A Gentleman’s Guide to Super Bowl 50

Welcome to Sports Monocle’s second 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!


Pre-cap

Derek: How much Super Bowl preview talk have you descended into? Did you have a favorite/least favorite storyline?

Will: Virtually none. I’ve stayed away. I saw a reporter ask Cam Newton something about socks and sandals, and that was my signal to bury my head in the sand as deep as possible. The week before the Super Bowl is the worst.

Derek: On a scale of bitter Seahawks fan to Jim Nantz, how excited are you to watch this game?

Will: So Jim Nantz is the excited one here? Whatever the scale, I’d put myself at a hungover Troy Aikman level of excitement. My time would probably be better spent resting and making sure I get enough liquids, but hell, if the game’s on, I’m gonna watch.

Derek: How are you hoping this plays out? Are you rooting for either team? Do you just want to see a good game? Would you prefer a defensive slugfest? A shootout? What’s the ideal game script?

Will: Just want something fun to watch. I don’t care who wins, nor do I care how they win. I’d be happy to see either Peyton Manning or Cam Newton win. As long as it’s reasonable close I’ll be fine with it. I’m just here for the lolz.

Derek: Who will cause more eye-rolls worldwide: Phil Simms or Mike Carey?

Will: Based on sheer volume, Simms in a runaway.

Prop Bets

[Odds per sportsbook.ag]

Lady Gaga’s rendition of the National Anthem (From when the first note starts until she completes saying “brave”) will be over or under 136.5 seconds?

Derek: If I’m betting on something so arbitrary and fixable, I’m betting on the outcome that’s more fun to root for. So the question becomes “would I rather watch Lady Gaga sing an efficient national anthem or take part in a bunch of excessive nonsense that ends with her singing ‘brave’ for 30 seconds?” It’s no contest–over for me.

Will: The average duration of the last 10 Super Bowl national anthems is reportedly 1:57 — 117 seconds. This line being almost 20 seconds higher suggests that some Gaga antics have been planned. As much as I would love to wager on a big Apollo Creed-style thing happening, I’ll still take the under. The song ain’t that long. (All bets are off if there’s a fiery equipment malfunction.)

Will either team score in the first five minutes of the game? Yes (+145) or no (-175)?

Derek: I’ll say no. I don’t trust the Bronco offense to do much scoring, and Cam is probably going to be so amped up he’ll need some halftime bear sedatives before settling into a groove.

Will: I’ve come around on the idea that this could be something of a defensive struggle, so I shall take no here. The average NFL drive this year lasted 2:40, and these are two of the best defenses in the game. I look forward to Ted Ginn taking the opening kick to the house.

Semi-related: College Ted Ginn was one of the most fun players I’ve ever watched. Seeing him turn the corner and go into Olympic sprinter mode was the most exciting thing. People talk about players running like gazelles, but he really did. His movement wasn’t jagged; he ran in big beautiful brushstrokes.

You know what, I’m switching to yes. Teddy’s taking it to the house the first chance he gets.

Will there be a missed extra point? Yes (+325) or no (-450)?

Derek: We’ve been building to this all year, right? Blair Walsh missed a game-winner a few weeks ago, Stephen Gostkowski missed a big one last week, and now it’s someone else’s turn. Throw in the dangers of smug in the air and there’s going to be a sad picture of a kicker on the front of newspapers Monday morning.

Will: Are you kidding? It’s the Super Bowl. Of course there will be a missed extra point. You think Brandon McManus and Graham Gano have the stones to live up to that pressure? No way. We’re bound to see at least one miss.

If Cam Newton scores a rushing touchdown, his first celebration will be: open shirt Superman motion (+120), dances solo (+180), goes to crowd and gives ball away (+225), dances with teammates (+1000), spikes ball (+2000), hands ball to official (+4000), or dunks on goal post (+5000)?

Derek: Every spoiled front-running child in America has convinced his/her rich parent to buy them a ticket on either end zone. With all those winking CEOs and tiny outstretched arms, I’ll say the ball goes in the stands first.

Will: This is the first one where I’m not sure if it’s a real prop or not. I think it is, and I think hands ball to official is the play here. There’s gotta be like a 1% chance that he makes a big show of giving the ball to the ref with a giant grin on his face. Then on the next one he gives the ball away. Something like that.

Which number will be higher: the number of points LeBron James scores vs the Pelicans (+1.5) or the distance of the game’s shortest made field goal (-1.5)?

Derek: I’ll say LeBron. The Broncos have a great defense and a poor offense, so I could see a gimme field goal no matter who has the ball. Unless of course Riverboat Ron doesn’t plan on kicking at any point.

Will: I bet there will be one super short field goal — like 25 yards at the most. Kevin Love is out for the Cavs, and they’ve kinda been playing like crap lately, so I think it’s LeBron in a runaway — especially when he’s getting a point and a half to boot.

Derek: Heh. Boot. That’s another word for kick.

The Pick

[Line per VegasInsider.com consensus.]

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Carolina (-5.5) vs. Denver

Derek: I count myself among the many who thought the winner of the NFC Championship would win the Super Bowl. I haven’t changed my opinion there, but I will grab the points in this situation. While all the attention has gone on Cam and Peyton, I think the man who decides this game is Wade Phillips. The Panthers are the more balanced team, but Denver’s defense is the best unit in the game. He found a way to hit Brady (Brady never gets hit) in the AFC Championship, so I’m sure he’s cooked up something special for Cam in the past two weeks. Maybe not enough to overcome Denver’s deficiencies on offense, but enough to keep it within six points.

Will: I think Carolina kills ’em. I mean, I also think it could be a close game — it’s the Super Bowl; of course it could be a close game — but I think Carolina runs all over them. I think they put Peyton Manning on his ass. I think the secondary keeps Demaryius Thomas under wraps. I think Carolina’s offensive line is a bunch of mean SOBs, and I think they run at Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware a lot to tire them out. I think the Panthers win big. I think Cam’s gonna dab on ’em and the whole deal.


An Exercise in Wound Licking: Super Bowl XLIX Recap

NFL Recap Header

A wild and crazy NFL season has come to a close with the Patriots winning Super Bowl XLIX, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including how to cope when your favorite team comes so close.


Super Bowl XLIX Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots

EPA/Larry W. Smith

Will: It seems odd to say now, but there were wide swathes of the first half of Super Bowl XLIX that were really quite drab. The first quarter was scoreless, Tom Brady was dinking and dunking, and Seattle barely threw the ball. For a neutral observer, watching the game felt more like obligation than recreation.

Derek: but i died

Will: Oh, how things changed. The last two minutes of the second quarter saw three touchdowns scored. The second half and especially the fourth quarter were action packed, with the Seahawks jumping ahead and the Patriots fighting back. Jermaine Kearse won the senior superlative for “greatest catch most likely to be forgotten.” Richard Sherman became a reaction GIF for the ages. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick strengthened their respective cases as the GOAT, while Darrell Bevell was simply a goat.

Derek, my former co-worker, my friend, my lone Seahawk fan acquaintance…how are you? How have your emotions progressed from the time of that final pass until now? Did you notice that I’ve put our names in Seahawks colors? Do you even want to talk about it?

Derek: I’m sad, Will. I’m really sad.

I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t know the order or explanation of the stages of grief, but I think I ran through them all at some point. First, I sat down, completely dead inside, and watched everything unfold. I watched the game end and I watched the entire trophy presentation. I can’t say I wanted to. I just did, and I don’t know why.

That turned to anger. We were one yard away. One. I ranted to no one and muttered expletives under my breath. I feared I would erupt if someone said the wrong thing or some kid in class asked me a stupid question. And boy, those two things happened in spades yesterday. I should count myself lucky that I’m not typing this on my phone in the depths of some Korean prison.

I tried to rationalize it. I began to accept it. I looked for silver linings. I even found a few! But it all came back to that one yard. One yard, and Russell Wilson is the first quarterback to win two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. Pete Carroll has the same Hall of Fame credentials as Jimmy Johnson. The Seahawks go back-to-back in a time when that was thought to be impossible, making them arguably the most impressive defending champions in NFL history. Instead, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest QB/coach duo of all time, and the Seahawks lost in a way that makes fear will divide the team and ruin everything they’ve created. All because of one yard.

No, I’m not feeling very good at all.

Will: The interception must be discussed. How do you read it? Was it Darrell Bevell’s fault? Pete Carroll’s? Russell Wilson’s? Ricardo Lockette’s? Or did Malcolm Butler just make a great play?

Derek: lynch but i died

It was idiotic, of course. I’ll illustrate this point with an anecdote involving my girlfriend, who is Korean and had never seen a football game before we started dating in 2013. I’m estimating she has now seen about 10. We didn’t watch the game together, but she visited me on Monday night to hide my knives and poisonous chemicals. We watched the final two minutes of the game, because it wasn’t enough for her to know that they lost. I needed her to know how they lost. We got to the play before the interception, and had this exchange:

Me: What play do you call here, Coach Shannon?

Shannon: A … a running play?

Me: Mmhmm. Anyone in particular?

Shannon: They … they just give it to Lynch, right?

I pressed play, the carnage unfolded, and I was proud of how angry she was. I imagine it was the final time this game will be playing on a TV near me and I feel something other than abject misery.

To answer your question, all of the people you mention deserve some of the blame/credit. Bevell did Bevell things. Carroll didn’t put a stop to it. Russell probably should’ve seen Butler coming. Lockette definitely should have fought a little harder. Butler made a great read and a great play.

Because of his track record, and because it was his call, I’m putting most of the blame on Bevell. I’ve mentioned him twice before on this site: here and here. Here’s a quote from our recap of the NFC/AFC Championships:

The play-calling was questionable at times, but I often feel that way about Darrell Bevell. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he was getting mentioned for head coaching jobs at this time last year but wasn’t brought up once this year.

He’ll call a few plays a game that make him look like a genius, then goes a full quarter where it seems like he’s calling plays while texting and driving at the same time.

This was, without a doubt, the quintessential Bevell game. Credit him for some excellent calls, like the pass to Lynch on the wheel route on the final drive and rolling with the hot hands of Chris Matthews. But he made some incredibly dumb ones, naturally including what many are calling the dumbest call of all time. Like Bill Buckner and Steve Bartman before him, that one moment will become his legacy. He was up for head coaching jobs last year, and now he may never get one. The stigma of that call will follow him into every job interview he has for the rest of his career. Does he deserve all of this?

bevell wikiWell … I’m not sure I’m the one to ask. My Korean girlfriend who had never seen a football game 18 months ago knew to give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, and Bevell didn’t. I’ll leave it at that.

What do you think? Was Bevell’s call a fireable offense?

Will: I understand anyone with that sentiment, but I don’t think so. Beyond Wilson and Lynch, it’s not like this offense is bursting with talent. Doug Baldwin and company are nice players, but I would be surprised if any Seahawk receiver makes a Pro Bowl. They did well to make it to the Super Bowl with the allotted skill position talent. Bevell just boned the call.

Which has a greater absolute value: the ecstasy of last year’s victory or the pain of this year’s defeat? Is this the most painful sporting moment of your life? What can you compare it to?

Derek: Unfortunately, it’s probably pain of this year’s defeat. As wonderful as last year felt, it almost seemed a little too easy. The game last year was never close, and I briefly thought “Wait, that was it?” I thought it would come down to some late heroics like the NFC Championship. As strange as it is to say, it was almost disappointing that it was a blowout. The lack of drama made it anti-climactic. Don’t get me wrong, that game was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and it was satisfying to watch the Seahawk defense shut down the vaunted Bronco offense. I also don’t dislike the Broncos, so the blowout didn’t give me the special satisfaction that a blowout of a team like the 49ers would.

I don’t hate the Patriots like I did in 2007, but losing to them was worse than losing to the Broncos would have been. I’ve mentioned before how angry it makes me when people refer to Bill Cowher and Jerome Bettis as Super Bowl champions. Now I’m going to feel the same way whenever someone discusses the Brady/Belichick legacy. I’ll always think about that one yard.

Was it the most painful sporting moment? Yes, I think so. Football is my favorite sport and the Seahawks are my favorite favorite team. I detailed all of their horrible losses last week, and this one was the worst. The Hornets have sucked too much to have anything near that big of a stage. The only things that comes to mind are various World Cup losses (those always seem especially painful) and Armanti Edwards’ final game at my alma mater, Appalachian State.

Football makes these kinds of games especially great or especially terrible. I’ve heard references to Bill Buckner in the ’86 World Series and the Spurs blowing Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. But those were both in Game 6. Their teams got to play another game, and they couldn’t seal the deal. No such luck in football. Just seven months of listening to people talk about that play.

One. Yard.

What if this is it? Brett Favre won the Super Bowl in 1996. He went back in 1997, and lost to the Broncos. He played 13 more years and never went back to the Super Bowl.

I’m not sure what I would compare it to. When I think about it, I end up realizing I’m a psychopath. Was it like getting a winning lottery ticket that was covered with ricin? No, that’s silly. It’s a game! That I wasn’t even playing! Why do I care so much? None of these guys even know who I am. Why does it bother me? Then I start buzzkilling myself for being so tied up in something that doesn’t matter, but I think about that one yard again and the process restarts.

Winning was so much more fun. It was easier justifying happiness over a great win than sadness over a horrendous loss.

Care to throw a Cleveland spin on this? Earnest Byner has crossed my mind once or twice.

Will: The similarities to the Fumble game are striking, but this reminds me more of another Browns tragedy, the infamous Red Right 88 call against Oakland in the 1980 playoffs. The Browns were at the 13-yard line, trailing 14-12. Rather than run the ball before kicking a field goal, the Browns ran the eponymous pass play. Coach Sam Rutigliano told quarterback Brian Sipe to throw it in the lake unless he had a wide open man. Alas, Sipe threw an interception on a pass intended for Ozzie Newsome. The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks’ mistake feels worse because it was in the Super Bowl, and they were but a single yard away. This probably isn’t helping. I’ll stop now.

What were you thinking as the skirmish broke out after the Pats took their final knee? Did your baser instincts prevail as you rooted for mayhem? Were you embarrassed to see the Seahawks instigating a conflict? Were your eyes fixed on the business end of a bottle of soju?

Derek: I hadn’t kicked into the anger stage yet. I was still mostly dead inside. I silently shook my head as it was going on.

I was probably more infuriated when I checked Twitter, because people were breaking out the word “class.” I’ve reached the point of getting angry whenever someone calls out another team or fan base for a lack of class. I know it’s irrational, but I’ve heard so much righteous indignation and high horsedom (if my team horrendously loses the Super Bowl, I get to make up words) in sports debates over the years that I tense up whenever I see or hear it. Every team employs a jerk or two. Every fan base definitely has its share. You want to call Bruce Irvin a punk or a sore loser? Fine. But the whole “this entire team/fan base has no CLASS!” argument joins “it is what it is” as a first ballot Hall of Famer in my Irritating Sports Cliche Hall of Fame.

Will: What will your enduring memory of the game be?

Derek: Lots of choices. The call. The interception. Sherman’s reaction. K.J. Wright constantly in soft coverage on Gronk as I wondered if Dan Quinn was thinking more about the Falcons’ draft board than Wright’s well-being. All good choices. But, as you might have guessed, the lasting image is this:

one yard

Will: You probably didn’t find this funny, did you?

Derek: It was funny. It also hurt a lot. Kind of like the Onion article with the headline “God: ‘F*** Russell Wilson.'” Here are my aforementioned silver linings:

  1. I saved some money. I spent an embarrassing amount on Super Bowl stuff last year. I have no regrets, as I was prepared to do it again this year, but it will be nice to put the small fortune toward something else.
  2. Percy Harvin will get less money. He played enough games for the Seahawks this season to get paid for their success. If the Seahawks won, he would have gotten more money. As Richard Sherman played with torn elbow ligaments that will require Tommy John surgery and Earl Thomas played with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum, I couldn’t help but wonder how much less injured Harvin would have to be to miss the game. At least he’s finally done profiting from the Seahawks.
  3. The team is young, and most of the core is tied up through the foreseeable future. Let’s just hope this isn’t the sort of loss that rips the team apart. Plus, the 49ers look to be imploding, so maybe the NFC West won’t be as tough as it has been in the past few years.

Let’s Drown Your Sorrows in Our Gambling Winnings/Losses

Time to review our wagers. We did not actually put money down on any of these, as gambling is ungentlemanly, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t delight in (or weep over) our picks. Maybe that will help. Results are shown in red. Correct picks feature an asterisk.

Will either team score in the first six minutes of the game? Yes (-105) or no (-125)?

Derek: And they still managed to hit the over.

Will*: The Seahawks shut them out for six minutes! That’s something, right?

The first touchdown of the game will be passing (-160) or something else (+130)?

Derek: The last touchdown of the game was passing, too. *drinks lighter fluid*

Will: Yes, the pass was thrown, but there was surely some running involved as well, no? I’ll give this one to Vegas on technicality. 

Will there be overtime? Yes (+500) or no (-800)?

Derek: Yes, there was no overtime, because Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown on the Seahawks’ final offensive play, and Tom Brady couldn’t get the Patriots in field goal range. *swallows match*

Will: There there, friend. There there.

Will there be a defensive or special teams touchdown? Yes (+150) or no (-185)?

Derek: Remember when Kam Chancellor returned that interception for a touchdown three weeks ago? That was cool.

Will: Let’s just move on.

Idina Menzel’s rendition of the National Anthem will be over 122.5 seconds (+105) or under 122.5 seconds (-145)?

Derek*: Also a close call. I’ll thank her for winning me some fake money by watching Frozen again at some point in my life.

Will: I’m a little bummed about missing this one, but I think I’ll be able to let it go.

More crotch grabs: Marshawn Lynch (-120) or Katy Perry (-120)?

Derek: But one football was defecated. What were the odds on that?

Will: Tough game for crotch grabbery. Strong game for ball poopery.

Will Katy Perry show cleavage during the halftime show? Yes (-800) or no (+450)?

Derek*: I was getting worried for a little while there. Thank goodness she changed outfits five times.

Will: The only thing better than owning an actual printing press is betting on Katy Perry showcasing the goods.

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: Wasn’t it his family? I don’t know. I picked God, and I don’t think he mentioned God once.

Will: I couldn’t make this one out either. It wasn’t whatever I picked. Props are dumb.

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: Good call! The Seahawks used orange last year. I might have known that when I picked it this year.

Will*: I could not be prouder of this. “Correctly picked blue Gatorade” will be on my tombstone.

New England (-1) vs. Seattle

Derek: Everything is stupid.

Will: My perfect postseason died in the Super Bowl. Yours did as well, albeit for different reasons.

I hope y’all enjoyed the game a bit more than that. Thanks for reading.


A Gentleman’s Guide to Super Bowl XLIX

SB 49

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!


Pre-cap

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.

Prop Bets

[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.

The Pick

[Line per VegasInsider.com consensus.]

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images

New England (-1) vs. Seattle

The Basics:

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.