NFL 2012: Super Bowl

This is what it all comes down to.  The whole enchilada.  The supreme burrito.  The crepe de points.  The winners are forever immortalized as the greatest players ever and the losers might as well retire.  I mean, after this game either Colin Kaepernick or Joe Flacco will be identical to Peyton Manning and the loser will basically be Rex Grossman, because Super Bowl victories are the only thing that matters, right?

The biggest problem for me coming Sunday is I don't know where my emotions will lie.  In the past, my emotions align with my picks pretty well.  But this Sunday, I will be watching the game with a large number of people, and (n-2)/n% will be 49ers fans.  [That is, only me and my daughter aren't 49ers fans...(shut up Scott, I won't be having any of that.)]  And I know that I would probably have a good time aligning my rooting interest with the rest of the room.  I mean, I have no problem going totally contrarian and being the only guy cheering when the rest of the room is groaning...and maybe I can get some good odds on the Ravens by a die hard 49ers fan...but I don't know if that will actually happen.  Mostly because this game is so close that I really won't be confident in my pick either way.  A couple weeks ago, I picked the Falcons confidently and looked to be in good shape when the score was 17-0, and as the game wound down, my emotions really did side with the Falcons +4.  But I know my smallest $ pick is going to be one of the teams against the spread.

The two resources I am relying on this week are the Las Vegas Hilton's list of prop bets and this collection of every commercial that will be on during the Super Bowl.  Because which link actually interests you more.  Which one are you going to spend more time on?  You don't have to answer that, we all know the truth.

You want to know how close I have this pick?  My initial analysis says to take the Ravens +4 or the 49ers -3.5.  That half point is the difference between one team and the other?  That just isn't any fun for me.  So I'll probably put $20 on one of the teams, then try to see if I can beat Scott via prop bets.  In fact, this is basically a coin flip in my brain, so I'll try to decide which team I want to win, then look up the final spread in yahoo fantasy sports, and make my pick that way.

The single biggest reason why I think the Ravens can win is their deep passing game.  Watching the playoff games, Baltimore's O-line has done an amazing job providing a ton of time for Flacco to throw deep.  And the 49ers pass rush just hasn't been as strong since Justin Smith tore his tricep.  I'm not saying it's going to be bad, but I expect Flacco to be upright most of the game.  If San Francisco sends extra rushers, Anquan Boldin is probably going to have a big day on short and intermediate routes, and Ray Rice is also a great checkdown option.  If San Francisco only sends four, I expect Flacco to have plenty of time to throw to Torrey Smith deep.  Now just because Torrey Smith is open deep and Flacco has time, doesn't necessarily mean it will be completed or that it turns into a touchdown.  It wouldn't surprise me if there is a slight overthrow or Smith makes a big catch, but gets tackled on the 5 yard line and has to settle for a field goal.  I would count that as a win for the 49ers.

Chris Brown (of Smart Football and Grantland) also gave me the idea that a good smart blitz package by the Ravens defense could give Kaepernick problems.  Sending the extra guy or two would diminish the impact of the zone read in the running game, by returning the advantage of numbers to the defense, and while this would put a lot of pressure on defensive backs playing man coverage, if the blitz can get to Kaepernick quickly, he may have a little trouble making the accurate throws we have seen from him so far.  The other thing is that I have seen great straight line speed from Kaepernick, but I don't know that I've seen great scrambling or escaping the pocket by Kaepernick.  Not saying he can't do it, but this is why the Kaepernick O/U 48.5 yards rushing concerns me.  I don't think he'll get there on designed runs because I think the Ravens will mostly take away that option, but I could see a pass play called and him scrambling for 50 yards on one play.

The reason I seem to be focusing on what the Ravens can do to win is because every other form of analysis I have shows the 49ers have a slight to significant advantage.  A noticeably better Pythagorean winning percentage, which tells me on a neutral field the 49ers win 63% of the time.  Football Outsiders tells me they win 57% of the time.  San Francisco's offense throws fewer interceptions than Baltimore (1.84% vs. 1.96%) and their defense catches more interceptions than Baltimore (2.47% vs 2.33%).  This isn't a very big difference.  Baltimore is 6% more likely to throw an interception.  And one game or even 50 passes by each team really isn't enough to notice the difference.  See how these things keep making it look like a really close game?  I'm starting to eye Ravens win by 1-4 points 9/2 and 49ers win by 1-4 points 7/2.  Or will the game be decided by exactly three points 7/2.

Other prop bets paying at least 3/1 that seem a little interesting:
Over 62.5: 4/1
Successful 2 point conversion: 4/1
Total touchdown passes by Joe Flacco under 0.5: 3/1
Will Bernard Pierce score a touchdown, Yes: +375 (He's been getting more carries in the playoffs.)
Will Torrey Smith score a touchdown in the first half, Yes: +340
Will Ed Reed intercept a pass, Yes: 4/1 (The odds probably aren't high enough, but it's interesting.)
Who will score the first touchdown of the game? Who will score the last touchdown of the game?  Every player is at least 6/1, with some really good options at 9/1.

I've now been staring at the screen for a long time... I still don't know who to pick.  I guess my gut tells me that Baltimore's O-line gives Joe Flacco enough time to hit a long pass to Torrey Smith early in the game.  With the luxury of a lead and the confirmed threat of a deep pass Baltimore will be able to be a little more creative on offense.  San Francisco will have to rely more on traditional passing, rather than the zone read and play-action that makes Kaepernick so dangerous.

Baltimore (+3.5) over San Francisco.


  1. $40 on Baltimore +3.5.
    $20 to win $70 on the game being decided by exactly three points.
    $20 to win $80 on Over 62.5.
    $10 to win $90 on Torrey Smith scoring the first touchdown of the game.
    $10 to win $150 on Frank Gore having 121-130 rushing yards.

  2. I'm at $1,055, and refuse to bet on the outcome of the game.

    But, I will have fun with a few of the props:

    $20 to win $30 on neither team scoring 3 straight times.
    (I think this game is too close for this to happen.)

    $20 to win $42 on Vernon Davis scoring a TD.
    $10 to win $35 on Delanie Walker scoring a TD.
    (I wish I knew which Niners TE was going to score this weekend. And, yes Aaron, this is a stupid gut bet.)

  3. Now, I'm just going to go crazy...
    $40 on Over 47.5 points for the game.
    $40 on Yes a team will score in the first 6:30 of the game.
    $20 on Under 4.0 QB sacks by both teams.
    $20 on Anquan Boldin first reception Under 11.5 yards.
    $20 on longest made field goal Under 44.5 yards. (Refunded if no made field goal)
    $20 on longest TD of game Over 45.5 yards.
    $60 on total gross passing yards by Joe Flacco Over 247.5 yards.
    $20 on total touchdown passes by Joe Flacco Over 1.5.
    $40 on total receiving yards by Torrey Smith Over 65.5.
    $20 on longest gross punt by Andy Lee Under 57.5 yards.
    $20 on most rushing yards Frank Gore -15.5 vs. Ray Rice.
    $20 on most receiving yards Torrey Smith -29.5 vs. Randy Moss.

  4. It's the big one! I start the week at $800.

    I am going $300 on SF -3.5. This will get me over the hump and ahead of MP. My analysis: I buy Barnwell's argument that SF will handle the line of scrimmage (their O line is good), and that Jim is a better game planner than Jon and will counter exactly the type of blitz packages Chris Brown (he needs a more creative name) describes in his article you linked.

    $50 on Cousin Sal's big prop of the game, Bruce Miller will catch at least 1 pass (over 0.5 rec). I am assuming even odds here, not the -130 he uses, because I can't find the odds. Come onnnnn random guy I had never heard of! These props are fun.

    $55 to win $50 on the Niners accruing 155+ rushing yards. I think they easily clear 155 in this game.

    $50 to win $85 that the Niners will complete a 4th down conversion.

    I think the Niners will win by double digits, so I am also adding the following Cousin Sal props:

    $20 to win $140 on Niners winning by 11-13
    $20 to win $160 on Niners winning by 14-17
    $20 to win $300 on Niners winning by 18-21
    $20 to win $160 on Niners winning by 22+

    So after all that... it's a lot of numbers and I don't know what they all mean. I'll tally it up after the game and I'm down in the negative numbers. If the Niners don't do well I'm going to lose basically everything.

    With that in mind, here's a phrase I never thought I'd be saying.... Go Niners.

  5. Haha you bet on longest gross punt! Aaron you really are going crazy. I love it.

    Wow Torrey Smith receiving yards vs. Randy Moss is only -29.5 for Smith?? Shouldn't it be like double that? What the hell is going on??

    I am okay with my bets and they have made me about 7x more excited for the game. So that's fun! Yay props!

  6. I feel like I did really well. In order of the bets I placed above (starting at $970 from last week):
    +$40 Baltimore +3.5
    +$70 on the game being decided by exactly three points.
    +$80 on Over 62.5.
    -$10 Torrey Smith scores first touchdown. (His 20 yard catch set up Anquan Boldin's TD)
    -$10 on Frank Gore having 121-130 rushing yards. (He had 110.)
    +$40 on Over 47.5
    +$40 on Yes a team will score in the first 6:30 of the game.
    -$20 on Under 4.0 sacks. (There were 5)
    -$20 on Anquan Boldin's first catch under 11.5 yards. (It was a 13 yard touchdown.)
    +$20 on longest field goal made Under 44.5 yards. (Longest was 38)
    +$20 on longest TD of the game Over 45.5 yards. (Jacoby Jones 108 yard kickoff return, and just in case return TDs don't count, Jacoby Jones also caught a 56 yard touchdown pass.)
    +$60 on total gross passing yards by Joe Flacco over 247.5. (He threw for 287 yards.)
    +$20 on TD passes by Joe Flacco Over 1.5. (He threw 3)
    -$40 on Torrey Smith Over 65.5 yards receiving. (He only had 35 yards, which is pretty surprising considering how the game went. I thought he would need more for the Ravens to win.)
    +$20 on longest gross punt by Andy Lee Under 57.5 yards. (His longest went 55 yards...whew!)
    +$20 on Frank Gore -15.5 more rushing yards than Ray Rice. (Gore 110, Rice 59. I actually figured Bernard Pierce taking carries from Ray Rice would be the bigger impact.)
    -$20 on Torrey Smith -29.5 more receiving yards than Randy Moss. (Smith 35, Moss 41. Seriously? The Ravens win the Super Bowl and Moss actually has more receiving yards than Smith? Prop bets are stupid.)

  7. I won $310 today to finish at $1280 and the supreme FIWK champion!!!

  8. Wow did you really do all the math on those? Great job by you (Cousin Sal doing the NY DJ voice).

    I lost basically everything and I am not the supreme FIWK champion. The only one I got right was that the Niners had 155+ rushing yards. I lost like $400 and I finished the year at about $800. Hooooray beer.

  9. By the way... I know QBs always get the MVP, but couldn't you make a pretty strong case for Jacoby Jones as the MVP for the Ravens in this game? His kickoff return TD demoralized the Niners right after halftime, and his catch-fall-get up-TD sprint move was phenomenal. He was awesome for them. Would it be insane to have given him MVP?

  10. I think Anquan Boldin's 106 yards and a TD took some of the MVP credentials from Jones. If only one receiver stands out, then it's easier to give it to him, if two receivers stand out, the QB is probably going to get it. And in this argument, it does suck for Jacoby Jones that his 1 catch for 56 yards and a TD kind of gets lumped in with his 108 yard return TD. I mean, he did only have one catch.

    Joe Flacco played about as perfect game a QB can. In the Super Bowl. 3 TDs, no interceptions. 287 yards on 22/33 (8.7 avg). 95.1 QBR and 124.2 rating. Flacco didn't get the MVP just because he's the QB. He had a legitimately great game.

  11. Royce, you lost $430 to finish at $370 for the year.

  12. Scott, you lost $50 to finish at $1,005 and in second place.

  13. Most importantly, Scooter still beat the immortal MP. Something that I spectacularly failed to do.

    You really had to get the exact math on my $370? You couldn't even let me round it to $400. You're the worst.