Total Team Stuff
Atlanta Falcons +1½
Ryan: I’m still upset at the fact that if I go out this weekend and there’s a Luke Bryan song playing within earshot, I’ll hear it and think, “Yeah, that’s Luke Bryan.”
If this game is going to be high scoring, it’s not going to happen until the second half. Too many Super Bowls start out as two teams feeling each other out and end up being a stalemate because these teams have had two weeks to prepare.
Give me New England -1½ and the under on that first half total.
Chris: If Ryan asks me to take him to Nashville sometime during the offseason I know he’ll be long gone and we will have to start considering drastic measures. Nashville is a terrible place that nevertheless draws in some of the most depraved, worthless specimens of human life, base and seeking cheap plastic fame.
Right, yeah, we’re doing actual sports-related picks now. I’ll take the under but give me Falcons +1½.
Total Team Points - Atlanta Falcons
Ryan: Betting the under on the first half is fine with me, but betting the under for the top-ranked offense in the NFL who scored 33.8 points per game in the regular season over the course of a game? I can’t actively root for less offense and therefore less fun. Over.
Chris: This is Julio Jones’ world and y’all are just living in it. Over.
Total Team Points - Atlanta Falcons - First Half
Ryan: This is where I’m taking the under for the aforementioned reasons. I can see two touchdowns, maybe even both of them happening in the second quarter, but I don’t see more than that in their first half possessions. Under.
Chris: Not much for me to say here. I don’t think we get a repeat of last game’s madness. Under.
Total Team Points - Atlanta Falcons – First Quarter
Ryan: 3, 0, 0, 3, 9 and 0: The total amount of points scored against the Patriots in the first quarter of each Super Bowl during the Brady-Belichick era. Under.
Chris: All this dumb crap stacking up in favor of the Patriots and I don’t care because I’m dumb and stupid and stuff. They’ll get a touchdown. Over.
Total Team Points - New England Patriots
Ryan: The Patriots have scored more than 30 points just once in the Brady-Belichick era, and that was awhile ago—Super Bowl XXXVIII. However, the Patriots scored 30 or more points in seven of the 12 games Brady was under center in 2016. And even more recently, in their two playoff games leading up to Super Bowl LI, they pinned 34 points on Houston and 36 against Pittsburgh, two teams with better defenses than Atlanta. Give me the over.
Chris: This one is rough but I’m not really going to pin on anything more than 28 points. Under.
Total Team Points - New England Patriots- First Half
Ryan: Patriots go into the half with the lead, and leading Atlanta 17-14. Over.
Chris: Ryan’s on cruise control here and I’m just kinda shrugging my way through. I’ve barely remembered what I picked two picks ago because these things all look the same and I can barely plot this game out in my head. Under.
Total Team Points - New England Patriots- First Quarter
Ryan: Give me the under. It’s either going to push or be under because if the Falcons give up an early score, I see them trying to slow down the game to avoid falling too far behind early.
Will either Brady or Ryan record 415 or more Passing Yards to break the Super Bowl record?
Chris: No. The Falcons defense has been hot in the postseason and it wasn’t disastrous enough before to warrant thoughts of 400+ yard games against them. I suspect even if the Patriots get a chance for loads of offense they’ll keep it on the ground here and there to burn clock. No.
Ryan: I don’t see the Falcons shying away from their running game, which means I don’t know if there’s going to be enough time to get to 415 passing yards for either quarterback. I’ll go no.
Will Matt Ryan win Regular Season MVP and Super Bowl MVP?
Chris: If the Falcons win, yes. The only other person to contest for Super Bowl MVP from the team would be Julio Jones, and I think a Falcons victory features Matt Ryan throwing for yards and yards and yards to both Jones and Sanu.
Ryan: Don’t spit into the wind, don’t hang on Spider-Man’s webs and, most importantly, never bet against Teflon Tom. No.
Will both teams combine to score 76 or more points to break the Super Bowl record?
Ryan: The over/under for this game is 59, the highest it’s ever been set in Super Bowl history—the over/under for Saints and Colts in Super Bowl XLIV was the previous high at 56½. I think it’s set just about right, and I’ll take the over, but I don’t see this one devolving into an all-out shootout, so I’ll go no.
Chris: Two prolific offenses and yet I don’t think we’re necessarily in the realm of 70+ point games on the norm just yet. Wait until Patrick Mahomes starts for an NFL team. No.
Which will be the Highest Scoring Quarter?
1st Quarter 4/1
2nd Quarter 3/2
3rd Quarter 7/2
4th Quarter 5/2
Ryan: A race to the finish, both teams open up the playbook in the 4th quarter in an attempt to deflate their opponent. Wait, dammit.
Chris: There’s something special about the fourth quarter as all manner of plan goes out the window. The third quarter always brings jitters after a long halftime show but the 4th quarter is where the action will be.
If You’re Not First, You’re Last
Will the opening kickoff result in a touchback?
Yes -200 (1/2)
No +160 (8/5)
Chris: The most thrilling moment in sports! The raw electric atmosphere as the kicker booms the ball into the air, and the Super Bowl is underway... and it’s a touchback! Time for ten minutes of commercials! Yes.
Ryan: Lightbulbs flashing, 70-thousand plus fans reaching a fever pitch as the kicker’s foot is about to commence the last game of the NFL season and then no one hits each other and the referees put the ball on the 25-yard line. So, yes, a touchback.
But, I mean, can we possibly spice it up a bit?
First Offensive Play of the Game
Run -150 (2/3)
Pass +120 (6/5)
Chris: It’s always a run to start these things.
Ryan: The odds aren’t heavy enough on run for me to resist the temptation of more than doubling up on my money by going with pass.
Chris: This is true and I didn’t think of the odds. I’ll make the value play with you. Pass.
Will the team that scores first win the game?
Yes -180 (5/9)
No +150 (3/2)
Chris: It never is. Take the odds. No.
Ryan: Heck yeah, man. It’s all about getting out to an early lead. It’s the granddaddy of them all, so you have to set the tone. The team that scored first has to pound it on the ground while the team behind has to air it out. Low man wins. Stop the big play. Defense wins championships.
The first score of the game will be
Patriots Touchdown 9/5
Falcons Touchdown 2/1
Patriots Field Goal 3/1
Falcons Field Goal 7/2
Falcons Safety 20/1
Patriots Safety 20/1
Chris: Going to make a value play here on the Falcons field goal if the Falcons receive first.
Ryan: A big play from Matt Ryan to my second favorite Atlanta Falcons player ever—second to only Mike Vick—Tevin Coleman. Touchdown.
Will there be a score in the final two minutes of the First Half?
Yes -280 (4/15)
No +220 (11/5)
Ryan: Sure, why not? James Harrison ripped my heart out and made me promised myself I’ll never play football squares again. Yes.
Chris: I expect the NFL’s thrilling brand will be on full display as Bill Belichick decides to kneel out the last 30 seconds of the clock rather than throw it deep. Odds look good. No.
Over 6½ (-140, 5/7)
Under 6½ (+110, 11/10)
Chris: Over. Low enough for two offenses that, while it’s probably a safe bet to say that a game sold as being offense-heavy will absolutely score low, three to four touchdowns apiece per team is still low for the modern NFL.
Ryan: Feed me touchdowns like I’ll be feeding myself some high-grade queso dip. With Goodell watching, Brady’s good for at least three touchdowns on his own. Over.
More Bets Because We’re All Degenerates
Longest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Chris: Trust in Touchdown Tom and Matty Ice for a dragon. Do people know what I mean when I call it a dragon? Over.
Ryan: I don’t know what you mean when you call it a dragon, but when you say that euchre is less than hearts or spades or whatever the hell it is that you play, I know what you mean. You mean to be hurtful.
Give me the over. Matt Ryan on a screen pass to one part of the two-headed hydra in the backfield.
Chris: Spades is better and there is a wealth of scientific evidence to back me on this.
The largest lead of the game by either team will be
Chris: Over. This game caps a disappointing and un-competitive postseason. Even if this wasn’t the zeitgeist of the season, a 14-point swing isn’t uncommon these days. The lead may evaporate but I can’t trust either team to keep it close the whole game.
Ryan: The question is, does someone jump out to an early two-touchdown lead or not? Once the pace of the game is established, I don’t think I see either team getting up by too much. Double digits, maybe, but two touchdowns? I’ll go with the under because I don’t want this game to ever get out of hand.
Will any player other than Brady or Ryan attempt a pass?
Chris: No. I don’t even know if Tom Brady lets anyone else make a throwing motion in practice, for whatever reason. He got his job thanks to backstabbing and injury, and he nearly had the same done to him early this season. There are no trick plays of this nature in Belichick’s notebook. Tommy boy erased them all. As for the Falcons, I don’t even know who would bother to try.
Ryan: Julian Edelman is going to throw a pass against this Falcons defense at some point, right? The “young and inexperienced” Falcons defense is surely susceptible to a WR screen turned WR pass, right?
Special Teams Stuff
Will there be a Kickoff Return for a TD in the Game?
Chris: No. Football Outsiders puts the grade for Atlanta in kickoff returns at -1.5, and New England at -2.8. I don’t think much of either unit.
Ryan: No Tyreek Hill. No Devin Hester. No kickoff return for a TD in this one.
Longest Successful Field Goal in the Game
Over/Under 47.5 Yards
Ryan: It’s the Patriots, so Gostkowski is probably going to knock through some 50-plus-yard field goal to win it for New England in the closing seconds, right? Watch something that’s far less scripted and not predetermined, kids. Over.
Chris: 47.5 feels short in this day and age. Maybe Matt Prater spoiled me. Over.
Will there be a Blocked Punt in the Game?
Ryan: No. There have been three blocked punts returned for touchdowns in Super Bowl history according to the Washington Post.
Quick aside: The blocked punt might be the most exciting play in football. It’s something you don’t see coming until that split second of euphoric realization that the dude is going to get his mitts on it, and then it’s a mad scramble for 22 guys to jump on it. On the other hand, if the punter gets it off in time and the play turns into an accepted penalty for roughing the kicker, and the team’s offense trots back onto the field, it feels like a colossal waste of time.
I really want a blocked punt now.
Chris: Ryan brings up valid points but watching a punter get hit hard is worth it. However, I’ll take no.
Will there be a missed extra point after a touchdown?
Ryan: So many missed extra points kicked and so many missed this season. Stephen Gostkowski missed three extra point attempts this year, the first time he’s missed an extra point in 11 years. Even Matt Bryant missed one this season. Gonna go with yes.
Chris: This is the year baby. Yes.
Will there be a special teams or defensive TD scored?
Ryan: If Vince Wilfork still played for New England, I’d be rooting so hard for a fumble return for a touchdown from the overall-clad master of run stuffing. Since he doesn’t, I’ll go with no.
Chris: I can’t bank on fumble recover that well and I don’t think you can expect either quarterback to make a disastrous decision for a pick-six. We’ve already established these special teams returns suck too. No.
Will there be an onside kick attempt in the game?
Yes +150 (3/2)
No -180 (5/9)
Ryan: I like the +150 on this one because it’s the last game of the season. Yes.
Chris: No because this is the proud, mighty NFL, and even a genius coach like Belichick will make a straightaway kickoff when faced with a nine-point deficit and three minutes to play. This sport is stupid and run by stupid people.
Will the game go to Overtime?
Ryan: I see it being close, so I don’t want to rule out the possibility of it happening, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening either. I’ll say no.
Chris: I’ll gladly take the odds on yes. I hope it goes to overtime. I hope it goes to triple overtime, if you can even do that. If not, I hope it ends in a tie. I don’t know. I just hope for chaos to fix these dumb rules.
Will there be a safety in the game?
Ryan: Remember when Super Bowl XLVIII between Denver and Seattle started with a safety? It became the quickest score in Super Bowl history and gambling Twitter was ablaze with talk about how much money you would have won if you bet on a safety being the first score of the game.
Yeah, that one play used up all of the goodwill for a safety happening again for awhile. No.
Chris: The squares love to talk about the “what-if” on gambling a safety. The only time you’d get these fools to bet with some cojones is if they had a sports almanac and a time-traveling Delorean. No.
Will there be a flea flicker attempted in the game?
Ryan: This article is so long that I can quote myself from a quarter and a half up this page:
I’m going to say no. McDaniels already called that flea flicker against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, so I don’t see them getting too cute with another trick play again on Sunday.
Chris: I’ll flick this prop into the ocean. No.
Don’t Screw This Up
Which team will have more dropped passes?
Patriots -130 (10/13)
Falcons EVEN (1/1)
Ryan: Taking the Falcons here because they attempt more passes downfield and those have a higher percentage of not landing in the hands of a receiver. #Analysis #Math
Chris: Patriots. Again, no real reason to, but someone decided to make them the favorite and I’ve got no expertise that would allow me to knowingly pick one over the other.
The First Turnover of the Game will be?
No Turnover in Game 13/2
Chris: I’m taking long odds here for no turnover in game. It certainly deflates some of the drama but I’d like to think that this will become a minor talking point that probably eats up a day of ESPN Radio coverage for some stupid reason as we enter the offseason. Imagine a game played well enough to avoid a turnover, and yet we will feel cheated because turnovers are fun.
Ryan: “The first turnover of the game or: who is going to become the scapegoat when their team loses and that turnover is pointed to being the only reason they lost.” I think it might be a Matt Ryan interception, but I really think it’s going to be a Devonta Freeman fumble.
Let’s go Dion Lewis fumble.
Total Number of Penalties in the Game by both teams
Chris: How ya like these all-star crews? Think they’ll make the Pro Bowl next year? Over.
What will be the 1st enforced Penalty in the game?
False Start 13/5
Offside or Encroachment or Neutral Zone Infraction 4/1
Pass Interference 11/2
Any Other Penalty 6/1
Delay of Game 6/1
Any Personal Foul or Unsportsmanlike Conduct 9/1
No Penalty in the game 33/1
Ryan: Give me Offside or Encroachment or Neutral Zone Infraction being called against Donald Drumpf for his interaction with Ricki Lander, Robert Kraft’s girlfriend.
Chris: Any other penalty. In this case, block in the back on kickoff. There seems to be about a 50/50 chance for this to happen, and as you know, there’s a 50/50 chance of anything happening.
Will there be a penalty for excessive celebration?
Ryan: I sure hope so. This game could really benefit from some personality, which is why Gronk’s injury is such a serious bummer. I’ll say yes and pray for the entire Falcons offense hitting the dirty bird in the end zone.
Chris: The answer is yes and it’s only a matter of what the referees will throw it on. Will it be shaking your hips too much after a 80-yard kickoff return? Pointing at the wrong person in the crowd after a touchdown? Talking too loud? I can hardly wait to find out!
Ryan: Speaking of pointing, I wish that during the AFC and NFC Championship games there was a huge sign suspended above the field with the Super Bowl logo that the team could point at to let everyone know where they’re going much more explicitly. Creates drama.
Chris: WE’RE ON THE ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA.
Will a Roughing the Passer penalty be called in the game?
Yes +120 (6/5)
No -150 (2/3)
Ryan: Are you kidding me? A game with Tom Brady and no Cam Newton? Absolutely yes.
Chris: I’m shocked you can get this at positive odds. I know Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing in this game but Tom Brady is a close second. Yes.
The NFL has done this to itself. Rosters are so thin because these wastrels don’t want to play more players, and colleges are done teaching the “pro style” and doing every last scrap of developmental work for the NFL. Rather than work on a development track and expand rosters, the NFL sat on it all. Now we have backups who don’t know what the hell to do when asked to throw a pass. The product plummets without the top stars and so the NFL makes these ridiculous rules while hyperventilating, knowing they’re a Tom Brady or Matt Ryan injury away from a crap game. It’s easy to fix this scenario, but you’d have to do the one thing the NFL refuses to do: throw money at it.
Will a 2-point Conversion be Successful in the Game?
Yes +175 (7/4)
No -250 (2/5)
Chris: Yes. We live in a thrilling world where coaches actually remember that the 2-point conversion is an option.
Ryan: However, Mike Tomlin is nowhere to be found. No.
Total QB Sacks (Both teams combined)
Ryan: Atlanta’s offensive line surrendered 37 sacks, putting it in the lower half of adjusted sack rate while New England’s unit only gave up 24 and placing it above average. The Patriots got rid of all their premier pass rushers over the course of the 2016, trading Chandler Jones to Arizona and Jamie Collins to Cleveland. Atlanta, on the other hand, has Vic Beasley, the league leader in sacks with 15.5. I’ll go with the under.
Chris: This is a lot of data Ryan is providing that I am not. Under.
FIRST TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN ODDS
First Touchdown Scorer
Julio Jones (ATL) 15/2
LeGarrette Blount (NE) 8/1
Julian Edelman (NE) 8/1
Devonta Freeman (ATL) 17/2
Chris Hogan (NE) 10/1
Martellus Bennett (NE) 12/1
Dion Lewis (NE) 12/1
Mohamed Sanu (ATL) 12/1
Tevin Coleman (ATL) 14/1
Taylor Gabriel (ATL) 16/1
Malcolm Mitchell (NE) 20/1
James White (NE) 20/1
Danny Amendola (NE) 22/1
Tom Brady (NE) 22/1
Austin Hooper (ATL) 22/1
Matt Ryan (ATL) 28/1
Justin Hardy (ATL) 33/1
Levine Toilolo (ATL) 33/1
Joshua Perkins (ATL) 66/1
Eric Weems (ATL) 66/1
Any Other Touchdown Scorer 11/2
Ryan: Sticking with my gut and taking Tevin Coleman at 14/1. Like the odds, love the player.
Chris: I was gonna go Danny Amendola because his name is funny to me but I just found out that Julio Jones got himself a pair of Migos cleats. He’s gonna be unstoppable. I’ll take Julio at 15/2.
Literally Because We Gamble on Everything
CROSS SPORT - What will be higher on Super Bowl Sunday?
Patriots Total Points scored -140 (5/7)
Russell Westbrook points scored EVEN (1/1)
Chris: Russell Westbrook eats thunder and craps lightning, and when Westbrook decides to leave, he’s taking the world with him. Westbrook will score more than the Patriots at home against the Portland Trailblazers. Kanye West “I Am a God” is his pre-game music.
CROSS SPORT - What will be higher Super Bowl Sunday?
Sacks by the Falcons in the game -180 (5/9)
Alex Ovechkin Points +135 (27/20)
Ryan: The Washington Capitals are having another season where they play like bats out of hell during the regular season, get themselves into a fortuitous position and then will most likely blow it all for nothing in the playoffs. Ovechkin catches a bad rep for his style of play—all offense, no backchecking—but given that, he’s still one of the most physically dynamic forces to ever hit the ice in the NHL. The guy claps.
I took the under on total sacks, mainly because the Patriots’ offensive line is pretty stout. The Capitals are at home to host the Kings for a Sunday matinee and I like the +135 on Alex Ovechkin points given the five game point streak he’s been on in his last five games.