It was another great NFL betting season at Doc’s Sports and I couldn’t leave it without a wrap-up of thoughts on another excellent Super Bowl. So here is a special edition of the Ferringo Report on Super Bowl 44:
- Whenever I talk to people before the Super Bowl they still all say the same thing, “I just hope it’s a good game.” It’s as if the blowouts of the late 80s and most of the 90s still have an impact on the expectations that people have for The Big Game. Well, those days are over. This is now three straight years that we have had games in which there were fourth quarter lead changes. And if you look back at the last 11 Super Bowls there were six that were decided by a touchdown or less and six that were decided on the final drive of the game.
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- In keeping with the theme that the games are getting tighter, how about the fact that this year’s game was the most viewed television program in history and the most bet-on sporting event in the history of Las Vegas despite the fact that the two teams were from two small markets (Indianapolis and New Orleans). Hey, Major League Baseball, are you watching? Football has been able to transcend markets and is relevant, regardless of which teams are playing, in every state in the country. You can’t tell me that is even close to being true in the World Series or in the NBA Finals. And that, friends, is what has made the NFL our National Pastime.
And that is also what is at stake with the impending labor disaster. If we have an uncapped year that means that both the ceiling and the floor of the salary cap will dissolve. So then we’re running into a situation where the big market teams will have a huge edge and will be able to outspend the smaller market teams, which will be slashing payroll. If it is only for one season it might not be the biggest deal. But if it’s longer than that then the precious parity that’s giving us close Super Bowls, different teams each year (12 different franchises in the last eight Super Bowls), and nationally relevant Super Bowls could be threatened.
- The Who? Really? Whose brilliant idea was that? I will say that the Super Bowl halftime show is one of the thankless jobs in sports. I mean, when was the last time that The Public left the Super Bowl with a feeling of, “Wow, that was a great show”? Personally, we watched about four minutes of it and then the guys I was with started playing Wii. But for the four minutes I watched I thought that The Who held their own.
- In my opinion Tracy Porter’s interception return for a touchdown had a bigger impact on the game. However, I don’t think that there is any doubt that the Saints’ onsides kick will be the lasting memory from that game. I will still say that Bill Cowher’s decision to go for an onsides kick against the Cowboys in the Super Bowl was the ballsiest call I’ve seen a coach make. But Payton’s is a very close second.
But keep this in mind about Payton’s decision: the numbers were actually on his side. According to Wikipedia, between 2003 and 2006 an onsides kick was successful only 20 percent of the time in 206 attempts. However, expected onsides kicks were only converted around 12 percent of the time while surprise onsides kicks were recovered around 50 percent of the time.
- I have always been a big Tracy Porter fan and have written as much in my previous Ferringo Reports. I was thrilled to see him make another big play. That kid is just scratching the surface.
- And poor Hank Baskett. As if it weren’t bad enough that every guy in the country is about two clicks away from naked pictures of his wife. Now he gets to go down in history as one of the goats of the game. I mean, its one thing to have the onsides kick go through your hands but another to have it bounce off your melon and go to the other team.
- But while Baskett’s gaffe really gets overshadowed by really the “greatness” of the call to go for the onsides kick in the first place, another Colts goat that I won’t forget about is Reggie Wayne. It’s arguable whether or not Porter’s crushing INT was his fault or Manning’s, but I think Wayne short-armed it. Also, he dropped that final touchdown pass and, all told, really was a non-factor despite being the most experienced Colts receiver.
- This is the problem with the Colts: they are a system team. I have been saying all season that A) if you don’t make mistakes you’ll beat them because they simply wait for other teams to screw up and B) if you can execute in the red zone you can chew this defense up and put points on the board. Bend-but-don’t break works when other teams shoot themselves in the feet or can’t execute near the end zone. But teams with playmakers can handle the Colts. And the problem is that as they get later into the postseason who are you facing? You’re facing teams and quarterbacks that can execute in the red zone and teams that don’t make mistakes. That’s exactly why Indianapolis is a great regular season team but has been a poor playoff team.
- Notice the type of defense favored by the last three Super Bowl champions: attack, attack, and attack. Between the Giants, Steelers and Saints those defenses never met a blitz that they didn’t like. There is no doubt that we are still in the Age of Offense in the NFL. But it looks like the only counter to that is to sell out on the blitz and rely on your secondary players to make plays. Again, that stands in stark contrast to the Cover-2, which had been all the rage.
- I remember some funny commercials, but honestly was too drunk to name you one of them specifically. Any focus I had was into the game and the in-house gambling, not the commercials. Sorry Madison Ave.
- As I was scanning the hundreds upon hundreds of prop bets prior to the Super Bowl there was really one that jumped out at me as foreshadowing and, really, helped me make my decision on whom to go with. The prop was, “Which quarterback will have more interceptions: Brees +120 and Manning -110.” It was surprising to me that the books expected Manning to have more interceptions (even though he had more in the regular season). And my thought was that if they expected him to turn the ball over then the Saints would have a chance. Turns out a Manning INT was the biggest play in the game.
- Anyone that thinks that this Super Bowl loss at all takes away from Manning’s place in history is an idiot. The Colts, with a rookie coach, a bunch of nobodies on defense and at the skill positions, won 23 straight regular season games and made it to the Super Bowl. Honestly, they have 6-10 talent and Manning took them to the Super Bowl. The guy is a man amongst boys and is as dominant a player as I’ve ever seen on the football field – regardless of position. And despite Baskett’s screw-up, critical drops by Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, missed field goals, and a rookie head coach calling the game with his hands around his neck Manning still had his team 25 yards away from tying the score late in the fourth quarter and was a Wayne dropped TD pass away from setting up another onsides kick. He only had eight drives and put up 17 points (which would have been 27 if not for the missed kick and dropped TD pass) and how anyone could put that loss on Manning is baffling to me. That is pure bobblehead media talk.
- If there was anyone that was surprised about how good the New Orleans defense is they weren’t reading Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings or The Ferringo Report this year. All season long I had been screaming that the Saints front seven was as physical as any in football and that the personnel changes they made in the secondary had made them one of the better groups in the league. Their greatness wasn’t in the numbers: it was apparent to anyone that watched the team play.
- Dwight Freeney is half-man, half-animal. I still can’t believe that he played, much less recorded a sack.
- How about the fact that Reggie Bush was a complete afterthought for the Saints? I think that his paltry use just solidified something else that I’ve said in this space: he is the most overrated player in football. The No. 2 overall pick is essentially a glorified third-down back.
- It is really fortunate for Sean Payton that his team recovered that onsides kick to start the second half. Not for that call itself, but when you consider Payton’s just goofy call to go for it on fourth down inside the five. I know it’s easy to second-guess because the fourth down call didn’t work (as if it weren’t bad enough he wasn’t playing to his team’s strength and throwing the ball on the most critical play of his season to that point). But I was yelling at the time, “Take the points, take the points.” Again, if the Colts had converted that ensuing third down and gotten into their two-minute offense, knowing that they got the ball back (allegedly) after the half then the Saints would have gotten blown out.
Also, I was surprised that Payton coached with such desperation. Hey, it worked out for him. But it’s almost as if he believed his team wasn’t as good as the Colts and needed to resort to such measures to beat them. But, again, the Saints won so he’s a genius.
- On the other side, Jim Caldwell really did not have a good game. Part of it goes back to what I was saying before: the Colts are a system team that plays conservatively and really counts on the other team to screw up in order to win. Or at least over relies on Peyton Manning getting it done in the fourth quarter to win. Caldwell had some bad calls but to me the most baffling move was not calling a timeout (the Colts left the field with two left) before that final fourth down play. Again, he just relied on Manning to get it done. And Manning did (again, that was the Wayne drop).
- Sorry, but I still think that Minnesota would have beaten either team on a neutral field. I said all year that the Saints were the best team (if you don’t believe it check the Power Rankings!) but if the NFC Championship Game had been played in Miami the Vikings would have won. And they would have torn up the Colts.
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- If you’re looking forward to some props or some futures for next year’s Super Bowl I can tell you this: neither team will be back in Super Bowl 45. The Saints caught a ton of breaks this year – the biggest of which was their schedule, not to mention the Charles Grant-Will Smith ruling – and that doesn’t usually happen two years in a row. They had a last-place schedule this year and that will get much tougher. The Colts went 7-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less and benefited from the meltdown of the rest of their division. That is not likely to happen again either. Indy will likely be back in the playoffs (again: Manning + system = regular season wins) but the Patriots, Steelers and Chargers will be back and better and that’s bad news for Indy.