Super Rumble!

Jan 27, 2004 2:08 AM

In a Jack Nicholson kind-of-way, I just can’t handle the hype! Have you had enough?

I think I know more inane information about Super Bowl XXXVIII than I ever dreamed possible. Much more than I need to know.

About 120,000 visitors will invade the southeast Texas region and spend $300 million. Key word here is region. It’s the first Super Bowl in history involving two teams named after regions and not cities. Fans will pay $2,000 for a regular ticket to the game, $7,750 for the 50-yard line variety. But wait, there’s more.

Glow-in-the-dark game tickets, NFL films in 3-D and a camera angle from a wire strung high above Reliant Stadium’s field. And this just in, there could be a chance and we can only hope, viewers will be treated to a minimum of three companies offering ads on erectile dysfunction. Personally, I believe Bill Belichick and John Fox will be able to get their teams up for the big game without knowing any of this nonsense.

Oh, by the way, I also learned it could be possible that Bill Belichick is a genius. When I first heard this I put in a call to my cousin in Cleveland, who confirmed Bill was a genius in that city upon arrival as head coach of the Brownies.

But after a couple of months it appeared clear to him and thousands of other Browns’ fans that he was as close to a complete idiot as ever walked on a football field. No longer waking on water, Belichick the genius was run out of town after several seasons below mediocrity.

Hopefully you like the listening to the two-week hype as much as you enjoy listening to President Bush. Because you’re going to get four more years of each. They’re both a done deal. But it’s not all bad.

Coaches (and presidents) have time to formulate better game plans. The media loves the time to hype it up. And the players (and presidents) can nurse their nagging injuries into playing shape by the end of a two-week (four year) term.

But enough hype. Lets concentrate on what’s important. Who’s going to cover the point spread?


Carolina Panthers + 6 ½ over the New England Patriots

Final score: Panthers 23 Patriots 20


What’s the most interesting item you’ve stumbled upon over the last couple of weeks? After sifting through all the numbers and stats, hype and hoopla, here are a couple of thoughts that keep racing through my head and refuse to leave.

Jimmy Johnson, one of three Super Bowl coaches (along with Parcells and Gibbs) to win Super Bowls under the one week and two week waiting periods, said this about the two week hoopla: "Most people say, give Belichick two weeks to prepare and he’s got the advantage. But I think it’s an advantage for Carolina. They’ll get a better understanding of what Bill does defensively. Carolina’s scheme is fairly simple, although they execute extremely well. So the two weeks probably helps Carolina more."

Well said Jimmy. If you bet the Panthers big and he’s right, your wallet might end up bigger than Jimmy’s hair!

The other thought that keeps running through my mind is how close Carolina has played games this entire season. They’re tenacious defense kept games tight all season long. Nine games won by 7 points or less. Three games lost by the same slim margin. The less-than-a-touchdown theme just won’t go away.

It’s been in my mind every minute and more importantly, don’t think for a second it’s not in the minds of the players and coaches. During the regular season, 12 of 16 Panthers’ games (75%) were decided by less than a touchdown. What’s the line on this game? No brain surgery handicapping techniques needed here. Take the 6½ and don’t look back! Remember, underdogs have won 10 of the 37 Super Bowls straight-up, so you might not even need the points.

The Panthers put the heat on a very hot and well coached Cowboys’ club. Then they took their show on the road to St. Louis, hammering and confusing an extremely talented Rams’ offense.

But the freshest memory is the one of a swarming Panthers’ "D," swallowing up Donovan McNabb and pounding him to the sideline. Carolina hasn’t received the respect from opponents or odds-makers they deserve. They’ve been shorted all season long in that department. And the shorts are in season again for Super Bowl Sunday. The Rodney Dangerfield of the playoffs is back again for another shot at respect. And it says here they’re going to snatch it!

Anyone who follows this column regularly knows I don’t speculate often on totals. However, I feel obligated to offer an opinion on the Super Bowl over/under number of 38. The talk I’ve heard for days now is focusing on the UNDER as the big play.

But I’m going to try to keep it simple as usual. I went back the last 26 Super Bowls and found there’s quite a trend cooking. It’s driving the temperature of the number up and up. The Super Bowl participants have kicked the number OVER 38 points in 23 of the last 26 Super Bowls! That’s enough information for me. In fact, I’m on overload with all the information fed to me the last two weeks. I’ve heard enough and seen plenty.

Put me on the Panthers and OVER! Nothing could be finer than to bet on Carolina in the morning, noon or night. And while I’m in the mood for singing, I’ll see you in September!