Manning Receives Super Bowl XLI Trophy

Manning Receives Super Bowl XLI Trophy

Early Super Bowl lines are out now and the Indianapolis Colts (-215) are favored by 4.5 points over the New Orleans Saints (+170) and the over/under is 55.5.

I think the odds-makers thinking here is that the Saints defense gave up a too many yards against Minnesota and they expect Manning to only do better.

The one thing going in their favor is that the Saints are ball-hawks and basically won the game against the Vikings on the strength of their turn-overs.

The Saints defense definitely deserves credit for forcing those mistakes. But defense can put an opposing offense in position to make a mistake, but the offense still has to make the mistake.

If Favre hadn’t injured his ankle on an earlier hit, he wouldn’t have thrown that last pick and we wouldn’t even be talking about New Orleans right now.

Minnesota was a solid 4-6 in the red zone, but you have to believe that if Manning gets to the red zone that many times, this game will be a rout.

The other big reason the odds-makers like the Colts is that the Colts burned the number one defense in the NFL for 30 points and, if they can get 30 against the best, how many more will they get against New Orleans.

The total is interesting too. It’s quite high, but the way these two offenses played all season, you could easily make a case for a higher number.

The Super Bowl is the biggest sports betting event of the year and it draws a lot of recreational betting money which tends to bet the over. With all of the hype surrounding these offenses, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the total go up.

It will be interesting to see how these odds move over the next two weeks as money starts to come in.

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Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders

The rested and confident Indianapolis Colts team hosts a New York Jets team that has scrapped and clawed its way through the playoffs on Saturday, January 24, 2010 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Colts (-350) are 7.5-point AFC championship odds favorites over the Jets (+275) and the over/under is 39.5.

The Colts are very similar to the Chargers, so the Jets clearly have a chance in this one. Both teams are passing teams with poor running games who also have a hard time stopping the run.

The Jets number one defense excels at stopping the pass, is okay at stopping the run but shouldn’t have to worry about it too much versus the Colts, and lives off of the running game on offense.

Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than the Chargers’ Philip Rivers. The Jets blitz-heavy defense will still get their hurries on the Colts, but they won’t get to Manning the way they got to Rivers because Manning can read the defense and release the ball a lot faster.

New York uses a lot of deception on defense. Against most quarterbacks, it lets them get to the quarterback and force bad passes. Against Manning, you’ll know it’s being effective when Manning has to throw short because longer options need a half a second more to open up.

When the Jets have the ball, everyone knows they are going to run the ball. The Jets have protected rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez by limiting the number of throws he has to make. Sanchez has responded by giving them exactly what they ask. The occasional reception without any big mistakes.

This was not the case earlier in the season where Sanchez turnovers cost the Jets a number of games, but we can hardly be surprised to see young rookies mature over the course of a season.

Sanchez and the Jets offense is successful because of their number one ranked running game led by Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene. They are able to wear down defenses and put up more points as the game progresses.

The Colts emphasized speed on defense in their game against the Ravens and had a lot of success stopping the Ravens running attack by rotating their starters out more. Expect the Colts to do pretty much the same thing against the Jets which should also help them limit the amount of wear in the latter stages of the game.

The Jets won their last meeting 29-15 as Manning and a number of other starters were pulled in the third quarter with the Colts up 15-10 angering Colts fans who wanted to see their team go for a perfect season.

However, considering how the Jets offense improves as the game wears on, it is difficult to say that it would have been an automatic victory had Manning stayed in the game. The Jets need to keep the game within one score to be successful and they were able to do that against the Colts starters.

Manning isn’t going to struggle against the Jets, but he’s not going to blow them away either. The Colts defense seems to have figured out the run a little and should be able to slow up the Jets enough for Manning to get them the win. But the 7.5-point spread looks a little high against a Jets team that can eat up the clock on offense and slow up even the best offenses when the other team has the ball.

New York Jets Cheerleaders
Right now everyone is saying that the Colts pulled off the upset of the playoffs when they beat the Chargers after laughing at Rex Ryan for calling his Jets the team to beat.

Yes, it was an upset, but no it didn’t surprise a lot of people. Many of the pundits predicted that the Jets would win or at least keep it close enough to cover the spread largely because the Chargers had a below-average run defense and the Jets’ top-ranked defense allowed them the luxury of sticking with the run.

Now the Jets face the Colts who, like the Chargers, have a high-powered passing attack and a sub-standard run defense.

Is there any reason to believe that the Jets who can stop the pass and are strong on the run can’t repeat their feat of last weekend?

The AFC Championship Game odds favor the Colts by 7.5 points which is ridiculous considering the last time these two teams met, the Colts were winning 10-9 when they pulled the starters in the third quarter.

I never would have predicted it for most of the season, but I expect to see the Jets in the Super Bowl.

NFL Divisional Playoffs Wrap Up

New Orleans Saints Fan
That was a good weekend of football. We saw some really good, close games and some thoroughly dominating offensive and defensive performances leaving us with one Cinderella team, the Jets, one Cinderella story, Favre and the Vikings, and two teams that delivered after promising regular seasons.

NFC Divisional Games

The Saints made the Cardinals look bad. I felt this game had blow-out potential, I just wasn’t sure which way it would go and the Saints poor play down the stretch had me leaning away from the Saints.

Way to prove me wrong.

I loved how the Vikings completely dismantled a hot Cowboys team. The combination of good preparation, the right game plan and a veteran quarterback like Favre who can bring it all together makes Minnesota a threat to any team.

As good as their respective offenses played, much of the credit has to go to the defenses who were in lock-down mode. It will be interesting to see whether it’s the veteran savvy of Favre or the overwhelming force of Drew Brees and the other Saints stars that gets the upper hand on the defenses.

Early NFL conference final odds have the Saints favored by four points. I don’t want to under-estimate the Saints after underestimating them last week, but I’m going to have a long hard think before betting against the Vikings.

AFC Divisional Games

The Chargers-Jets game played out almost exactly as I expected, although I didn’t account for the Jets ability to wear down opposing defenses and thought they’d be up early. The Jets aren’t going to play any pretty games, or at least they aren’t going to win them, but it’s nice seeing a team buck the trend to pass-heavy offenses and succeed.

Too many coaches are like sheep always building teams that emulate the most recent Super Bowl winners when there’s more than one way to win.

I also got the Ravens-Colts game right except that the Ravens surprised me with how much they passed. When the Ravens got the early field goal, it felt like Manning just decided that there was no way the Ravens were going to outplay the Colts and immediately quelled any doubt.

The AFC Final odds favor the Colts by 7.5. It’s a lot to cover and you know the Jets will play them tough, but the Colts are better equipped to deal with the Jets than the Chargers who really didn’t match up well.

Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders
The Indianapolis Colts play their first meaningful game in a month as they host the run-happy Baltimore Ravens.

The Colts (-270) are 6-point NFL playoff odds favorites over the Ravens (+225) and the over/under is 44.

Come playoff time there’s always a favorite that rested starters late in the season and then lost because they weren’t in sync when games started to matter again. Sports betting fans have to wonder if the Colts are that team.

The Colts started resting their starters in Week 16 and got two losses to show for it.

But Manning and crew looked dominant in the first half of their game against the Jets and the white-out conditions in the Buffalo game mean that you can probably give the offense a pass for their poor showing against the Bills.

If the Indianapolis starters were struggling in the last couple of weeks it might be something to worry about, but they weren’t so the rest will probably help them.

In the Ravens’ victory last week over New England, they kept running the ball into the teeth of the Patriots defense and it kept working.

But they also showed very little confidence in their quarter back Joe Flacco who completed just four passes and still managed an interception in just ten throwing attempts. Flacco is playing through injuries which is great when you want excuses, but doesn’t help much when you’re trying to win games.

Baltimore was probably also helped by the cold New England weather which tends to affect passing offenses more than running ones, but their defense also deserves credit for keeping New England’s star receivers well covered.

They’re probably going to have to stick with their running game against Indianapolis to keep the Colts’ fierce passing attack off of the field. But the Colts’ run defense is also something fierce.

In their November 22 meeting, a 17-15 win for Indianapolis, the Colts held the Ravens to just 76 yards on the ground. With Flacco injured, a similar defensive performance will make this game a rout.

The Colts might struggle a little to get their timing back on offense, but they’ll get it back soon enough to cover because the Ravens aren’t going to score much in this one.


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