Monday, February 04, 2008

Superbowl Pick Post Mortem

That was quite a game and my pick of NE clearly sucked, so let’s try to see what went wrong with my handicapping. Also, I got burned a bit by not being able to make a proper halftime bet. I will get to that at the bottom of the post.

First off, one of my normal requirements when picking a Superbowl team to cover a large spread is that they need to be playing very well going into the Superbowl. This is typically indicated by very lopsided wins in the playoffs. Teams that absolutely crush the competition in the playoffs, usually end up as pretty big favorites, and still have the ability to cover. New England was not really crushing anyone in the playoffs. I shook this off as an issue with cold weather affecting their passing game, and them playing tougher competition. This was a pretty big mistake. The Giants were not exactly crushing anyone in the playoffs, but they were at least peaking. They were playing their best football of the season, and the Pats played their best football of the season over the first 10 weeks or so. NE has not been playing well lately.

Secondly, I gave more credit to Bill Belicheck's coaching than he deserves. He was out coached in the Superbowl by a huge margin. He made two huge mistakes on 4th down, and was not able to make any meaningful second half adjustments. His team was not ready to play and the Giants were. In hindsight, I guess I could have seen this coming. With the exception of the first NE Superbowl win, where they came from behind as 14 point underdogs to beat the Rams, his teams have always underperformed in the big game. They were decent favorites against Carolina and Philadelphia, but had to come from behind late in both games to get a 3 point win that was not close to covering. This team just can't seem to blow people out in the Superbowl, and that is the coach’s fault. When you have two weeks to rest and prepare for a team, good coaching can really shine. It was not there for the last three NE superbowls. He made no meaningful adjustments at halftime. The Giants were pressuring the crap out of Brady in the first half, and Eli was getting next to no pressure. This is the opposite of how I thought the game would look. Brady usually does not get pressured, and when he does, he always would find an outlet receiver to hit no matter what blitz they through at him. This was not true in the Superbowl. The magical outlet receiver was covered, and he was getting hit and sacked left and right. This continued in the second half, as they simply could not figure out how to slow down the pressure on Brady. On the final drive with 29 seconds left there was Brady getting sacked once again with the game on the line. Belicheck also made two bad 4th down calls. On the 4th and 13 call from the 32 yard line, he needs to kick the field goal or punt. They were not putting together many 13 yard plays up to that point, and their chances for success were very slim. If he kicks the field goal they are tied at the end of the game. If he punts, maybe the Giants don't drive for the go ahead TD. If the field goal is missed they give up 8 yards in field position. No big deal for a team like theirs that defends the red-zone so well. He chose to go for it, and Brady threw the ball out of bounds. In the first half, NE had a forth and 2 from the Giants 41 yard line and chose to punt. The punt went in the end zone, so they only picked up 21 yards. I was astonished that they did not go for it. During the regular season, they never punted in this situation, ever. They always went for it and why not? They have the best offense in the league, and a good enough D to stop them if they fail. With the issues they were having scoring against the Gaints, I really think you need to go for it there, and try to put some points up.

Lastly, I underestimated the Giants Defense. I gave NE a small edge here, but the Giants had a huge edge in the actual game. There is no way you can expect to cover a large spread in the Superbowl if you are going against a much better defense then your own.

So after watching the first half, I was not liking NE anymore. I always keep a bunch of funds on the sideline for halftime bets. Halftime bets are great, because you have already seen the 1st half and have a great idea of how the second half will be played. With NE up by 4 at half, and getting the ball to start the second half, I figured they would be 7 point favorites max in the second half, and I would be able to take the Giants, and completely cancel out my NE bets (losing the vig of coarse). The problem with this is that all of my sportsbook funds are on Bodog, and they are absolutely horrible at setting lines. They tend to put up a bad number and just stick with it vs. adjusting the number based on how the betting comes in. They retardedly set the line at NE -7 1/2 in the second 1/2. Nobody watching the first half would have taken the NE side at that spread for the second half. So all the money came in on the Giants and Bodog would not move the spread down. So you would need to lay -145 to take the Giants, and +125 to take NE. Based on that, I was not able to cancel out my bet on NE for the game. I quickly searched the other sporstbooks, and they all had the line set properly at -6 1/2 or -7 and were getting somewhat even action on both sides. I tried to make a credit card deposit to offset my bets at one of the other sites, but was not able to get it to go through. I was forced to just let it ride in the second half because Bodog has no clue how to set a proper line. I did take the under in the second half to reduce my overall losses for the game somewhat. I also had Maroney to score the first TD at 4.5 to 1 and that helped as well.

In summary, I gave too much credit to Bill Belicheat, underestimated the Giants Defense, and forget to properly consider how well both teams were playing going into the game. As for Bodog, I already knew that they have issues setting lines, and should have had an alternative sportsbook funded and ready prior to the game. Bodog lost thier ass on the second half line with all the money on the winning side. Hopefully they fire the guy who set that line. With my winnings from Maroney and the second half under win, I would have been break even for the game vs. dropping a couple hundy. Hopefully I can learn from these mistakes going forward.

It was a great game to watch though, and once it was clear NE had no chance to cover, I was rooting for the Giants. I am a closet Miami Dolphin fan, and have been rooting (and betting) against NE for a good chunk of the second half of the season. I am so glad that they lost, because they were unimpressive in the Superbowl, and were not even close to deserving of the best team ever title, even if the were to get the win. This will end that argument. They were not the best team ever, not even close. They struggled pretty big starting with the Philadelphia game, and pretty much lucksacked there way to a perfect season. Their luck simply ran out in the Superbowl.

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