The bummer for NFL fans is that the peak of couch potato fever is over, now that the regular season has concluded and it's no longer possible to stay glued to the TV from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays watching the games. More bad news is that there are fewer games on which to wager.
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The good news is, the games are more exciting and intense, with the playoffs providing that majestic one-and-done format that makes history and heroes out of some teams, while others end their seasons in bitter disappointment.
On the bright side for bettors, fewer games still means plenty of action. In addition to the standard side and total bets, almost every sports book both offshore and in the casinos, will offer numerous prop bets to make up for the abundance of action that the regular season left behind.
Typical prop bets include player vs. player wagers for total yards gained passing or rushing, alternate point spreads for the games and point spreads for each quarter. The postseason also marks the time for the resetting of future odds, with numbers assigned to each team's chances of winning the Super Bowl.
Well, with the Patriots such a heavy favorite to win it all, there might not be a whole of intrigue when it comes to futures betting odds to win Super Bowl XLII. But BetUS has offered fans a bet that mixes the best of both worlds when it comes to futures and props, posting odds on which combination of teams will reach Super Bowl.
Similar to the exacta box bet in horse racing, this prop does not require that the bettor get the order of finish correct, but he or she must pick the exact two teams that will appear in the Super Bowl. Predictably, a New England-Dallas matchup is the heavy favorite, coming in at 5/6 or -120. But more often than not, the two best teams do not make it all the way to the end; teams that peak at the right time and gather momentum in the playoffs often find themselves in the big game.
Even if you spot the Patriots the AFC - which could be a mistake -- in the NFC right now, there are a couple of teams other than Dallas that have momentum on their side. None can match the Cowboys' talent, but Dallas looked vulnerable over its past few games, whereas a team such as Washington is one to look out for with a bet like this.
The Redskins have rebounded in the wake of the Sean Taylor tragedy to win four straight and they have momentum and the sentimentality of most sports fans on their side. What's more, career backup Todd Collins has played solid football in replacing the injured and mistake-prone Jason Campbell, Washington's defense has been shutting down powerful offenses, and Joe Gibbs has a history of playoff success. The Redskins have a very winnable game against the Seahawks in the first round, and have played well against the Cowboys twice in splitting the season series. A Patriots-Redskins matchup comes in at 20/1.
The New York Giants also have some momentum, particularly in the memory of the public with their gutty performance against New England in the last game of the season in a 38-35 loss that clinched New England's unbeaten regular season. However, the Giants seem to have major matchup problems with the Cowboys and have lost to their NFC rivals handily twice this season. But if you like New York as a longshot, you'll get 18/1 for your money.
On the AFC side, it would be a shame to overlook the Colts. The defending Super Bowl champions just as easily could have gone undefeated themselves. They let a 10-point lead slip away against the Patriots, also lost a huge lead against the Charger, then dumped a meaningless (for them) finale against the Titans. With players like Marvin Harrison and others back who were missing due to injury earlier this season, it is not far-fetched to imagine the Colts spoiling New England's historic run and ending up back in the Super Bowl. An Indianapolis/Dallas matchup comes in at 19/4, while an improbable Colts/Redskins Super Bowl comes off at a whopping 74/1.
One other note to keep in mind: Twice this decade Wild Card teams have won the Super Bowl. The 2000 Ravens won the 2001 Super Bowl and the 2005 Steelers were the AFC's No. 6 seed but won the 2006 Super Bowl. The Colts won their division last year, but had to win a road game on Wild Card weekend to advance.