Friday, January 29, 2010
"A lot of people who are going to bet this game, all they know is Peyton Manning," Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
I've quoted this before and I'm quoting it again because this exact sentiment is driving an already inflated number even higher. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge that Manning is quite possibly the greatest quarterback to ever snap on a chinstrap but sometimes we tend to get so enamored with one player that we let him become the sole rationale in our picks. Does this happen to you? If your going out on your own for your picks than god bless you and good luck since you are basing your hopefully basing your pick solely based on research and trends instead of the fact that you just saw Peyton playing ping pong with Justin Timberlake on the tube and everyone's telling you "he's been there before."
Allow me to dispel five misconceptions bettors are using to rationalize backing the Colts at such a high number:
1. Peyton Manning is a better quarterback right now.
It's not entirely fair to give the edge at quarterback to the Colts. Drew Brees (363-514, 4388 yds, 34 tds, 11 ints) and Manning (393-571, 4500 yds, 33 tds, 16 ints) both enjoyed historic seasons. Brees' was better. His 70.6 completion percentage sits alone atop the single season all-time NFL record, besting the likes of Staubach, Montana, Favre, Marino, and Manning.
Yes, Manning took home his fourth MVP award. Yes, his bust is already drying in Canton. Brees hasn't achieved his immortal status and he will never achieve Peyton status (even if he ends up in Canton). If the Superbowl victor was determined by which quarterback has built a more impressive body of work throughout their careers, I would moneyline Manning at +8000 in a heartbeat. But the Superbowl isn't a lifetime achievement award (that's what the HOF is for) it's a team competition and the bottom line is that both QBs are playing at the same elite level right now.
2. The Colts would have finished 16-0 if Jim Caldwell didn't decide to yank Manning during the second half of the Jets game in Week 16 while the Saints limped into the playoffs with three straight
Is it possible the Colts could be 18-0 and in the pursuit of perfection had they decided to keep their foot on the gas? Absolutely. I know this guy isn't happy about it.
Even if this was the case, I don't think it would improve their chances to defeat the Saints. It doesn't change the fact that the Saints are a far more balanced team on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Or that the Saints weren't just statistically the most prolific offense in the league this year, they also finished third in the league in TO margin (+11). Compare that to the 15th ranked Colts (+2) and it's clear the Saints have had both a more efficient offense and opportunistic defense thus far.
I'm not trying to shove statistics down anyone's throat, my point is that if you want to count the Colts slightly better regular season mark as a pro for Indy you simply can't ignore the regular season statistics that are compiled in the Saints regular season games. An objective comparison of the two teams based on this argument favors neither team.
3. Indy plays in a tougher conference therefore had the harder schedule.
Both teams finished 4-0 out of conference this season. The Saints collected most high profile win with a 38-17 Monday night blowout of the Patriots in the Superdome during week 12. Still, one could argue that the Colts Sunday night 31-10 domination of the Cards in Arizona was equally if not more impressive.
Many NFL gurus defend the AFC superiority theory by citing the AFC's recent success in the Superbowl: 9-3 in the past 12 years. The AFC finished 37-27 against the NFC this year. Combined this is pretty compelling evidence that the AFC has a leg up on the NFC heads up. Against the spread is a different story: The AFC is 5-7 in the Superbowl ATS and an even 32-32 ATS during the regular season.
Don't forget: we're picking against the spread here. I never advocate taking single digit dogs unless I believe the game straight up and I don't think there's any question New Orleans is capable of winning outright and there's no question the other side of the equation is capable of holding true.
4. Sean Payton and his staff are newbies to the Superbowl. While the Colts' Jim Caldwell might be a rookie head coach, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and Manning are the ones really running the show. They've been there before and they know how to block out the pageantry and distractions of the Super Bowl and better prepare their team.
Despite the fact that Sean Payton is in his fourth year, both coaches are still unproven quantities. That will change for one of them on Sunday. Let's take a look at both staffs:
Payton came on strong as a rookie head coach in 2006, winning the NFC south and NFL head coach of the year honors. The Saints failed to live up to expectations over the next two years, going a combined 15-17 due to a porous secondary and inconsistency on offense. The biggest adjustment Payton made was making a commitment to running the ball. Despite the lack of a feature back, the Saints still averaged 131.6 rushing yards per game (6th in the league), a welcome complement to their bombs away passing attack which averaged an 272 yard passing per game (4th in the league. Their balanced attack (which led the league in total offense by a significant margin) combined with a developing young defense with big play ability crowned the Saints as Superbowl contenders early this season. The league was already wary of Payton's fearless air attack and regarded him as a QB guru but no one considered the Saints seriously until they finally started playing hard nosed defense and running the ball this year.
Dungy was always the antithesis of the tough guy head coach personality that NFL GMs covet. Owner Jim Irsay decided to stay the course by hiring the equally stoic and soft-spoken Jim Caldwell. While he has practically accomplished everything a first year head coach can thus far, there remain doubters who believe Caldwell has inherited instead of facilitated his success. Caldwell often paces the sidelines for what feels like hours without speaking a word, often inviting comparisons to the clueless Art Shell during his second stint in Oakland. Many prefer to credit offensive coordinator Tom Moore with the Colts' success. Despite running the most one dimensional office in the league (the Colts were by far the pass happiest team in the league with a run/pass ratio of 32/68), Moore and Peyton Manning managed to thrive throwing the ball on crucial 3rd downs and short situations as well as on the goal line. Manning himself must be mentioned among his coaches. He is the closest to a player-coach you get in the league and he does it without ego or bravado.
The real question for Indy is whether this is the game where their lack of a rushing attack catches up with them. So far the Colts have played defensive teams (Baltimore, NY Jets) with nowhere near the firepower or explosiveness of the Saints. They'll need to establish a running game to control the game and manage the clock to keep Brees off the field.
5. The intangibles have to go to the Colts, right?
I'll concede the Colts have been there. But there are other intangibles to consider such as the Colts thin secondary (both starting CB Marlin Jackson and FS Bob Sanders are out for the season), big losses to an already depleted defensive back unit. The health of Dwight Freeney remains a concern and although It's unlikely he'll sit the game out don't expect him to be 100 percent.
While both teams have stepped up in big games this year, New Orleans has been the team that has stepped up and crushed its opponent. A 48 point explosion in Philly during Week 2 followed by a 24-10 victory over the undefeated Jets two weeks later was just the beginning for the Saints. They've shown a willingness to rise to the occasion all season long especially on the national stage.
Manning's Monday night magic at the Dolphins and his unforgettable 4th quarter comeback versus the Patriots are reminders of why he's a first ballot hall of famer. The difference is that Manning is eeking out wins and while he performs best under pressure it's apparent that the Colts are grossly overachieving this season. In order to handle the Saints they're going to need Peyton to Peyton and hope their secondary can hold up against Brees and company.
The moment Garrett Hartley's 40-yard field goal sailed effortlessly through the uprights to send New Orleans to their first Superbowl, I knew the Saints would have strong value if the books spotted them a feasible amount of points versus the Colts. Most sharps predicted a threefold point spread for the Colts so many were surprised when they opened at 4. As of Friday, the super bowl betting line at certain sportsbooks online and most of Vegas had jumped to six while our bookmaker as of this writing is still at 5 1/2. Here is a list of reputable online sportsbooks with varying odds from 5 1/2 to 6 and for Cooper's Star Super Bowl Picks and analysis go to: Expert Super Bowl Picks
"We basically just make these up until we get tired," said Kornegay to the Las Vegas Review-Jornal. "The props really make the event. It has become such a popular part of Super Bowl weekend. In essence we love betting props. We've never had a prop with zero bets. Not even close to it."
Kornegay is admitting something books rarely acknowledge: the fact that even the house gets caught up in Superbowl hype. But can we really take advantage of the books without getting juiced to death or are we better off staying away from props and letting the rookies bet the coin toss? Let's take examine some of the current props to see if we can find any value:
Peyton Manning total passing yards: 300.5 over: -155
The -155 juice on Manning throwing for over 300 yards is remarkable, it's a testament to the respect the books have for him. I was initially tempted to jump on the under but my 'never, any under circumstances, bet against Peyton' rule quickly vetoed me. "A lot of people who are going to bet this game, all they know is Peyton Manning," said Kornegay, further evidence that the books want to inflate Manning's over/unders in anticipation of most of the money coming in on the over for Manning related props. How likely is it that Indy builds an early lead and deviates from their lopsided pass heavy offense? Don't count on it. Tom Moore is notorious for keeping his foot on the gas in these situations, he trusts Manning to continue throwing the ball without turning the ball over. If the Colts are down late, Manning will air it out every down and hit the 300-mark with ease. Bottom line is the under at +125 is an enticing number but there simply too many scenarios where Manning eclipses this mark.
Drew Brees completion percentage: 68.5% over: -125
Another surprisingly high number. While Brees is fresh off the most accurate regular season in NFL history (70.6%) his playoff completion of 63.5 percent is encouraging for sports handicappers looking to take the under here. There's only been one other season where he's managed to complete close to the prop (67.5% in 2007). Brees is also coming off his most inaccurate game of the season in the NFC championship game where he completed just 54.8% of his 31 pass o attempts. The 68.5% prop is also being inflated because of the uncertain status of Indy DE Dwight Freeney but I'd be shocked if Freeney doesn't play and wreak havoc in this game. Freeney will command consistent double teams providing the Colts the opportunity to blitz Brees or drop an extra man back in coverage. There's definite value in taking the under here at -105.
Alternate Point Spread New Orleans Saints (-3.5) +275
I've never been a fan of alternate point spreads but there's value in taking the Saints with points here at +275. Yes, we are essentially reverse teasing the Saints for eight points here but we get the same advantage of great odds what we get in a tease without relying on multiple outcomes. There's no compelling statistical evidence that suggests either team is superior. Is the mystique of Manning really worth 6 points alone? The experience argument is invalid here because outside of Manning, this a completely different Colts team--particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The only thing stopping me from pulling the trigger is yes, once again, my never bet against Peyton Manning rule. If you don't feel the restraints of this simple but wise philosophy, this is a good spot to test the waters.
Most valuable player (odds will vary)
This is more of a fun prop that fantasy football fanatics enjoy wagering on. Let's start out by eliminating players who have no chance to win the award or don't offer us odds worth wagering on:
Stay away from Peyton Manning (2:3) and Drew Brees (9:4). Are these two the runaway leading candidates to win this award? Absolutely. The problem here is that I'm a strict advocate of never taking a MVP player prop at less than 10-1 odds. You'll be hard pressed to find a quarterback at better than 4:1 in the modern era of the NFL and this game is no exception. I'm fully aware that a quarterback has won this award
56% of the time but don't forget you have to also correctly choose the winning team. This fact alone makes getting double digit odds so much more important, especially in a year where there is no clear cut favorite to win the game.
Don't bet on wide receivers or tight ends. Marques Colston (12:1), Reggie Wayne (10:1), Pierre Garcon (14:1), Austin Collie (20:1), Dallas Clark (12:1), Jeremy Shockey (20:1) these are all great players with respectable odds but the problem is that their respective quarterbacks are too high profile. It's impossible for receivers to accumulate numbers that don't simultaneously pad the quarterback's stats. The Superbowl MVP is first and foremost a hype award and none of these names can hold a candle to that of Manning or Brees. Sure, Santonio Holmes was far from a household name last year when he took home the hardware but do you really believe if Peyton was his quarterback he would've still won the award? Please.
So this still leaves us with several intriguing options.
We have running backs (Joseph Addai 10-1, Donald Brown 25-1, Reggie Bush 10-1, Pierre Thomas 10-1). Let's cross off Brown because he hasn't been healthy and a rookie back has never won.
Bush is the most interesting out of the bunch because he returns punts and is used primarily as a receiving back. He also has the added publicity of having a celebrity girlfriend in the stands, which never hurts. My problem with Bush is that he simply doesn't get enough carries. He had a career low 70 rushing attempts and has just 12 this postseason. In order to leapfrog the QBs a back is going to have score multiple rushing TDs and I just don't see the Saints calling Bush's number on the goal line. If he can take a punt back to the house and add another offensive TD from scrimmage he'll have a healthy shot. Still, in Bush's case 10-1 isn't good enough for me, I might have considered him at 15-1 or better.
Addai has yet to score in the postseason and his longest offensive play from scrimmage was a 17-yard rush versus the Jets in the AFC championship game. Not exactly the resume of a Superbowl MVP, right?
Thomas is the most likely of the running backs to win the award. He would be the first back to do so in over a decade (Terrell Davis in 1998 was the last). He's still a longshot because the Saints platoon him with Bush and his combined 27 postseason carries means Thomas will have to make the most out of every opportunity he has to touch the ball. What he does have going for him is his role as goal line back and and he's fresh off a solid two-touchdown performance in the NFC championship game. The key will be taking TDs away from Brees in a winning effort. It won't be easy but he's worth taking a look at here.
Finally, we have the rest of the pack (defense, kickers, the field). We'll find good value here starting with big defensive names such as Dwight Freeney (30-1) or the lesser known but effective Robert Mathis (40-1). Freeney's banged up but he possesses the talent to single handedly disrupt a high powered offense. It's never easy to picture a defensive player hoisting the trophy but remember no one expected Tampa Bay FS Dexter Jackson to take home the honors in 2003. Eight defensive players have held the honors in the history of the award, the last defensive end to do so was Richard Dent of the Chicago Bears in 1986.
Gary Brackett (50-1), Clint Sessions (50-1) and Jonathan Vilma (40-1)need to rack up more than tackles to have a shot, they would need to force turnovers and score at least one defensive touchdown. Steer clear.
The one defender that offers the most value is Darren Sharper (28-1). He's a known commodity and proven big play safety, if he can goad Manning into making bad decisions he'll have an opportunity to have a significant impact on the outcome of the game.
Stay away from kickers and the field. There's simply too much star power in this game for it to go to an unknown this year.
Now that we gave you some free Super Bowl Prop Picks check out our expert SuperBowl Picks and more from Cooper's Pick.
Before you brandish me an Un-American misanthrope and squish me into an iron maiden with the decomposed remains of Benedict Arnold and Azzam the American (he's an Al-Qaeda member), hear me out:
1. Bandwagon fans come out of the woodwork. Co-workers who nauseatingly recap last night's episode of "Jersey Shore" at the water cooler are suddenly donning jerseys from the favored team and proclaiming they've been super fans all along. When you ask if they have any legitimate affiliation with either squad, their response is something along the lines of "No, but I've always been a _______ fan. "
2. People who proudly announce they only watch the Superbowl for the commercials. Don't get me wrong, I get a good chuckle out of the clever Bud Light commercial where the 20-something dude trains his Yorkie to lap up beer from sticky bar floors and regurgitate it back into his beer bong. I just can't stand the guy who shushes everyone so he can hear the commercials than disappears into a bowl of guacamole during the actual game. You'll see how your girlfriend comes into the mix with this one when you get to #8. Which brings me to...
3. You're forced to be around people that don't watch the game. It becomes 'the socialite bowl' for casual watchers who are strictly there to schmooze. I'm utterly incapable of making small talk during significant games or when my Detroit Lions are playing so please don't talk to me about Obama's state of the union address or your how many goals your niece scored in her JV field hockey debut. I would pretend I cared any other day.
4. Halftime shows. The extended halftime only stretches out the already painfully long filibuster that has become the Superbowl. Forgive me for my ignorance but I've never even heard of this year's performers, The Who. Seeing as how we've been graced by the ageless likes of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Shania Twain in recent years, this selection makes me wonder why the NFL is suddenly targeting the baby boomer demographic again? Regardless of who (no pun intended) performs the acoustics are always spotty and the throngs of backup dancers and high school bands always manage to create an awkwardly gridlocked chaos. Oh, and please leave the wardrobe malfunctions for publicity stunts on MTV. There's no place for that in football.
5. Only corporate fatcats can actually afford to attend the Super Bowl. Since it's a neutral site, the average fan can't afford to follow his team there. Going to the Super Bowl is a status symbol for many Americans so evil corporations snatch up luxury boxes while equally diabolical ticket brokers drive prices up to five figures a pop. Most of the rich coots will devour hors d'oeuvres while discussing croquet and Sarah Palin's personal memoirs of going rogue or something like that instead of watching the actual game (see #3).
6. Celebrity Cameos. I will wager my wedding ring that we will endure a minimum of fifty Kim Kardashian reaction shots during the game. Hopefully we catch her picking her nose or groping Lamar Odom during the halftime show?
7. It's impossible to order a pizza. For the most part, football fans are lazy, unprepared creatures. We're too distracted by the games to order three hours in advance and lack the motivation to go pick up a pie in fear we might miss kickoff. The Superbowl is the only day we can't reach for the phone, order in, then roll back onto the couch for the rest of the day.
8. You're forced to watch the game with your girlfriend. As lovely as she may be, there's nothing worse than having to explain the difference between a safety and touchdown to your significant other during the big game. She claims she wants you to teach her the rules but this seems to be the only day she expresses any interest; the rest of the season she complains that you sit around on your butt and watch too much football. Despite your detailed explanations you realize she only starts cheering after everyone else does. She still has no idea what's going on but that doesn't prevent her from barraging you with a flurry of inane questions. If you blow her off, you're a big jerk and she storms off to flirt with the douche who only watches the commercials (see #2).
9. Everyone has money on the game. This is the one day in the year that the amateurs go to the sports handicappers and there's only one thing worse than having to listen to someone who has $10 on the opposing team gutturally scream after every 1st down when you bet your mortgage on the other team. It's being stuck in a room where everyone screams as if they have wagered their first born child's college tuition on the game. Once they hear someone passionately rooting for the other team they feel an alpha male responsibility to out shout the other person. It quickly turns into a barbaric match of who can embarrass themselves more in public by throwing adolescent tantrums when the their team is penalized 5 yards for a false start. If your one of these people I got some great sports betting tips for you.
10. It's the last game of the year. From here on out we're stuck with hoops and baseball (ugh). There will be no more fantasy stat tracking, redzone channel, or suicide leagues. Monday night football will be replaced by Grey's Anatomy night with the same girlfriend who cheated on you with the guacamole guy. You still have the draft in two months but it's not the same. The only saving grace is that fans of perennial basement dwelling franchises get a clean slate. Maybe, just maybe, this is your year (unless you're a Lions fan).
If you liked 10 Reasons Why I hate the SuperBowl (and you should too) you may also like How to bet Super Bowl Props and Cooper's Super Bowl Picks
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes in the second half and the Indianapolis Colts punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLIV with a 30-17 win over Mark Sanchez and the upstart New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts, who rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit, are now in the Super Bowl for the second time in the past four years as the franchise is looking to win its third Super Bowl. In the 2006 season, the Colts defeated the Bears, 29-17, while the Baltimore Colts took a 16-13 decision over the Dallas Cowboys following the 1970 season.
"The guys have always been very confident and have done a great job of keeping themselves in the game," said Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell, who is the fifth rookie coach to guide his team to a Super Bowl. "We have a group of veterans here who know how to play the game and they got it done today."
Indianapolis will play New Orleans in the Super Bowl in Miami on February 7. The Saints beat Minnesota, 31-28, in overtime in the NFC title game.
The win is also revenge on two counts for Indianapolis as the team avenged a 16-7 loss to the Joe Namath and the underdog Jets in Super Bowl III and got payback for New York spoiling Indianapolis' bid for a perfect season in a Week 16, 29-15 loss in Indianapolis.
Manning finished the game 26-for-39 with 377 yards and three touchdowns while Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark and Austin Collie all caught scores for the Colts, who defeated the Jets for the first time in the postseason as the team also dropped a 41-0 decision to New York in a 2002 AFC first-round game.
"We knew we had to be patient and play all four quarters against this team," said Manning. "We started to get a beat on them and were able to wear them down with our passing game in the later stages."
Garcon made 11 catches for 151 yards, Collie made seven receptions for 123 yards and Joseph Addai had 16 carries for 80 yards in the win. Matt Stover was 3-for-3 on field goals and also hit all three extra points.
Sanchez had a good game in his third postseason start as he went 17-for-30 with 257 yards, two touchdowns and an interception with Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards each catching a score.
"What a playoff run, it's something we can build on," said Sanchez. "It's a special feeling to get this far. We fell a little short but I'm proud to be a part of this team. And I'm very appreciative that the coaches had faith in me all season long."
However, it wasn't enough for the Cinderella-story Jets as the team saw their bid for their first Super Bowl appearance since the win over Baltimore in the 1968 season fall one-game short.
"When you have Peyton Manning back there pulling the trigger, sometimes no matter what you do he'll still beat you," said New York coach Rex Ryan. "He's just that good that any little mistake you make he'll stick it to you. We had some matchup problems and they took full advantage of it."
Holding a four-point lead, the Jets started the second half with the ball and lined up for a 52-yard field goal attempt, but Jay Feely's attempt went wide right for his second missed kick of the game.
"I felt good about attempting it," said Ryan about the field goal attempt. "I know the snap was a little behind the holder and it threw the timing off a little bit. But you're kicking indoors and we had to try it."
Manning took advantage of the short field as he needed just eight plays to get the ball into the end zone. Garcon's catch at the right corner of the end zone from four yards out gave the Colts a 20-17 lead with 8:03 left in the third.
"We've been down before so we weren't panicking," said Garcon. "We knew we just needed one touchdown and that the defense would stop them so we never panicked."
The Jets had to punt on their next two possessions and the second one saw the Colts start a drive with the ball at their own 20.
On the first play Manning connected with Reggie Wayne for 13 yards. Four plays later, a 12-yard catch by Clark turned into a 27-yard play after a face mask call on James Ihedigbo. After a four-yard run by Addai, Manning found Clark over the middle and he took it into the end zone for a 15-yard score and a 27-17 lead with 8:52 to play.
New York was held to a three-and-out on the following touch and Manning took the Colts on a 12-play drive that covered 71 yards and ate up 5:33 of the clock. It was capped on a 21-yard field goal from Stover with 2:29 to play to seal the win.
Sanchez was picked off by Kelvin Hayden and the Colts ran a minute off the clock before giving the ball back, but Sanchez was barely able to move the Jets past midfield as the game ended.
The only scoring opportunity of the first quarter saw Feely hit a 44-yard field goal just to the right with 6:40 to play in the opening stanza.
However, the teams exploded for 30 points in the second quarter.
On the first play of the quarter, Stover hit a 25-yard field goal to give the Colts a 3-0 lead.
The Jets wasted no time, though, as on the first play of the ensuing touch, Sanchez pump-faked then heaved the ball down the left sideline where Edwards caught it in-stride and raced into the end zone from 80 yards out for a 7-3 lead.
Indianapolis marched down the field and had a 1st-and-goal at the four-yard line after a 22-yard catch by Collie. However, the team again came up with just three points on a Stover 19-yard field goal with 8:44 left in the half after Manning was stuffed on a QB sneak on third down at the one.
New York went to its basket of tricks on its next possession as a running back option saw Brad Smith haul the ball down-field to Jerricho Cotchery for 45 yards. Three plays later, Keller made a leaping catch just over the goal line for a nine-yard score and a 14-6 lead with 4:53 to play in the half.
On the third play of the Colts' next touch, Calvin Pace hit Addai in the backfield as the running back got the ball, causing a fumble which Jim Leonhard recovered at the Colts' 29.
The Indianapolis defense held firm and limited the Jets to a 48-yard field goal from Feely for a 17-6 lead with 2:11 left in the first half.
That was plenty of time for Manning and Collie as the three got together on three straight completions of 18, 46 and 16 yards with the last one in the back of the end zone to make it a 17-13 game heading into the break.
The Jets' first touchdown was their longest play of the season...Stover, who turns 42 on Wednesday, will be the oldest player to ever appear in a Super Bowl...The win puts the Colts at 19-18 all-time in the playoffs while the Jets fell to 10-12...Due to the Pro Bowl being held the week before the Super Bowl instead of the week after the Super Bowl, Clark, Manning, Wayne, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Jeff Saturday will all be excused from participating...Wayne finished the game with three catches for 55 yards and needs 87 yards to move into third place on the all-time postseason receiving yards list...Clark has 761 receiving yards in the postseason and needs just 74 to move past Keith Jackson for No. 1 all-time amongst tight ends...The Colts totaled 461 yards of offense while the Jets had 388...It was the first time this season the Jets gave up three passing touchdowns in a game...Manning became the first player in league history to have seven 300-yard postseason games, which broke a tie with Kurt Warner and Joe Montana.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Saturday, 8:15 pm Eastern – CBS
The Indianapolis Colts may be the top seed and the favorite to get to the Super Bowl Odds but quarterback Peyton Manning and the rest of the starters haven’t played a full game in almost a month. The Colts rested their starters down the stretch and people really won’t say too much as long as the Colts win on Saturday. The problem for Indianapolis is that they are 0-3 in the playoffs after having a bye week and in this case they have really had three weeks off. "Every year, we think we've got to win it and we feel as a group that we probably should have won more Super Bowls in this decade," defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "There's probably more pressure with that than what's being said about 16-0."
Indianapolis is a 6 point favorite at SBG Global with a total of 44.
Baltimore definitely doesn’t have the rust issue to deal with as they have played meaningful games for the past few weeks. They had to win three of their last four games just to make the playoffs and then routed New England 33-14 last week in the Wild Card round. The Ravens used that route last year to reach the AFC Championship game and they hope to do so again on Saturday. "Our younger guys can draw on the experience of the guys who have been there before, but it's a different year and a different team and this is a new week," coach John Harbaugh said.
Indianapolis has done very well against Baltimore lately, winning the last seven games. It was tough earlier this season though as the Ravens had every chance to win before losing 17-15. Turnovers have been a huge problem for Baltimore in this series against the Colts as they have turned it over 25 times in the seven-game losing streak. Turnovers are the big key for the Ravens in terms of wins and losses. They have a +9 turnover differential in their last five NFL betting games.
Baltimore has won six road playoff games since 1996, the most of any NFL team. The Ravens are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. the AFC. The Ravens are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 meetings against the Colts.
The Colts are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games as a favorite. The Colts are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 vs. the AFC.
The Under is 4-1-1 in the Ravens last 6 road games. The Over is 4-0 in the Colts last 4 games overall. The Under is 6-2 in the Colts last 8 playoff games. The Under is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings between the two teams.
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