After a never before seen flurry of action when the Super Bowl line was posted two Sundays ago, nothing has really changed. When the spreads were first posted, the Seahawks were as a high as a 2-point favorite, but after things settled down, it was the Broncos favored at every sports book and nothing has changed as the Broncos -2½, with a total of 47, is the standard number through Sunday.
Of course people like me have to entertain themselves with all the numbers, so I create my own excitement as I watch my betting screen from home. Like on Friday when Station Casinos had the highest number with Denver -2½ at -120, and went down to -2½-flat.
Earlier in the day, Coast Resorts had gone to -2½ (-115). And the big drum roll of the week was when John Avello at the Wynn joined everyone else at -2½, because he had been the last -2 remaining in the city.
For such a big game, there certainly isn’t much drama going on. I mean, I loved the first wave of action, but I want something else to talk about besides all the hundreds of props everyone unveiled last Thursday and Friday. The entire time I was reading all of the offerings, I kept wondering how much weather impacted the numbers, and wasn’t surprised to see most of them already had it built in.
I also got a chuckle from the cleverness of each book with their props. The LVH Super Book and William Hill were all over the place with props from the 6 Nations Rugby, Premier League soccer and golf tied into the Super Bowl, while Station Casinos has a Johnny Manziel prop asking who will have more TD passes, Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl or Manziel in his first pro start next season.
But let’s get back to the game itself, which everyone has left alone for a week. Who is going to win, and how much will the weather play a part? I thought Seattle deserved to be a short favorite, and much of that was because of the weather.
The Broncos haven’t faced a defense like any team in the NFC West. This season they got the pathetic NFC East on their schedule and buried all of them, with exception of the Cowboys, who they beat 51-48.
While we question who the Broncos’ quality of opponents have been this season, it’s also fair to say the Seahawks didn’t face an offense like the Broncos either. How could they have, because Denver’s offense put up more points than anyone in NFL history.
Slugging it out in the NFC West and having arguably the best secondary in the league, they never had to face an arsenal like Denver’s. Really, who do you key on? Most teams have one or two key players, but Denver has four terrific outlets and Peyton Manning is always looking for the best option whenever one of those players is being double-teamed, and he usually finds them.
I liked Seattle to win the game at first, but think I put too much into the weather, and less about the fact Seattle was not playing at home. This will be Seattle‘s first game away from home since Dec. 15, which happened to be against the Giants at Met Life Stadium. The game before that they lost at San Francisco, and let’s not forget about Seattle losing at home in Week 16 to the Cardinals.
I see a great Seattle defense, but an offense that isn’t helping them out much lately and, cold or not, Denver will put points on the board. The question is: can Seattle keep up?
Seattle has stayed UNDER the total in seven straight games while Denver has gone UNDER in their last five. Recent film on Denver shows them running the play clock out on most plays until snapping, but I think they’ll be in more of an attack mode and force the struggling Seattle offense to keep up.
The total has dropped down to 47, which would be the lowest total on any Denver game this season. I think we’ll see it go OVER and Denver come away with the win.
Pick: Broncos, 31-20
Happy trails ‘Shoes’
One of the legends of the Vegas sports betting world is retiring on Super Bowl Sunday. Just about everyone who worked in Las Vegas over the past 35 years has come in contact in one way or another with Jerry “Shoes” Zimny, who got his nickname from running up and down the Strip, retrieving the best numbers available at all the sports books in a time before the Internet and odds screens, where differing numbers were aplenty.
As a bettor, he could sniff out the best numbers better than most. As a bookmaker, there weren’t many better just because of his natural instincts where he could instantly tell whether to hold the number on a heavy side or move based on who played. He could balance out teasers by using the money line in his head before computer systems came into play and now figure that kind of stuff out.
I had the pleasure of working with “Shoes” at the Palace Station where I learned something new every day by just sitting next to him. He would be there bright and early from 6 a.m., Saturday through Tuesday, with one of his many famous tweed jackets hung on the back of his chair no matter how hot it was in the summer.
What his sports coat always showed me is he wanted to arrive in the book in a professional manner. Beyond all the bookmaking lessons I learned from him, what I liked most is just talking about anything and getting a laugh out of him over a cup of coffee that cashier Jim Lobue, our barista, would make for us each morning.
Whether it was talking about his own college football or basketball numbers, the old days of the Castaways and Churchill Downs sports books, or hearing him reminisce about himself as a Polish kid growing up in south Chicago, there was always something in Zimny alone that had me looking forward to going to work every day.
One of the ultimate tributes of respect was given to him indirectly by Station Casinos race and sports VP Art Manteris, who had come over from the Las Vegas Hilton. Manteris had a strict way of how he wanted games booked, but over the first year of seeing how sharp Zimny was and how different the local clientele was to what he was used to, he started to gradually see things differently through Zimny’s eyes.
We even had to change Zimny’s days off at one point so he could be there to have his great knowledge of where the line would go to make the parlay card numbers on Wednesday.
Now, Zimny has been talking about retirement for the past 10 years, and he even did so on a few occasions, but the bookmaker in him could never leave his system, and Manteris and Station Casinos were always there with open arms. His entire life has been about booking games in Las Vegas to a level most will never achieve.
If we had a Bookmakers Hall of Fame, Zimny’s attributes to the city would likely have the waiting period waived. Thanks for everything, Jerry, and all the best.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].