Seattle Seahawks (15-3 SU, 12-6 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (15-3 SU, 11-6-1 ATS)
SuperBowl 48 Prediction
Date and Time: Sunday, February 2nd, 2014, 6:30 pm EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SEA +2.5/DEN -2.5
Over/Under Total: 47
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After 17 weeks of regular season and three of the best playoff rounds in recent memory, the National Football League is ready for their marquee event, so its fitting that it will feature the top-seed from both conferences when the Seattle Seahawks face off against the Denver Broncos in the 48th version of the Super Bowl, the biggest sports gambling day of the year.
The NFL couldnt have written a better script for this game.
Everybody gets to drool over poster-boy Peyton Manning leading the Broncos back into the big game in a classic matchup that features the leagues best offense smashing heads against the Seahawks top-ranked defense in the NFL.
Theres also a little bit of controversy too, with predicted cold temperatures and a threat of snow in the cold-venue of MetLife Stadium, enough of a public relations nightmare that the commissioner himself Rodger Godell first thought he could snuff it out simply by announcing he was going to sit outside for the game instead of inside his cushy skybox. The NFL even flirted with the notion that they could move Super Bowl Sunday to Saturday the 1st or Monday the 3rd incase of really bad weather, so the weather will certainly be a major factor in handicapping the Super Bowl for the first time in decades.
Adding to the intrigue is the way Las Vegas and the rest of the sports gambling industry has been forced to react to the flood of early money on Manning and the Broncos.
When Las Vegas and the offshore sportsbooks stared listing the Super Bowl odds late on Sunday following Championship Sunday action, the oddsmakers originally opened the game with Seattle as slight 1.5-point favorites. With the Broncos and Manning looking nearly flawless just hours before, so much of the early steam of money poured in on Denver that book managers were forced within the first hour of the number being up on the board to flip flop it to the other side and make the Broncos the favorite. The steam finally settled at Denver minus -2 or -2.5 at most sportsbooks, where the point spread has sat for most of the first week since being opened.
As kickoff approaches it will be interesting to see where the late money starts coming in and if it will be enough to move the point spread onto the key number of 3. If the money keeps coming down on the Broncos and the folks in Vegas move the Seahawks to a full field-goal underdog they leave themselves vulnerable to being middled if the game does end with the Broncos winning by a field goal, because they could wound up paying off everyone that took Denver up to the minus -2.5, as well as anybody who would switch and cover with Seattle and the three.
Regardless of all the extra media-created drama that has turned the event into a world-wide spectacle, the game itself between the stripes between these two teams should stand to be a very good one.
Now every armchair NFL fan will have an opinion about how this game is going to play out, and after 20 weeks of football if you dont then Im not sure why youre even reading this. So heres my two cents.
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For me I think this game is more aligned with the strengths of the Seahawks than the Broncos. Theres a reason why Manning has been shakier throughout his career in snowy, cold, crappy games played in the elements outside. I also think that because of the strength of the Seattle defensive secondary, specifically the range of free safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks are the most equipped of any team in the league to handle Manning and his high-powered Broncos passing attack.
I also think the Seattle offense matches up favorably with the Denver defense. The Broncos defense has been lights out in the playoffs and down the stretch, but if you look at their three losses this season, aside from a unreal second-half comeback from Tom Brady in the New England loss, the common denominator in the other two were power running games against them. In the loss to the Chargers, the Broncos faced 44 rushes and gave up 177 yards. In the loss to the Colts, 31 attempts for a modest 121 yards, but the blueprint is there I think, and with Marshawn Lynch in beast mode I dont think the Broncos will be able to just run away from the Seahawks with a big early lead.
The over/under total opened at 47 and has hung in that 46.5 to 47.5 range for the first week of wagering, but I expect a little more of the handle to come in on the total this week once the weather picture becomes a little more certain.
Badgers Prediction to Cover the Superbowl Pointspread: Its taken me the entire first week of the two-week Super Bowl break to drum up the courage to pick against Manning and the Broncos, especially after how strong theyve looked all year and in the AFC Championship game dismantling the Patriots. But the more I studied, the more Im thinking the Seahawks are the team to do it.
In my mind theres a reason why Vegas opened this game with the Seahawks as the favorites, and now that they are flopped to the underdog role and youre giving me 2.5-points the Seahawks are clearly the best value on the board right now. But at just 2.5, Id be more inclined to wager the Seahawks on the moneyline (+120 at most places) so the better reward, since Im calling for the Seahawks to take down Manning and the Broncos.
After a slow start where both teams work out the nerves and the weather conditions, the Broncos will take a small lead into halftime (10-6). But the ground-and-pound Seahawks will score early in the second half and take the lead, and then grind-it-out and wear down the Broncos with Peyton looking sad and dejected on the sideline. A late Matt Prater field goal from 50-plus falls short and the Seahawks prevail in the upset, 23-20.