It’s time to put the proverbial money where the proverbial mouth is. Jason Lake lays out his NFL picks for Super Bowl XLIX between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.
Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 3-3 ATS, 3-2-1 Totals
So here we are again. Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC), and we’ve got pretty much the same situation as we did last year at this time. It’s the Seattle Seahawks again, with almost all the same advantages that made them such a juicy NFL pick for SuperBowl XLVIII. And Seattle will once again be matched up against a public darling, this time in the form of the New England Patriots.
The NFL odds are just about the same as last year, too. As we go to press, Seattle is available at anywhere between a pick’ em and +2. The buzz from the Strip is that the Seahawks won’t make it all the way to +3 like they did at some books against Denver. Too bad if that’s the case; every half-point counts, especially the ones that bring you onto and beyond the magic number three. Should we go ahead and pick the Seahawks anyway?
Probably. But it isn’t quite the same slam-dunk betting scenario that we had last year. As we noted in our look at New England’s Super Bowl advantages, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is the top dog in the NFL. He’s a superior tactician to John Fox, whom the Broncos recently let go after this year’s truncated playoff run. Belichick isn’t likely to be out-coached by Pete Carroll or anyone else.
We also have to take a serious look at special teams. In 2013, Seattle ranked No. 5 in that category on the efficiency charts at Football Outsiders; Denver was No. 21 overall. This year, the Seahawks have fallen to No. 19 overall, while the Patriots have taken their place at No. 5. Put all that in the cozy indoor confines of the U in Glendale, and New England’s offense probably won’t get bogged down like Denver’s did at the New Meadowlands.
Defense Wins Championships
Be that as it may, we’re still adding the Seahawks to our official NFL picks for Super Bowl XLIX. The well-rounded Seahawks possess overall advantages still in their favor, from both a football standpoint and a football betting standpoint. Seattle is the top team on this year’s efficiency charts (No. 6 offense, No. 1 defense, No. 20 special teams) updated all the way through the Conference Round, ahead of the Patriots at No. 3 (No. 5 offense, No. 9 defense, No. 5 special teams). Even if you used the “Weighted DVOA” stats that give less credence to the early-season games, it comes out as a virtual dead-heat, very slightly in New England’s favor. That’s good for the Seahawks at +2, especially considering they didn’t hit their stride until Week 12.
Betting-wise, if you’re a regular reader of this space, or if you’re at all familiar with basic NFL handicapping principles, you know all about what Seattle brings to the table: regional fan base, East Coast bias, the allegedly un-sexy combo of running and defense, and a 5-foot-11 dual-threat quarterback in Russell Wilson who still gets overlooked by a significant portion of the betting public (cough cough racism cough).
As for betting on the total, we’re going to go with the UNDER once again. It didn’t quite work out last year, as the Broncos let Seattle walk all over them in a 43-8 laugher (OVER 47). But most of the same reasons apply despite this contest moving indoors. Casual fans tend to overbet the OVER, because offense. This year’s total has dipped from 49 at the open to 47.5 as we go to press, thanks to some early sharp pressure, but we imagine it’ll start inching up again as we get closer to kick-off. And don’t forget about Super Bowl props. If only we had a prop bet as easy as “Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers appear shirtless?” this year.
Free NFL Picks: Take the Seahawks +2 and UNDER 48.5 (–115) at Bovada