The Super Bowl is almost here & though it seems that everything has been covered by sports handicappers and the media, expert bettors know that the search for the edge is an on-going process.
With all the information overload surrounding the Super Bowl, some of this might be redundant, but I’ll try an add a fresh coat of paint to these ideas and if you have not made your NFL picks because of how the side and total have reacted, this might make sense to you.
Here are seven keys for both teams to consider, Roman numeral style.
Key I – Running the Ball
Seattle was the top rushing team in the NFL this season and its offense is predicated on the run. It will be imperative from the outset the Seahawks establish Marshawn Lynch and have success using the read option with Russell Wilson. This has a two-pronged effect, one is keeping Tom Brady on the sidelines where he cannot do any damage and if Seattle can run effectively, this will help their pedestrian cast of receivers in the play-action passing game.
If New England is to beat the odds, they have to be able to run also. Both playoff teams Carolina and Green Bay stuck with the run against Seattle and both finished with over 130 yards on the ground. With the Patriots passing offense, if they can rush effectively, it is a fact the team with the most rushing yards in this contest is 37-11 SU and 34-11-3 ATS. With the Patriots red zone efficiency (keep reading to learn more about this), running the ball could mean victory.
Key II – Seattle Pass Catchers Have to Play Super
Almost without fail, each year in the Super Bowl a relative unknown makes a dramatic impact on the game. If you have been making sports picks this season on the defending champions, it’s safe to say names like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse or Luke Wilson were not part of the reason you backed Seattle. This is why one of these three could play a huge role in the outcome and the combination of QB Wilson to TE Wilson has meant big plays since the middle of December. Watch for this.
Key III – Rob Gronkowski is Patriots Table-Setter
The importance of Gronk to New England’s offensive success cannot be overstated. Once completely healthy, Tom Brady and Pats offense took off and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had the complete erector-set to build the New England offense. Two years ago Seattle held Gronkowski to six catches and more importantly only 61 yards. This season the vaunted Legion of Boom surrendered 11 TE touchdowns, third-most in the NFL. Gronk success or lack of it could determine the outcome.
Key IV – Seattle Must Pressure Brady
No quarterback likes 280-pound men from the opposing team making grunting noises within a foot of them. Tom Brady has always been one to stand tall in the pocket, but since blowing out his knee in 2008, the 37-year old quarterback is visibly uncomfortable when defensive players are around his legs. This is where the Seahawks defensive linemen have to not only rush the soon to be six-time Super Bowl participant, but also try to get in his head by clawing at him.
Key V – Patriots Secondary Could Make Seattle One Dimensional
If the New England cornerbacks can lockdown the Seattle receivers, this allows seven or eight other Pats players to focus on the run. One would think that if a Bill Belichick defense can eliminate one aspect of the opponents’ offense, he’d scheme to slow the rest of what they like to do. If the New England secondary can maintain tight physical coverage across the board, they could contain Seattle’s run game and be an inviting against the NFL betting odds.
Key VI – Red Zone Production and Prevention
With the new rules to increase offense in the NFL, any team is going to give up a certain amount of yards which places a premium on scoring and defending in the red zone. Mr. Brady had a NFL-high 25 TD’s in the red zone and New England was fifth overall in red zone efficiency. Why does this matter, because the sportsbooks, I and now you know four of the past five Super Bowl champions finished in the Top 5 of either offense or defense.
If you were Russell Wilson, when in the red zone, make sure to look to your right, because the Patriots allowed eight TD’s on that half of the end zone, which was tied for the second-most.
Key VII – The Pick Six
There is no way to determine if either quarterback will throw an interception which will lead to a touchdown, but if it does occur, it has been the most telling statistic in the Super Bowl. Twelve different times a quarterback has throw a pass which was picked off and returned for a touchdown and that team is a perfect 12-0 SU in these confrontations. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but in such a game, the impact has been lethal.