Can Gronkowski steer the Patriots to Super Bowl glory?

Last year I learnt my lesson the hard way, a great defense will trumps a great offense. I had backed the Denver Broncos to beat the Seattle Seahawks, and like a lot of people thought my money was safe. That year the Broncos were statistically the number 1 NFL offense of all time, setting the record for most touchdowns in a season with 76. The Seahawks were a good team, but Peyton was having far and away the best year of his career, it just seemed like such a sure thing. We all saw how that game played out, from the first play of the game, a botched snap resulting in a safety, it was clear that the Broncos didn’t have their mojo and the Seahawks had come to play.

 

Super Bowl XLIX Betting Odds:

New England Patriots -1115

Seattle Seahawks -105

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

So after learning my lesson last year you’d expect me to back the Seahawks defense, right? Well there is the little issue of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. As someone who has read the writing of Bill Simmons for a few years I’ve picked up a few gambling lessons from him. One of those is to never bet heavily against Brady and Belichick. I know plenty of people who made money on the last two Super Bowls which this pair featured in, but I have to ask myself the question, could Tom Brady lose 3 Super Bowls in a row?

Brady is currently in a critical moment of his career, where he can end countless debates arguing who the best quarterback of all time is and make the decision a unanimous one. The consequences for Sunday’s game are so huge for the legacy of Brady. Win his fourth Super Bowl ring and he cements himself as the best quarterback of all time. Lose his third Super Bowl in a row and the whole myth of Tom Brady alters; there is no way he avoids being labelled a “choker”, the most humiliating word an NFL quarterback can be associated with.

 

I just can’t imagine living in a world where Tom Brady is branded a choke artist, and I don’t think Tom Brady can either. Looking at the odds, betting outright on the Patriots isn’t something that will offer a favourable return. So instead I would take a Patriots win coupled with Gronkowski scoring a touchdown. Despite the quality of the Seahawks secondary, they have been susceptible to tight ends this year, and it is seemingly impossible to shutdown Gronkowski who has had a touchdown in each of his last 5 games (including playoffs). The Patriots leading wide receiver seems to alternate weekly between Edelman and Lafell, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable betting on either of those guys, but Gronkowski is guaranteed to get targets from Brady in the Super Bowl.

Although if you don’t see Tom Brady’s fairytale career culminating in a fourth Super Bowl ring and are backing the Seahawks, then the safest bet is to go with a Seahawks victory and Marshawn Lynch to score a touchdown. Lynch, like Gronkowski, is the focal point of his offense, and ended his season hot, having scored a touchdown in 5 of his last 6 games. In a game which appears so close on paper it is hard to feel confident about anything, but Gronkowski and Lynch have been the two superstars of their team all season long and whichever team wins will do so because of the impact of their star player.

 

Betting Instinct tip – AllYouBet.ag is offering odds on which of Gronkowski and Lynch will score a touchdown first. Gronk to score a touchdown before Beast Mode is -105.

mattm MATT MCGRATH writes about American football, be it college or NCAA (because betting on unpaid student athletes is fun and definitely ethically correct). Follow him on Twitter.

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Could Marshawn Lynch score the opening Super Bowl touchdown again?

Everyone remembers the first touchdown scorer at the Super Bowl, and this is reflected in one of Intertops Sportsbook‘s most popular prop markets. For all the bluster and build-up ahead of the game it’s often that moment when one of the stars of the biggest sporting event of the year truly announces himself.

Last year Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch took the honors, forcing his way into the endzone early in the second quarter. ‘Beast Mode’ is the pregame favourite to do it again, but only just.


Super Bowl XLIX – First Touchdown Scorer Odds

Marshawn Lynch +550
Rob Gronkowski +650
Julian Edelman +1000
LaGarrette Blount +1000

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate
as of today and subject to change)


Lynch found the endzone an incredible 17 times in the regular season, ahead of Gronk’s 12, and while the Patriots might be one-point favorites to bring Tom Brady his fourth ring, they will face a tough task against a Seattle Seahawks side looking for back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

In addition to the first touchdown market, you can back Lynch (-167) or Gronkowski (-143) in the anytime touchdown stakes, with Blount (+120) and Edelman (+140) not far behind. Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin both contributed touchdowns in Seattle’s victory last year, and the pair are +175 to repeat the feat in 2015.


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Patriots and Seahawks to lock horns in closely contested Super Bowl

The Seahawks and Patriots have met only a handful of times this century

The Seahawks and Patriots have met only a handful of times this century

It’s that time of year again; the Super Bowl is upon us, and this year’s promises to be one of the best in recent memory.

The Seattle Seahawks – last year’s Super Bowl winners – take on the New England Patriots in Glendale, Arizona a week on Sunday for the right to win the Lombardi Trophy.

 

Super Bowl XLIX Betting Odds:

New England Patriots -120

Seattle Seahawks +100

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The Seahawks’ road to the Super Bowl was far more dramatic that it was a year ago; a comfortable win over the Carolina Panthers was followed up with a staggering comeback against the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw four interceptions before eventually throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to win the game in overtime, with the Packers blowing a 16 point lead.

The Patriots had it in reverse – a tense, close win over the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round, before swatting aside the Indianapolis Colts in a 45-7 thumping to reach the Super Bowl for a sixth time under the leadership of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

 

Whilst the Seahawks hammered the Denver Broncos 43-8 in New York a year ago, this year’s game should be far closer affair.

The game will hinge on how New England’s superb offense, spearheaded by Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, will manage to move the ball against a vaunted Seahawks defense, with Richard Sherman leading ‘the Legion of Boom’ – the nickname for the Seahawks secondary.

The two teams have played each other just three times since 2000, but the last game saw Seattle win 24-23 in 2012, with Brady and Sherman clashing as they walked off the field in a rivalry that will finally be renewed on the biggest stage of all.

On the other side of the ball, Seattle are methodical, relying mostly on running back Marshawn Lynch and the improvisation of quarterback Russell Wilson, whilst New England will be hoping for a shutdown game from star cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is playing in his first Super Bowl.

 

There were more than 50 points in last season’s game, but it would be something of a surprise to see that happen again. It should be a much, much tighter encounter than when Seattle dominated Denver last season, with head coach Pete Carroll no doubt desperate to stop his former employers winning a fourth Super Bowl since he left New England.

With a win, Seattle can become the first team to win successive Super Bowls since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005, but the Patriots are slight favourites with most bookmakers in an incredibly close market so far.

Betting Instinct tip – Back less than 48 points at -110 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Olly avatarOLLY DAWES is a Sports Management graduate and sports journalist for Here Is The City, whilst he also writes about NFL for Colts Authority.

Time For Saints to Show They Can Perform on the Road

Marques Colston is the form player for the Saints, with two touchdowns last week

Marques Colston is the form player for the Saints, with two touchdowns last week

Saints @ Panthers

It’s rare we have the situation of a matchup where the reverse fixture was as recent as two weeks before (it feels rare, it might not be rare). This, in theory, should give us plenty of points of focus where coaches are determined not to make the same mistakes while at the same time reinforcing their existing competitive advantage.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers Betting Odds

Saints to win – 2.55

Panthers to win – 1.57

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are correct as of today and subject to change)

The main talking point around the New Orleans Saints this week has been the announcement that their rookie left tackle out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Terron Armstead, will replace 4th year USC alum Charles Brown. The left side of the New Orleans offensive line was undoubtedly tortured by Robert Quinn last week (think Gareth Bale v Maicon in 2010, soccer fans), but even the most competent blockers around the league wouldn’t be able to avoid being trampled by the Rams pass rush right now. Armstead will almost certainly be up against Greg Hardy for most of the afternoon, and while Hardy is no slouch (6th best 4-3 defensive end in the league according to Pro Football Focus), he was well and truly blunted by Brown in Week 14, in what was a pretty ignominious night for the vaunted Panther defensive front.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the New Orleans Saints are famed for Drew Brees and the prolific pass attack he commandeers. They ran riot in the previous fixture at home to Carolina, with Brees throwing for 313 yards and four touchdowns, and stellar wideout Marques Colston having his best game of the season (9 catches, 125 yards, 2 touchdowns). The secondary had been the main concern for this Carolina defence but they have surpassed most expectations, with PFF’s pass coverage metric ranking them a very respectable 8th overall. Regardless of the Saints’ recent stutters, the Panthers defence will need to be on the top of their game if they are to best one of the greatest passing offenses the game has ever seen.

For the Saints, a win would answer some of the questions starting to bubble up about their credentials, whether they’re just one-trick ponies who can only perform at home (only the Bengals have a greater differential between their home and away records). In fact so dominant are the Saints at home, this surfaced on one of their fansites. And for the Panthers, despite statement wins in San Francisco and against New England on Monday Night Football (although even the flawed Colts beat San Francisco and Seattle), beating the regent Saints would go a big way to proving they are a big time contender. There are some people* who still think their franchise quarterback hasn’t established himself the way Luck, Wilson and even Kaepernick have. A win on Sunday would surely paid to that.

*People? What people? ME

Patriots @ Ravens

If the Baltimore Ravens were a sensitive bunch, they might think they were being disrespected. A norm for the Super Bowl winners is to play the first game of the next season at home, but they had their opening night home game privileges stripped from them, and now NBC, who hold the rights to a primetime Sunday night matchup, decided to “flex out” of airing the Ravens’ final home game in favour of an Eagles-Bears game which could feasibly have the home side resting their key starters depending on a result earlier that day.

Still, after losing (what people considered to be) the lynchpins of their Super Bowl winning side to retirement and free agency in the summer, the supposedly decimated Ravens have got to the penultimate game of the season with their place in the playoffs in their own hands. All they have to do is win both of their games and they’re in. Except, they’re playing the powerhouse New England Patriots who are always in contention for a world championship (yes, I went there) and away to their division rivals the Cincinnati Bengals (who, as you read above, have a pretty considerable home-field advantage).

Trouble, you may think. Alas, the Ravens are 3-2 against New England in their last five encounters. Only the New York Football Giants are able to match such a record – if you only count the five games occurring in this millennium.

Baltimore have won their last 4, while New England are coming off the back of a slap-in-the-face loss in Miami, who incidentally are one of Baltimore’s main challengers for a playoff place. It hasn’t been the first such defeat for the Patriots this season, whose other defeats came away against the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals. All four boast outstanding defences, something the Baltimore Ravens pride themselves on.

Patriots starting left tackle Nate Solder suffered a concussion last week, and if he’s fit to play he’ll have his hands full with a rampant Elvis Dumervil (ranked 2nd in the league among 3-4 outside linebackers) and a healthy dose of Ball So Hard University alum Terrell Suggs.

New England have spent most of the season without their superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski (I won’t even mention the other one), and after his week 7 return, they tragically lost him to a season ending ACL tear against Cleveland in Week 14. Any offense in history would have a gaping Gronkowski-sized hole in it if he was shorn from it, but it has especially hindered New England considering the deficiencies in their other offensive skill players. Ridley (butterfingers), Thompkins and Dobson (inexperience), Amendola (always injured), Hoomanawanui (not Gronkowski) and Hernandez (homicide charges, ok I mentioned him) have left the imperial Tom Brady with Julian Edelman and not much else all season.

This has shown in their results – six of New England’s wins have come with a three point winning margin or less. Meanwhile Baltimore won on Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions without scoring a touchdown, and being stalwarts of the AFC North they are more than familiar in the art of grinding out close wins.

The most recent weather forecast suggests there will be thunderstorms during game-time in the Maryland area with a medium strength wind. Rain usually means running the football, and while Ravens tailback Ray Rice has had an appalling season by any measure (PFF have him as by far the worst running back in the league this season), he appeared to be workable in his last two games (4.2 yards per carry).

With the strength of their defence and with kicker Justin Tucker having a career night earlier this week, a slugfest could play right into Baltimore’s hands, setting things up for a Week 17 for the ages with supporters in the stands obligingly having their ears pinned to the wireless. And who doesn’t love those days?

Betting Instinct TipBaltimore Ravens -2.5 is 1.91 with Intertops Sportsbook

saadaab avatarSAADAAB JANAB is a recovering football fan (he doesn’t like to call it soccer) who discovered NFL and MLB in the depth of his crisis. He is back on amicable terms with his original passion, but American football and baseball get as much attention as ever.