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?
25 Jan 2013
by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz
Tom: It is time for perhaps the greatest tradition associated with Scramble for the Ball: the Super Bowl prop bets column. This is the tenth Scramble for the Ball Prop Bet Extravaganza. It's been a feature of the column since the beginning in 2003, and has survived writer change after writer change after writer change.
In case some of our readers are not familiar with how prop bets work, Mike, why don't you tell people what we're doing here anyway.
It's that time of year again, the time of year when your Scramble writers
run out of ideas amuse one and all with Super Bowl odds that people are actually betting on. I'll spare you the lecture about how this demonstrates the evils of gambling (ha ha, see what I did there?) and go straight into Scrambler Emeritus Al Bogdan's perennially-stolen explanation, adapted for the tenor of our times:
Most of these bets are whether a proposition is over or under the "line," usually total. For example:
Number of brain cells reading this week's entire column will kill (9.5)
Here, you would be betting on how many brain cells this week's column will destroy. You would have to choose either more or less than 9.5. Since football stats are generally whole numbers, most propositions won't have "push" as a viable option. If you were to bet that more than 9.5 of your little dudes would croak, you would have to wager a hypothetical $115 to win $215: your $115 that you wagered plus $100 more (hence the "-115"). If you wanted to take the under, you would wager a hypothetical $100 to win $205: your $100 back, plus $105 (hence the "+105"). Since I imagine your Scramble writers have almost certainly killed a number of your brain cells purely through fright at this point, 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 "Enrico Palazzo +500," meaning that if you wager a hypothetical $100 on him and he scores the first touchdown, you'd win $600. The line would probably be even higher, however, given that he's dead, and never played professional football in the first place.
For the purposes of determining a winner of this column, we're laying down 100 quatlus down on any of these "pick from a crowd" bets, and for over/unders we're wagering 100 on any overs where we're receiving positive odds (e.g. anything above +101) and wagering whatever it takes to win 100 on any overs where we're receiving negative odds (e.g. anything below -101).
Tom: Thank you, Mike. Now on with the show.
Baltimore Ravens +4 (-120)
San Francisco 49ers -4 (EVEN)
Tom: The San Francisco 49ers will not only win Super Bowl XLVII, they will cover -4 points.
Mike: My main concern is San Francisco's offense. Their rip-roaring comeback against the Atlanta Falcons really serves best as a reminder that they needed a historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. While Baltimore is probably the inferior team, I think they match up pretty well with the Niners, and I feel San Francisco's offensive game plan will be rather overconfident based on recent successes. The Ravens are no longer an elite defense, but they are very smart and there is still a lot of talent on that roster. Baltimore Ravens.
Colin Kaepernick (SF) QB -- 7/4
Joe Flacco (BAL) QB -- 5/2
Ray Lewis (BAL) LB -- 6/1
Frank Gore (SF) RB -- 17/2
Ray Rice (BAL) RB -- 12/1
Michael Crabtree (SF) WR -- 16/1
Anquan Boldin (BAL) WR -- 18/1
Torrey Smith (BAL) WR -- 20/1
Vernon Davis (SF) TE -- 22/1
Aldon Smith (SF) LB -- 25/1
Dennis Pitta (BAL) TE -- 33/1
Ed Reed (BAL) FS -- 33/1
Randy Moss (SF) WR -- 40/1
Terrell Suggs (BAL) LB -- 50/1
LaMichael James (SF) RB -- 50/1
Patrick Willis (SF) LB -- 66/1
NaVorro Bowman (SF) LB -- 66/1
Dashon Goldson (SF) FS -- 66/1
David Akers (SF) K -- 66/1
Bernard Pierce (BAL) RB -- 75/1
Justin Tucker (BAL) K -- 75/1
Delanie Walker (SF) TE -- 75/1
Ted Ginn Jr. (SF) WR -- 75/1
Alex Smith (SF) QB -- 100/1
Field -- 22/1
Tom: Given the 49ers will win the Super Bowl, Colin Kaepernick is very tempting, especially given how often quarterbacks have won the Super Bowl MVP of late even without particularly outstanding performances (the three Manning MVP awards stand out as trophies awarded to quarterback wins). That said, one of the ways somebody else can win is by having good conventional statistics and maybe scoring a key touchdown or two. Hello, Frank Gore.
Mike: Ray Lewis. I will throw things at my television and my wife will probably join me in shouting things that I won't be able to repeat in print. The writers (because he's always a story) and the league (because he fits their 'virtuous reformed criminal' mold) are obsessed with Lewis, and if he does anything remotely flashy or important, he's going to get it. That, and the fact that Ray Rice probably won't get much traction and the Ravens passing attack gives me indigestion.
Over/Under 2 minutes 15 seconds
Tom: Ms. Keys has noted that she will use a different style for the national anthem this year than the one she has used in the past. Given my comparative enjoyment of the Zac Brown Band's brief in Atlanta this past Sunday, which came in at a brisk and not overlong 1:11, my only hope is that her new style comes in well, well under 2:15.
Mike: I believe one of our commenters referred to the Zac Brown Band as the 'least offensive musical ensemble' available for the anthem. I think that summed their performance up very well. I'd delve into this a bit, but somehow you found a story about Ms. Keys' approach to the anthem, and that seems like a rabbit hole I need to avoid. Under
Yes +150 (3/2)
No -200 (1/2)
Tom: Alicia Keys is a veteran of the big stage. No.
Mike: Has this even happened? I'm actually more interested in the precedent for this proposition than I am in the result. No.
Yes +200 (2/1)
No -300 (1/3)
Tom: If she does, I really hope it's peacock. No.
Mike: That's what you think she should insert? If she's going to add words, she should start singing scat or Be Prepared or something. Go whole hog! No.
Yes +110 (11/10)
No -150 (2/3)
Tom: I have actually suggested Jay-Z do the halftime show, not because I have any particular affection for Jay-Z, but as a way of getting a male headliner whose first album was released after 1985. Having him out there with Beyonce would be a natural move, but he is famous enough to be a headliner in his own right. That means if he was going to be out there, we would know about it by now. No.
Mike: I don't know, audiences love surprises. The NFL has more than enough money to pay Mr. Z. The halftime show is short enough, also, that he doesn't even really need to do anything. Just show up, sing one duet, be Jay-Z for a minute or so, then collect a good paycheck and incredible press. Yes.
Straight -140 (5/7)
Curly/Crimped EVEN (1/1)
Tom: Beyonce has hair? I guess I kind of assumed that she did. Since she is of an age where women normally have hair and I have not heard anything about her not having any hair. Curly/crimped.
Mike: And you wonder why you live alone. It depends, really, on what set she's singing. While obviously I have no idea, based on some wild guessing I think straight will suit her best when singing her Super Bowl-ish anthems.
Gold (Yellow) 11/4
Silver (Grey) 7/2
Tom: Given that purple is not an option, I guess she does not have plans to attend a Twisted Sister concert the night before the game. Black.
Mike: What is this I don't even. Red.
Yes +200 (2/1)
No -300 (1/3)
Tom: This sort of question gives me nightmares about Brady Quinn's sister, who was dating A.J. Hawk, and ABC's incessant shots of her during the 2006 Fiesta Bowl wearing a vertically-divided Notre Dame-Ohio State jersey. I hope if Jack or Jackie Harbaugh is wearing clothing with an athletic logo that it's Western Kentucky-branded. No.
Mike: Astoundingly, this is my most confident bet out of all these props. No parent would do that to their children. No.
Over 1.5 (-140) (5/7)
Under 1.5 (EVEN) (1/1)
Tom: A valuable lesson from last year: plugging the network's featured and/or new shows is way, way more important than showing anybody not on the field. The only concern here is that we might get our one shot of Jack early in the game, then another as the clock is winding out but before the clock hits 0:00. Still, I will go with the under.
Mike: I think your concern is completely warranted. There is too much family drama involved to avoid those two shots, and I think if it's close at halftime (which it probably will be), or there is another, similar moment of dramatic tension, we'll get another look at the Harbaughs. Over.
Tom: One bit of clarification: by the rules, "during the game" means from the opening kickoff to the clock hitting 0:00 and the conclusion of the final play for both halves, but does not include halftime. If, for instance, Jim Nantz mentioned "Har Bowl" e.g. right before Justin Tucker strikes the ball on the opening kickoff, it does not count, nor does it count if he declares San Francisco the winner of the Harbaugh Bowl after an incompletion on the last play of the game. Under.
Mike: That and it's just tacky. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are many things, but tacky is not one of them. Under.
Jim Harbaugh 1/1
John Harbaugh 1/1
Split screen shot of both 4/1
Tom: Split screen is kind of tempting here, but my guess is we will see that before the game rather than during it. The one we're more likely to see first is the one whose team gets the ball first. Given the 49ers are favored to receive the opening kickoff, I am going with Jim Harbaugh.
Mike: This is like the coin flip prop, but even more attenuated. I love it! I agree that split screen is there for suckers, but I'm going to say there will be some sort of novelty shot of the coaches during the first controversial play, if only to show the difference in their demeanors. Maybe that will happen in the first drive! Split screen shot of both.
Over/Under 7.5 seconds
Tom: Mike's reaction to this prop may have been that to declare that these props are awesome, but mine was more along the lines of "Who the heck bothers to actually come up with these things?" If this was our preseason over/under column, I would express my displeasure by declaring it would be a push. Given the lack of that option, I will instead go with under, as the legendary Harbaugh family competitive drive makes me think a long handshake/hug would instead be a prelude to kill.
Mike: There props are awesome. And they're for people who really, really need to get professional help. I think the hug/handshake in most important games last for more than 7.5 seconds, and most of those don't have the significant familiar and emotional importance of this Super Bowl. Over.
Jim Harbaugh -120
John Harbaugh -120
Tom: Neither, because Phil Simms will call them Jim and John Harbaughs? More likely, the coach of the winning team, which will be Jim Harbaugh.
Mike: I'm going with Jim Harbaugh, because I think Simms will regularly become confused and just go with the brother with the shorter name.
Tom: Harbaugh. Harbaugh. Harbaugh. What I tell you three times is true. Over.
Mike: There was a really good episode of Lewis about the Hunting of the Snark. I should catch up on that show. Over.
Tom: People not playing or coaching the game make it on television way less than you think they will. Of course, the over/under here is not very big at all, and if this included halftime, I would say over. It does not, however, so I will say under.
Mike: I agree. He'll show up at halftime, but nobody is going to be looking for him during the game. Under.
Tom: One thing I now wonder is how difficult it is for a player on a Super Bowl team to be arrested. Obviously, we have the Eugene Robinson example to tell us that it is possible, but my guess is it's harder for them to do something that gets them arrested than it is for some random schmoe. No.
Mike: With one notable exception, neither of these teams have a reputation for misconduct. This is really surprising, considering Jim Harbaugh's reputation as a crazy, angry person. No.
Tom: Sadly, purple is once again not an option, so I cannot simply decide it's between one of the team colors and go with red or purple. Yellow.
Mike: Is there actually any clear variety of Gatorade? I've always wondered about that section. I think it's just water but they don't want to actually say it's water because that makes the phrasing of the prop strange. That said, my favorite color is green, so I'll go with green.
Does Not Thank Anyone 9/4
Tom: Does not thank anyone has served me well in the past, as simply declarations of the greatness of God, family, teammates, fans, etc. do not count as thanking.
Mike: I can't pick Ray Lewis and not go with God.
Tom: The only chance of hitting the over on this prop is if the Ravens win and Lewis has a great game. Lewis is not currently the Ravens' best linebacker, and the Ravens are not favored to win the game. Under.
Mike: I have no idea why you think this only works if Lewis has a great game. Even if he has a terrible game, he's still going to get a lengthy interview. He's going to use it as a platform to talk about his life, briefly. He's going to use it to solidify his place as a public speaker and a budding broadcaster. And he really, really, really like to thank God for things. Over.
Tom: NFL ratings are somehow kind of down this year, and I do not think Baltimore is the most popular team. Still, this is San Francisco's first trip to the Super Bowl in a long time, they're in a big market and have a large national following. Over.
Mike: And the San Francisco Baseball Giants got that fanbase warmed up for championship games. I also think a significant portion of viewers will tune in as a measure of thanks for the Ravens beating the Patriots. Over.
Over/Under 111 million viewers
Tom: Since I am going over on the rating, I will go over on the number of average viewers as well.
Mike: Sure, why not. Over.
Baltimore -150 (2/3)
San Francisco +110 (11/10)
Tom: The January weather is generally nicer in San Francisco than it is in Baltimore. There are more things to do in San Francisco than there are in Baltimore. The odds on this prop are not enough to make me change my mind. Baltimore.
Mike: Baltimore is also much more of a football town at the moment, likely tied to a governmental program to curb aggression in repeat offenders by having them live vicariously through the incredibly violent play of Baltimore's defense. Sadly, that defense is gone, and the population of Baltimore will give in to their natural urge to return to their actual favorite pastime: murdering each other. San Francisco.
Market Up -140 (5/7)
Market Down EVEN (1/1)
Tom: I wonder if there is a correlation between the stock market going down and downtown muggings, or if Hank Williams Jr. did not exactly speak true. Market up.
Mike: The market has been on an upswing for quite a while, and while it's impossible to predict the news of next week, the Super Bowl isn't going to change anything. Market Up.
Tom: Last year's Super Bowl hit 12,000 tweets per second. Can we see that sort of year-on-year increase? My initial question was whether the infamous fail whale might deprive us of the chance to see this mark surpassed, but other occasions seem to have exceeded that threshold. I will go with under.
Mike: Where on Earth did you find that statistic? Tweeting is for some insane reason even more popular than it was last year, to the point where Twitter is releasing an awful micro-video service, so don't look to me for any faith in humanity. Over.
Yes +225 (9/4)
No -350 (2/7)
Tom: Excessive celebration penalties are kind of lame, and players know better than to do such a thing in an important game like the Super Bowl. Now, the Pro Bowl, every touchdown that game should have an over-the-top celebration and teams should be penalized if their celebration is not sufficiently excessive. No.
Mike: The problem is that there are too many touchdowns in the Pro Bowl to impose that rule, because neither team is allowed to play defense. No.
Tom: Apparently, some sites are offering you -115/-115 for the privilege of betting on the coin toss. Compared to that, -105 is practically a bargain! Tails.
Mike: Next year, we need to ask for actual stats about how many people place bets on these. It's too late to do so, but it would be really interesting if we could pair these insane bets with statistical data. Adjusted for the action. I think this will -- wait, Tom, where are you going? Tom?
Baltimore Ravens -105
San Francisco 49ers -105
Tom: Baltimore Ravens, because.
Mike: San Francisco 49ers, also because!
Tom: No. Baltimore is winning the coin toss and San Francisco is winning the game.
Mike: I'm actually not sure who wins this game. I know I picked Baltimore against the spread, but straight up? Let's hedge my bets a bit and go with yes, because honestly it really doesn't matter what I pick.
Baltimore Ravens (Score Last in Game) EVEN
San Francisco 49ers (Score Last in Game) -130
Tom: Baltimore's superior odds here are enough for me to go with them, even though the 49ers are likely to have the last score.
Mike: If San Francisco is winning, they're winning by building a lead and grinding it out and then playing prevent defense at the end of the game. With the odds, this is just a no-brainer. Baltimore Ravens.
Yes (Score Last wins game) -190
No (Score Last wins game) +160
Tom: Without even odds, I feel no need to be consistent on these multiple props. Thus, I am willing to pick yes here, even though I picked Baltimore to score last and San Francisco to win the game.
Mike: Since I figure Baltimore's going to score last, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and let Joe Flacco be a hero. Yes.
Field Goal or Safety +125
Tom: What, no option for no score in the game? Well, I guess it is a playoff game, after all ... touchdown.
Mike: I think Baltimore's going to have good looks for Kaepernick and San Francisco's defense is just good. Field Goal or Safety.
Tom: With two weeks to prepare for a game and both teams capable of some offensive fireworks, I will go with yes.
Mike: Yes, and it will be a stupid dragon prayer by Flacco that had no business being completed, because football hates me.
Tom: Under, as the Baltimore Ravens will score 20 points and lose.
Mike: Picking actual points is silly. I hate doing it. Still, 22 isn't that high for a Super Bowl. Over.
Tom: Over, as the San Francisco 49ers will score 27 points and win.
Mike: Neither is 26. Over.
Yes (Opening Kickoff Touchback) -200
No (Opening Kickoff Touchback) +160
Tom: Since the San Francisco 49ers are likely to receive the opening kickoff, Justin Tucker has done a fine job on kickoffs this season, and the game is being played indoors, yes, the opening kickoff will be a touchback.
Mike: No, because some idiot is going to run it out regardless of where the kickoff ends up.
Baltimore Ravens +120
San Francisco 49ers -150
Tom: Shockingly, the odds here are identical to a bet we did not take, which team will receive the opening kickoff, so I cannot use that as a cheat sheet. San Francisco 49ers.
Mike: The Niners are much more well-built to get first downs and put together those medium-length drives. Baltimore is probably going to do some ineffective running and take a bad shot downfield. San Francisco 49ers.
Baltimore Ravens +110
San Francisco 49ers -140
Tom: Does it count as crossing the 50-yard line if you start a possession beyond the 50? My guess is that it does. Nevertheless, the San Francisco 49ers will receive the opening kickoff and cross midfield on their way to the end zone.
Mike: Offense has to cross the 50, so I think that's pretty clearly a no. As I said, Baltimore is lousy at putting together real drives. San Francisco 49ers.
Baltimore Ravens +110
San Francisco 49ers -140
Tom: San Francisco 49ers, en route to the end zone on their opening possession.
Mike: And here I think is where Flacco's first successful dragon ends up. Baltimore Ravens.
Tom: Even in close games, this happens more often than you might think, as we have established in past year. Of course, the odds are a reflection that. Yes.
Mike: It's a mistake to bet against this, even with the action set up to suck the unwary fake gambler in. Yes.
Baltimore Ravens 11/10
San Francisco 49ers 5/7
Tom: If neither team makes it to 10 points in the game, the game will probably be much less enjoyable than I am expecting it to be. San Francisco 49ers.
Mike: Speak for yourself. If the Super Bowl ends up being a defensive slugfest, I would be absolutely overjoyed. That just isn't happening, however. San Francisco 49ers.
Tom: These are awfully heavy odds to lay. While it is certainly likelier than not that there will be such a score, I am declaring no.
Mike: I'm increasingly of the opinion that every team forgets how to play defense inside of the two-minute warning, so Yes.
Tom: Tie scores do not count as both teams leading. The San Francisco 49ers will lead in the first half. The Baltimore Ravens will not. No.
Mike: Neither of these teams are dominant enough to bet against a close game with at least one lead change. Yes.
Field Goal or Safety +145
Tom: According to the mental model of the game I have constructed, it will be a seven-point lead that is extended to 10 or a 10-point deficit that is cut to seven points. Field goal or safety.
Touchdown (Ravens First Score) -155
Field Goal or Safety (Ravens First Score) +125
Tom: After the San Francisco 49ers score a touchdown, and score once again, the Baltimore Ravens will score a touchdown of their own.
Mike: I'm solidly behind a low-scoring first half, so field goal or safety.
Touchdown (49ers First Score) -155
Field Goal or Safety (49ers First Score) +125
Mike: For the same reasons, field goal or safety.
Tom: No, the San Francisco 49ers will hold the lead at halftime.
Mike: +475! Awesome! That's like a suplex. By some guy. On another guy.
(Thus endeth the mandatory wrestling reference.)
First Quarter 4/1
Second Quarter 8/5
Third Quarter 3/1
Fourth Quarter 2/1
Tom: While it is not always the case, the odds indicate the second quarter is always a good bet for this. The fourth quarter is problematic because one team is frequently trying to slow down the game, either because they are leading or because they just want to minimize the number of possessions like the Falcons seemingly were trying to do in the NFC championship game.
Mike: I think we're going to see some good third-quarter adjustments in this game, and I think San Francisco will let Kaepernick run wild in the second half in this game. Third quarter.
Yes (Scoreless Quarter) +300
No (Scoreless Quarter) -400
Tom: As I am predicting a game with nine total scores, no, I do not believe there will be a scoreless quarter.
Mike: Hard to imagine a scoreless quarter, although this would be the year for it. I just can't get on board. No.
First Half +0.5 Pts EVEN
Second Half + OT -0.5 Pts -130
Tom: As I have predicted the two weeks will allow both offenses to come out scoring early, I am willing to take the extra odds and go with the first half as opposed to the normally higher-scoring second half.
Mike: You are a crazy person. Plus, second half includes overtime. Second half plus overtime.
Yes (Overtime) +600 (6/1)
No (Overtime) -1000 (1/10)
Tom: Overtime games happen in the NFL. We have come close before in the Super Bowl, with a number of field goals at the end of games and of course Mike !%#!%# Jones tackling Kevin !%#!%@# Dyson at the one-yard-line in Super Bowl XXXIV. Sooner or later, there will be a Super Bowl overtime game. Not this year. No.
Mike: Both of these teams love to play for the tie late in the game. This is my There Will Be A Safety Completely Improbable Prop Bet of the Year. Yes.
Odd -140 (5/7)
Even +110 (11/10)
Tom: 27 + 20 = 47, which is odd. Odd.
Mike: You do realize, since I've mentioned it every year, that I hate how you assign points to the game? Because I do. And you should feel bad. The issue here is the evens are just mathematically superior. Even plus even equals even. Odd plus odd equals even. Even.
Odd -140 (5/7)
Even +110 (11/10)
Tom: While I have a final score, I do not have a halftime score. I will go with odd once again.
Mike: See above! Even.
Tom: This line was 13.5 last year. This is probably a better line, given the need to pick an over or an under, but I still do not like it. Over.
Mike: Even close games can be two-touchdown games. Over.
Yes +150 (3/2)
No -180 (5/9)
Tom: No. The San Francisco 49ers will lead the game at halftime, and the Baltimore Ravens will not wrest the lead away from them in the second half.
Mike: Lead changes are great! Lead changes for everyone, at all times! Friend Computer demands lead changes! Yes.
Tom: Another bet we have looked at in the past, and that is much more reasonable than it seemed at first impression. Over.
Mike: While Joe Flacco has many, many ineffective dragons, he also has a significant number of highly effective dragons. I'm willing to give him one, because I'm letting him play the hero. Without, of course, winning MVP. Over.
Yes +160 (8/5)
No -200 (1/2)
Tom: No, for the Super Bowl is always and everywhere the finest, most perfect game played in the NFL that season. Well, that or defensive and special teams touchdowns are kind of rare, as the odds reflect.
Mike: Everyone knows how I feel about non-predictive events at this point. No.
Tom: Sadly, you cannot bet on whether the longest successful field goal in the game would be made by David Akers or by Justin Tucker. I would put my money there on Tucker at anything -200 or better, I think. Under.
Mike: I don't care what the odds are, I'm not taking Akers on anything this year, which is a shame because I'm still a big booster for his Hall of Fame candidacy. Still, the kicking in this game is not going to be particularly noteworthy. Under.
Yes (Missed Field Goal) -115
No (Missed Field Goal) -115
Tom: As I have previously noted, the Super Bowl is always and everywhere the finest, most perfect game played in the NFL that season. Therefore, no, a field goal will not be missed.
Mike: Akers is having a really bad year. Yes.
Yes (Safety) +600 (6/1)
No (Safety) -1000 (1/10)
Tom: Congratulations, Mike, you got your safety in last year's game. You got to lord it over me in our final column. It is not happening again. No.
Mike: I am never, ever going to let that safety go. Of course it's not going to happen again! No.
Tom: San Francisco did not have that many sacks, and was below average by Adjusted Sack Rate. Notwithstanding the fine reputation of their offensive line, 49ers quarterbacks were sacked a lot, but Kaepernick somewhat less so than Alex Smith. The overall league sack rate this year was 6.2 percent. Given the projected number of attempts, under player props, you would expect fewer than four sacks. Given neither team is particularly prolific at sacking the opposing passer or particularly prone to getting sacked (as we discussed in a column earlier this year, that seems to be more important), I will go with under.
Mike: If I'm never going to shut up about my safety, I suppose you're never going to shut up about your quarterback-related sacks research. Under.
Baltimore Ravens +1.5
San Francisco 49ers -1.5
Tom: As I expect the San Francisco 49ers to score more points, I will pick them to have a couple more first downs than the Baltimore Ravens, enough to cover this line.
Mike: It's not even a matter of points, though. San Francisco is simply going to have more sustained drives. They may not result in points, but they'll get their conversions. San Francisco 49ers.
Yes -250 (2/5)
No +200 (2/1)
Tom: While I am projecting the San Francisco 49ers to make multiple field goals this game, I believe that they will only do so when they are close enough to trust in David Akers. I am not promising that the 49ers will go for it on fourth down in the intermediate zone, only suggesting that they might. In any event, I expect multiple fourth-down attempts in this game and at least one conversion. Yes.
Mike: Two suspect kickers and the possibility of a close game means a lot of fourth-down attempts. At least one of them will convert. Yes.
Baltimore Ravens (Commit First Turnover) -115
San Francisco 49ers (Commit First Turnover) -115
Tom: As the San Francisco 49ers will score on more possessions and both teams will have about the same number of possessions, the Baltimore Ravens will commit the first, and maybe only, turnover of Super Bowl XLVII.
Mike: You're like Not-Bob-Kelso from that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. At least he had the decency to imagine games that already happened. Of course, if you were, that explains a great deal about our site's issues. San Francisco 49ers.
No Turnover In Game 15/2
Tom: Assuming, of course, that there is a turnover. There will not be. No turnover in game.
Mike: I'm not sure what about either of these teams' history makes you think there will be no turnover. Heck, Kaepernick opened the wild card round with an interception. I think with these two quarterbacks, interception is the smart money.
Over (Interceptions) O 1.5 (-150)
Under (Interceptions) U 1.5 (+120)
Tom: Having previously declared that there will not be any turnovers in the game, the odds would have to be very, very attractive for me to then declare that there will be multiple interceptions. There will not be. Under.
Mike: I'm always game for some desperation heaves near the end of the game. I don't think the game will turn out that way, but the action isn't terrible and I've long since lost track of what I was actually predicting at this point. Over.
Baltimore Ravens (First Timeout) -115
San Francisco 49ers (First Timeout) -115
Tom: I wonder when the last NFL game with no timeouts called was. I tried to look this up a little bit ago, but it proved entirely too cumbersome to do so. I suspect it's been a while, possibly a long while. Baltimore Ravens.
Mike: The Niners have a relatively new offense with a very green leader. Baltimore fans travel well and in great numbers, despite their predilection for marching single-file. There is going to be a rookie moment sometime in the first quarter or so, so San Francisco 49ers.
Tom: The postseason usage of all-star crews makes it hard to use basic crew call rates to establish a baseline for this question. Given my level of affection for Jerome Boger and my recollection of how much of a trainwreck some games he has done have been, my bet is it will feel like at least 20. Over.
Mike: Is Bernard Pollard going to be on the field? Yes? Over.
Tom: Given the scores I have divined, there will be no need for a two-point conversion, thus no, no two-point conversion will be attempted.
Mike: The sad thing is, one day your prediction is actually going to correct. I was really hoping the Mayans would ensure that this day never came to pass, but I did not count on Dikembe Mutombo. Curse you, Random Turkey! No.
Yes +350 (7/2)
No -500 (1/5)
Tom: Given that there will not be a two-point conversion attempted, no, there will not be a successful two-point conversion.
Mike: While there is a certain amount of contradiction I'm willing to take, I can't say there will be no two-point try and then say there will be a successful one. That's just going too far. No.
Tom: While my
examination of ketchup patterns excessive tape study has led me to divine the final score of the game, I am not quite sure how things will proceed. Thus, these player projections are based on random guess a deeply intuitive perspective on the game. Such as, Joe Flacco has completed no more than 20 passes in 10 of his last 15 games. Even in the Denver games, where he attempted a combined 74 passes, he failed to break 20 completions. Under.
Mike: At least you used Heinz ketchup. Flacco belongs to the Rex Grossman Dojo of Screw It, I'm Throwing Deep. He does not have a high completion percentage, and even through he's going to have to throw a lot in this game, they will be low-percentage throws. Under.
Tom: The Ravens will have to throw the ball a lot this game, as they will be behind. Thus, over on the number of Joe Flacco attempts. No, this does not contradict my previous answer, for several reasons. First, I reserve the right to be contradictory, if I so desire. Second, based on Flacco’s postseason completion percentage of 55 percent, he will need over 37 attempts to reach 20.5 expected completions. Third, he has shown this year that he can have a large number of attempts without many completions. Fourth, incompletions beget more attempts.
Mike: Despite actually agreeing with you, I have no words. Over.
Throw a TD Pass -220 (5/11)
Throw an Interception +180 (9/5)
Tom: As I have already noted there will be no turnovers in the game and he therefore will not throw an interception, he will of course throw a touchdown pass first, unless he does not throw any of those either.
Mike: Flacco will throw a touchdown and an interception, but I'm willing to go with the touchdown coming first. Throw a touchdown pass.
Tom: The San Francisco 49ers have a stout run defense. Ray Rice will struggle to find success against them. Under. Now watch me lose this bet on a 23-yard run on third-and-34.
Mike: I hate this line, because it's really, really good. That said, I think Rice will end up slightly under.
Tom: As the Baltimore Ravens showed last week, that Rice is running ineffectively does not mean they will not try to run the ball with him. There is a counter to my idea that both teams will come out throwing: perhaps Jim Caldwell will be bewitched by the Kevin Gilbride idea that running the ball effectively is not the idea so much as trying to run the ball is. Rice had 19 carries for 48 yards against the Patriots. He could do the same again in the Super Bowl. Over.
Mike: This is another one that seems like a lock. Against the Patriots, with their stout rushing defense and ... less than stout passing defense, Rice still had 19 carries. Against a much more balanced defense, of course Baltimore is going to run early and run often. Over.
Tom: Including the postseason, Anquan Boldin has played in 18 games. He has 1217 receiving yards, for an average of 67.6 per game. Now you know how lines are determined and can go make your own! Boldin's value is as a maker of contested catches in intermediate and short areas. I do not believe that is an area where the San Francisco 49ers are particularly vulnerable. Under.
Mike: I think that Boldin is going to get looks down the field, just because of the element of surprise. That said, he's a possession receiver against a team that is pretty good against possession receivers. Sure tackling, sound coverage. Under.
Over 4.5 (-150)
Under 4.5 (+120)
Tom: 18 games, 81 receptions, 81/18 = 4.5. Again, Boldin is not the receiver that will do the damage to the 49ers. Under.
Mike: Of course, none of those postseason games had anything to do with this game, which is the real flaw in the oddsmaking process. Of course, it's all so completely random, anyway, who cares what data you base your conclusions on? You're never going to be right. Boldin is going to be very valuable on third-and-short, because the Ravens absolutely adore running ineffectively on third-and-short, so the Niners are going to be looking for the Rice run and the play-action to Smith. These plays will, instead, go to Boldin. Over.
Tom: Torrey Smith is the receiver who could take the top off the 49ers defense, especially since neither Dashon Goldson nor Donte Whitner is an exceptionally rangy player. He, not Anquan Boldin, will be the receiver who does the most damage to the 49ers. Unless they double him and take their chances with leaving Jacoby Jones completely uncovered. Yeah, that is probably safer. I know, that strategy kind of cost the Broncos, but only because of Rahim Moore. Still, I am going over on Smith's production.
Mike: Someone has to catch dem dragons. Over.
Over 3.5 (-140)
Under 3.5 (+110)
Tom: I am still bullish on Torrey Smith having a big game. Over.
Mike: And I'm bullish on a lot of targets and probably three big receptions. Under.
Tom: Whether this bet goes over or under depends very much on the official scorer. Will Lewis get an assist on a tackle for breathing the same air as the opposing player? If so, he will easily get to double-digit tackles and could make it to 20 or more. On the other hand, if he is treated like a normal player, he has no shot at going over. Heck, it's his last game, and he got a Football Life episode on him. Over it is!
Mike: Even the New England scorer gave him some insane assists in the Championship Game. He'll get to 12. Over.
Tom: On the other hand, Ed Reed gets no such benefit of the doubt. Over the course of the season, he only had 10 tackle assists, or two more than Lewis was credited for against the Patriots. Under.
Mike: Reed's job this game is going to be getting into Kaepernick's head. He'll probably be successful. He will probably fail at every other assignment this game, because at this point Reed just isn't very good.
Yes +300 (3/1)
No -500 (1/5)
Tom: I was very ready to make this bet no, then I did some basic math. Reed has four interceptions this season in 19 games (he was active for the season finale against the Bengals, unlike Boldin). If you had made this bet at identical odds for each of those games, you would be ahead if you had bet yes and behind if you had bet no. It completely goes against what I have said elsewhere in this column, but I bet yes.
Mike: Rookie moments! Yes.
Tom: In the games Kaepernick has started, he has gone under 17.5 completions six times and gone over it three times, including once in the game against St. Louis and once against Seattle, who took a big lead. This is probably a hair too high, unless you trust the Ravens run defense a lot more than I do. Under.
Mike: I also think that in the second half, we'll see a lot more running from Kaepernick, so under seems reasonable.
Tom: Based on our limited sample size of nine starts, this line is closer, as Kaepernick had more than 27.5 attempts four times and fewer five times. Given Baltimore's weakness in run defense this year, I expect the 49ers to run the ball a lot, and fairly successfully, obviating the need to throw the ball more than they normally do. Under.
Mike: I think you need to avoid reducing these teams to run offense/pass defense. There's a lot more going on here. The Ravens have shown improvement on run defense recently, and most importantly they are built in a way that makes them effective against a no-frills rushing attack like that featured by San Francisco. I think rushing won't be nearly as successful as you are assuming. Over.
Tom: This question will be determined not by how often Kaepernick scrambles, but by how the Ravens defend the option. Green Bay let him run. Atlanta forced the pitch, sometimes seemingly overconcentrating on Kaepernick to the extent of letting Frank Gore run free. Of course, that is precisely what the option is supposed to do. I am not sure he will have double-digit carries, but I can go with over 7.5.
Mike: On the other hand, the second half should see the offense open up a bit more, and I strongly believe there will be a few third-and-long situations where the Ravens lose contain and Kaepernick makes a run for it. Over.
Throw a TD Pass -250
Throw an Interception +195
Tom: Again, no interceptions in game, quarterback will not throw an interception. Throw a touchdown pass.
Mike: I think San Francisco is going to start out with a relatively conservative game plan, so Throw a touchdown pass.
Tom: Again, the Ravens are bad on the ground. The 49ers are very good, efficient, and prolific on the ground. Over.
Mike: 83 yards is still a significant number, especially since everyone in the world is going to be looking for running plays early on. Under.
Tom: As with Kaepernick rushes, this will be defined somewhat by how Baltimore's defense chooses to play the option. Then again, even against Green Bay Gore had 21 carries. Over.
Mike: It doesn't matter if the Ravens go back in time and bring the Steel Curtain with them. Gore is getting over 20.5 attempts.
Tom: Might the Ravens try to limit the 49ers rushing attack, and might Crabtree be the beneficiary of targets against soft coverage? That might happen, certainly, but I'm not betting on it. Under.
Mike: I think Crabtree will be the beneficiary of targets against soft coverage, but Baltimore tackles well and I'm not sure he's going to be able to contend with the ghost of Ed Reed. We'll have to see. I'm still going with Under.
Tom: Again, 49ers = great rushing offense. Ravens = bad rushing defense. Wide receivers are luxuries. Under.
Mike: Maybe Baltimore brought Knute Rockne here with their time machine and replaced Tom, while they were at it. Crap, now we have to do the over/under on Rockne shots. Under.
Tom: Baltimore's defensive weakness by type of receiver is against No. 2 wide receivers. They are pretty good against tight ends. Davis is a fine player, but his production, to the extent it has any consistency, has been low. Under.
Mike: Davis is a midrange tight end against a decent pass defense against tight ends, in an offense where the other real receiving threat is Michael Crabtree. He'll get his receptions. He'll also get Wittenesque yards after catch. Under.
Over 3.5 (-140)
Under 3.5 (+110)
Tom: Again, Davis has not been a consistent producer, especially in the games Colin Kaepernick has started. Considering the Ravens' relative strength against tight ends, this line is too high for me. Under.
Mike: I think he'll get more than four tries. I just don't think they'll go anywhere. Over.
Tom: Bowman's tackle numbers are down in the postseason. In the regular season, he had nine games with at least seven solo tackles. Some of his bigger days are popped up by outlandish assist totals (four solo, 12 assists in the loss to the Seahawks?!), but eight tackles against a team that likes to run the ball is a reasonable number. Over.
Mike: Ray Rice runs with power and will be running often. Bowman is going to swarm to every pile and get an assist. I think over is a no-brainer.
Tom: I thought, as with the Bowman number, this line might be set too high as Smith has been less productive after his injury. Nope, he had five tackles against the Packers and four against the Falcons. Even considering the Ravens' team predilections, my guess is still under.
Mike: Swarm, my pretty defenders! Swaaaarm!
(Coincidentally, Mike watched the X-Files episode about the ancient swarming glowflies of doom last night. What makes you ask?)
And it pisses me off that not one of the characters realized that fire generates light and that the conversion of forest to fire to light is extremely favorable. Ugh. Over.
Over 1 (+120)
Under 1 (-150)
Tom: Aldon Smith's productivity has not been great since Justin's injury. I am not expecting a lot of sacks in this game, as I have previously noted. The 1.5 sacks he needs to go over is not out of the question, of course, but I am not expecting it. Under.
Mike: Dragons take longer to set up. While I agree that Smith's production has been low, he's going to get his shots. Over.
Tom: Wait, the Lewis over/under on tackles in this Super Bowl is 11.5, while his comparative over/under for Super Bowl XXV implies it is only 10.5? This does not make sense. Super Bowl XXXV.
Mike: Since when does any of this ever make sense? Favorable scoring makes this a Super Bowl XLVII.
Tom: Kaepernick's passing yards over/under for this game is 232.5. 232.5 + 89.5 = 322. These numbers are not consistent! Young.
Mike: I am never taking Kaepernick plus anything under 100 against any passing game of Steve Young's. Yes, that's hyperbole, but come on, guys. Steve Young.
Tom: Kaepernick's over/under this game is 50.5. Okay, I will stop now. As with the total number of attempts, this will depend on how Baltimore plays the option. Kaepernick.
Mike: I think Kaepernick is going to get one or two monster runs on third-and-long, so I'm comfortable with Kaepernick.
Tom: The over/under on Kaepernick's longest rush is 19.5 yards. At last, a compensating differential! Young.
Mike: Please stop. Young.
Tom:I picked Rice to go under, as I do not believe he will have many rushing yards this game. I still do not believe he will have many rushing yards this game. Lewis.
Mike: I'm pretty sure I picked Ray Rice to hit a blern and enter multi-ball, or something. I honestly am having trouble remembering my name at this point. No trouble with your name, as it will be forever etched in fiery rage in my mind for being party to this. Lewis.
Frank Gore (SF) RB 13/2
Ray Rice (BAL) RB 15/2
Michael Crabtree (SF) WR 15/2
Anquan Boldin (BAL) WR 8/1
Colin Kaepernick (SF) QB 8/1
Vernon Davis (SF) TE 9/1
Torrey Smith (BAL) WR 10/1
Dennis Pitta (BAL) TE 12/1
Randy Moss (SF) WR 12/1
Delanie Walker (SF) TE 18/1
Bernard Pierce (BAL) RB 20/1
Ed Dickson (BAL) TE 25/1
Jacoby Jones (BAL) WR 25/1
Joe Flacco (BAL) QB 30/1
Vonta Leach (BAL) FB 33/1
Ed Reed (BAL) FS 33/1
Anthony Dixon (SF) RB 33/1
Ted Ginn Jr. (SF) WR 33/1
Ray Lewis (BAL) LB 50/1
No TD scored in the game 75/1
Tom: It is not absolutely incumbent upon me to select a San Francisco player even though I have divined San Francisco will score the first touchdown. That said, the odds are not so overwhelmingly pro-Baltimore that I will actually do so. Frank Gore, low-hanging fruit.
Mike: Dennis Pitta, because John Harbaugh ate Bill Belichick's heart and gained the Greater Power of Obscene Tight End Production.
Tom: Joe Flacco will, as he will probably end up with 10 more attempts and more completions, plenty to offset the 20 yards he is giving here.
Mike: Kaepernick has had a few games, but I don't like him as a passer, even against Flacco. This is still a running team. Flacco.
Tom: If I wanted to hedge my other bets, that Rice will have a mostly unproductive day on the ground and Kaepernick a productive one, this is the perfect place to do so. I will not. Kaepernick.
Mike: Production for a quarterback versus a running back is incredibly relative. Rice won't have that bad a day, but with -17.5 it will be close. Rice.
Tom: Given that I am predicting neither player will have an outstandingly productive game, this is more of a toss-up. As a pick'em, I would go with Crabtree, but getting yards, I choose Anquan Boldin.
Mike: Crabtree is just plain better. Crabtree.
Tom: Randy, Randy, Randy! If only the 49ers were implementing the Randy Ratio, something something something, fans could party like it's 1999. Wait, that was the Super Bowl XL halftime show. I have not yet figured out Moss's role in the current 49ers offense, thus even though the 49ers do a pretty good job of defending against tight ends I will go with Dennis Pitta due to Baltimore's greater pass volume.
Mike: Nobody is taking Randy Moss seriously at this point, including the Niners. Pitta.
Carey Price Saves February 3 vs. Ottawa Pick
Colin Kaepernick Passing Attempts Super Bowl XLVII Pick
Tom: In the ever-so-reliable sample size of two, Carey Price is averaging 27 saves per game. Ottawa, though, is averaging 37 shots a game. Given I predicted Kaepernick to go under this passing attempts total, I will go with Carey Price saves.
Mike: Mid-30s sounds right for Carey vs. Ottawa. Carey Price saves.
Alex Ovechkin minutes played February 3 vs. Pittsburgh Pick
Shortest Field Goal made in the game Super Bowl XLVII Pick
Tom: Again, a terribly reliable sample size of two, Ovechkin is averaging 24 minutes per game. I thought this would be easy, given Ovechikin's 2011-12 season average time on ice was less than 20 minutes, but that does not seem to be the case. I will trust in the current sample size and go with shortest field goal.
Mike: The hockey season is shorter, so stars can play more minutes. Especially the Caps, who really rely on Ovechkin, versus a rather stout Pittsburgh defense. (We're not talking about the Toronto game.) Ovechkin minutes played.
Totals Goals in Manchester City vs. Liverpool February 3 Pick
Randy Moss Receptions Super Bowl XLVII Pick
Tom: Given that I do not know what role Moss will play and do not expect it to be much of one, I will go with Man City-Liverpool.
Mike: Never bet on anything actually happening in a soccer game. Randy Moss Receptions.
LeBron James Points February 3 vs. Toronto Pick
San Francisco 49ers Total Points Scored Super Bowl XLVII Pick
Tom: LeBron is averaging 26.5 points per game. The 49ers are going to score 27 points. This is a tough one. The Raptors are a poor defensive team, though, currently coming out 26th in defensive rating. Given that, I will go with LeBron James points.
Mike: This all comes down to whether James actually cares. Based on my deep knowledge (none) of basketball, I'll go with the football team. San Francisco 49ers total points.
Dwight Howard Free Throw percentage February 3 vs. Detroit Pick
Joe Flacco Completion percentage Super Bowl XLVII Pick
Tom: Dwight Howard's free throw percentage is currently 50.4 percent. As previously noted, Joe Flacco completed just under 60 percent of his passes in the regular season and 55 percent in the postseason. While variance probably benefits Howard and he is a career 58.3 percent shooter, his numbers this year are in line with his numbers last year, and those are too low. Joe Flacco completion percentage.
Mike: This is going to be completely random, but a quarterback going 60 percent-plus is higher than Howard going 60-percent plus. Joe Flacco completion percentage.
38 comments, Last at 01 Feb 2013, 6:18am by propman