After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?
31 Jan 2007
by Bill Barnwell & Ian Dembsky
Bill: This week, myself and Ian partake in the column I've been waiting to write all season: Scramble's Fourth Annual Super Bowl Prop Bet Extravaganza. The Prop Bets are one of the many glories of Super Bowl Sunday surrounding what would otherwise be a mere football game between the two best teams in the land.
Part of Football Outsiders' Super Bowl Coverage is this yearly column from whoever happens to be writing Scramble that year. (You can find the previous years' columns here, here, and here.) It was always one of my favorite columns to read all year, and now that I'm lucky enough to be writing it, I'm very excited. Thanks to Bodog for posting their prop bet odds online; when Calvin Ayre is arrested and/or deposed as the king of Costa Rica, I will write him a letter in prison or something. I want to get to the bets, but first, an explanation of how the bets work as per legendary prop-bettor and Scramble-originator Al Bogdan:
Here, you would be betting on how many pro wrestling references appear in this column. You would have to choose either more than 4.5 or less than 4.5. (I don't know what 0.5 of a pro wrestling reference would be. Maybe a Sky Low Low mention?) If you were to bet that there would be more than 4.5 pro wrestling mentions, you would have to wager a hypothetical $105 to win $100 (hence the "-105"). If you wanted to take the under, you would wager a hypothetical $100 to win $130 (hence the "+130"). Since we're already at .5 pro wrestling references in this column, the under is less likely to win, therefore you'd get more money if it actually does come through.
The other bets are those with many possible options, like wagering on who will score the first touchdown in the game. The odds there will be something like "Thomas Jones +300" meaning that if you wager a hypothetical $100 on Jones and he scores the first touchdown, you'd win $300. For those bets, "field" means a player or result not listed. We'll explain anything else that needs an explanation as we go along.
Over 1m 44s (-110)
Under 1m 44s (+110)
Ian: This really is the perfect way to kick off such a serious article on gambling. I mean, are you kidding me? How the heck should I know? Oh well, I just went ahead and did a throaty rendition of the song, and came out at one minute, fifty-two seconds. I'm pretty sure Billy Joel will find a way to sing it longer than I can. Over.
Bill: I am terrified at that visual. I will say Under solely to avoid encouraging anyone.
Bill: Anyone who bets this should immediately have all other wagers cancelled and the money put up for said bets donated to charities for those less fortunate. That being said ... I'm feeling Chicago here.
Ian: Are you kidding me? The coin toss will somehow be rigged to get Peyton Manning on the field as fast as possible and make all the fans happy. Indianapolis.
Bill: See previous bet. Well, no, because it will clearly be Tails. Duh.
Ian: Can't disagree with you there; Tails is clearly the way to go on this one.
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Bill: I think whoever gets the ball first is going to score first. Since I picked Chicago to win the toss, I pick Chicago to get on the board first.
Ian: Even though I think the Colts will get the ball first, I think Chicago's defense will win "Round One" against Peyton and company, and I expect the first points to come on a Robbie Gould field goal. Also, getting odds to go with Chicago makes this an easy choice.
Bill: This is a more difficult one. With questions like this, you sort of have to go with your broad idea of how the game is going to go and then fill in the gaps from there. I think Indianapolis will be behind, so I'll say that the Colts will be driving late in the game, making a comeback, and get a late non-clutch Adam Vinatieri field goal to finish up the scoring.
Ian: I'm of the opinion that the Colts will get it going in the second half, and put away what was a close game in the third quarter. I also expect them to score last and seal the deal. Indianapolis.
Bill: My previous bets in mind, I still could see Rex Grossman being a little frazzled on his first series. I'll say Bears roll out the dreamy Brad Maynard for the game's first punt.
Ian: For reasons previously stated, I'm going with Indianapolis here.
Bill: I think Chicago will get the game's initial first down, but it will be on all run plays. The next series, they'll be brave enough to try a pass, Rex Grossman will three-hop it like a Tom Emanski video, and the Bears will punt.
Ian: I'll take a chance on Chicago here as well. If they get the ball first, I think they can get a first down. Even if Indy gets the ball first, I still think Chicago can get the first first down.
Bill: That's kind of a random one. I'll take the better odds and go with Indy.
Ian:Yeah, why in the world is Chicago laying extra odds on this one? Is it because people figure they'll get nailed with a pass interference or something? I'll go with Indianapolis as well and see if Bernard Berrian can draw some downfield contact early.
Bill: Really? Chicago can cover people, people! The Colts, on the other hand, it's pretty easy to imagine them letting Bernard Berrian slip through the Cover-2 once or twice. Very strong bet here on the Bears.
Ian: Yup, especially with the odds, I love Berrian's chances for a long score. Chicago it is.
Bill: This is a spot to go with the conventional wisdom. Indianapolis' kick and punt coverage is abysmal. I don't think Devin Hester's going to score in the game, but he's gonna have two or three 35+ yard returns. Bears here.
Ian: I dunno ... Terrence Wilkins is pretty shifty, and certainly has a chance to make a big play on a kick return. The odds are so skewed that I'm convinced to go with the better money and the Colts here.
Bill: Their punt return team isn't very good, either. Bears.
Ian: For just $160, however, I'll take the Bears.
Bill: Chicago's pass rush has disappeared since Tommie Harris went on IR. They only sacked Drew Brees three times in 52 attempts. I like Indy here.
Ian: Manning almost never gets sacked. How can I go with Chicago here? I'm taking Indianapolis.
Bill: Who's more likely to be confused and use a timeout, Rex Grossman or Peyton Manning? Right. Bears.
Ian: I agree with you on this one. The odds don't lean either way, so I'll assume that Manning will be as prepared as ever, and Chicago will be the first team to call a timeout out of confusion.
Bill: "Some English MC's get it twisted/Start sayin' cookies instead of biscuits/Anyway, let's commence..." Colts. The way I'm deciding on these useless bets is sort of like the possession arrow in basketball. Chicago gets the next one.
Ian: I like Chicago's chances on this one, especially as Dwight Freeney comes around the end and swipes the ball out of Grossman's throwing hand. But was the arm coming forward??
Bill: Peyton Manning threw an interception once every 62 attempts in the regular season. Rex Grossman threw one every 24. That tells you what you need to know. Bears!
Ian: I'm gonna take the odds and go with Chicago on this one. Have you noticed how many picks Manning is throwing in the postseason? Look for Chicago to get to him early, but for Manning to take charge late.
Bill: I'll take Chicago here with the idea that Bill Polian will be poking Roger Goodall with his loaded Colts foam finger each time a Bears defensive back touches a Colts receiver.
Ian: Both teams are very disciplined, and neither is likely to have many penalty yards at all. For that reason, I'm just going to take the odds and go with Indy here.
Bill: I don't know if anyone's noticed, but Robbie Gould's sure been kicking a lot of field goals this season. I like his chances here; first points of the game are a Bears field goal.
Ian: Yup, for the same reason I'm going Chicago as well.
Bill: So Vegas figures Indianapolis is more likely to have a field goal chance, more likely to make one first, and more likely to miss one? That seems weird. I'll take Indy here with the shorter line.
Ian: Umm ... Vinatieri? Super Bowl? Hello?? Chicago.
Bill: Rex Grossman's still at quarterback? Yup. Bears.
Ian: I'll stick with my guns and wager on an early Manning pick. Besides, we all saw how effective Chicago is at stripping the ball against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game. Iâ€˜m going with Da Bears.
Bill: Vinatieri's only kicked three beyond 44 this season; Gould's got four. The nice weather will be more likely to put them on the field, but I don't see either of these offenses hesitating to go for it on fourth-and-short outside the red zone. I'll say Under.
Ian: That's as sound a reasoning as I can come up with. I'll go Under as well.
Bill: Someone needs to explain to me why left is favored here. Until then, I am going Right.
Ian: Because both kickers are righties, and it's more common for a kicker to pull a kick than to push it. At least, that's the only reason I can invent to explain the odds here. That being said, I'll just assume that someone else knows something that I don't and go Left.
Bill: Again, my general view of the game sees the Colts getting behind early and coming back. That involves several lengthy drives with four or five first downs. That would put them in line for the Under here.
Ian: I don't care how much Indy struggles in the first half; they're going to light it up in the second half. Over.
Bill: On the other hand, I see the Bears offense being big play-driven. In addition, they're going to have short fields to play with because of their special teams advantage. That all leads to the Bears going Under here.
Ian: I'm thinking the opposite here ... While I expect Chicago to move the ball in chunks via the pass, I think they'll also want to limit throwing bombs to keep the Colts offense on the sideline. I'm going Over here.
Bill: Indianapolis actually did this in ten out of their 19 games this season, including all three playoff games. That makes this a reasonably profitable Yes bet to make.
Ian: It certainly seems reasonable for them to score in every quarter, and I wouldn't want to lay $210 against it. I'm also going with Yes.
Bill: Chicago's only done this seven of 18 times this season, on the other hand. So why a Yes, then? They're playing the Indianapolis defense. It all boils down to whether you believe in 16 games or three. I choose 16.
Ian: I'm going to say No because I'm guessing that in the third quarter, Indy will run sustained drives while keeping Chicago in check.
Bill: This is a good spot to be conservative. I don't think the Bears will be employing many pass plays deep in their own end, and the Colts have the pass protection to keep the Bears off them deep in theirs. Go No here.
Ian: Funny, I see taking Yes as being more conservative, which is what I'm going to do. A safety means you're out $1,400, which would be a killer blow to your overall finish. In all likelihood, I'm just out $100 here, which I'll live with.
Bill: You do have two pretty opportunistic defenses here. If Mike Brown were in this game, it would be worth 10 or 20 points in the direction of Yes. I'm going to say No because I think Devin Hester will have a good day, but not ever break one. Adam Vinatieri's too clutch to let him run by.
Ian: I'm saying Yes here and anticipating a Manning pick returned for a touchdown. Even if that doesn't happen, Chicago always finds strange ways to score, so I like the odds here.
Field Goal or Safety (+140)
Bill: I still think it's going to be Robbie Gould. Field Goal or Safety.
Ian: I'm surprised that Touchdown gets such bad odds here; I'm also going with Field Goal or Safety. When that safety hits, I'll be rich, I tell you... Rich!
Bill: This would be a good one to actually do the research on. If I weren't betting simoleans, I'd consider it. I'll trust Vegas here and go No.
Ian: I'll take the odds and go Yes, figuring that a 3-3 score after the first quarter is perfectly within reason.
Bill: You better believe they will. It won't be the Colts, though.
Ian: In the Super Bowl, there's no tomorrow no matter what, so teams do whatever it takes to try and win. That means someone is probably attempting fourth downs late in the game to come back. Yes.
Bill: I kinda like the Under here, actually. These are two well-coached teams and their offensive lines should be able to stay together in what should be a pretty calm, quiet atmosphere.
Ian: Yup, I mentioned it before when comparing penalties between teams. I'm a big fan of the Under here.
Bill: If Manning has to throw 50 times, the Bears defense is good enough to get one pick. So then, it comes down to Grossman -- will he throw one pick or two? If he throws two, I think he disappears; I don't think there's a chance in hell he won't throw one. I'll say a late second pick gets the Over over.
Ian: I'm not convinced Manning won't throw two picks in this one. Let's not forget just how good this Bears defense is. Over
Bill: This seems awful low. I think Manning will have 35 by himself. Over seems a very safe bet here.
Ian: 35?!? That's a very, very high number of completions. I don't think he's getting quite that high, but I do think that the high 20s are within reason. Rex can hit low 20s, so I'm also going Over here.
Bill: Hey, we can use an FO stat for this! Hooray! Indianapolis' line is 28th in Running for 10+ Yards -- that's terrible! Chicago is ... 27th. Great. Gotta go Indianapolis, then.
Ian: Who am I to disagree with Football Outsiders' line stats? I must say Indianapolis as well.
1-22 Yards (+350)
23-29 Yards (+260)
30-36 Yards (+200)
37-43 Yards (+300)
44-49 Yards (+380)
50 or More Yards (+500)
No Field Goals in Game (+450)
Bill: If I were betting this for my own purposes, I'd lay $100 on both 30-36 and 37-43. Since I can't do that ... I'll go for the gusto and say 37-43 Yards.
Ian: Wow, the football bets just keep getting better and better. Since the game's in Miami, and I like the idea of going for longshots on these type of bets, I'm going with 50 or more yards and hoping for a quick $500.
First Quarter (+325)
Second Quarter (+190)
Third Quarter (+325)
Fourth Quarter (+250)
Two or More Quarters Tie (+350)
Bill: I had no idea the second quarter was so score-heavy. I am going to trust Vegas on this one and stick with the second.
Ian: Two or More Quarters Tie gets the best odds? That doesn't seem all that unlikely. I'll take a shot at it.
Bill: This is just an example of the many random scoring/timing bets that are available for the game. I guess if I said the most scoring would occur in the second quarter, I would assume that some of those points would go on the board in the first four minutes. I'll grudgingly say Yes.
Ian: Both teams have the potential to run long drives that take six to eight minutes off the clock, so I'll take the odds and go with No.
Bill: The second quarter is where I see Chicago pulling away and opening up their lead. So then, I should assume that the points would be Chicago's.
Ian: Nah, I see the end of the second quarter going a bit like the game between Indy and New England, where Indy gets a motivational score before the half.
Field Goal or Safety (+120)
No Score (+190)
Bill: I've said a lot about second quarter scoring but I can't resist that No Score line there. You can't see the Bears driving and holding onto the ball with the run just to keep Manning off the field? A missed field goal would work out nicely, too.
Ian: I like the chances of a Field Goal or Safety happening before the end of the half. I wonder why safety is lumped in with field goal?
Chicago -7.5 (Chicago +400, Indianapolis -700)
Chicago -3.5 (Chicago +250, Indianapolis -400)
Chicago -10.5 (Chicago +550, Indianapolis -1000)
Indianapolis -10.5 (Indianapolis +160, Chicago -230)
Indianapolis -14.5 (Indianapolis +210, Chicago -320)
Indianapolis -17.5 (Indianapolis +250, Chicago -400)
Indianapolis -21.5 (Indianapolis +425, Chicago -800)
Bill: I love these kind of bets and wish that they were available for every NFL game. As for this one? I still think Chicago's winning. With that in mind, I want to get as much money towards that as possible. -10.5 is a little strong, so I'm going to hedge my bets and put $100 on Chicago winning by 7.5.
Ian: I think Indy will pull away at the end and win by at least two scores, so I'll be conservative for once and just say Indianapolis -10.5.
Bill: Under here. I still like this Bears defense and how it matches up against the Colts.
Ian: I think the Colts offense will top the 28 mark sometime early in the fourth quarter. Over it is.
Bill: Well, obviously I like the Bears to win the whole thing, so I think that this is a good spot for me to get the Over. They're going to be able to run the ball! A lot! Honest!
Ian: Since I could see Chicago topping this mark in either victory or defeat, but not hitting the Under and still winning, I'm going with Over.
Indianapolis Field Goal (+300)
Indianapolis TD Pass (+250)
Indianapolis TD Run (+400)
Other Indianapolis TD (+2200)
Indianapolis Safety (+5000)
Chicago Field Goal (+380)
Chicago TD Pass (+600)
Chicago TD Run (+450)
Other Chicago TD (+1400)
Chicago Safety (+5000)
Bill: I still think Chicago gets out to the early lead on Robbie Gould's foot. Unless they attempt a drop kick, that will mean Chicago Field Goal.
Ian: Since I already like the idea of a long Berrian touchdown, and it's getting the best odds of all the conventional ways to score, I'll stick with it here. Chicago TD Pass.
Indianapolis Field Goal (+300)
Indianapolis TD Pass (+400)
Indianapolis TD Run (+500)
Other Indianapolis TD (+1100)
Indianapolis Safety (+3500)
Chicago Field Goal (+400)
Chicago TD Pass (+450)
Chicago TD Run (+500)
Other Chicago TD (+1100)
Chicago Safety (+2000)
Bill: Likewise, Indianapolis will be coming back and get a Manning to Harrison touchdown pass. Indy TD Pass.
Ian: I wonder why the odds for a Chicago safety fell so much. Perhaps they think Indy could pull an intentional safety due to an unusual game situation? Anyway, why not take a chance on Vinatieri here. Indianapolis Field Goal.
Indianapolis Scores First and Wins (-175)
Indianapolis Scores First and Loses (+550)
Chicago Scores First and Wins (+250)
Chicago Scores First and Loses (+400)
Bill: We've already covered this. Chicago Scores First and Wins. I'm either going to be really wrong or really right on these bets. Fortunately, since we're not betting real money, I'm going to be really nothing.
Ian: I like the odds on Chicago Scores First and Loses, not to mention I like the chances of it happening as well.
0-7 points (+9900)
8-14 points (+7500)
15-21 points (+2500)
22-28 points (+1000)
29-35 points (+525)
36-42 points (+400)
43-49 points (+325)
50-56 points (+300)
57-63 points (+400)
64-70 points (+700)
71-77 points (+1900)
78 points or more (+2500)
Bill: I like the idea of 31-23 as a final score. That would be 54, so 50-56 it is.
Ian: This seems like it could be a high scoring game for both teams, so I'll go after some extra odds and take 64-70 points.
Bill: Maybe if they can convince the Bears front seven to fall asleep or employ some sort of weird offshoot of the Aaron Brooks Glitch. I say No.
Ian: Manning likes to throw the ball, even right up against the goal line. I'm going No on this one.
Bill: Oh yeah. I'll say three.
Ian: Here I've got to go Yes. Chicago loves to pound the ball near the goal line, and Indy's suspect tackling makes you think a Bears running back could break a long one.
Ian: Drew Brees had this many passing yards before the end of the third quarter in the NFC championship game. I think it's safe to say that Peyton will hit this mark. Over.
Bill: I think Peyton's going to throw 45 attempts in this game. He averaged 7.9 yards per attempt in the regular season. 45 * 7.9 = 355.5. That's the Over.
Ian: Although I think Manning will end the game with more touchdown passes than interceptions, it's unusual for him to get off to a fast start. I'm gonna take the points and anticipate an early INT before he finds his groove.
Bill: I like that idea too. Chicago's going to have some exotic fronts for him -- well, as exotic as the Cover-2 gets. I can see Urlacher or Briggs grabbing an INT early in the second quarter. Let's say Pick.
Ian: Here's one where the line certainly reflects what I think, but I'm also very confident in laying odds. With defenses tending to gang up on the Colts wide receivers, and Brian Urlacher likely running with Dallas Clark upfield, Peyton will find himself with nowhere to go at times. When the opportunity presents itself, he's willing to take what's there. Oh, and kneeldowns count, so there's always the chance of that being a factor.Over.
Bill: I don't see Peyton having a reason to go outside the pocket -- it's not like the Bears have a pass rush of any note. I'll go Under.
Ian: It's pretty rare to hit a big play against the stout Bears' defense. People seem to be leaning toward the chance of a long ball, but I'm going with the Under on this one.
Bill: If this were literally a yard lower, I'd go over since he's had four games this season where his longest completion was either 37 or 38 yards. I'll say Under.
Ian: When the Bears were playing the Saints, Lovie Smith asserted that while New Orleans might be able to move the ball through the air, they would not be able to run on them. He was right. No Saints player rushed for even 20 yards in the game. I don't see why things will be any different in Miami. Under
Bill: I agree, Under. I think Addai only gets 10-12 carries in this game, and none of them go for 30 yards. The Bears pursuit is too good and the Colts aren't famous for running the ball for big gains.
Ian: While I don't think he'll reach 66 yards rushing, the chances of him breaking one of those stretch handoffs for a 20-yard gain seems reasonable enough. The speed of the Bears defense will keep him from going all the way, but I'll take the Over here.
Bill: I don't think so! I'm gonna say he hits 11, maybe, but not 14.5. Under.
Ian: Here's where I think the Colts will attack the Bears defense -- passing to the running backs. I'm going Over here.
Bill: That's all fine and well, but the Bears are third in the league defending against throws to the opposition's running backs. If Addai does get this, it will be from dump-offs when the Colts are behind, but I'll guess that he doesn't. Under.
Ian: Throughout the season, Rhodes was used mainly for the pupose of keeping Joseph Addai fresh late in the season. As the playoffs arrived however, and Addai was made the starter, Rhodes has shown some excellent power running to help him keep his share of playing time in the Colts backfield. Will he reach 14 rushing attempts though? That just seems too high a number against such a strong rushing defense. Under.
Bill: I don't think Addai will get fourteen attempts, let alone Rhodes. He might not even see four. Under with extreme prejudice.
Ian: I've got to go Under here. Again, I expect the Colts to move the ball mainly through the air, just as the Saints did.
Ian: I'm surprised to see that people are leaning towards the under here. I guess Addai is usually the pass-catching back, but if the receivers are covered, and Dallas Clark is covered up the seam, then that will leave dumping the ball off or running as the lone options for Manning. I'm going Over.
Bill: Maybe he can throw it to the moooovers. Under because I don't anticipate Rhodes being on the field enough to get the ball three times out of the backfield.
Ian: Strangely, Harrison seems to have transformed from a player who was a lock for 100 yards receiving a game to one who either has a huge game, or vanishes for long stretches at a time. So which Marvin will show up for the big game? I'm going with the Over here, just because after a couple of sub-optimal games, he seems due.
Bill: The one thing the Bears defense struggles against? #1 WR's. They're 21st in the league in defending them so far this year. I'll expect them to put Nathan Vasher up in single coverage against Harrison, which means 120 yards and a touchdown for Marv. Over.
Ian: I'm not a big fan of laying extra odds here, but look for Manning to try to get Harrison involved early with some quick grabs, which should make six catches a reasonable goal. Over.
Bill: This seems eminently reasonable to me. Over.
Ian: Just because I think Harrison will have a good game doesn't mean it will come at Reggie's expense. He's been a consistent threat for the Colts, and should continue his success at moving the chains. Over.
Bill: Manning's got to get his 280 yards somewhere, and I don't think it will be through Clark or Addai. I foresee a long pass interference penalty against Wayne in this game, but I think he can get to 80 ignoring that. Over.
Ian: Reggie Wayne's too talented not to catch a big pass in the biggest game of his career. Over.
Bill: I think he actually ends up being held short, since the Bears will probably have safety help deep. I think he'll slip by once, but end up getting taken down for a Pass Interference penalty. I'll say Under.
Ian: We've seen the job Brian Urlacher can do in pass coverage, which will help out on Clark's intermediate routes, but it's not like he'll be in man coverage on him on every play. Clark's been as active in the passing game as any of the other Colts receivers lately, and it doesn't take too much to top 50 yards receiving. Over.
Bill: No way. Urlacher and Briggs shut Clark down. Chicago is the NFL's best defense against tight ends this season. Clark's good, but Chicago knows how important shutting him down is. Two catches, 19 yards. Under.
Ian: Given the success I expect the Colts passing attack to have, it's safe to assume that Vinatieri will hit the Over on this one.
Bill: Not feeling it. If Vinatieri misses a game-winning field goal, does that make Tom Brady more clutch? Under.
Ian: This one strikes me as surprisingly low, especially against a Bears offense that likes to run the ball as much as they do. Freeney isn't exactly a top-notch run stuffer, but given as many opportunities as he probably will get, it seems reasonable for him to top the 3.5 mark. Over.
Bill: It's hard to tackle someone when they've run by you. I'm pretty sure we will be able to characterize some Dwight Freeney pass rushes during this game as "grazing." Under.
Ian: Well, I'd have to say the oddsmakers have picked a nice number here. Seem like Rex could easily go either way. I'm going to guess that the Colts sell out to stop the run, and the Bears offense goes through the air. Over.
Bill: Yeah, for about one series. And they'll run right through the Colts eight-man front. Under.
Ian: Wow, I guess people think that Rex isn't going to do a heck of a lot. I probably would have gone with the Over at the usual -120; I'll definitely go with it now.
Bill: Ooh, ooh, I get to include interceptions. Get me all over this Over.
Ian: Since I anticipate a lot of dropbacks for the Bears quarterback, I expect more than a couple of sacks for the Indy defense. Over.
Bill: I the opposite! If Grossman only throws 18 passes, that won't give him many chances to get sacked. I'll take the Under.
Ian: This will probably happen due to a combination of many short runs, and one or two long ones. Jones has been efficient at evading tacklers, while the Colts have been poor at tackling. Over.
Bill: Definitely feeling this. I think Jones and Benson both see the ball a lot, but Jones is my Super Bowl MVP pick. Over.
Ian: Since Jones typically doesn't do much in the passing game, this line remains fairly low. That being said, as the Colts will likely do whatever they can to stop the Bears running backs, receiving yards for them likely won't come easily. Under.
Bill: Indianapolis does a decent job of stopping throws to the opposition's running backs. Wide receivers ... not so much. I'll take the Under too.
Ian: He's been their go-to guy in the red zone, but will he get the chance this Sunday? He probably will, as both offenses seem capable of moving the ball in chunks. I'll say Yes.
Bill: How about two?
Ian: Cedric Benson has really come on as of late, earning his fair share of the carries through solid, power running. That being said, he still only earns a share of the carries, and I believe the Bears will take to the air enough so that Benson doesn't make 13. Under.
Bill: Again, I feel that Ian is quite wrong. Benson's going to get the rock in the second half of this game and pick up 60-70 yards. That will take 15 attempts. Over.
Ian: I'll stick with my initial instinct that he won't be a big part of the Bears game plan and say Under.
Bill: See above. Over.
Ian: This one is tempting to go with the over, just because he's certainly capable of those 10-15 yard power runs he breaks off at times. In fact, I'll go with temptation and say Over.
Bill: I don't really see that happening, even though this isn't a real high number. I'd do it if it were eleven, but it's not. Under.
Ian: I haven't been impressed with Muhammad lately; he's been having a tough time getting separation from cornerbacks and making it way for Rex to get him the ball. He's almost become the number three target behind Berrian and Clark. Under.
Bill: Indianapolis is so mediocre against #1 WR's, though! They're 29th! Actually, that's not mediocre, that's abysmal. I gotta say Over.
Ian: Then again, while he hasn't been much of a threat up and down the field, he's still sure-handed enough to get targets in the redzone, where Berrian usually sits since speed is his biggest asset. I'll take a chance on Yes here.
Bill: Berrian doesn't sit, usually he's the one running through the red zone on the way to the end zone. Muhammad doesn't get in here.
Ian: As I mentioned last week in Scramble, Berrian is the key to the Bears offensive success. He's been both a huge-play player, as well as adept at creating space for mid-range passes. Rex trusts him, and will get him the ball. Over.
Bill: Love love love me some Bernard Berrian. Did you see that deke he put on Fred Thomas last week? You did. Sure, it was Fred Thomas, so it was like dekeing Goldberg the goalie, but it was smooth! Bob Sanders will come out at some point and Berrian will run right by the hole that replaces him. Over.
Ian: Bernard's been good for a big play a game at least. I feel pretty confident going with the Over here.
Bill: I don't know how I can make this any clearer. Over.
Ian: The Bears are pretty effective in the red zone, leading often to extra points instead of field goals. I think the Bears will have some nice, sustained drives, but also a fair number of three-and-outs, leading to few medium-range field goal attempts. Under.
Bill: I'm gonna say Under too, mainly because I think he'll be kicking extra points, not field goals. He'll get one figgie, but not two.
Ian: Not surprising that people are leaning towards the Over, as Urlacher is a fan favorite and someone people want to root for. That being said, reaching nine tackles alone seems perfectly reasonable for the Bears defensive leader. Over
Bill: Well, he's a fan favorite unless you're a stripper. Or Bas Rutten. I don't think the Colts will be putting the ball near him and I'll say Under.
Peyton Manning (+1800)
Joseph Addai (+700)
Marvin Harrison (+680)
Dominic Rhodes (+1200)
Reggie Wayne (+700)
Dallas Clark (+1000)
Bryan Fletcher (+1800)
Rex Grossman (+3000)
Muhsin Muhammad (+1000)
Cedric Benson (+900)
Thomas Jones (+680)
Bernard Berrian (+1000)
Desmond Clark (+1500)
Rashied Davis (+2000)
Devin Hester (+2000)
No TD scored (+7500)
Ian: I like Berrian's chances of scoring early, as the Bears will want to establish that they're willing to stretch the field.
Bill: Those are some mighty fine odds on No TD Scored. 7500? Geez. That's three-quarters of the way to my World Series entry. I'll trust my instincts and go with Field here. Maybe Charles Tillman?
Peyton Manning (+2000)
Joseph Addai (+800)
Marvin Harrison (+600)
Dominic Rhodes (+1000)
Reggie Wayne (+800)
Dallas Clark (+1200)
Bryan Fletcher (+2000)
Rex Grossman (+2500)
Muhsin Muhammad (+1000)
Cedric Benson (+1000)
Thomas Jones (+700)
Bernard Berrian (+800)
Desmond Clark (+1200)
Rashied Davis (+1500)
Devin Hester (+3000)
No TD scored (+7500)
Ian: Late in the game is when strange things happen, and the field is certainly more tempting. That being said, why not take a shot at winning big? I'll take the chance that Devin Hester comes up with a big play late, whether or not the game is still in question at that point. C'mon, $3,000!
Bill: I think the last score of the game brings the Colts within a few points before a failed onside kick causes the game to all but end. With that in mind, it seems like a good time for Marvin Harrison to get in the end zone.
Marvin Harrison (+180)
Reggie Wayne (+200)
Ben Utecht (+400)
Dallas Clark (+300)
Bryan Fletcher (+250)
Joseph Addai (+350)
Ian: As I mentioned earlier, it seems reasonable to think that Peyton Manning will want to get Marvin Harrison involved early in the game. He's the favorite here, and I also like his chances.
Bill: I like the odds on Joseph Addai here. I don't think he'll get much during the game, but +350 is way too high.
Muhsin Muhammad (+180)
Bernard Berrian (+190)
Desmond Clark (+250)
Rashied Davis (+300)
Thomas Jones (+500)
Ian: Chicago loves to set up early short passes to their tight ends and fullbacks in an effort to ease Rex Grossman into the passing game. For that reason, and because the odds are pretty good, I'm going with the Field.
Bill: Ian brings up a good point: Does Vegas mean "A player who is not listed among the players above," or literally that Rex will throw a pass into the field? If I could bet on the latter, I would without a second's hesitation. Outside of that, I'll go with Desmond Clark.
Peyton Manning (EVEN)
Dallas Clark (+2000)
Marvin Harrison (+900)
Adam Viniatieri (+1100)
Bob Sanders (+2200)
Dominic Rhodes (+1500)
Joseph Addai (+900)
Reggie Wayne (+1200)
Terrence Wilkins (+3300)
Rex Grossman (+550)
Muhsin Muhammad (+2000)
Thomas Jones (+1000)
Bernard Berrian (+1200)
Cedric Benson (+1000)
Desmond Clark (+1800)
Brian Urlacher (+1200)
Devin Hester (+2000)
Robbie Gould (+1500)
Ian: Even money. Amazing. Of course, it makes a lot of sense. Even if Harrison or Wayne have a huge game, Manning will win MVP on his name alone. Why miss an opportunity to make some real money? If the Bears win, it's conceivable that a lot of players could claim credit. Since I think he's their key to victory, I'll take a chance on Bernard Berrian taking the award home.
Bill: I'm figuring Thomas Jones for something like 130 and two scores. That's Super Bowl MVP range, easy.
Joe Johnson total points -4.5 (-120)
Chicago Bears total points +4.5 (-120)
Ian: I don't like Indy's chances of shutting down the Bears offense, so I wouldn't call this a Joe Johnson slam dunk. He averages about 25 points a game, and he'll be playing in New Jersey, where the Nets are a pretty-much league-average defense. I'm guessing the Bears will crack 20 points, so I'll go with the Bears +4.5.
Bill: I like the Bears here too. I have them penciled in somewhere from 28-31 and I don't see Johnson going for 36. Vince Carter! Contract year!
Mary J. Blige Grammy wins (-120)
Marvin Harrison pass receptions (-120)
Ian: Good luck to ya Mary, but since I think Marvin will have a prolific affair this weekend, I can't see you out-winning his reception total. I'm going with Harrison.
Bill: I don't see Mary doing very well myself. Her story plays nice, but is Clive Davis really behind her? I don't think so. Marvin gets it.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas total points and rebounds -1.5 (-120)
Peyton Manning total pass completions +1.5 (-120)
Ian: Ilgauskas is averaging 12 points and eight rebounds on the season, but unfortunately for him, he's going up against the Detroit Pistons, who are the second-best defense in the Eastern Conference. It's unlikely for him to have a very productive game, even though Ben Wallace won't be there to help slow him down. Factor in that I think Manning will have a nice game spreading the ball around, and I'm going with Peyton's completions +1.5 on this one.
Bill: Ilgy (as I and I alone like to call him) is hit or miss. The Cavs are going to have to attack with LeBron on the outside, and their interior defense, by then, will be stronger. Go with Peyton here.
You know, we haven't even gotten to the historical matchup between Manning passing yards and Joe Montana passing yards in Super Bowl XVI, Bernard Berrian vs. Tiger Woods' fourth-round golf score, or Dixie Chicks Grammy awards vs. Peyton Manning rushing attempts. But at this point the print version of this column must be getting into the hundreds of pages, so we'll wrap it up. Good luck to all our readers in the Super Bowl -- whatever your rooting interests might be.
Ian: Come on, Over 1 minute 44 seconds!
90 comments, Last at 06 Feb 2007, 4:01pm by Zac