FIWK the NFL: Super Bowl

You know what? That picture feels about right. It could be two or three decades old and still perfectly illustrates all the amazing ridiculousness that accompanies the championship game of the NFL. No other championship game gets even close. Everything else feels like an extension of the regular season and playoffs. Even the conference championships feel more like normal games than the Super Bowl. I think it's because of the neutral field and I know it's because of the extra week before the game. Two weeks ago I was looking forward to watching football at home. Now, I'm looking forward to a party that happens to have a football game on at the same time. It's fun and exciting and the commercials are great. It will be good times with friends and squares. I know at one point during the game I will think to myself, "I want this team to settle for a field goal and then the next team to score a touchdown. Then in the next quarter I want them to score 0 or 10 points each." This is a different feeling that does not exist for any other game in any other sport. The Super Bowl is much, much bigger than the championship game of the NFL and yes, that is a very important distinction. I mean, look at the size of that football! And there's a guy with a jet pack!

NY Giants @/vs. New England Patriots (-3): I think the Patriots are technically the home team, but it doesn't matter. I also made sure not to make a home team advantage adjustment either way which actually is important. Football Outsiders appropriately determined that analysis of this game is a sample sizes problem. Do you look at just the regular season when the Patriots went 13-3 and the Giants went 9-7? Do you include the playoffs, or even focus solely on the playoffs? Well I did all three. When looking at just the regular season, you probably already know (assuming you read my previous thoughts on the various playoff teams) that the Patriots are much, much better than the Giants and the Patriots -3 is a steal. The Patriots should beat the negative-point-differential-Giants 73% of the time and the line should be Patriots -7. But looking at the regular season doesn't feel complete. So when adding the scores of the playoff games, the Patriots Pythagorean winning percentage increases from 72% to 73.9% and the Giants increase from 49.1% to 54.6%. Which results in no change to my game prediction. Looking at interceptions, both defenses are about the same, but the Patriots offense does a much better job not throwing interceptions than the Giants offense. My bold prediction for this game is that both teams throw exactly one interception.

But if you really restrict your sample size to three playoff games for the Giants and two playoff games for the Patriots, the Patriots still have a better Pythagorean winning percentage (how do you feel about the acronym PWP or PW%?), but it gets much closer. The Patriots have scored 34 points per game and allowed 15 points per game in the playoffs. The Giants have scored 27 points per game and allowed 13 points per game. The Patriots 87% vs. the Giants 84.6% means the Patriots should be favored by 2.5, which really feels like what the vast majority of the public is thinking. At Patriots -3 most of the money and opinion falls on the Giants. But if that number drops to -2.5, you can just kind of tell that a lot of money is going to come in on the Patriots fast.

Royce really wanted me to discuss a few prop bets, but I really need to distinguish between my analysis and prop bets. Once I start looking at this, I feel significantly less confident and mostly I'm just making shit up. The only prop bet that directly comes from my analysis is the alternate point spread. NY Giants +7.5 is -230 and the New England Patriots -7.5 is +195 and that includes the vig. So the true odds would probably be close to +/- 215 or so. And I think it would be a fair bet to have the Giants +7 at 1-2 or the Patriots -7 at 2-1. And since I tend to like larger sample sizes, I'll take the Patriots -7 at 2-1. You can also get the Patriots winning by 5-8 points at 5-1. And I don't know why, but Tom Brady throwing exactly 16 completions at 50-1 seemed intriguing.

The last thing I looked at was the history of Super Bowls with one team favored by 2.5 or 3. The favorite has won and covered 4 out of 8 times, including the two most recent instances of the Packers beating the Steelers by six and the Ravens beating the Giants by 24. The previous four times all occurred in the 80's with the 3 point underdog winning by at least 10 points. I didn't actually factor any of this in to my analysis, but once you start looking at a sample size of two games, you might as well make up a reason to look at any other groups of games.

My overall guess is that the Patriots have a seven point lead at some point during the 4th quarter. If this is early in the quarter, the score will end up closer. The Giants will get at least one score where the Patriots will be happy to settle for a field goal and/or the win. But if the seven point lead is late in the game, I think that the Giants pressing for a touchdown to tie (instead of settling for a field goal earlier in the quarter), will result in a 3 point game either way. I would not be surprised to see the Giants tie late and then win later. I would also not be surprised if the Giants don't come through in the clutch. At the very least, I'm taking the Patriots -3.


  1. I am taking the Patriots -3 for $500 to get back over even for the year. If that line drops to -2.5, though, I am instantly going in on that for $1,000. You have been notified.

    I am also taking the over of 54 pts for $100.

    Your attempt at prop bets made me sad. Here is my Cousin Sal "Gary Russel Memorial" Prop Bet of the Year (and yes I just made this up):

    Wes Welker will have more receptions on Sunday than Rajon Rondo has assists (-1.5), $50 bet.

    The Celtics are playing the Grizzlies and Rondo is averaging 9.4 apg this season. Lock it down.

  2. Fine, you want come prop bet related analysis. I would go over with Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis (rushing attempts, touches, yards, i don't care) and under on all the Patriots receivers. Tom Brady goes pure West Coast, lots of short passes and yards after the catch spread among many receivers. Running and short passes will reduce the effectiveness of the Giant's pass rush and the rest of the Giant's defense isn't that good.

    The Giants have one receiver that goes off, picking on a weak spot in the Patriot's defense. At least 100 yards and a TD, maybe even 150 and two TDs. My guess is that it's Victor Cruz in the slot and matched up against Julian Edelman, but it could be Hakeem Nicks or Mario Manningham. I think the Giants have both a rushing and receiving touchdown.

    I guess my big thing is that I like prop bets that are at least 2-1 odds. I don't like picking favorite prop bets at -150. That's boring

    And Royce, you don't have $1000 to put on the Patriots -2.5.

  3. I might be a few minutes late, but I put $50 on the Patriots -3 and $20 on Patriots -7.5 at +195.

  4. I lost $70 today. Royce got every bet wrong and lost $650.

  5. I didn't lose just any $650. I lost the entire $650 remaining from my original budget, and have now finished this season at $0. You are welcome.

  6. Royce, that really was the most entertaining part of our new method. We're definitely doing it again next season.

    Also, when you go to Vegas, remember to pace yourself. Leave at least $100 to gamble with on Saturday night.

  7. Hahaha I love how this experience has made you actually concerned for me. Fear not, it will take me at least seventeen weeks plus playoffs to burn through as many poor decisions a second time.

    Although if the NBA futures had been available when I was there in October it might have been trouble for me.

    On the plus side my EPL picks did pretty well this season?