Super Bowl Gambling Guide, Volume II: Three Real Props

| February 2nd, 2021

Prop Bet #1

Leonard Fournette to Score a TD: +120

“Playoff Lenny”

The Chiefs allowed 122.1 yards per game on the ground this season but they haven’t really been tested there this postseason. (Cleveland only ran the ball 20 times against them but averaged 5.3 yard a clip.) If the Bucs are going to make this the game I think it will be, Fournette will have to play a major role. That means 20+ attempts, 100+ yards and points.


Prop Bet #2

Tom Brady OVER 0.5 Rushing Yards: +130

Two points on this prop.

  • It is a situational bet. It requires the Bucs finding themselves in 3rd or 4th and 1 because Brady ain’t scrambling for yards. But Tompa is the greatest sneak quarterback of all-time and in this game every yard feels like twenty. Every first down feels decisive, and that’s especially true when the opponent seems to score at will like Kansas City. Arians will keep this game in the most reliable hands he’s got.
  • Brady has actually hit this number in two of his last four games. So at + money, this is a bet well worth making.


Prop Bet #3

Travis Kelce OVER 8.5 Catches: +130

Often, it’s very easy to applaud Vegas for how they set these over/unders. But this one is a no-brainer. Here are Kelce’s catch totals over his last ten games: 13, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 10, 8.

This is the Super Bowl. It figures to be a shootout. Kelce is the best receiving option in the sport and Todd Bowles will manufacture pressure every way imaginable, leaving Mahomes to look for his most reliable outlet. My projected line for Kelce: 11 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD.

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Super Bowl Gambling Guide, Volume I: Silly Props

| February 1st, 2021

While this year won’t feature the large Super Bowl parties of pre-pandemic times (I hope), Super Bowls typically involve the interesting dynamic of football fans watching football with non-football fans. It’s not really a sporting event. It’s a television program, especially for neutral observers. I say embrace that element and bet accordingly. Give the non-football folks a chance to get in on the action.

Here are three props to do that. They all come from DraftKings Sportsbook.


“Doink Special”

Any Field Goal or Extra Point to Hit Upright/Crossbar.


Analysis: The over/under on this game is 56.5. The expectation is there will be points and that means lots of opportunities to doink a kick or two. At 4-1 odds, you’ll also have a good chance to make some money and the results/flow of the game will have zero impact on the likelihood of hitting. Neither of these teams has a “sit on the lead” mode.


Opening Kickoff to NOT Result in a Touchback.


Analysis: Two reasons I like this bet. (1) There is a lot of adrenaline stored up at the start of the Super Bowl and it’s easy to see Mickens OR Pringle OR Hardman deciding to take a shot on the opening kick. (2) It’s more fun than betting the coin flip, comes with better odds, and requires the same level of attention.


First Second-Half Offensive Play From Scrimmage: Run


Analysis: You’re getting a little drunk. You just sat through a 20-minute performance from someone called The Weekend. Your shirt looks like Jackson Pollock went to town on you with a combination of nacho cheese and buffalo sauce. The non-footballies are starting to lose interest.

First play, second half, all-in. Yes, you probably need to hope Tampa won the coin toss and deferred to the second half because I don’t see the Chiefs running the ball in this spot. But you’re getting positive odds so it’s worth the shot.

[Note: I went 5-1 on my bets over the Divisional and Championship rounds. But those were serious, thoughtful bets. These are not. These are the kinds of bets you make for entertainment purposes only. And believe me, you’ll enjoy them.]

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Super Bowl Preview: The Data Prediction

| January 29th, 2020

I’m very excited for this Super Bowl matchup between two of the best teams in the NFL. Here’s what I’ll be watching for on Sunday night.

When Kansas City Has the Ball

  • I can’t wait to see Patrick Mahomes vs. San Francisco’s defense. The NFL’s best QB against the NFL’s best front 7. How can you not love that?
  • San Francisco has played 4 games against the top 10 QBs in passer rating this year (Wilson 2x, Lamar Jackson, Drew Brees). 3 of the 4 averaged less than 7 yards per attempt, threw 2 or fewer TDs, and led their team to 27 or fewer points. San Francisco’s defense is really good.
  • The 4th was Drew Brees, who averaged 8.7 yards/attempt, threw 5 TD, and put up 46 points. What did Brees do differently? He got rid of the ball before he could get hit. His average time to throw was 2.45 seconds, which was faster than any QB in the NFL as a whole this year (the other 3 were all over 2.7 seconds). As a result, Brees didn’t get sacked. This meant that he had to throw the ball short, with his average completion traveling only 5.1 yards past the line of scrimmage. Instead, he relied on his pass catchers to pick up yards after the catch, and they responded with an average of 6.9 YAC.
  • Patrick Mahomes generally doesn’t get the ball out super fast; his average time to throw this year was 2.82 seconds, and it was 2.91 seconds in 2018. Yet he’s had 5 games in his career where the ball has come out in under 2.6 seconds, and his results there have been remarkable: 73% completion, 10.2 yards/attempt, 19 TD, 0 INT, and only 6 sacks on 198 dropbacks. His team has averaged 35 points per game in those contests too. If you want to get even pickier, he’s had 2 games getting the ball out in under 2.5 seconds: 79% completion, 11.5 yards/attempt, 9 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack. He’s capable of getting the ball out quickly and effectively, even if it’s not his preferred style.

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Super Bowl Preview: Mahomes is Ready to Take Over the NFL

| January 28th, 2020

Patrick Mahomes didn’t even have to sweat.

The 2019 version of the Chicago Bears defense was very good. Not as good as the team’s 2018 defense, but certainly among the better units in the league. They had, for the most part, shut Aaron Rodgers down a week before, but Mahomes was different.

The stat line wasn’t amazing. Mahomes completed 23-of-33 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another score. It was as ho-hum as three-touchdown games get. But the numbers don’t tell the entire story.

The Bears defense didn’t play poorly.

It was among Khalil Mack’s better efforts, turning Kansas City’s offensive tackles inside out numerous times.

It didn’t matter.

Mahomes was able to step up, move to his right or his left and use different arm angles to deliver passes right on the money. Wide receivers that shouldn’t have been open were because Mahomes can make throws no other quarterback thinks about. Mahomes is just better than any quarterback we’ve ever seen.

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On the Prospects of the Bears Making a Super Bowl Run.

| December 21st, 2018

I was sitting on a stool at The Copper Kettle, my local in Woodside, Queens, and a liquored up friend of mine, a mumbling Irishman known as “Mel” who loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, turned my way. “You know I think you’re going to the Super Bowl,” he said, referring to the Chicago Bears. He actually said, “Joe, binky broofer soul” but I got where his brain was going.

I did what I always do when that particular suggestion is made (and it’s happening more often these days). “We’ll see,” I said. It wasn’t a response out of modesty or fan humility. It wasn’t an attempt to avoid a jinx. In other words, it wasn’t bullshit. It was about altering expectations. That can take time.

I came into this season, especially after the acquisition of Khalil Mack, believing the Bears could weasel their way into the postseason if the quarterback and offense came along by midseason. After watching the Bears dismantle the Vikings from a Paris hotel room in the middle of the night, those expectations changed to a division title. The Bears were clearly the best team in the NFC North. They needed to finish the season atop the table. They did.

Now, with two weeks to go in the regular season, there are only a pair of teams in the NFC with better records than the Bears: the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. And I’m no longer convinced the Bears can’t beat both of them. In any building.

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ATM: Defensive Performance Makes Championship Dreams Valid

| December 11th, 2018

After holding one of the ten best offenses in the history of the league to just one legitimate scoring drive, Super Bowl dreams no longer seem far-fetched for the 2018 Chicago Bears.

Yes, they have to take care of business the rest of the season and any playoff run is going to require Mitch Trubisky to be infinitely better than he was Sunday night. But now that we’ve seen the defense be that good, there’s no reason to put a cap on what the Bears can accomplish this season.

Say what positive you will about the Bears teams of the early-to-mid 2000s, but they never faced — much less beat — an offense like the 2018 Bears just did.

  • 2005 Bears held a Carolina team that averaged more than 24 per game to just three but then got smoked in the playoffs by a legendary Steve Smith performance.
  • 2006 Bears limited the fifth-ranked Saints to 14 points, but that’s still not really comparable as indoor Saints and outdoor Saints are very different things.
  • 2010 Bears played two top-three offenses and gave up 26 and 36 points in those games respectively.

While the defense’s performance Sunday makes the games against Brock Osweiler, Eli Manning and gimpy Aaron Rodgers even more confusing, it also gave validity to their claim as a potentially historic defense. If they can do THAT to the Rams, they can beat anybody — especially when you consider the defensive issues the other top scoring teams have.

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A Somewhat Incoherent Ramble on Why I Don’t Care Much For the Super Bowl

| January 29th, 2018

The Copper Kettle is an actual Irish bar in Woodside, Queens. When I say actual I mean it’s not one of these paint-by-number bullshit paddy joints that spring up in big cities with names like Flanagan’s and Murphy’s and The Perfect Pint. These are bars that throw a couple coats of purple and pink paint on the front facade and think their Guinness is worth $8 because of the “authentic experience”. Meanwhile the Monday night trad session features a fiddle player from Staten Island with an Italian last name.

The Kettle is run by actual Irish people. It is frequented by them too. Folks who identify themselves by county and when they banter about “the football” it ain’t American football OR soccer.

This is usually where I watch the Super Bowl. It’s my local. Two blocks from my apartment. I play golf with the owner once a week. The bartenders are my friends. There’s rarely a face in there I don’t recognize and every time I walk in I hope upon hope that won’t be the case. (If you have a local, you don’t need further explanation.)

I go to the Kettle to watch golf every Sunday. And often Saturdays, Fridays and Thursdays. The bar has comically gained the title “New York’s preeminent golf bar” because (a) I’m good at giving things nicknames and (b) there is NEVER a Sunday during golf season where the final round of a PGA tour event won’t be found on one of it’s five large TVs in the bar area.

That includes Super Bowl Sunday.

Two years ago, well after “the big game” had started, I commandeered prime television real estate to watch Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama battle in a playoff down in Scottsdale. Nobody complained. You know why? Because it’s my local, I’m bigger than everybody else in there and a half dozen Irish fellas in the joint had WAY more money on the golf than on the football. (Shane Lowry falling outside the top five cost Mickey Gobbs at least a grand. Though nobody knows with Gobbs.)

All this was a long-winded way of saying, you know, I just don’t care all that much about the Super Bowl. To me the Super Bowl is to football fans what St. Patrick’s Day is to drinker: a chance for the die hards to step aside and let the amateurs have a go.

I don’t care about your tips for hosting the perfect Super Bowl party. I don’t care about the national anthem or the halftime show or the commercials. And while this may seem odd coming a football fan, I don’t give a damn who wins or loses the game. That’s why I don’t go anywhere special or doing anything of note. Hell, I don’t even bother hopping on the subway to Josie Woods in Manhattan – where I watch every Bears  game – because who cares?

When the Bears were in the game, I spent two sleepless weeks calling random radio shows – Sporting News used to have a station in New York – and playing out the match-up in black and white composition notebooks. If I had been accused of murder in the days after the Super Bowl, those notebooks would have gotten me the chair.

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