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Super Bowl Halftime Betting Advice and Strategy
by - 1/25/2013

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San Francisco 49ers' Patrick Willis

In my mind the best part of the Super Bowl is probably, if I’m being honest, the food and drink on the big day. The second best part, though, is halftime betting. The betting on the Super Bowl is so heavy, and the scrutiny of the game is so intense, that value can be tough to find. Most times, the best way to find attractive value in the game is to wait until halftime. Halftime betting — betting on the lines and totals posted at halftime for the second half only — can be a great source for value. Books don’t have much time to perfect their lines, and the public doesn’t bet them as heavily as they bet other things. Therefore, if you are prepared you can make some very juicy bets. How much do I like halftime betting? So much so that I don’t start drinking seriously during the game until after I bet at the half. That’s a serious sacrifice. If you are looking to enjoy halftime betting this year, then here is some Super Bowl halftime betting advice and strategy for you.

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A big part of the reason why these bets can be so attractive is because of the time frame. Sportsbooks like to get these lines out as soon as they can after the first half ends so that they can maximize the betting volume. That means that the lines they set can’t necessarily accurately reflect everything that happened in the first half — especially what happened late in the first half. In fact, the books typically use the game line and total as a starting point for setting the lines, and they have a target number in mind well before the half ends. If you closely watch the first half you may be able to form an opinion that differs significantly from what the books are posting. If your opinion is a sound one, then you could be looking at real value.

The lines can move quickly once they are set at the half. In order to maximize your value, then, you often need to be ready to act quickly once the lines are set. The best way to be ready for this is to set your own line late in the first half. Based on what you have seen in most of the first half, spend the last couple minutes of the half thinking what you would set the line or the total at for the second half. Once you have your number in place you can compare it to the number that is actually posted, and you have a meaningful point of comparison. If your number and the posted number are very close then there may not be any value. If they differ, though, and you trust your number then your bet is clear.

When you are watching the first half this year there are going to be some particular challenges in terms of handicapping the second half. Here are three that stand out:

Adjustments

One thing we have learned in these playoffs is that both teams are masterful at halftime adjustments. Both squads looked like completely different teams in the second half of the conference championship games than they did when they were struggling early. We can only assume that both teams will do a solid job of making adjustments here as well. The key, then, will be making an educated guess about which team is likely to make more successful adjustments at halftime. The best way to do that is to look at what each team is doing that falls well below their established capabilities. Once you see where they are struggling, then look at why they are struggling, and what it would take to change that. If the problem seems to be execution, then it is easier to fix in the break then if the other team is scheming effectively.

Flacco’s confidence

Throughout these playoffs, Joe Flacco has been close to as good as a QB can be. For much of the regular season, though, he was frustratingly ineffective. The tools around him were much the same. All that changed was his offensive coordinator, and that has had a profound effect on his confidence. Flacco is the kind of player who can be his own worst enemy — he can sabotage himself far more than any opposing defense if he isn’t in the right space. If he is vulnerable on the day, the Niners will exploit him, and they will likely find more ways to do so in the break. Watching how Flacco performs — and carries himself — in the first half will be crucial to halftime handicapping.

The Niners’ last 10 minutes

San Francisco is the most talented team in the NFL, but they have a horrible habit of completely checking out and not performing nearly as good as they can at times. It is hard to predict when it will happen, but they have played games like those against the Giants and Rams in which they underperformed for no obvious reason. In other games, like last week against the Falcons, they have been checked out early but have woken up and found their game in time. The difference between the former scenario and the latter is that they have started to find their game in the last 10 minutes of the first half in the games they have gotten back on track after a flat start. I don’t expect them to start flat in the Super Bowl, but then I didn’t expect them to last game, either. If they do come out flat, then I will be closely watching those 10 key minutes to see if their transformation back to their normal selves has already started, or if they are stuck in a deep rut.

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