And a Happy Groundhog’s Day to everyone…
Well, I made it. I managed to get through two weeks of rants here since the time of the NFL Championship Games without focusing on any of the hype leading up to the Super Bowl. There actually were things going on in the sports world more important – and even more interesting – than Bill Belichick wearing a hat or Tom Brady wearing a “special glove” [Is he the latter-day Michael Jackson?] or Doug Pederson inviting Brett Favre to address the team before the game or – – you get the idea. So, today I will focus on the Super Bowl game and make my mythical selection.
The game will be telecast by NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Colinsworth and Michelle Tafoya will do the game as they do on Sunday nights. That is a plus; this is the best announcing team of all the networks. Before the game comes on, NBC will air a bit more than 6 hours of pre-game fluff and filler. That has become standard procedure among the networks; it is total overkill but that is what they do. I have learned to tune it out just as I have learned to tune out any and all songs done by ABBA.
I mentioned yesterday that Bob Costas will not be part of the telecast on Sunday. With a bit of searching I learned that Liam McHugh will take his place on the broadcast. Let me say this about Liam McHugh:
- I am confident that I could pick him out of a lineup with the Seven Dwarfs, but that pretty much exhausts my knowledge and opinion of his skills.
I do not know if you would categorize this next tidbit as happenstance or what:
- This Super Bowl will be the 4th time Cris Colinsworth has been in the booth to do color commentary. The Patriots have been in all 4 of those games.
Moreover, Colinsworth was part of the broadcast team when the Pats and Eagles met in the Super Bowl back in 2005. Moving on …
NBC will deploy 106 cameras and 130 microphones to cover the game. There will be 2 Skycams – proving once again that nothing exceeds like excess. NBC will have the Sky cam on a cable that we have come to expect in a televised NFL game AND it will also have “High Sky” which is a TV on a cable up closer to the roof of US Bank Stadium. I think that “innovation” rates a hearty “Whoop-di-damned-doo!!”
An average 30-second commercial spot for the game on Sunday will cost just north of $5M. In addition to all those messages interspersed into the action, NBC will commandeer a half-dozen spots to promote the upcoming Winter Olympics in PeyongChang. If the action in a pro football game comes at you too fast and furious, you will be pleased to learn that there will be plenty of interruptions where you can catch your breath.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is a lobbying group for the “gaming” industry – translation “gambling” industry. As you know, I am not opposed to gambling in any way but given the focus of this group, any data they present must be taken with the knowledge that it might be slanted/presented in such a way as to make the gaming industry’s point of view look good. With that preamble, the AGA has estimated that there will be this much “action” on the game this year:
- Americans will bet $4.74B on Super Bowl 52.
- Of that $4.76B handle, $4.6B will be bet illegally.
- The estimated handle in legal sports wagering on this year’s game is $140M.
- By their numbers, 97% of the betting handle this year will be done “illegally”.
There have been myriad articles published in the past two weeks speculating on what might happen if Nick Foles were to have a humongous game on Sunday, lead the Eagles to a win, be named the MVP of the game and set a passing record or two. Those reports then went on to speculate on how his presence might affect free agency in the next couple of months and where he might ply his trade next year. There is one small “problem” with all those ruminations and speculations:
- According to Spotrac.com, Nick Foles is under contract with the Eagles for 2018. He will earn $7M next season.
- His contract “voids” in February 2019 if he is still on the Eagles roster. Essentially, he signed a 5-year contract that would void after 2-years as a way for the team to pro-rate his $3M signing bonus over a longer time period.
Spotrac.com is a reliable information source. Therefore, if Nick Foles is to have an impact on this year’s free agency, it will happen because the Eagles decide to cut him after this week’s game or if they choose to trade him in the middle of the free agency frenzy. The passage of time alone will not make Nick Foles a free agent in the Spring of 2018.
Here are two facts going into Sunday’s game that are interesting and inconsequential:
- The “Brady-Belichick Patriots” have been to the Super Bowl 7 times. Those teams have not scored a point in the first quarter of any of those 7 games.
- Doug Pederson has beaten Bill Belichick in the past – but not as a coach. In the 2000 season, Pederson was the QB for the Browns in a game where the Browns defeated the Belichick-coached Patriots 19-10.
The lines for the game are:
Eagles vs. Patriots – 4.5 (48.5)
Money Lines: Eagles +165 Patriots – 200
The spread opened at 6 points and has been bet down. You can find the spread as low as 4 points at several Vegas sportsbooks and a few offshore Internet sportsbooks. The Total Line has held steady for most of the past 2 weeks. The Money Lines have moved significantly; earlier this week there were several “six-figure” and “seven-figure” bets on the Eagles on the Money Line. Recently, there has been a surge of “Patriots money” that has come in.
I will not wager on this game – – other than to participate in pool with friends as we watch the game together. I guess that is part of the “illegal wagering” that the AGA projects for the game this year … If I were going to bet, I would take the Eagles on the Money Line because the +165 line is attractive and because I want the Eagles to win the game. If I were making a mythical pick on the game I would take the Eagles plus the points and I would take the game to go OVER.
Finally, recalling that the Eagles got to this game by beating the Vikings two weeks ago and recalling the “Minnesota Miracle” that put the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, consider this comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“The Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints on a 61-yard pass on the last play of the game. Minnesotans have not been this shocked since that pro wrestler was elected governor.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………