Super Bowl Countdown!

Courtesy of Jim Feist

In the world of eleven to ten, there's nothing quite like Super Bowl week. In this case, it's two weeks, as the teams have two weeks to prepare for the Big Game. It's also one of the most creative weeks of the sports betting season.

While there's only one game left on the football calendar, there are still ample opportunities for betting with hundreds of creative props by various oddsmakers.

For example, you can bet on the exact score of the game by each team, who will score first, or how many yards a player has. A year ago Seattle to win by 22 or more points was 12-to-1 odds and the first scoring play to be a safety was 35-to-1. Both cashed. Total combined QB sacks was projected at over/under 4.5...and would you believe there was only 1 sack (Manning) in the Super Bowl?

Two years ago passing yards by Joe Flacco was set at 247.5 (he threw for 287). Three years ago QB Tom Brady was projected over/under 300 yards and 2.5 TDs (he finished with 276 yards, 2 TDs, going under for both).

Four years ago, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers' TD passes was over/under 2 (he threw 3 against Pittsburgh). His first pass to be incomplete was +210 (it was). Eight Super Bowls ago, if you bet on Chicago return specialist Devin Hester to score the first touchdown of the game you would have cashed a 25-to-1 prop ticket after he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards. 14 seconds in cashing a 25-to-1 ticket is the best way to watch a Super Bowl!

You can wager that no TDs will be scored by either team, often at 50-to-1. Of course, that has never happened as we head to Super Bowl 49 next week. There also has never been overtime, though you will be able to wager on "Will there be overtime or not?" There will be "over/under" lines offered on how many touchdown passes a quarterback might throw, the first team to turn the ball over and even the coin flip. There will be creative wagers offered such as how many receiving yards one player might get matched up against the number of points the NBA's Kobe Bryant might have as the Lakers/Knicks battle before the Super Sunday kickoff (if anyone watches those bottom dwellers).

The Super Bowl brings out the best in the creative minds of oddsmakers. Smart bettors will search through all the props, totals and side bets offered in an attempt to find an edge and add to their bankrolls. Since Super Bowl X in 1976 between the Steelers and Cowboys, there have been 23 "overs" and 16 "unders."

Why so many "overs?" One factor is that coaches with a lead are less likely to sit on the ball in the second half in a Super Bowl. If a team is up 17-0 at the half of a December game, for example, a coach might be inclined to go conservative, run the clock and avoid injuries. In the postseason, it's the final game of the year and no lead is safe. No coach wants to play super-conservative and be remembered as the guy who blew a 20-0 lead in the biggest game of his career. Since it's the last game of the season, coaches often put in trick plays and new offensive wrinkles in an attempt to maximize scoring opportunities.

Despite the excessive "overs" you can't overlook the importance of defense. The Seahawks stormed to the title with incredible defense a year ago despite being a Super Bowl underdog to the record-setting Denver offense. Three years ago the Saints and Packers didn?t win a playoff game despite all those flashy offensive numbers, while the defensive-oriented Giants, 49ers and Ravens made it to the Final Four.

In 2008 and 2012 the big story was the flashy offense of the Patriots as a favorite each time, but who came out ahead? The great defense of the Giants kept the game close and was the main reason in their 17-14 and 21-17 victories. 12 years ago the No. 1 offense (Oakland) faced the No. 1 defense (Tampa Bay)? Oakland's great offense was a 4-point favorite, but Tampa's defense dominated in a 48-21 rout. In fact, 8 of the last 14 Super Bowl champs have had statistically better defenses than their offenses, including the 2005 Steelers (4th in defense) and 2008 Steelers (No. 1). Four of those champs, the 2001 Patriots, the '02 Buccaneers, the '07 Giants and last year?s Seahawks, were Super Bowl underdogs.

Key numbers will come into play, as well, as books are petrified of getting middled. 14 years ago the Rams were a 7 to 7?-point favorite against the Titans. The Rams won by seven points, 23-16. The most famous example was in 1979, forever known in Las Vegas as "Black Sunday." The Steelers opened a 2?-point favorite over the Cowboys, were bet up to 5, then back down to 4. Books everywhere were sick when the Steelers won, 35-31, landing on the dreaded 'M' word.
Super Bowl                   Total   Over/Under
48 Seahawks 43,  Broncos 8   47-     Over
47 Ravens 34,  49ers 31      47-     Over
46 Giants 21, Patriots 17    51      Under
45 Packers 31, Steelers 25   46      Over
44 Saints 31, Colts 17       56      Under
43 Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 47      Over
42 Giants 17, Patriots 14    52      Under
41 Colts 29, Bears 17        49      Under
40 Steelers 21, Seahawks 10  48      Under
39 Patriots 24, Eagles 21    47      Under
38 Patriots 32, Panthers 29  38      Over
37 Bucs 48, Raiders 21       43-     Over
36 Patriots 20, Rams 17      53      Under
35 Ravens 34, Giants 7       33      Over
34 Rams 23, Titans 16        48      Under
33 Broncos 34, Falcons 19    51      Over
32 Broncos 31, Packers 24    49      Over
31 Packers 35, Patriots 21   52      Over
30 Cowboys 27, Steelers 17   52      Under
29 49ers 49, Chargers 26     53      Over
28 Cowboys 30, Bills 13      50      Under
27 Cowboys 52, Bills 17      44-     Over
26 Redskins 37, Bills 24     49      Over
25 Giants 20, Bills 19       40-     Under
24 49ers 55, Broncos 10      48      Over
23 49ers 20, Bengals 16      48      Under
22 Redskins 42, Broncos 10   47      Over
21 Giants 39, Broncos 20     40      Over
20 Bears 46, Patriots 10     37-     Over
19 49ers 39, Dolphins 16     53-     Over
18 Raiders 38, Redskins 9    48      Under
17 Redskins 27, Dolphins 17  36-     Over
16 49ers 26, Bengals 21      48      Under
15 Raiders 27, Eagles 10     37-     Under
14 Steelers 31, Rams 19      36      Over
13 Steelers 35, Cowboys 31   37      Over
12 Cowboys 27, Broncos 10    39      Under
11 Raiders 32, Vikings 14    38      Over
10 Steelers 21, Cowboys 17   36      Over
 9 Steelers 16, Vikings 6    33      Under
 8 Dolphins 24, Vikings 7    33      Under
 7 Dolphins 14, Redskins 7   33      Under
 6 Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3    34      Under
 5 Colts 16, Cowboys 13      36      Under
 4 Chiefs 23, Vikings 7      39      Under
 3 Jets 16, Colts 7          40      Under
 2 Packers 33, Raiders 14    40      Over    
 1 Packers 35, KC 13         NL      NL
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