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The question is not whether Saquon Barkley is the best running back in this draft class. The question is whether any running back, even one as good as Barkley, warrants a top-five draft selection in the NFL in 2018.

03 Feb 2010

Super Bowl XLIV Prop Bet Extravaganza!

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Insane Gambling 101

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 this week's featured commercial will kill (15.5)
Over -105
Under +130

Here, you would be betting on how many brain cells this week's installment of horror will destroy (and it's a doozy, folks). You would have to choose either more or less than 15.5. 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 15.5 of your little dudes would croak, you would have to wager a hypothetical $105 to win $205: your $105 that you wagered plus $100 more (hence the "-105"). If you wanted to take the under, you would wager a hypothetical $100 to win $230: your $100 back, plus $130 (hence the "+130"). 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 "Awful Waffle +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 a defender who plays for a team that didn't even make the playoffs.

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).

The Basics

Indianapolis Colts (-6)

Tom: The movement of this line, after it opened at 3.5 to 4, worries me, as does New Orleans' mediocre performance during the NFC Championship. Indianapolis isn't bad, but their defensive line, especially with a limited Freeney, isn't nearly as good defensively. I think the Colts will win, but I'm not confident enough to lay six points against a team that's still good. Give me New Orleans.

Mike: While Freeney may be playing in a limited capacity, Indianapolis is still stocked up and down with speed on defense, which is problematic for the finesse protection game that Sean Payton plays. Plus, New Orleans looked decidedly mediocre in the championship game, coming a few boneheaded decisions from losing in a game where they were handed the ball I think eight times by their opponent. Indianapolis.

Over/Under (56.5)

Mike: Indianapolis likes long, sustained drives, and has a questionable run defense. Both quarterbacks have the potential to be explosive, but they are also the keys to their respective teams' game plans. Both defenses are going to be teeing off on the opposing quarterback, which means a lot of checkdowns and throws underneath, or into short zones. That should leave us way under the line.

Tom: This seems like a very big number, up there with the Cardinals-Saints game. The last Super Bowl to hit this total was New England-Carolina. Both teams are good offensively, but Indianapolis tends to play short games in terms of number of possessions. It seems counter-intuitive, but give me the under.

New Orleans Saints Total Team Points (25.5)

Tom: If I'm picking a score, I'll match last year's score of AFC 27, NFC 23. That makes this an under.

Mike: That methodology makes little to no sense. On the off chance that things do explode, however, I can see New Orleans putting up 28 points on Indy's defense. Counter-intuitive, but I'm going with the over.

Indianapolis Colts Total Team Points (31.5)

Mike: On the other hand, even though it's consistent with the spread, I'm not going to hang my hat on 32 points against Gregg Williams in the Super Bowl. It may be counter-intuitive, but I'll take the under.

Tom: This is an under as well.

Super Bowl Media Props

What will the TV Nielsen Rating be? (42.5)

Tom: The NFL is more popular than ever, in terms of ratings. Last year was a 42.1, and while Pittsburgh is a popular team, nobody cares about the Cardinals. This year, you have Peyton Manning, Commercial Genius, and the feel-good story of the Saints. I'll take the Over.

Mike: To put that into numbers, last year's Super Bowl garnered a rating of 42. The championship round this year had higher ratings than last year's, so picking up a .5 rating should be trivial. Over.

How long will it take Carrie Underwood to sing the National Anthem? (1 minute 42 seconds)

Mike: This just makes me think of Dr. Z, and that makes me sad. I think we're rapidly heading toward the day when Bleeding Gums Murphy's rendition is more the norm than the exception, which makes me even sadder. Over.

Tom: I went to a concert once, a couple years ago, where Carrie Underwood was the first of the three acts. Despite showing up late because of traffic, she was still yapping her yap when I showed up. Given that Super Bowl National Anthems tend to be long and she’s more famous now than she was then, I’m betting on an interminable over.

Which Super Bowl commercial will have the highest rating on USA Today's annual Ad Meter?

Anheuser-Busch / Budweiser 2/3
Doritos 9/4
Coca-Cola 13/2
Go Daddy.com 8/1
Career Builder 8/1
Family First 12/1
Other 5/2

Tom: There’s a reason for the odds here, and it’s that most sponsors are bad at commercials. Family First could finish on top, with the right Ad Meter selectors, but I’m betting InBev doesn’t screw things up this year. Give me Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser.

Mike: While Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser is a marketing force both great and terrible to behold, I have a good feeling about the upstarts this year. Most of my favorite Super Bowl commercials have been for companies that nobody has heard of before the big game, and while they may not win according to USA Today, hope springs eternal. Plus, I like the odds. Other.

How many current NFL Players will be arrested during Super Bowl Week? (0.5)

Mike: Do OCNN reporters count? I think they do. That should bring the total to two: the reporter and the subject of his harassment. Over.

Tom: Hello, Miami! Eugene Robinson knows this will be Over.

Which sideline reporter will be on TV first after the opening kickoff?
Solomon Wilcots (-115)
Steve Tasker (-115)

Tom: Wilcots has more experience at this, the ex-Bill is getting pushed. That makes this Steve Tasker.

Mike: At least with the coin toss, you have the crackpot weight distribution theory. The only reason this prop is a sane bet would be if you were actually the child of the producer and in fact knew beforehand who was going to get the first useless "Suzy Kolber" moment. Incidentally, why are both sideline reporters for this game male? I'm generally contrary, so I'll go with Wilcots.

What color will the Gatorade be that is dumped on the head coach of the winning Super Bowl team?

Yellow 1/1
Clear/Water 7/5
Orange 4/1
Lime Green 5/1
Red 12/1
Blue 12/1

Mike: This seems like another prop bet that is particularly vulnerable to some form of inside baseball. Manning family members could possibly be told what color Gatorade Peyton's mind-controlled thralls will reach for should they win, for instance, or the training staff could just stock the entire sideline with one color/flavor. Of all the conspiracies theories that fly around the NFL, this is one that could actually work, yet people are betting against it. Madness! Once again, I'm going to play the odds that I like and go with Clear/Water.

Tom: Everyone knows fruit punch is the best Gatorade flavor, but does that mean it’ll all be gone and the players won’t waste it like this, or that they’ll use it? I’m going to go with the Lime Green, which stands out nicely on TV.

What side of the ball will the players that perform the Gatorade Shower be from?
Offensive (+140)
Defensive (-170)

Tom: Well, if it’s the Colts, it’ll definitely be the defense. With the Saints, I could see the offensive linemen doing it to Payton, but I like the Colts to win and even with the Saints, it’s more 50-50. I’ll go with the Defensive favorite.

Mike: Better odds on defense, and like I said, if it's the Colts then it will be one of Peyton's minions, as part of some dastardly scheme to stay dry/monetize the end of the Super Bowl. Defense.

Who will the Super Bowl MVP of the game thank first?

God 4/5
Teammates 8/5
Does not thank anyone 4/1
Family 11/2
Coach 10/1

Mike: This brings up deep, metaphysical questions of what "thanking" someone really entails. Must the word "thank" come out of the person's mouth? Is "props" sufficient? On the outside chance that some honky good ol' boy quarterback isn't the MVP (a remote possibility), this opens up all sorts of slang that I will be completely honest and say that I don't understand. Everybody has family, though, so family it is!

Tom: "I’d like to thank me, for being awesome, and the film projector for showing me the key to victory, and Football Outsiders, for ranking Green Bay and Baltimore ahead of us." Since those aren’t options, I’ll go with does not thank anyone.

How many times will CBS show Archie Manning on TV during the game? (2.5)

Tom: Shouldn’t there be a 1 in front of that 2.5? OK, I guess the disclaimer will cut it down a lot, but the only way he’s not on more than 2.5 times is if he’s hiding from the camera. Over.

Mike: You know, he may very well try. If he's not, then he'll have no idea what hit him. Over.

How many times will CBS show Eli Manning on TV during the game? (2.5)

Tom: I presume Eli will be sitting close enough to Archie that he gets on at least once with a family shot and at least once in his own right. That’s close enough to Over for me.

Mike: All these lines are making me think that Vegas has some kind of inside information into Manning family politics that we don't know about. Will there be no group shots? This is a disturbing development. Of course, that would just mean they would show Archie and Eli even more, so it's still over.

How many times will CBS show Kim Kardashian on TV during the game? (2.5)

Tom: I was watching a Saints playoff game, and they flashed to a shot of some woman in a box when Reggie Bush scored a touchdown. Apparently, that woman was Kim Kardashian. Who knew? Since I still won’t recognize her without somebody telling me who she is, I’m going to go with Under.

Mike: It's not a question of whether people recognize her, it's a question of whether she's a pretty woman for whom the network can come up with a flimsy, spurious connection to football. In many ways, like a cheerleader. Even without that, she is famous and most people who don't live under rocks (a group I make no claims of membership to) could tell her by sight, or at least understand who she is when told. Over.

How many times will CBS show Tony Dungy on TV during the game? (1.5)

Mike: Tony Dungy is the godfather of the NFL now. This might not be an NBC production, but it's still very much Dungy's Colts playing in the Super Bowl, and Dungy himself will be inescapable. Over.

Tom: Tony Dungy works for NBC. The game is being broadcast on CBS. This isn’t rocket science, people. Under.

How many times will CBS show Bourbon Street on TV during the game? (2)

Tom: Does this include Bourbon Street itself, or the inside of establishments on Bourbon Street? I’m guess the street itself, and I’m guessing the booze will be inside, so the street won’t be that interesting. Ergo, Under.

Mike: People know two things about New Orleans: Bourbon Street, and Mardi Gras. Phil Simms is going to want to pull that "Yes, I Am Actually a Human Being" lever as much as possible, and I get the feeling that Bourbon Street will be a good way to at least simulate humanity. Plus, shots of Miami are really boring, and there are going to be a lot of intros and outros. Over.

How many times will CBS show South Beach on TV during the game? (2)

Mike: Nobody cares about Miami! This isn't about Miami! It's about Indianapolis and New Orleans, which are much more int -- OK, New Orleans is a much more interesting city. Still, Under.

Tom: My one real trip to South Beach ended up with the cops being called on the people I was with. Billing/attitude dispute with the restaurant owner. I was outside oblivious, kind of bored by the whole thing. Under.

How many times will CBS announcers fully mention Hurricane Katrina during the game? (3)

Tom: Since this includes only "Hurricane Katrina" and not "Katrina," that will cut down on the mentions a lot. If this was for "Katrina," the line would probably be a couple higher, and I’d still expect it to top it, but I’ll go with Under for the full phrase.

Mike: Fully mention? Are the bookies hurting that bad that they have to delve into sucker bets to trap the unwary? Wait ... Push.

If the New Orleans Saints win will Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush be engaged by July 31st, 2010?
Yes (+135)
No (-165)

Mike: This is obviously outside of the purpose of this column, as there will be no Scramble in early August and if we mentioned it, the subject would seem weird (even by Scramble standards). That said, what the heck is with this bet? Just weird.

What color top will Kim Kardashian be wearing at the Super Bowl?
Black (6/5)
White (7/4)
Any Other Color (7/5)

Tom: Will she try to be color-coordinated with the team? Was she during the NFC Championship? I don’t know. I’ll go with any other color.

Mike: Kardashian is vaguely famous for being an Official Attractive Person, so I think she has enough sense to not wear a top with Saints colors. She will probably coordinate the colors in somewhere, but not all on one piece. That's just tacky. Black.

Which CBS Show will get the most promo’s during the game?

Undercover Boss 1/1
CSI Miami 7/2
NCIS 4/1
CSI 5/1
NCIS LA 10/1
Big Bang Theory 10/1
How I Met Your Mother 10/1
Two and a Half Men 14/1

Mike: NCIS, CSI, Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother are all somewhat venerable shows with established audiences. CBS isn't going to waste valuable air time flogging shows that will not gain significant viewership (since shows as a rule do not gain significant viewership after the first few years). That leaves Big Bang Theory and Undercover Boss. Personally, I think that Undercover Boss looks like one of the most stupid shows I have ever seen, so I'm going with Big Bang Theory, which CBS has shown a propensity to flog incessantly.

Tom: Undercover Boss seems too gimmicky, like the sort of show more suited for lots of promos during the Pro Bowl, plus I doubt it has legs. I’ll go instead with NCIS.

Will a member of the Who smash a guitar on stage during the halftime show?
Yes (+120)
No (-150)

Tom: If this happens, it’ll be the ghost of John Entwistle or Keith Moon. Considering I don’t think specters are included in the bet, I’ll go with No.

Mike: The halftime show is much more about the presentation and the reputation of the performers than the actual music. While I agree that ghosts do not count, I wouldn't put it past one of the band members from smashing a guitar, because that's one of the Who's shticks. Shticks sell. Yes.

How many times will Pete Townshend do his legendary windmill move? (5)

Mike: I hate whole-number lines. Especially since I think that the windmill count will be between four and six inclusive. I'm going out on a limb and going with the Under.

Tom: He’s playing "Won’t Get Fooled Again." For some people, half the appeal of that song is the legendary windmill move. Five is a lot, but I’ll still go with the Over.

If any member of the Who smashes their guitar what does the guitar hit first?

Floor 2/3
Speaker 2/1
Microphone 3/1
Drummer 100/1
Fan 100/1

Tom: Just for the record, by "fan" they mean one of the spectators, not something like the Big Red Fan. I don’t think this will happen, but if it does I’ll go with a Speaker. The back ain’t what it used to be.

Mike: You can still get some good power through radial motion, even if you are one of the olds. I believe in you, random the Who designated as guitar-smasher! I believe in you! Fan.

Will they show a replay of Tom Benson celebrating the missed field goal against Tampa Bay from the regular season?
Yes (+350)
No (-500)

Mike: Missed field goals are both dramatic and aid in developing the overarching Super Bowl participant narrative. Yes.

Tom: If the Titans made the Super Bowl this year, they’d definitely show Bud Adams flipping the bird. I’m not sure if this includes just kickoff to final whistle; if it’s all 523 hours of pregame on every network, I’d go with Yes, but I’m assuming this is limited as well, so No.

Will they show clothing apparel proclaiming the Super Bowl Champion before the final whistle?
Yes (-130)
No (Even)

Tom: Only if the game is a blowout. The problem here is if the team with the lead gets the ball last, the clothing will be broken out after the last kneeldown, which is before the final whistle. Splitting that hair makes me say Yes.

Mike: I don't anticipate a blowout, but as you said, I do anticipate a kneel. Yes.

What will happen with the Stock Market the day after Super Bowl XLIV?
New Orleans Saints Win, Market Up (7/2)
New Orleans Saints Win, Market Down (4/1)
Indianapolis Colts Win, Market Up (8/5)
Indianapolis Colts Win, Market Down (9/5)

Mike: A win by the Colts would mean installment of Tony Dungy as not only godfather of the NFL, but godfather of the U.S.A. This is a terrifying prospect for everyone except In-n-Out and Chick-fil-A. Indianapolis Colts Win, Market Down.

Tom: Do not insult Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A is AWESOME. Anyway, all stock market commentary beyond “the NFC winning tends to result in good market years is absolute nonsense because of an unusual period of synchronicity where the stock market happened to do well in those rare years where the NFC was good” will require me to violate standards of decency. Indianapolis Colts Win, Market Down.

Game Props

Coin Toss
Heads (-105)
Tails (-105)

Tom: Tails, why not?

Mike: This has been covered in Scrambles past. If you are dumb enough to bet on the coin toss, at least bet on tails. Why not, indeed.

Team to win opening coin toss
New Orleans Saints (-105)
Indianapolis Colts (-105)

Tom: New Orleans, just because the Colts won when their opponent scored first last time.

Mike: Indianapolis wants the ball and they're going to score!

Team to score first in the game
New Orleans Saints (+115)
Indianapolis Colts (-145)

Mike: Indianapolis wants the ball and they're going to score!

Tom: New Orleans, with a field goal.

Will there be a score in the first 7 minutes, 30 seconds of the first quarter?
Yes (-250)
No (+195)

Tom: Yes, I’m expecting few drives but many of them to result in scores.

Mike: Indianapolis wants the ball and they're going to score! Yes.

Will the team that scores first in the game win the game?
Yes (-180)
No (+150)

Mike: Indianapolis wa -- OK, you get the point. Yes.

Tom: No, because Indianapolis will win and New Orleans will score first.

Team to have the longest touchdown in the game
New Orleans Saints (-115)
Indianapolis Colts (-115)

Tom: The Colts haven’t been a big play offense this year. That makes this New Orleans Saints.

Mike: I don't think there are going to be many big plays in this game, but I do think that one of Gregg Williams' blitzes will go horribly awry and leave an absurd hole in zone for Peyton Manning to take advantage of. That and I like Indianapolis' second and third wide receivers more than New Orleans'. Indianapolis Colts.

Longest touchdown in the game (51.5 yards)

Mike: How many 52-yard plays have there been in the Super Bowl? In any one class of game? Just insane. Under.

Tom: Do people really think 51.5 is a reasonable O/U? Under, under, under.

Longest Field Goal in the game (44.5 yards)

Tom: This is a more interesting one. I see a lot of field goals (or a safety), but none too long, so I’ll go with Under.

Mike: This Super Bowl isn't in a dome, and while Miami has fine kicking weather, there's always an outside shot at rain, which would make long field goals an unappealing prospect. Provided things hold up, however, I'm going with the over.

Will there be a defensive or special teams touchdown scored in the game?
Yes (+150)
No (-180)

Mike: These two defenses are going to have their ears pinned back and going after the quarterback. Even if there is no short pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown, there's a decent shot of the hobbit Fumblesack Weaksauce rearing his pudgy head. Yes.

Tom: Two good quarterbacks, which decreases the chance of a defensive score, and there’s not a good combination of terrible/very good that makes me like these odds. No.

Will either team score three unanswered times in the game?
Yes (-200)
No (+160)

Tom: Three unanswered times? The most likely scenario for me is Peyton in the two minute, Peyton to start the second half, and Peyton either before or after one of those drives. But these odds are nowhere near even, so I’ll go with No.

Mike: Barring a catastrophic meltdown that I don't believe either of these teams is capable of, there is no way in hell this happens.

Odds to win 2010 Super Bowl XLIV MVP

Peyton Manning (IND) 2/3 xxx Robert Meachem (NO) 25/1
Drew Brees (NO) 9/4   Darren Sharper (NO) 28/1
Pierre Thomas (NO) 10/1   Dwight Freeney (IND) 30/1
Reggie Bush (NO) 10/1   Robert Mathis (IND) 40/1
Joseph Addai (IND) 10/1   Jonathan Vilma (NO) 40/1
Reggie Wayne (IND) 10/1   Will Smith (NO) 50/1
Dallas Clark (IND) 12/1   Lance Moore (NO) 50/1
Marques Colston (NO) 12/1   David Thomas (NO) 50/1
Pierre Garcon (IND) 14/1   Antoine Bethea (IND) 50/1
Mike Bell (NO) 20/1   Gary Brackett (IND) 50/1
Devery Henderson (NO) 20/1   Clint Session (IND) 50/1
Jeremy Shockey (NO) 20/1   Garrett Hartley (NO) 75/1
Austin Collie (IND) 20/1   Matt Stover (IND) 75/1
Donald Brown (IND) 25/1  

Mike: Aforementioned good ol' boy Peyton Manning will win MVP if Indianapolis wins, on account of him being Peyton Manning.

Tom: Marquee quarterback = MVP, unless some other “skill position” player puts up great stats. The only question is whether the odds on Brees are so attractive it makes up for Indy’s likeliness of winning. I’ll go with yes, so Drew Brees is my pick.

New Orleans Saints Props

Total Passing Yards -- Drew Bress (300.5)

Tom: No, the Saints run the ball too much and the game isn’t long enough. Under.

Mike: There will be a lot of running, but I also think that Indy will give up a few big plays on drives that end in field goals or stall near midfield, when one of their blitzes falls apart. Those will be passing plays. Over.

Total Passing Attempts -- Drew Brees (33.3)

Mike: On the other hand, I think these big plays will be mixed in with a lot of running into blitzes and running in general, because hey, they're playing the Colts. Under.

Tom: This looks more reasonable to me. Keeping in mind, though, that most people tend to bet the over, and that I think this game will be shorter than most of these odds seem to assume, I’ll go with Under.

Total Completions -– Drew Brees (23.5)

Tom: And, with fewer attempts, that means fewer completions, so this is Under as well.

Mike: Brees is accurate, but with the under on passing attempts, 24 looks like an insane amount. Under.

Completion Percentage -- Drew Brees (68.5 percent)

Mike: Aforementioned accuracy! Over.

Tom: Reasonable number, but I think the Saints will try to move the ball on the ground and try to use that to open up shots deep. Given deep shots are less likely to be completed, I’ll go with Under.

Total Interceptions -- Drew Brees
Over 0.5 (-165)
Under 0.5 (+135)

Tom: I guess I’ll make a line prediction for Brees: 20-31, 268, 1 TD/1 INT. Over.

Mike: Stat lines are the hobgoblin of small betting minds. Brees will throw an interception. He can't avoid screwing up in the face of Indy's (granted, diminished) pass rush all game. Over.

Total Rushing Yards -- Pierre Thomas (62.5)

Mike: Again, these are the Colts. 63 yards is not a whole lot, even if it turns into a shootout. Over.

Tom: The Saints will run the ball, and have decent success at it. The only question for Thomas is whether or not he gets carries. I’m saying yes, so this is Over.

Total Rushing Yards -- Reggie Bush (33.5)

Tom: The kind of back you want to run against the Colts is somebody who will take the 4 yards that are there, not dance around trying to get 40. That’s not Reggie Bush, so under.

Mike: Maybe if they put Kim Kardashian on a horizontal chairlift and had it run down the sideline like some kind of greyhound race, Bush might start thinking about July 31 and motivate himself to Just. Run. Forward. I doubt it. Under.

Total Receiving Yards -- Reggie Bush (34.5)

Tom: Now, I can see Bush targeted in the passing game, but his primary virtue is speed and the Colts defense has that aplenty. I’ll go with under here as well, which makes Reggie less of a factor this game than some people are thinking.

Mike: I'm pretty sure Bush is just generally going to be a non-factor, on account of Indianapolis' speed and the fact that he's just not very good. Under.

Total Receiving Yards -- Marques Colston (75.5)

Mike: I think Indy's main defensive strategy will be pressure on Brees and a concerted effort to take Colston away, forcing Brees to either audible out of plays where Colston is the hot route, or force him to take up valuable time going through his reads to the second or third option. He's just not going to have time for the latter, so I'm guessing it's the former. Under.

Tom: The question is which Saints receiver gets Brees’ targets. Unless the dropsies that plagued him late come back, I think Colston has a pretty reasonable day, so this is an Over.

Total Receptions -- Marques Colston (5)

Tom: And, if he’s getting more than 75.5 yards, the intermediate passing game is where he gets the work. Five is a reasonable O/U, but I’ll go with Over.

Mike: Colston will find some way to get involved, but it will likely be wide receiver screens and other short plays, which means a lot of receptions and not many yards. Over.

Total Receiving Yards -- Devery Henderson (50.5)

Tom: Now, Henderson, as a deep threat, I feel like he’ll get a goodly number of targets, but his range of yards could be really variable. I can envision a game where he has nine yards, and one where he has 190 yards (New Orleans wins, in that case). I’m leaning deep targets, one hits, maybe two catches for 43 yards. That makes this an under.

Mike: Indianapolis doesn't have a good enough coverage unit to eliminate more than one receiver from the equation. Again, there are going to be a few blitzes that don't quite make it, and I think Henderson is going to be in position to snap up the resulting deep throws. Over.

Total Receptions -- Devery Henderson (3.5)

Mike: He'll get a lot of targets, but how many will he actually catch? Probably four or five. Over.

Tom: And this is another under with that stat line.

Total Receiving Yards -- Robert Meachem (45.5)

Tom: Meachem seems to have surpassed Henderson as a primary target, or maybe I feel that way because I like him. I see him as a clear No. 2 in production, so over on 45.5 yards.

Mike: I think that you may just feel that way because you like him. I'm not sure it makes much of a difference, really, since as I said, Indy can only really stop one receiver and still attempt to generate reliable pressure on the quarterback, with Freeney limited. 46 yards isn't unreasonable. Over.

Total Receptions – Robert Meachem (2.5)

Mike: I do think Meachem will lead the Saints in receptions, if not yards, so over.

Tom: If he’s going over 45.5 yards, and Henderson gets the deep work, he’ll have to have at least three receptions. That makes this over.

Total Receiving Yards –- Jeremy Shockey (40.5)

Tom: Shockey’s probably still banged up a little, the Colts have fast linebackers, I don’t see him getting much work. Under.

Mike: I'm not sure what role Shockey will play in this game, but I'm sure it's not a prominent one. Under.

Total Receptions -- Jeremy Shockey (3.5)

Mike: Maybe he'll be mostly relegated to blocking. That would be funny. Under.

Tom: Perennial disappointment, that’s what Shockey is. Under.

Will Darren Sharper record an interception in the game?
Yes (+160)
No (-200)

Tom: Nobody is ever likely to get an interception. Yes, the odds take this into account, but I still have a mental block about it. No.

Mike: When playing against a good quarterback, there are too many factors that go into an interception than just the defender to have any sort of realistic chance of even predicting an interception, much less one to a specific player. It's a good block to have. No.

Total Sacks -- Will Smith
Over 0.5 (+105)
Under 0.5 (-135)

Mike: Some teams can put some pressure on Peyton Manning. Most teams can't. The difference between getting pressure or not, much less actually getting sacks, is clever scheming and layers of misdirection and disguise. That's not really Williams' forte. Under.

Tom: Peyton Manning doesn’t get sacked by 4-3 teams. Kthanxbai. Under.

Total Tackles & Assists -- Jonathan Vilma (6.5)

Tom: Does Vilma get a lot of tackles for the Saints? I suppose I should know the answer to this question. He had 110 this season, which makes 6.5 a reasonable O/U. Only five against the Vikings, and I feel like with a shorter game and targets to the wide receivers, he may well end up with fewer than that. Under.

Mike: The Colts won't run well. They won't run well, but gosh darn it, they will try. Because. That means Vilma is going to feature prominently in awful, failed runs. Over.

In Which the Psycho Ginger Next to Tom Eats All of His (And the Rest of the Flight's) Meal

Mike: Wait, what?

Tom: What? What is this supposed to be? Where on Earth did you find it?

Mike: So, Sunday Night Football is a big event now.

Tom: Sure, SNF, it's great. Al Michaels.

Mike: Floating space pumpkins, yeah. So I watch it, and invariably I leave the television on, because I'm lazy and usually on the computer working on something else. Invariably, the second commercial after the end of the game is ... this. I remember the first time I saw it. It was as if a thousand brain cells cried out, and were suddenly silenced.

Tom: Drugs are bad, mmkay. Actually, I'm not sure you could produce this commercial just on drugs and with fewer brain cells.

Mike: It's true. I'm thinking some kind of horrible pony accident.

Tom: See, I knew the attractiveness of the pony would pall over time.

Mike: Untrue, the pony was attempting to save us all, but was sadly unsuccessful, and in the end just made things worse.

Tom: That's what you think. But we'll discuss my secret mind control project later. Instead, well, I don't know where to start. Have you ever flown into Tokyo? Have you ever looked at a map of the greater Tokyo area?

Mike: I have done the former, but the latter I have avoided due to Japanese maps belonging to the category of "Things Man Was Not Meant To Know."

Tom: The main international airport, the one you fly into on ANA from the U.S., is Narita, which is way the hell northeast of downtown Tokyo. Mount Fuji, clearly visible in the introduction, is way the hell west-southwest, I think, of Tokyo. In terms of comparative geography, it's like saying "welcome to Minneapolis" with a picture of Mt. Rushmore.

Mike: To be fair, you can see Fuji from ... most parts of Tokyo. Well, parts without giant buildings. So, some non-zero number of parts.

Tom: Yeah, twice a year.

Mike: So, what we need to do is construct a giant freaking Roosevelt head...

Tom: I went up in Tokyo Tocho (the government building, in Shinjuku) multiple times, never saw Fuji.

Mike: I think it bears repeating: Wait, what? Just watching this over again...

Tom: What part, though? The Birth of Venus? Napoleon on the horse, with cheerleaders with pom-poms, while fireworks go off behind the plane? Astro Boy almost crashing on flying and then flying into another plane? The plane railing suddenly bursting into flowers? Not Venus changing from auburn-haired Caucasian woman to black-haired Japanese woman, surely. Not Gene Kelly dancing in front of Not-Paris?

Mike: All that and more. Specifically the idea that there is some bizarre conjunction of football fan and weeaboo.

Tom: Nihonphiles.

Mike: My favorite term is "Japanabes." It's all the same thing: weird. And hardly the archetypical football fan.

Tom: Actually, the Nihonphiles were more like the Lafcadio Hearns, who decided they'd rather be Japanese than American. The Japanabes are just ... ugh.

Mike: Indeed. But the other weird thing is that these people don't really go to Japan. They talk about going to Japan, but they don't have the cash and they don't have anywhere to go or anything to do.

Tom: Yes, but did they make this commercial, or is this the product of a real Japanese person? Or is this just the product of a bunch of 23-year-old marketers on acid who want to do stupid crazy stuff because the Japanese don't know any better?

Mike: They're the audience, at least. You have to think that the airline would make advertising to help its business, but this seems like part of Japan's larger, more sinister culture-exporting plan. Of course, acid is a strong option.

Tom: The other thing is, if you're flying out of Chicago, ANA code-shares everything with United. So you can book a flight on United, and end up flying on an ANA plane.

Mike: That has to be a ridiculous disappointment the other way around.

Tom: A plane's a plane.

Mike: Yes, but an ANA plane is a magic Japanese plane.You expect to be sharing an aisle with Napoleon and Astro Boy, and you end up having to pay for the pillow.

Tom: I actually preferred flying on ANA because they served more Japanese food.

Mike: What kind of food? Two-mile-high hot pot would be pretty awesome.

Tom: Sadly, I don't remember, and I'm not quite neurotic enough to have kept my plane menu. Oh, and after we see Napoleon and the cheerleaders, Napoleon changes back into a businessman and Marengo turns into a pegasus. Naturally, that’s "the Art of Arrival." Because, really, "taking off and then beginning to fly again, only on a horse instead of a plane" means I've reached my destination.

Mike: Well, that's his connecting flight to Fuji, which, as we have established, is way the hell not close to Narita. The Astro Boy bit was the really jarring one.

Tom: Jarring how?

Mike: Because suddenly there's a random live-action woman in the shot.

Tom: Ah. I wasn't sure it if was that or:

  • That Astro Boy apparently discovers for the first time he can't reach his own ignition button, or
  • That Astro Boy flies straight up, almost, and doesn't run into the plane, or
  • That Astro Boy flies forward away from the plane, but into another plane.

Mike: The button is also a bit crazy.

Tom: Yes, I'll design a jetpack, and then make it so that I can't use the jetpack!

Mike: This also explains his inability to control the jetpack with any sort of accuracy, since it was obviously designed for someone with longer arms. Oh, and you'd have to reach around, which, if you weren't extremely careful, would put part of your arm right next to the exhaust path.

Tom: And this other plane he flies into, it's apparently parked under a cherry tree. Because, really, I see cherry trees on airplane tarmacs all the time. In fact, the most beautiful cherry blossoms I've ever seen were from trees that got a lot of jet exhaust on them all day long.

Mike: That's why they take a giant turbine and use it, like a massive hair dryer, on the cherry trees on the Potomac. It's a yearly ritual.

Tom: Wow, I can't believe I never saw them doing that. Then again, my family came for graduation and asked how much planes like that one bothered me. I asked "what plane?"

Mike: That's because you recognized that it was not a plane, but rather a flying horse with a jet engine grafted onto it.

Tom: Oh, well, yes. I should have recognized that when I brought it out of the sky, then. And I guess that explains why the Titans have won two playoff games since then, after winning three the year before that little incident. But that wasn't an ANA plane, goshdarnit.

Mike: This also really does seem like the kind of bonkers commercial you see once at the Super Bowl. But instead it airs in that weird time slot. Every week. All season.

Tom: Yes. I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't seen it for myself.

Mike: It would work even better if the next commercial were an ad for a local bento place, starring Lance Briggs.

Tom: You could do a lot with a good follow-up ad or program. Instead, it's the late local news, and while NBC 5 Chicago was the station that brought you Jerry Springer post-talk show host as the anchor, it's no longer nearly so interesting.

Mike: Well, they were one of the network affiliates that raised a pitchfork against the Jay Leno Show. that's something.

Tom: NBC probably could have, and should have, bought out Conan a year ago, and then people might actually still watch them, like they did when Cheers and the Cosby Show were on the air. And the USFL still existed.

Mike: NBC is much like the NFL, has ups and downs over a long period. Broadcast network biorhythm!

Tom: Just like the airline industry. This week ANA, next week JAL, and then back to ANA again. Just be careful of the blossoming railings!

Indianapolis Colts props

Total Passing Yards -- Peyton Manning (300.5)

Tom: Short game, and after the early effort to get Peyton to 300, this doesn’t seem to be a big issue these days. He’ll take what he needs to to move the ball and be happy with it. In that case, Under.

Mike: The Colts are going to move down the field, and they sure as heck aren't going to do it with their running game. Over.

Total Passing Attempts -- Peyton Manning (37.5)

Mike: 38 is still a bit too high for my liking. Like I said, they'll run, they'll just suck at it. Under.

Tom: 38 passes? In a 60-play game on offense? The Colts will be content to run the ball if they have success with it and mix in passes. Peyton threw the ball a lot when they had trouble running; the Saints have an underrated pass defense and a lousy rush defense. More runs, fewer passes. Under.

Total Completions -- Peyton Manning (25.5)

Tom: Peyton is great, but if he only throws the ball 30 times, he’s probably not going to complete 26 of them. Under.

Mike: And that ugly consistency demon rears its ugly head. Under.

Completion Percentage -- Peyton Manning (67.5 percent)

Mike: It would hardly be sporting to give Brees the over and then deny it to Manning, who is the better quarterback of the two. Over.

Tom: But, while he won’t throw that many passes, he’ll still dink and dunk and be conservative with the football. He’s good, better, the best, and without lots of downfield shots, he’ll top 70 percent, let alone 67.5 percent. Over.

Total Interceptions -- Peyton Manning
Over 0.5 (-200)
Under 0.5 (+160)

Tom: Yes, I can easily see him throwing one. Probably not more than that, unless it’s a hail mary-type situation, and his excellence in the two-minute drill means those generally don’t happen. Still, I’ll play odds and go with under.

Mike: There will be a lot of pressure, and even the best quarterbacks make mistakes under pressure. While there are limits (I don't expect Peyton Manning to be distracted by a cannoli, for example), one interception is a pretty low threshold. Over.

Total Rushing Yards -- Joseph Addai (65.5)


We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Indy can eke out about 66 yards on ~3 marginally useful yards per carry. To strive, and not to yield! Over.

Tom: Run to win, baby, run to win. Repeat what you saw in Super Bowl XLI, and that means over for Addai.

Total Receiving Yards -- Joseph Addai (19.5)

Tom: Gregg Williams’ exotic blitzes vs. RB receiving yards? I’m going with the blitzing. Under.

Mike: Swing passes to running backs are a great weapon in the offense's fight again blitzing. Manning is a quick thinker, great at diagnosing blitzes, and great at moving into an advantageous play. I like the over here.

Total Rushing Yards -- Donald Brown (22.5)

Tom: Only 22.5? That feels really low. I know, the Colts didn’t run the ball a lot. Brown’s spent a lot of the year on the bench. I don’t care, he’ll spell Addai (A-D-D-A-I) enough to get this and probably double it. Over

Mike: That was awful. Seppuku for you! Under.

Total Receiving Yards -- Donald Brown (12.5)

Tom: "Goddammit Donald!" indicates they trust him less at blitz pickup. Without signaling passing downs, expect Addai more on passing downs. Under.

Mike: I'm still recovering from that awful pun. Under.

Total Receiving Yards -- Reggie Wayne (82.5)

Tom: Have people not heard of Jabari Greer? Wayne plays the left most of the time, Greer plays on him, and Peyton is content to rip up the rest of the defense. Under.

Mike: Reggie Wayne, like communism, is just a red herring. Under.

Total Receptions -- Reggie Wayne (6)

Mike: One plus one plus two plus one equals ... five. Under.

Tom: See above. Under.

Total Receiving Yards -- Pierre Garcon (62.5)

Tom: Peter Waiter! If Greer’s on Wayne, that means Porter or Gay or nobody is on Garcon. That means yards. Over

Mike: The second most likely MVP, to my mind, is Drew Brees. The third most likely MVP, to my mind, is Pierre Garcon. I think the kid is going to have a monster day. Over.

Total Receptions -- Pierre Garcon (4.5)

Mike: Manning is going to find Garcon all day. Go Purple Raiders! I can't believe I used "purple raider" in an actual published sentence. Over.

Tom: If he’s going over 62.5, he’ll also have more than four catches. Probably not the 150 he had in the AFC championship, but enough. Over.

Total Receiving Yards -- Austin Collie (50.5)

Tom: Randall Gay! Hole in Zone! More trustworthy than Garcon. Over.

Mike: Apparently we have replaced our normal Scramble writer with Mordin Solus. Fortunately, they're both pretty smart. Over.

Total Receptions -- Austin Collie (4)

Tom: Yards! Catches! Over.

Mike: Either Mordin or a hamster on speed. I can't quite figure out which. Over.

Total Receiving Yards -- Dallas Clark (67.5)

Mike: Blitzing means linebackers, and that means holes in short- to mid-coverage, where Clark can have a little "I'm open!" party. There will be nachos. Over.

Tom: I feel like teams are too used to Clark being the man when they shut down the wideouts. Plus, the Saints were fifth in DVOA v. tight ends. That makes this an easy under call, especially with Clark’s lack of postseason production.

Total Receptions -- Dallas Clark (6.5)

Tom: Seriously, who’s setting these lines? Have they not seen Clark this postseason? Under.

Mike: Maybe he could try to get some sort of endorsement deal going re: this party, get a big Budweiser stamp he could smack down in the flat. That would really be going the extra mile for the NFL. Over.

Total Sacks -- Robert Mathis
Over 0.5 (-115)
Under 0.5 (-115)

Mike: This is really tempting. Without Freeney at full-go, however, I think the Saints are going to move Heaven and Earth to make sure that Mathis does not get to Brees. I'd be much more confident betting on a Freeney sack, but that's not the bet, here. Under.

Tom: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but when I first started really paying attention to games, I was amazed at how good Robert Mathis really was. He can get overpowered at the point of attack by a strong blocker if you run right at him, but he plays with terrific leverage and power. Really a relentless, high-motor kind of player. He’ll get more attention with Freeney out or limited, but will also get to play the right side against Bushrod. Over.

Game props

Who will throw more TD Passes in the game?
Drew Brees (-115)
Peyton Manning (-115)

Tom: Indianapolis is scoring three touchdowns, New Orleans two. Each gets one rushing, so Peyton Manning wins this one.

Mike: While playing Nostradamus may be fun, I'd rather just look at the equal payout and remember that Peyton Manning is possibly the best quarterback of all time.

Player to score the first TD in the game

Joseph Addai (IND) 11/2 xxx Jeremy Shockey (NO) 12/1
Dallas Clark (IND) 6/1   Pierre Garcon (IND) 12/1
Reggie Wayne (IND) 13/2   David Thomas (NO) 15/1
Pierre Thomas (NO) 15/2   Donald Brown (IND) 15/1
Marques Colston (NO) 8/1   Mike Bell (NO) 15/1
Reggie Bush (NO) 17/2   Devery Henderson (NO) 15/1
Robert Meachem (NO) 10/1   Lance Moore (NO) 20/1
Austin Collie (IND) 10/1   Drew Brees (NO) 25/1
Lynell Hamilton (NO) 12/1   Peyton Manning (IND) 30/1
  No TD scored in the game 50/1

Mike: Indianapolis is going to get the ball and they are going to score! (Mwahaha, you thought you had escaped!) Pierre Garcon.

Tom: He has the short odds for a reason. Joseph Addai gets this one.

Who will record the most Receiving Yards in the game?

Reggie Wayne (IND) 5/2 xxx Robert Meachem (NO) 15/2
Marques Colston (NO) 3/1   Pierre Thomas (NO) 10/1
Dallas Clark (IND) 7/2   Austin Collie (IND) 10/1
Pierre Garcon (IND) 4/1   Joseph Addai (IND) 12/1
Devery Henderson (NO) 7/1   Lance Moore (NO) 15/1
Reggie Bush (NO) 8/1   Jeremy Shockey (NO) 18/1

Tom: Garcon’s 4/1 with an O/U of 62.5, while Collie is 10/1 with an O/U of 50.5? This does not make sense. I like Lassie’s odds. Austin Collie.

Mike: Makes no sense? Or makes no sense like a fox? .. OK, just plain makes no sense. In any case, I don't really care, since I think Pierre Garcon is going to, in the words of Dan Dierdorf, just blow up all over the place.

Historical Matchups

Total Passing Yards, which will be higher?
Peyton Manning Super Bowl XLIV (-300)
Peyton Manning Super Bowl XLI (247 Passing Yards) (+240)

Mike: Since I already said Manning is going to have over 300 yards, there's really no other way to go with this. Super Bowl XLIV.

Tom: Very long odds here. Too long, really. This is the kind of bet that can swing me from victory to defeat. I’ll be bold and go with Super Bowl XLI.

Total Rushing Yards, which will be higher?
Joseph Addai Super Bowl XLIV (+175)
Joseph Addai Super Bowl XLI (77 Rushing Yards) (-215)

Tom: He’s going to get his yards, and Brown won’t steal as many carries as Dominic Rhodes did. Super Bowl XLIV.

Mike: Beating 77 yards at three yards per carry means 26 carries. Indianapolis is simply not that crazy. Super Bowl XLI.

Total Receiving Yards, which will be higher?
Reggie Wayne Super Bowl XLIV (-200)
Reggie Wayne Super Bowl XLI (61 Receiving Yards) (+160)

Mike: People's Glorious Revolutionary Super Bowl XLI.

Tom: Jabari Greer, OK? Super Bowl XLI.

Total Receiving Yards, which will be higher?
Dallas Clark Super Bowl XLIV (-400)
Dallas Clark Super Bowl XLI (36 Receiving Yards) (+300)

Tom: Another one with huge odds. I don’t like the XLIV odds. 36 is little, but I’ll still take Super Bowl XLI

Mike: I think I already said that Clark will get more than 36 yards, and there is nothing I hate more than disagreeing with myself. Better go with Super Bowl XLIV.

Total Passing Yards, which will be higher?
Drew Brees Super Bowl XLIV (+120)
Dan Marino Super Bowl XIX (318 Passing Yards) (-150)

Mike: Dan Marino could totally take Brees in a fight.

Tom: I’ve already mentioned that Brees is going under 300.5, so how could he go over 318? Marino.

Total Passing Yards, which will be higher?
Drew Brees Super Bowl XLIV (-300)
Peyton Manning Super Bowl XLI (247 Passing Yards) (+240)

Tom: 247 is less than my predicted 268, so this is Drew Brees.

Mike: Between all of these props and the commercial, my brain is no longer functioning unicorn. I can't remember what I had Brees throwing for, but I'm sure it was red. Brees, also.

Splits props

Team to score first/Final result
New Orleans Saints score first and win game (77/20)
New Orleans Saints score first and lose game (7/4)
Indianapolis Colts score first and win game (6/5)
Indianapolis Colts score first and lose game (9/2)

Tom: I’ve already mentioned New Orleans Saints score first and lose game is what will happen.

Mike: Indianapolis is going to receive and they're gonna score!

Halftime Margin of Victory

Game is Tied at Half 7/2 xxx
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 1-3 Points 4/1 xxx Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 1-3 Points 3/1
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 4-6 Points 5/1   Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 4-6 Points 4/1
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 7-10 Points 6/1   Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 7-10 Points 5/1
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 11-13 Points 8/1   Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 11-13 Points 11/2
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 14-17 Points 10/1   Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 14-17 Points 13/2
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 18-21 Points 12/1   Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 18-21 Points 10/1
New Orleans Saints win 1st Half by 22 or more Points 15/1   Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 22 or more Points 8/1

Mike: Brain ... over ... hnnnng ... Game is tied at half.

Tom: The Colts will score last in the first half, and go up after trailing. The only question is whether they’ll go up 17-10, 13-10, or 17-13, and those are 3 different odds. I’ll go rather tentatively with Indianapolis Colts win 1st Half by 4-6 Points.

The largest lead of the game by either team will be (15.5)
Over (-110)
Under (-120)

Tom: 15.5 points? What are people smoking? I do believe the last team with a 16-plus point lead in the Super Bowl was Tampa Bay when Oakland decided they didn’t need to bother to change their offensive signals against their former coach. No team this year will do something nearly that stupid. Under.

Mike: Agreed. Neither of these teams have the defense to stop three drives in a row. Conversely, neither of their defenses are bad enough to allow three unanswered scoring drives in a row. Just bizarre. Under.

Margin of Victory

New Orleans Saints 1 to 3 points 11/2 xxx Indianapolis Colts 1 to 3 points 4/1
New Orleans Saints 4 to 6 points 7/1   Indianapolis Colts 4 to 6 points 9/2
New Orleans Saints 7 to 10 points 17/2   Indianapolis Colts 7 to 10 points 13/2
New Orleans Saints 11 to 13 points 21/2   Indianapolis Colts 11 to 13 points 10/1
New Orleans Saints 14 to 17 points 12/1   Indianapolis Colts 14 to 17 points 8/1
New Orleans Saints 18 to 21 points 18/1   Indianapolis Colts 18 to 21 points 12/1
New Orleans Saints 22 or more points 15/1   Indianapolis Colts 22 or more points 13/2

Mike: I think this will be a relatively close game, but that Indianapolis will be able to go up by at least a touchdown at the final gun. Indianapolis Colts 7 to 10 points.

Tom: The Colts are winning this game by 4 points. Thus, Indianapolis Colts 4 to 6 points.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 03 Feb 2010

41 comments, Last at 07 Feb 2010, 1:13am by jebmak