze things have determined that Heath Miller just matches up well with the Packers defense. You know what, I don't really like any prop bets, so I'm going to point out a few prop bets that I find interesting.
1) Team to receive opening kickoff: Pittsburgh (EVEN) or Green Bay (-130). So Vegas is saying that the Steelers are 30% more likely to win the toss and defer.
2) Result of the first offensive play: touchdown is at 40/1. I remember a few years ago Peyton Manning threw a touchdown to Marvin Harrison on the first offensive play. So I guess this happens more than once every 40 games?
3) First team to get to ten points: Pittsburgh (EVEN), Green Bay (-125), neither team scores ten points (+3000). 30-1 that neither team scores ten points? Hmmmm..... These are two really good defenses...
4) Will the first half end in a tie: Yes (+550) or No (-900). I could definitely see someone kicking a field goal late in the first half to tie the game at ten.
5) Longest touchdown in the game: over/under 43.5 (each -115). Remember when the Tennessee Chris Johnson's played the Kansas City Jamaal Charles's and I thought one of them could get a 30 yard play? Despite Charles' 5.9 ypc day neither got more than 17 yards. And they set the over/under at 43.5? That seems really long. And neither defense likes to give up long plays. So I kind of like the under.
6) Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown: Yes (+140) or No (-170). The odds on Yes used to be a lot better. But with James Harrison's big run two years ago and Tracy Porter's HUGE interception last year, the odds have come way down. This year? I say take No at -170.
7) Will a punt hit the scoreboard: Yes (+650). While I don't think this will happen, I'm surprised there is no option to bet No.

As for the real bets, The Packers are favored over the Steelers by 2.5 and the over/under for the game is 45. Both teams have great defenses with the Steelers taking the slight edge. The Packers have a great offense led by Aaron Rodgers, he of the wrestling championship belt celebration, but Football Outsiders says the Steelers offense is slightly more efficient. The Steelers even have a better special teams. So it was easy for Aaron Schatz to pick the Steelers, right? Well, after seriously stressing how close these two teams are and that it really is 50/50 and taking a deeper look beyond DVOA, he eventually settles on the Packers, mostly due to injuries and uncertainty by the Steelers. But I'm going to disagree. I acknowledge the injuries to a few key Steelers starters can be harmful and that the Packers have a little more team speed in a stadium designed for team speed. I understand why the Packers are favored because I honestly think they are more talented. In fact, that's how I want to describe this game. Talent vs. Grit. The Steelers do the right things to win games, no matter how ugly it may turn out. The Steelers have a much better balance between run and pass while the Packers running game is still questionable or unknown. Both teams can rush the passer and stop the run. And the Steelers are getting a couple points.

I'm predicting that this will be a very close game and there is going to be a moment late in the game with the result very much in the air that the Green Bay or Mike McCarthy is going to make a tiny mistake that you don't even notice at the time. You're going to see it and just pause, thinking "Hmm...that seems strange...but whatever, I guess it's fine." Something like snapping the ball on first down with ten seconds left on the play clock and three minutes left in the game so they are unable to run the clock down to the two minute warning. Or letting Ben Roethlisberger convert a third down very early in a late drive that leads to a score. Maybe an illegal procedure that puts them at second and 9 instead of second and four. You won't notice it at the time because it won't lead to a score or a turnover, but it will happen. And now that you are prepared, you're going to see that play and be ready. The Steelers won't make this kind of mistake and the Packers will. The Steelers cover.


  1. Okay Aaron, what's your postliminary analysis?

  2. Talent won out. Big time. The Packers were the better team and it wasn't even close.

    I remember thinking that Ben Roethlisberger was missing on a lot of throws. He seemed unusually inaccurate all game long, short hopping some ten yard passes and overthrowing others. I wanted to check his stats to back this up, but his completion percentage for this game (25/40 = 62.5%) was actually higher than his regular season (61.7%). This is where I had to go deep and perform some truly spectacular postliminary analysis. The biggest discrepancy between his regular season and his Super Bowl performance that would explain appearing inaccurate, yet finish with a higher completion percentage comes from his yards per attempt. In the regular season he averaged 8.23 yards per attempt. Good for third behind Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. A deep pass is more difficult to complete and many deep attempts would account for a lower completion percentage, but a higher yards per attempt. However, in this game Roethlisberger's yards per attempt were down to 6.6. Since his completion percentage stayed the same, this tells me that he was just as accurate as if he had been attempting many deep passes, but he was only trying to complete shorter passes and hence, the fewer yards per attempt. Roethlisberger was hitting guys at 7-9 yards as often as Rodgers was completing to guys at 10-12 yards.

    For Roethlisberger to execute this strategy successfully, he would need to put up stats like Drew Brees, who only had 7.02 yards per attempt, but completed 68% of them. In last year's Super Bowl, Drew Brees averaged 7.2 yards per attempt and completed 82% of his passes.

    Roethlisberger got away from his successful strategy from the regular season when he looked deep often, let plays develop longer, waited in the pocket longer often had to break a tackle and get outside the pocket before completing a long pass. In the Super Bowl he tried to change to throwing more timing routes, staying in the pocket and throwing before the rush could get to him. Roethlisberger lost this game for the Steelers.

  3. That was indeed some truly spectacular postliminary analysis. In fact, that is my favorite brief but detailed analysis of the QB performances in the Super Bowl that I've read since the game. I'm happy that is on FIWK. Strong work A-ron.

    In retrospect, his egregious miss of Mike Wallace, who was open deep on his way to the endzone, was a good example of what you're talking about. That's a deep throw that if he's accurate on it, his team gets 7 pts and his YPA stat probably looks a lot better.

    On the other hand, what do we make of GB's receiving core (except Jennings) forgetting how to catch? Jordy Nelson was embarrassing on several occasions, and James Jones totally changed the momentum against his team with his horrid drop. Rodgers' stats would have been otherworldly had his receivers caught those balls.