Chicago vs. Indy:
A deserving match

Jan 23, 2007 6:52 AM

After two entertaining league Conference Championship games this past weekend, the matchup for Super Bowl XLI in Miami a week from this coming Sunday has at last been set.

Chicago, top seed in the NFC and considered the team to beat in that conference all season, played a strong fourth quarter to outdistance the season’s surprise contender New Orleans, 39-14. After getting out to a first half 16-0 lead, Chicago allowed the Saints back into the game and nearly fell behind 17-16 in the third quarter.

The tough Bears defense played as they did early in the season and shut down the Saints top ranked offense the rest of the way. Chicago took advantage of the cold, snowy weather and deserves to be playing for the Super Bowl trophy.

The AFC Title game was remarkably entertaining. Peyton Manning and Indianapolis finally made it past New England in the playoffs, overcoming a first half 21-3 deficit on its home field. The game was tied three times in the second half before Manning led the Colts down the field in the final few minutes to score the go ahead touchdown. A 31-31 tie turned into a 38-34 lead, leaving New England a full minute on the clock and two timeouts.

Patriots QB Tom Brady completed several passes to move into Colts territory before tossing the game ending interception. Thus, the Colts are in their first Super Bowl in nearly 40 years and since moving from Baltimore. Although the win somewhat silences the critics of Indy coach Tony Dungy and QB Manning of not being able to "win the big one" advancing to the big one after falling behind by 18 is a significant accomplishment.

Significant enough to have had Indianapolis installed as solid 7 point favorites over the Bears in virtually every sports book in Nevada and abroad. The Over/Under is 49, makingFIRST INT open now Indianapolis Colts 6/1 6/1 Chicago Bears 8/1 8/1

the lines maker’s projected Super Bowl score Indianapolis 28, Chicago 21. That represents the starting point from which to analyze this matchup.

The money line has Indianapolis -220 to -250 at many books with the take back on Chicago varying +190 to +220. Historically the money line moves towards the underdog, meaning if you like the Bears to win straight up, play them on the money line early. If you don’t want to lay points with the Colts and just play them to win the game, wait closer to game time in order to lay a lower price.

Between now and the Super Bowl kickoff there will be at least 118,455 opinions offered on the big game across the country and throughout the world. It is easily the single most hyped and analyzed event in American sports.

Next week will feature a detailed analysis of Super Bowl XLI with both side and total selections. In addition several of the propositions will be reviewed. Part of the tremendous growth Super Bowl wagering over the past decade has been due to the various side wagers that can be made on various propositions related to the game.

Much of the success of prop wagering dates back to Chicago’s last, and only, appearance in the Super Bowl. Back in January 1986 the Bears were heavily favored over New England in Super Bowl XX. But one special wager was offered: Will Chicago DL William "Refrigerator" Perry score a touchdown. Bears coach Mike Ditka had used Perry several times in the backfield, teaming with the great Walter Payton.

Because of the lopsided line in the game, novel ways to attract action were considered. As memory serves, the yes was originally priced at roughly 15/1 that Perry would score a TD. The novelty of such a unique prop caused an overwhelming number of bettors to take a flyer. At kickoff the odds had fallen to the vicinity of 5/1. Sure enough, Perry scored in the Bears’ 46-10 rout of the Patriots. While the books lost money on that specific prop, they won a huge following.

For the next 20 plus years one of most anticipated events of the week or weeks between the Conference Title games and the Super Bowl is the release of the many props that can be wagered. From what used to be a page or two, the offerings at some books fill more than a dozen double sided long sheets.

Not only are there props involving the two teams in the game, some creative bookmakers offer ones that tie certain events in the Super Bowl to other sports played over that weekend within the USA and internationally.

Here are some tidbits to consider:

”¡ Chicago’s spread record 11-7. If the Bears were + 7 in every game, their ATS mark would be 16-2.

”¡ Indianapolis was 11-8 ATS through the AFC Championship. If the Colts had laid 7 in all 19 games, their ATS record drops to 6-11-2.

”¡ Since 1990, when the playoffs expanded to 12 teams, the straight up winner of the game has also covered the spread 11-of-14 times. The other two were pushes

”¡ The favorite has won 12-of-16 SU, but is just 7-7-2 ATS. The 16 Super Bowls have averaged 51 total points scored. The over is slightly ahead, 9-7.

”¡ Defense seems to be a good indicator of spread success. Since 1990 the team that allowed fewer regular season points has gone 9-4-2 in Super Bowls (69 percent).

”¡ Since 1979, the team allowing fewer regular season points has gone 16-8-2 ATS (67 percent). This factor would favor Chicago (255) over Indianapolis (360).

”¡ In interconference games this season, AFC teams won 40-of-64 meetings (62.5 percent) SU versus the NFC and were 36-27-1 ATS (57 percent). In the AFC’s 40 wins the average margin was 13.8 points, a FG greater than the NFC’s margin.

As you analyze the game, look at each team’s body of work over the entire season. Recent form is important, but don’t place too much emphasis on what you saw last. Rather, look at the matchup as the coaches will in the two weeks leading up to the game.

Congratulations to both coaches. Lovie Smith (Chicago) and Tony Dungy (Indy). became the first two African American coaches to lead an NFL team to the Super Bowl. Both have always been class guys, who have earned the respect of their teams. Last but certainly not least, kudos to the Saints for what they accomplished.

The future is indeed bright for the "Who Datters."