Perhaps we should have known it was destined to end as it did. Both the NFL season and the Super Bowl itself.
In what has been an NFL season filled with surprises, the biggest surprise was in the game that marked the end of the season. And while it upset Falcons fans and thrilled Patriots backers, the TV executives at FOX were among the biggest winners as there was finally a Super Bowl that went into overtime.
Pity those who gave up on the Super Bowl when it appeared the result was a slam-dunk Atlanta victory.
After New England overcame a 28-3 late third quarter deficit and 19-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime was there anybody watching the game who did not expect the Patriots to march down the field for a touchdown to start overtime, never allowing Atlanta to even touch the football?
In what has been accurately described as both unbelievable and amazing, New England’s 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta to win the Super Bowl will long be remembered as a game in which defeat seemed certain for the Patriots, but was instead the Falcons’ destiny. Some very questionable play calling decisions gave New England the chance to stage its memorable comeback. And to their credit, the Patriots seized upon those opportunities and succeeded.
Remember, the Pats needed to convert not one but two 2-point conversions in order to force overtime.
Atlanta made no fewer than a half dozen decisions that can be legitimately questioned and criticized, again pointing out the importance and necessity of understanding game situation and clock management principles. That is something most coaches, in the heat of the moment, fail to understand.
Did you note how often the Falcons snapped the football with more than 10 seconds remaining on the play clock?
It becomes even harder to argue against the combination of Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady as being the best all time at what they do. Of course such a designation is subjective but given their body of work over more than a decade and a half they are, at the least, the starting point of any such discussion.
Early reports are that the Nevada sportsbooks did well on Super Sunday with extremely balanced action split between the Patriots and the Falcons. The pointspread did not move off of New England -3 at most Books during the entire two weeks leading up to the game.
The public fared well with their “Patriots” and “Over” straight bets and parlays but the professionals who played Atlanta +3, Atlanta on the money line and, especially the “Under” fared poorly.
And all three of those bets can be considered bad beats. At various points in the third quarter the quants who love running the numbers had the Falcons with more than a 99 percent probability of winning the game.
The game is not played by computers, but on the field. And the game does not last 42 minutes but goes a full 60 or longer if overtime is required.
The Books did well with the prop bets despite the attractive prices that hit on the game going into overtime, there would be a defensive touchdown and others. Additionally the Futures book settles up and closes out with the playing of the Super Bowl.
With the public at large faring well over the final couple of months of the season and the books still showing a profit with all things being equal the handle for NEXT season should set records.
As it is, the Super Bowl record handle of roughly $132 million set last season might have been broken this season when numbers are announced within the next few days. The future of football wagering remains bright.
Now the attention turns to preparing for the 2017-18 season, a fact mentioned by Patriots’ coach Belichick Monday morning when he bemoaned his situation of being five weeks behind 30 other teams who had already gotten a head start over him for next season. Gotta love it!
At the Westgate, Super Bowl 52 odds have been out for nearly a month, having been posted following Wild Card weekend. Once Sunday’s Super Bowl was over revised odds were made available on Monday that have, not surprisingly, New England the favorite to win Super Bowl 52. At 5-1 the Pats have come down from their opening odds of 6-1.
It is also no surprise that the second choice overall is Dallas, currently held at 8-1 odds after opening 10-1.
Overall 15 teams are at odds of 20-1 or less with the longest shots San Francisco and Cleveland, each at 300-1.
Chicago, the New York Jets and the Los Angeles Rams are each 100-1 such that only 5 of the NFL’s 32 teams are priced at longer than 60-1.
It is always a hazardous exercise to make futures plays this far in advance of not just Super Bowl 52 but even more than six months prior to the start of the season. So much can, and will, occur that will change the composition of every roster, the drafting of college players, retirements, players being released, free agent signings and injuries.
Still there are some teams you might wish to consider aside from the obvious contenders. In looking to find such teams focus on teams that showed progress during the second half of the recently concluded season and are positioned to show continued improvement next season.
Teams that come to mind are Miami and Tennessee in the AFC and Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in the NFC. The Dolphins and Buccaneers are each priced at 30-1. The Eagles and Titans are each priced at 40-1.
Three of the teams have up and coming quarterbacks who have shown much promise in their brief careers – Marcus Mariota of Tennessee, Carson Wentz of Philadelphia and Jameis Winston of Tampa Bay. The fourth team, Miami, is coached by Adam Gase who has a history of developing quarterbacks.
And whether current QB Ryan Tannehill is the answer or there is another QB not yet on the roster the Dolphins are poised to make a run at the Playoffs next season, likely reprising their appearance as a Wild Card as, after all, who is going to unseat New England as champions of the AFC East.
Enjoy the off season.
Encore: The 2017-18 season is slated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 7 and, as luck would have it, the AFC East will face the NFC South in interconference play so look for a season opener with New England hosting Atlanta in a rematch of, arguably, the greatest Super Bowl ever played.
Andy Iskoe and his Logical Approach provide popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long-time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]