A Gentleman’s Guide to Super Bowl XLIXPosted: January 29, 2015
Welcome to Sports Monocle’s first annual Gentleman’s Guide to the Super Bowl. We’ll combine some of our Monocling tropes from our Recap and Picks columns, as well as place some fake wagers on our favorite Super Bowl prop bets. Enjoy!
Derek: Will, you’re undefeated in your playoff picks so far this year. Care to comment? What’s your secret?
Will: Well, there that goes. It’s been pure, dumb luck to be honest with you. On more than one occasion, I have intentionally not thought that hard about the games, because I haven’t done that well when I look at fancy things like numbers. I’m sticking with my gut more often than not, and it’s worked, which is wonderful. That said, I don’t think I can sell my algorithms on the open market just yet.
Derek: Talk about the deflated footballs controversy for a few minutes.
Will: I don’t think I’m capable of doing that. I find it only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry on growing grass. I have not enjoyed the NFL at all this season aside from the games. It’s been as fun as following a Congressional race.
Speaking of stupid controversy, would you like to join the sports-commentating world in breathing fire over Marshawn Lynch’s disinterest in laying himself bare before the media?
Derek: Not really. I’m more surprised that journalists keep asking him questions. Of all the Seahawks players and coaches you could talk to, Marshawn will give you the least. It’s not like there’s a shortage of stories. If the Seahawks win, it will be Ken Norton Jr.’s fifth Super Bowl ring. Maybe talk to him? Kris Richard was a member of the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. Now he’s the defensive backs coach and might be the new defensive coordinator after Dan Quinn goes to the Falcons. Ask him about it? I don’t get the fascination with Marshawn interviews.
Are you going to have any rooting interest in the game?
Will: I won’t know until kickoff. I don’t plan to root for either side, nor do I intend to put money down, but I have a hunch that I’ll find myself favoring one team as the game progresses. I think and hope it will be like how I watch the NCAA basketball tournament, when I’m Switzerland until one side wins me over.
Derek: Is there any chance Roman Reigns wins the Super Bowl?
Will: Absolutely. It’s not like the NFL’s reputation is any better than WWE’s right now.
Derek: Are there any storylines you wish got more attention over the last two weeks?
Will: Only everything related to football. I’ve learned a lot about strategizing vis-a-vis the media, but very little vis-a-vis winning a football game.
Would you describe Super Bowl media day as more or less culturally significant than the Kid’s Choice Awards?
Derek: Less. I’m sure some kid out there pays close attention to the Kids Choice Awards and will get angry if their favorite doesn’t win. That’s a lot more care than anyone puts into Media Day.
[Odds per sportsbook.ag]
Will either team score in the first six minutes of the game? Yes (-105) or no (-125)?
Derek: Yes. With all of the excellent Seahawks fans traveling to Arizona, Tom Brady will be overcome by the noise. Like Peyton Manning before him, Brady will start the game allowing a safety.
Will: No. I feel like both defenses are capable of stopping their counterparts, and that most games begin like most dates end, with a sloppy feeling-out period.
The first touchdown of the game will be passing (-160) or something else (+130)?
Derek: Something else. Too tempting with those odds. The Seahawks have a ball-hawking defense and the Patriots have a good return game. That’s without even mentioning Lynch and Blount.
That gives me an idea. I’m off to pitch Lynch & Blount to HBO.
Will: Something else. The Patriots are decidedly pass-heavy, but the Seahawks scored as many rushing touchdowns as passing this year–20–with two more on defense and one on a blocked punt. It’s fun to wager on Marshawn Lynch and/or something weird happening, and in this case the odds make it too tempting to pass up.
Lynch & Blount sounds like a cop drama that TNT would have run if it existed in the 1800s.
Will there be overtime? Yes (+500) or no (-800)?
Derek: Sure, why not? I keep hearing that this might be the most evenly matched Super Bowl of all time. Let’s make it the first overtime Super Bowl of all time.
Will: Yes. Only because I want to root for overtime. Also, there’s a reason I don’t gamble.
Will there be a defensive or special teams touchdown? Yes (+150) or no (-185)?
Derek: As mentioned, yes, I do believe so.
Will: Yes. I’m coupling this with the first touchdown wager and imagining the first score is an interception return during which Kam Chancellor throwing a completely unnecessary shoulder into Tom Brady’s butt-chin. Yes, I’ll enjoy rooting for that very much.
Idina Menzel’s rendition of the National Anthem will be over 122.5 seconds (+105) or under 122.5 seconds (-145)?
Derek: I’m going over. She needs to be more than the “Let it Go” girl. This has the makings of being overdone.
Will: Under, for no reason at all. My bigger question: if you’re Idina Menzel, why would you not get a friend to put a large sum of money on this and control your wager’s destiny? Do they determine the time of the performance before the game? Is there a time clause in her contract? Is there an office devoted to protecting the integrity of the anthem? Why isn’t this the most fixable bet on the board? There has to be more to this.
Derek: Agreed. I can’t believe you can actually wager on something like this. Speaking of which …
More crotch grabs: Marshawn Lynch (-120) or Katy Perry (-120)?
Derek: Why can’t Marshawn Lynch just put his entire fortune on himself? He could just grab his crotch after every play. He would easily make a huge profit after the fines. He’d morph into the most hated Seahawk of all time after all of the 15-yard penalties, but he’d double his net worth in one day. I’ll go with that.
Will: Lynch, and I feel very strongly about this. The NFL has a lot of sponsors who pay a lot of money, and things tend to get more vanilla as more money is introduced. In a post-Janet world, Super Bowl acts can’t be too risqué. I am bearish on the Katy Perry crotch grab market.
And again, I have no idea why this isn’t super fixable.
Will Katy Perry show cleavage during the halftime show? Yes (-800) or no (+450)?
Derek: You know, when I first looked up this line, the odds for “yes” were -500. This might be the biggest lock of the week. My only question: does cupcake cleavage count?
Will: Yes. I mean, if you can’t do a crotch grab, you’ve gotta do something.
Who will the Super Bowl MVP thank first? Teammates (+175), Does not Thank Anyone or Mention Any on List (+200), God (+200), Fans/City (+700), Coaches/Owner (+800), or Family (+800)?
Derek: I’m going with God. Russell Wilson and Kam Chancellor would probably both thank God first, and there’s a decent chance one of them will be MVP.
Will: Teammates. God could be the winner because duh, it’s God, but both of these teams have faced adversity, at least in their own minds. They have had to band together to combat controversy. They’re warriors, damnit, and warriors thank warriors when they win a game.
Finally, the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning head coach will be Orange (+150), Clear/Water (+250), Yellow (+400), No Gatorade/Liquid Bath (+500), Red (+650), Blue (+700), Green (+900), or Purple (+900)?
Derek: Orange. It is the superior Gatorade flavor. You don’t get to the Super Bowl without figuring that out.
Will: Blue. I think Gatorade and the marketing world at large is sharp enough to color-code its beverages to the team colors, and both teams wear blue. Red or green are possible for the same reason, but I’m going with the one wager that puts both in range, and with solid odds. They’re in range, that is, assuming that my half-baked sports drink-related logic is as sound as I think it is.
[Line per VegasInsider.com consensus.]
New England (-1) vs. Seattle
New England: 14-4, 1st AFC East, #11 total offense, #4 scoring offense, #13 total defense, #8 scoring defense
Seattle: 14-4, 1st NFC West, #9 total offense, #10 scoring offense, #1 total defense, #1 scoring defense
Derek: I’m not picking against the Seahawks.
Oh, reasons? Fine. This game reminds me a whole, whole lot of last year. The Seahawks didn’t dominate in two home playoff games, while the Broncos came off a double-digit win against the Patriots. Though various pundits are acting like they picked the Seahawks from the beginning, I remember the Broncos love very well. They were favored. Just because the Seahawks didn’t blow out the Panthers or Packers doesn’t mean they can’t beat the Patriots. It happened last year.
I think the Seahawks will have an answer for Gronk. Jimmy Graham was the Gronk of 2013, and in two games, the Seahawks held him to four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Gronk is better than Graham because he blocks sometimes, and he’ll get his, but I think K.J. Wright and Kam Chancellor will keep him from taking over.
I’m a little scared of Edelman, but other than that, I’m not sure how well the Patriots will be able to move the ball. Last year, the Seahawks clogged the short routes and dared Manning to throw deep. Worked like a charm. I imagine they will have a similar game plan this year. Brady hasn’t been great at throwing the deep ball lately. I think the Seahawks would be happy if they could force Brady to throw the ball deep to Brandon LaFell.
But the real place where this game will be won is THE TRENCHES. I think Michael Bennett will be playing some defensive tackle in this game to take advantage of the Patriots’ relatively weak guards and injured center. That would allow Bruce Irvin to move down to defensive end as a speed rusher. As we’ve seen many times before, if Tom Brady doesn’t have time, he won’t succeed.
On the other hand, can the Seahawks’ offensive line block the Patriots? Probably not on passing plays, but they’ve been very good in run blocking. Lynch is a beast, but few running backs have any success without a solid offensive line. The Patriots have struggled against zone blocking teams. The Seahawks can effectively mimic what the Chiefs did to the Patriots earlier this year.
And, let’s not forget: the team with the better defense usually wins the Super Bowl. Seahawks win, 24-20.
Will: I feel like Judge Smails lining up his final putt right now. My undefeated postseason is on the line. I need Billy Baroo if I intend to finish the job.
For this game, Billy Baroo is telling me to pick your Seattle Seahawks. There are, of course, a great many reasons to side with New England, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski chief among them. One could credibly argue that they are the two best players involved in this contest.
That said, I think Seattle has more really good players than New England does. Marshawn Lynch, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, and Bobby Wagner are all among the best at their positions. The Seahawks strike me as the more athletic, physical team, and football tends to be a game favoring the more athletic, physical side. They’re mean enough to rock Gronk in the middle of the field, not to mention more conventionally-sized humans like Edelman and Brandon LaFell.
Still, these teams look to be as evenly matched as Snickers and peanut butter cups. I expect the game to reflect that, and I think the deciding factor will be the play of Wilson. It’s a bit frightening to bet on him having seen his play for 75% of the Packers game, but he’s got it, whatever it is. His guys believe in him, and he has enough wiggle to make unusual plays. He’ll evade a sack or two and melt the defense in the process.
Plus, he listens to Stevie Wonder and King Floyd before games. I can’t bet against a man like that today without hating myself tomorrow. Seattle wins 27-24.