2009 Pro Bowl Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 02/06/2009
The Pro Bowl is just around the corner. It's hard to care, isn't it? The Pro Bowl is far from a football classic. In fact, most years it makes me long for the glory-filled and thrilling football of the early preseason. That doesn't mean that it's completely useless, though. There is a long season without football ahead of us, so the Pro Bowl can serve as a final taste of what we are all going to miss so much. Betting on the Pro Bowl isn't the most attractive proposition, and it isn't particularly popular. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it, though. If you do decide to put down a last bit of football action for the year, here's a collection of thoughts about Pro Bowl betting and the handicapping of the game:
Set specific goals - This is not like a regular season or playoff game in any way, so it doesn't make sense to play it just like a regular game. That goes for your handicapping, but it also should apply to your bankroll management, too. It's hard to consider this game a good investment, so it doesn't make sense to bet as much on this as you would a regular game. Spend what you want to spend, of course, but be sure to have a conscious thought about it before you do so. If you have made a profit so far then there is no reason to lose it here, and this isn't a good place to try to wipe out a season of losses.
Who's going to try hardest? - It's hard to know for sure who is going to treat this game less like a vacation and more like a game that matters. Likely not very many players will. As a general rule, though, you can probably assume that the first-time players are going to play harder than guys who have been there often. A guy like Peyton Manning doesn't have anything to prove or accomplish in the game anymore, so he probably isn't going to bring his A-game. Unlike the MLB All-Star Game, this game means absolutely nothing. This seems obvious, but the team that has the most players playing hard is more likely to win.
Consider history - If recent history repeats itself then the AFC, the 2.5-point underdogs, should win the game this year. Over the last six years the teams have alternated wins, with the NFC winning last year. The teams have been well matched over the longer term as well - the teams have split the series 19-19 since they started playing the AFC against the NFC. As you might expect, no team has a clear advantage in this one. For what it's worth, the underdog has covered the last two games.
The Andy Reid Factor - John Harbaugh will be coaching the AFC, while Andy Reid is at the helm of the NFC. This is the fourth time that Reid has coached this team. If there is one thing we have learned in the past it's that an Andy Reid Pro Bowl team does not play defense. The AFC has averaged 46 points per game in the Reid games, and the AFC has won two of the three games. Reid will have to change his tune significantly to make this a low scoring game. This is the first time that Reid hasn't had Donovan McNabb on his roster as well. That could have an impact on his comfort level with the offense. Reid doesn't have a single player of his own on offense, and he has just two on defense.
Consider who will actually play significant minutes - It might be tempting to think that Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin will continue their explosive play in this game. Not likely. It's very unlikely that any Arizona or Pittsburgh players will play significant minutes, and even if they do their heads certainly won't be into this game. The same goes for any players heading into free agency, or any players that nursed injuries at any point during the season.
The total isn't as straight forward as it seems - It would seem logical to assume that the defenses won't play and the offenses will run at will, so the game will go well over the total, even though the total is set at the ridiculously high level of 64.5. Though the game can certainly become an offensive mess, that isn't always the case. In fact, last year was the first time in three years that the total had gone over 64.5 points. Seven of the last 13 games have stayed below the 64.5 point level, so betting the over has actually been a long-term loser.