Jeff went 3-1 during Conference Championship weekend as he had winners on the Packers, over SEA/GB and under NE/IND. His only loss came on the Colts. Jeff finished the weekend at plus 150 units. Jeremy dropped his selections for the weekend which resulted in minus 300 units. Jeff currently has a 440 unit lead on Jeremy as we head into the Super Bowl. Will the Patriots snap their two game Super Bowl losing streak? Will the Seahawks repeat as Super Bowl Champions? Let's get to the picks for Super Bowl Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots (-1.5)
Jeff: The Seahawks needed a late rally and overtime to defeat the Packers as they played one of their worst games offensively of the season. QB Russell Wilson threw four interceptions yet they still were able to come away victorious. The Patriots outscored the Colts 28-0 in the second half as they cruised to an easy 45-7 victory on their way back to the Super Bowl. Since this line opened, a large portion of the money has gone on the Patriots as they are now a small favorite. This is due in part to their domination of the Colts, and the Seahawks’ struggles against the Packers. I think the public is significantly overreacting with how these games played out. If anything, I'd be more concerned if I were a Patriots fan that the Seahawks got their bad game out of their system. As for this matchup, I think the Patriots will struggle running the football against a Seahawks defense that finished third in the league giving up only 81 yards/game on the ground. RB LeGarrette Blount will find it much more difficult to run the ball this week. The last time the Patriots faced a stout rush defense like this was against the Ravens in the Divisional Round where they only rushed for fourteen yards the entire game. They abandoned the run and let QB Tom Brady throw all day against a Ravens secondary that wasn't good. The Patriots will not have that luxury on Sunday as we know full well the strength of the Seahawks secondary. No team gives up fewer yards in the passing game than the Seahawks (185 yards/game). The Seahawks will also make it a priority to contain TE Rob Gronkowski along with applying a lot of pressure tp Brady. On the other side of the ball, look for the Seahawks to once again lean on RB Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots haven't been great in stopping the run during the playoffs so it is an area that the Seahawks can definitely exploit. Look for QB Russell Wilson to bounce back after having his worst game of his career. I think his mobility will give the Patriots defense fits. Whether it is running with the football or eluding defenders in the pocket extending plays in the passing game, Wilson's legs will play a major factor on Sunday. I took Seattle last year in the Super Bowl as underdogs, and I'm going right back there again. I think the Seahawks are the more complete team, and I expect them to bounce back after a dismal performance against the Packers. The Seahawks are also an impressive 10-1 against the spread as underdogs over the last three seasons.
Pick: Seahawks +1.5, 200 units
Jeremy: After staging a ferocious comeback win against the Green Bay Packers, the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks square off against the New England Patriots in a game that promises to be close throughout. I look for this game to be decided on the defensive side of the football. While the Seahawks defense deservedly garners most of the headlines, the Patriots defense has quietly had an outstanding season in their own right. Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork have provided veteran leadership while young players like Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Jaime Collins have established themselves as key contributors in Bill Belichick’s system. They will be called upon to contain the Seattle rushing attack lead by Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson who combined to rush for more than 2,100 yards this season. When the Patriots have the ball, it is no secret that Tom Brady will be looking for TE Rob Gronkowski as his primary target. Gronkowski has caught a touchdown pass in his last five games and only failed to catch a touchdown in five games all year. I expect Kam Chancellor will be the primary cover option on Gronkowski with help from some of Seattle’s other DB’s. The running game won’t be much of a factor for New England as they will focus on the short passing game featuring Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman. New England has faced a firestorm of allegations recently after reports surfaced that they played with underinflated footballs during their blowout win of the Colts. This will provide the team and specifically Tom Brady some fuel for the “us against the world” mentality they often rely on. In the end, it won’t be enough as I see this game being decided by a field goal late in a back and forth battle that will ultimately have Seattle winning their second straight title 24-21.
Pick: Seahawks +1.5, 125 units
Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots (Total points: 48.5)
Jeff: The total has come down since it opened as the betting public feels this will be a relatively low scoring game. I'm going in the other direction as I feel this game will have more points than people think. Both of the Seahawks’ playoff games this year have gone over, and the Patriots’ two games have been high scoring as well. I can see this game starting out slow in the first half, but opening up in the second half with more points. The Patriots will struggle for the most part running the football which will force QB Tom Brady to the air. This is obviously a tough task given how well the Seahawks secondary is in coverage, but Brady is too good not to move the football down the field and put points on the board. The Seahawks know they'll have to score points in order to stay with the Patriots’ potent offense. I'm expecting QB Russell Wilson to have a nice, bounce back game after a dreadful performance against the Packers. The Patriots defense will have their hands full with Wilson's mobility. The last time these two teams played Wilson did a tremendous job avoiding the Patriots’ pressure while finding the open receiver down the field. RB Marshawn Lynch will look to put together another great game as he faces a Patriots defense that has been vulnerable against the run during the playoffs. I think there will be enough offense generated along with a special teams or defensive touchdown to propel this game to go over the posted total.
Pick: Over 48.5 points, 50 units
Jeremy: One of the most anticipated Super Bowls in recent memory will kick off Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. Throughout the regular season, both of these teams surrendered less than 20 PTS/G with Seattle holding opponents under 16 PTS/G. Offensively, New England averaged nearly 30 PTS/G with Seattle right around 25. The playoffs have provided similar numbers defensively but both offenses have performed ABOVE their regular season pace. I don’t expect that to continue on Sunday. The Patriots will be facing the best secondary they have seen all year and will be limited in big play opportunities forcing them to rely on long drives to score. The same will hold true for the Seahawks who will lean heavily on the run to negate the Patriots secondary. Teams have shown an ability to run on the Patriots throughout the season and Marshawn Lynch and company will find that success as well. In a close game punctuated by defensive stands and turnovers, I see this one staying below the number.
Pick: Under 48.5 points, 50 units
Prop Bet #1: LeGarrette Blount rushing yards (Total rushing yards: 62.5)
Jeff: LeGarrette Blount is coming off a 148 yard rushing game including three touchdowns against the Colts. He now faces a much stiffer opponent against the run in Seattle. Look for the Seahawks to make it a point to slow down the Patriots rushing attack. When the Patriots faced the Ravens in the Divisional Round, they ditched the running game due to the lack of effectiveness. In that game, Blount finished with only three carries. It is very possible that the Patriots are again forced to rely heavily on the passing game. If that's the case, we'll see a heavy dose of RB Shane Vereen.
Pick: Under 62.5 rushing yards, 75 units
Jeremy: Heading into this game, I expect the Patriots to use the short passing game as their primary running game. Julian Edelman should play a key role as the Patriots deploy a variety of formations to keep the Seahawks’ aggressive defense guessing. Blount will get more than 10 carries in this one despite coming off a huge game against Indianapolis but will be featured less against Seattle. On the season he has only rushed for more than 62 yards four times including the postseason. With Seattle giving up just over 81 yards rushing per game, I don’t see Blount clearing the 62 yard mark in this one.
Pick: Under 62.5 rushing yards, 50 units
Prop Bet #2: Seahawks total rushing yards (Total rushing yards: 142.5)
Jeff: The Seahawks will not steer away from what got them here which is relying heavily on their strong running game. No one in the league rushed the ball better than the Seahawks as they averaged 185 yards/game on the ground during the regular season. In the playoffs, the Seahawks have averaged 147 rushing yards/game. The Patriots have struggled so far in the playoffs stopping the run. They gave up 4.9 yards/carry vs the Ravens and 4.4 yards/carry against the Colts. With RB Marshawn Lynch expecting to see 20-25 carries, and the running ability of QB Russell Wilson, look for the Seahawks rushing game to go over this yardage.
Pick: Over 142.5 rushing yards, 75 units
Prop Bet #3: Will either team score in the first seven minutes of the game?
Jeremy: Both teams have offenses capable of scoring in multiple ways. They can score on a sustained drive or with a quick strike. The Patriots have scored in the first quarter in 13 of 18 games this season including the playoffs. The Seahawks meanwhile scored in the first quarter in all but six of their games this year. I anticipate both teams will have a bit of a feeling out process with each team dealing with some early game jitters. However, given that these teams have combined to score in the first quarter two-thirds of the time, I expect one of those scores to occur in the first seven minutes.
Pick: One of the teams will score in the first seven minutes, 75 units