Blog Entry

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

Posted on: January 17, 2012 11:07 am
A rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl is almost likely at this point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Earlier this month we took a look at the odds for teams to win the Super Bowl, just before the playoffs began. If you bet on the 49ers (+1200), you're feeling pretty good about life. If you bet on the Packers (+16), well, not so much.

The odds have been recalibrated in advance of the AFC and NFC Championship Games so let's take a look at who's likely (and unlikely) to win the Super Bowl. Plus: hypothetical Super Bowl matchups! All odds courtesy of

Odds to Win the Super Bowl

Team: New England Patriots
Super Bowl Odds: +120
Value of Bet: 4
What Has to Happen: The Pats defense has to show up for at least one more game and Tom Brady needs to keep being the angry, destructive cyborg that he was in the first half against the Broncos. The Patriots are a shockingly high favorite here given that they've got to win two games like everyone else, and given that the Ravens stomped their faces the last time Baltimore came to New England.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: Under on the longest touchdown of the game at 47.5. Both the Ravens and the Patriots give up long plays, but if you look at each of their last five games, most shots have been taken from 40 yards in. Only Torrey Smith represents a true "deep threat" on either team.

Team: San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl Odds: +325
Value of Bet: 2
What Has to Happen: Alex Smith keeps getting his Joe Montana on. The defense has to play well, of course, but roughing up the Giants is different than roughing up the Saints; New Orleans is a finesse team (no offense to Drew Brees and Sean Payton). Once Pierre Thomas was knocked out, they struggled to punch the 49ers in the mouth. The Giants won't have the same problem and are infinitely tougher. Smith successfully orchestrating the offense gives San Francisco a tremendous advantage.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: Super Bowl UNDER at 50. You think 50 points are getting scored if we get 49ers vs. Ravens? It's not even a total backfire if the Giants make it: only once since 2005 (last year, in fact) has the Super Bowl gone over 50 points total.

Team: New York Giants
Super Bowl Odds: +325
Value of Bet: 3
What Has to Happen: The secondary needs to keep shutting folks down; they've done a tremendous job improving over the past four weeks or so. Also, Gregg Doyel pointed out that the Giants wanted to get physical with Jermichael Finley during the Packers game. They will need to do something similar with Vernon Davis (and then possibly Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez) if they plan on winning the Super Bowl. At the very least, they shouldn't leave Vernon in one-on-one coverage.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: Giants +4.5 versus Patriots in a hypothetical Super Bowl. Yes, you can bet on this. Crazy right? Already, no one believes in the Giants. Good times! (All future SB matchups listed below.

Team: Baltimore Ravens
Super Bowl Odds: +600
Value of Bet: 1
What Has to Happen: Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron have to get it together for two games and do their jobs more efficiently. Were it not for Jacoby Jones gifting the Ravens a touchdown on Sunday, Flacco might be the goat for a huge upset right now, and Cameron throwing with two minutes remaining and Houston trying to use their timeouts gave the Texans an additional possession. Do that against, say, Brady and Eli, and it'll burn you.
Fun Prop to Play This Weekend: The under on Ray Rice's rushing attempts. I don't even know what it is but I know Cameron will find a way to go under regardless.

Hypothetical Super Bowl Matchups
Patriots (-6.5) vs. 49ers: That's not a surprising line considering how strong the Patriots looked and it would generate a lot of action on each side of the ball. However, if the 49ers look good in taking down the Giants, I'd think this would open up closer to 3 than 7.

Patriots (-4.5) vs. Giants: The Giants would be somewhat surprising underdogs considering their strong run but remember that last time they were 12.5-point dogs (!) against the Patriots. So maybe this more reasonable. Best guess: the Giants would get a LOT of action and push this line down.

Ravens (-2) vs. 49ers: A two-point line means "We have no real idea, but I guess we like the Ravens." The over/under isn't listed but you best believe it's lower than the current line of 50. Defensive matchups like this put a lot of the weight on Flacco and Smith which is why no one knows.

Giants (-1) vs. Ravens: Again, no one knows. I'd personally love the Giants in this situation, because as hot as they've been, this line seems destined to climb. Plus, if you've got two really good defenses, don't you want the team with the elite quarterback? (That's not you, Joe Flacco.)

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Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:10 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

BAL defense is designed to beat prototypical offenses that rely on a strong running attack and speed receivers (I.E. PIT). Not designed to beat TE focused, passing attacks.  If you scheme to take away the tight ends, it opens up the running attack (see the BAL vs. SD).

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:01 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

In a Patriots/Giants Super Bowl, the Patriots will use the two tight ends together.  Aaron Hernandez may line up at fullback most of the time as he did against the Broncos, but his function doesn't change.  His job will be to chip one of the defensive ends to slow him down and push him toward the inside--back onto the tackle's block, taking away the DE's angle advantage, then run a pattern.  If the linebacker is in coverage, the TE then has to make the catch and make sure he holds onto the ball; if he can break away from the linebacker, that's a bonus, but get the 5-6 yards the pass gets him anyhow.

If the linebacker has either gone in on a blitz or dropped back into a softer zone coverage, then the TE is off to the races; either Gronkowski or Hernandez can then take off through the secondary like a runaway freight train for big yards. 

This type of attacking scheme will be all the more effective with play-action, either to Hernandez, running from the fullback spot, or to Stevan Ridley or BenJarvus Green-Ellis on more conventional run plays.

There are still not more than two people who can cover Hernandez or Gronkowski one on one.  I believe Brian Urlacher can; I think Patrick Willis can.  But otherwise, who's big enough to fight for the ball with those guys or to tackle them in the open field, yet fast enough to stay with them?  Rob Gronkowski is a freak; anyone check him to make sure he isn't secretly a Terminator?  Hernandez is built like a fullback, has the speed of a wide receiver, and runs patterns like a tight end.  How do you cover both of them plus Wes Welker?  Therre have been a few attempts at doing that--they have led to long completions to Deion Branch or Chad Ochocinco, either of whom is too much for any but the best corners to cover one-on-one. (Opponents' best corner is usually lined up on Wes Welker.)

If the Pats' defense holds up, they will win.  New York will not stop the Pats' offense.    &nb

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:00 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

That said, I think Flacco is underrated and you guys have a tremendous back in Ray Rice, so I'm expecting a really good game. 

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:58 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

Also, while my last comment was team agnostic, as a Pats fan, gotta say to BYTEME and other Raven lovers, BAL isn't designed to beat the Pat's offense this year.  Big, downhill LB's aint gonna match up with Hernandez and Gronk or Welker for that matter.  You don't have enough defenders to bring help on all three.  This means that you are gonna be forced into a zone defense just like Denver...

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:47 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

If there's likely to be a lot of action pushing the line down on Patriots/Giants, then the thing to do is wait for the line to get down to perhaps 1.5 points, then bet the Patriots.

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:44 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

Deion Branch is the long-distance threat on the Patriots.  No, he doesn't have the blazing speed he had when he was young, but he's still quick enough to get open deep, and nifty enough to slip that first tackle and go for big yards.  Watch for him especially right before the half.  That's when Brady likes to go deep for him, generally on a pattern that looks like he's going short to someone else to draw the safety up.

Since: Sep 7, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:36 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

You still need to score points to win...

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:32 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

This crap about defenses is getting a bit absurd.  The Giants have a terrible D. 29th against the pass, 19th against the run and 25th scoring.  They showed up in a clutch game and found a Packers team that simply was not as ready to compete.  When one looks at the SF and NYG games, the real story is that these teams found ways to dominate on the offensive side of the ball and keep up with (indeed outscore) their more potent opponents.  Out of the top 12 teams in total defense, only 6 made the playoffs.  Out of those six, only 2 remain (Balt and SF).  While the top 2 offenses have been knocked out, so have the top two defenses.  This season, against top defenses, the Patriots on 3-1, the Giants are 2-2, the Ravens are 9-1, and SF is 6-1.  So clearly no one left really has problems beating strong D's.  Against top offenses, NE is 3-1, NYG are 5-3, BAL is 0-1 and SF is 2-1.  So cum. against top D's the playoff teams remaining are 20-5, while against top off. the teams are 10-6....

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:24 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

They should allow the defense to take out the starting QBs. What are they? Wimps? That way the NFL can lose their marque players so that some half-assed nut job can feel like they are watching a real sport and they're not playing favorites with Brady. BTW, they're watching out for all QBs not just Brady.

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:18 pm

Super Bowl Odds: Championship Game Previews

And please Patsie o-coordinator - whomever you are this week, please put hernandez as the running back against the ravens and hand him the ball, please do it, please do it.

And please as my other wish send wes walker across the middle.  Ray Ray is dying to hope either one of those formations or plays happen....

And please Brady, attempt to throw around Ed Reed or LaDarius Webb...  Please please!!!!!

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