Ultimate 11/10 wait

Jan 23, 2007 2:12 AM

In the world of 11/10, there’s nothing quite like Super Bowl week. In this case, two weeks.

The champions of the AFC and NFC have 14 days to prepare for the Big Game. It’s also one of the most creative weeks of the sports betting season. While there’s only one game left on the football calendar, there are still ample opportunities for betting on the Super Bowl. There will be hundreds of creative props by various oddsmakers in Las Vegas.

For example, you can bet on the exact score of the game by each team. Last season, if you bet on Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger to score the first touchdown, you would have cashed a 30/1 prop ticket. You could even wager that there would be no touchdowns scored in the Super Bowl at 150/1. Of course, that has never happened as we head to Super Bowl 41. Also, there also has never been overtime.

There will be over/under lines offered on how many touchdown passes a quarterback might throw, the first team to turn the ball over, and even the coin flip. There will be creative wagers offered such as how many receiving yards one player might get matched up against the number of points the NBA’s Sam Cassell will score against Toronto in a basketball battle before the Super Sunday kickoff.

The Super Bowl brings out the best in the creative minds of oddsmakers. Smart bettors will search through all the props, totals, and side bets offered in an attempt to find an edge and add to their bankrolls. When examining Super Bowl totals, weather is not as important an issue as in other January playoff games.

Super Sunday is always played indoors or at warm weather sites. This season the game will be in Miami. Since Super Bowl X in 1976 between the Steelers and Cowboys, 19 of the 31 have gone over the posted total. However, the last two Super Bowls went under.

Why so many over? One factor is that coaches with a lead are less likely to sit on the ball in the second half. If a team is up 17-0 at the half of a December game, for example, a coach might be inclined to go conservative, run the clock, avoid injuries and get out of town with a victory. In the postseason, it’s the final game of the season and no lead is safe (just ask Marty Schottenheimer).

No coach wants to play super-conservative and be remembered as the guy who blew a 17-0 lead in the biggest game of his career. Since it’s the last game of the season, coaches will often put in trick plays and new offensive wrinkles in an attempt to maximize scoring opportunities.

Despite the excessive over results the past 30 years, defense is still king. Heading into the conference championship games, the Colts’ surprising defense was the story in wins over Kansas City (23-8) and Baltimore (15-6). Two other survivors (New England and Chicago) were ranked No. 5 and 6 in total defense.

Four years ago the No. 1 offense (Oakland) faced the top-rated defense (Tampa Bay). Oakland’s great offense was a 4-point favorite, but Tampa’s defense dominated in a 48-21 rout. In fact, five of the last six Super Bowl champs have had statistically better defenses than on offense. That including last year’s Steelers (4th in defense). Both New England (2002) and Tampa Bay (2003) were underdogs.

You will also find creative point spread props. A year ago, Seattle RB Shaun Alexander had these over/under props: Total yards 89½, carries 21½, and longest rush 19½. The final tallies: 95 yards, 20 carries and a top gain of 21. Two years ago Tom Brady threw for 236 yards. The under (237½) barely prevailed. Give oddsmakers some credit for those numbers.

Key numbers will come into play, as sports books are petrified of getting middled.

Seven years ago the Rams were a 7-to-7½-point favorite against the Titans. The Rams won, 23-16. The most famous example was in 1979, forever known in Las Vegas as "Black Sunday." The Steelers opened a 2½-point favorite over the Cowboys, were bet up to 5, then back down to 4 points. Books everywhere were sick when the Steelers won, 35-31, landing on the dreaded ”˜M’ word!