Never Have I Ever

For five years I’ve picked every NFL game played. That’s 1280 regular season games, 20 wild card games, 20 divisional games, 10 conference championship games and, thus far, 4 Super Bowls. My statistics are unclear unfortunately, I’ve done a poor job of keeping good records. What record I am sure of is this:

I am 0-4 when picking the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XL: Seahawks (+4) over Steelers

Seattle was something like 3892-0 against the spread during the 2005-2006 season and Pittsburgh was a six-seed who shouldn’t have been favored. The refereeing was awful as well, handicapping the Seahawks throughout the game. Of the four losing picks, this one I can and will defend. The others…

Super Bowl XLI: Bears (+7) over Colts

OK, this one was stupid. But when Devin Hester returned the opening kick for a touchdown I was on Cloud Nine. Just a few seconds in and I was already up 14-0. This was all before Rex Grossman went all REX GROSSMAN though, and Indianapolis stormed back to deliver Peyton his first ring. Manning didn’t even play all that well, and to this day I believe Dominic Rhodes should have been named the MVP:

Manning 25/38 247 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Rhodes 21 carries 113 yards 1 reception 8 yards 1 TD

Rhode’s touchdown was the turning point of the game too. Down 14-10 he plunged in at the goal line with 3:08 remaining in the first half to give Indy their first lead of the game and momentum going into the locker room. Chicago never recovered, and I never have either. This pick was horrible.

Super Bowl XLII: Patriots (-12) over Giants

From January 31st, 2008:

“In conclusion I honestly think it’s a barnburner. Just an old school, classic Super Bowl whooping.

Patriots 45 Giants 17″

As if I needed another reason to hate Brady, Belichick and the New England Patriots. Look, you can’t blame me for picking an 18-0 team, but I sure was off with that score. I was so convinced that the New England offense would make it a laugher. The Giants front four had another idea, and played incredibly. I, like many analysts, was shocked by Super Bowl XLII, which proved to be one of the greatest upsets in NFL history.

Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers (-7) over Cardinals

Sooooooooooooooooooooooo close! Unbearably close! I was screaming for a pick-six in the closing seconds, praying for a last second cover. Didn’t happen. BUT, for the first time ever I at least picked the winner straight up. Unfortunately, picking NFL spreads is neither horseshoes nor hand grenades and I was wrong for a fourth year in a row.

Maybe this improvement is a sign of good things to come. Maybe this year will be the year!

Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts

In Week 13 it seemed inevitable that these two teams would meet in Miami come February. The only thing that was uncertain was the name of Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro Player Park/Pro Player Stadium/Dolphins Stadium/Dolphin Stadium/Land Shark Stadium/Sun Life Stadium. The end of the season was rocky for the two number one seeds though, and seemingly everyone questioned their readiness for the post season.

Well, here they are. Neither are undefeated, neither are perfect, but one of them will be crowned Super Bowl champion and receive the 44th Vince Lombardi trophy.

The Super Bowl is exciting and sad at the same time. It is exciting because Super Sunday is where legends are born, where history is written. It is sad because it closes another chapter in our lives, it ends the greatest season of the year: football season. The Super Bowl is also the last chance for anyone to wager on football for months, so it attracts the most casual bettors to bet the game or join a grid pool. More importantly, the Super Bowl brings us phenomenal…

Prop Bets

To seasoned gamblers and/or poker players, prop bets are a way of life. To the average person though, betting the over/under on 1 minute 42 seconds for Carrie Underwood to sing the National Anthem is crazy. To me it’s free money; THE UNDER IS A LOCK.

Here are my favorite props for Super Bowl XLIV thanks to Bodog:

MVP: Pierre Garçon (10-1)

If there was an AFC Championship game MVP, Garçon would have won it with 11 catches for 151 yards, a touchdown and the heart of a lion. The MVP award for any sport or game is filled with intangibles, and there is no greater individual intangible than Garçon hoisting the Lombardi trophy while draped with the Haitian flag. Sure Peyton is much more likely to win MVP if the Colts win, but I’m never laying 10-17 where I can take a chance on a hot receiver with a lot of upside and much better odds. The same can be said for Brees. If the Saints win he’s likely a shoe-in for MVP, but he’s also listed as 2-1.

Coin Toss: Tails (-105)

Yes, I’m suggesting you lay $105 to win $100 on a 50/50 bet. So what? Tails never fails. EVER.

Total Receptions for Robert Meachem: Over 2.5 (-145)

Meachem has turned into a quality receiver whom Brees trusts, and although The numbers may say otherwise (he hasn’t recorded three or more receptions in a game since Week 16) I have a really good feeling about this one. Call it a hunch.

Total Tackles/Assists for Jonathan Vilma: Over 6.5 (-140)

In the AFC Championship game, both Calvin Pace (7) and David Harris (11) recorded seven or more total tackles against the Colts. Even Bart Scott added two tackles and he hardly played. Vilma is a beast who roams all over the field and tackles everything in sight.

Will there be a score in the first 7 min 30 seconds of the 1st quarter: Yes (-265)

This would be a bigger upset than the Giants over the Pats.

Will there be a missed PAT: Yes (+800)

This has been the year of the anti-kicker, why not end with an exclamation point. The Colts missed an extra point the last time they traveled to Miami for the Super Bowl too. The now injured Adam Vinatieri was kicking and it was raining, but that’s irrelevant!

How Many Times will CBS show Archie Manning on TV during the game: Over 4.5 (-210)

They should just get rid of the decimal point and make this 45.

How Many Times will CBS show Kim Kardashian on TV during the game: Over 2.5 (-135)

Hopefully it’s in the hundreds.

If any member of the Who smashes their guitar what does the guitar hit first: A Fan (200-1)

Please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease happen.

Ok where were we?

The game itself is an interesting one. For two weeks everyone has talked about Dwight Freeney ad nauseam, and here’s my take. He’ll play, but he won’t be effective nor will the Saints pay much attention to him. Freeney is a speed guy, he needs to be fully mobile. In order to rush the passer to the best of his ability, he has to be able to spin and swim around tackles and tight ends. He won’t be able to do that with torn ligaments in his ankle.

This hurts the Colts defense, but Raheem Brock isn’t a practice squad guy by any stretch of the imagination. Brock recorded 3.5 sacks during the regular season playing mostly on non-passing downs to give Freeney a breather during the game. And, unlike a Troy Polamalu or an Ed Reed, the Indianapolis defense does not revolve around Dwight Freeney.

The second big story of Super Bowl XLIV is what this game means to the people of New Orleans. From paper bags to popping champagne, the S(ain’t)s are finally playing for it all. Under coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees this team has reached two NFC Championship games already and now has a once in a life time opportunity. Most of the casual NFL fans that attend the game will be shouting “WHO DAT” and rooting for a Mardis Gras on South Beach. Chad Ochocinco commented earlier that all he sees is, “Black n gold.”

This game means everything for NOLA, but the question at hand is whether or not emotion is enough. Because the Colts boast the third, and most important story of Super Bowl XLIV.

Peyton Manning.

He’s a machine. He’s unstoppable. He’s superhuman. He’s the GOAT. Seriously you can’t name anyone who ever played the position better than Manning is right now. There is no confusing him because he easily reads the defense then makes checks and audibles to the exact right play. All season the Saints defense (ranked 26th) has survived by forcing turnovers. The NFC Championship game is a perfect example, take away the turnovers and the Vikings destroy them. The problem is, Peyton doesn’t turn the ball over. So unless they force the Colt receivers and backs to fumble, the Saints defense is in for a long day.

I cannot in good conscious pick against someone who has played so incredibly. While I’ll be wearing my black Reggie Bush jersey and an undershirt that says, “Be a Saint,” I have to part from my rooting interests and bow to the greatness of Peyton Manning.

Colts (-5) 35 Saints 20

MVP: Peyton Manning

Rich Ryan
WSOE Sports

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