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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 3:25 PM

It’s a little bit eerie how the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will enter Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014:

Both were #1 seeds in their respective conferences (of course) but did you know that each of these teams closed out their regular season with pointspread wins, then failed to cover their Divisional Playoff games and then covered the Las Vegas price tags in last Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship Games?

Call it a touch of pointspread symmetry, if you will, for these Super Bowl-bound squads.

Now consider that Denver is 11-7 ATS (against the spread) overall this year including post-season play while Seattle is 12-6 versus the vig this year and dig a bit deeper and you’ll see the Broncos are 5-3 ATS away from Sports Authority Field this season while the Seahawks are an even-better 6-2 spreadwise away from CenturyLink Field.

Okay, so these teams don’t mirror one another in terms of their offenses, defenses or overall personalities yet they are very much alike from a pointspread perspective this 2013 season – and one more thing:

Both the Broncos and the Seahawks beat the host New York Giants in MetLife Stadium this year with Denver snagging a 41-23 triumph as 3 ½-point road favorites way back in Week 2 play while the Seahawks were easy 23-0 winners as 9-point betting favs at the Jints back in a Week 15 affair.  

Okay, so now let’s take a broader look at SB XLVIII in terms of conferences/betting favorites:

The NFC will enter this game at 24-20-3 ATS for a .545 winning rate and remember the AFC cashed last year with the Baltimore Ravens (+ 5) hanging on for that 34-31 outright upset win against the San Francisco 49ers;

Meanwhile, Super Bowl Betting Favorites are now a dead-even but vig-losing 22-22-3 against the odds with dogs having won each of the last two Super Bowls – remember that the NY Giants (+ 3) bested the New England Patriots 21-17 two years ago in the big game.

Some key spread stats pertaining to the two head coaches since they arrived at their respective stops.

John Fox, Denver
– The Broncos are a collective 30-22-1 spreadwise under their third-year boss (a .577 winning rate) and that includes the handful of games he missed this year following heart surgery when defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio took command.  Note that Fox – who already owns one pointspread “W” in Super Bowl history thanks to that 32-29 loss-but-cover versus 7-point fav New England when Fox was Carolina’s head coach back in the 2004 season – is 7-4-1 ATS overall when facing NFC teams the past three years.

Pete Carroll, Seattle – This is Year Four in the great northwest for the long-time USC head ball coach and the numbers say the Seahawks are a collective 43-26-1 in the Carroll Era (a snazzy .623 winning percentage). Note that Caroll owns a 4-2 spread mark in post-season games during this stay with Seattle and his team is 7-8-1 ATS overall whenever playing AFC teams these past four seasons. In case you’re wondering, the Seahawks are a rousing 14-2 vig-wise whenever in the underdog role under Carroll while dating back to the midway point of the 2011 season.

One final Super Bowl-related pointspread note for now …

The only time these clubs clashed with either Fox or Carroll at the helm was back in 2010 (Carroll was there with the ‘Hawks; Fox was not yet with the Broncs) the result was a 31-14 win by 3 ½-point home-favored Denver in a Week 2 game – note that it was the first game Carroll lost as Seattle’s head coach.

On Wednesday night, it’s …

#9 WISCONSIN (16-2, 3-2 Big 10) at MINNESOTA (14-5, 3-3 Big 10) – 9 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
Hey, Wisky, what’s goin’ on? The Badgers were a once-upon-a-time 16-and-oh this season but back-to-back losses at Indiana and then home to Michigan has put a major damper on things for Bo Ryan’s bunch and so this mid-week tilt in the Twin Cities becomes an extra-important duel against a Minnesota team that’s alternated wins/losses the past four games and is itching to relieve the sting from Sunday’s 94-73 loss at 8 ½-point fav Iowa.

In case you weren’t aware, Richard Pitino’s crew actually led that game in Iowa City 43-41 at the halftime break but were outscored 61-to-30 to end the game as Minnesota’s three-headed guard tandem starring Andre and Austin Hollins shot a collective 13-of-32 from the floor.

If Wisconsin is gonna right the ship here, than the Badgers need to get to the foul line more as the Badgers connected on 11-of-14 free throws against the maize-and-blue and allowed Michigan to shoot 55 percent from the floor (that’s 29-of-53 FG makes). Let’s see if three-point gunner G Ben Brust team-leading 49 triples so far this year) gets some open looks at “The Barn.”

On Thursday night, it’s …

STANFORD (12-5, 3-2 Pac-12) at UCLA (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12) – 11 p.m. ET
It sure looks like the top-ranked Arizona Wildcats (18-0, 5-0) are gonna rake it all the Pac-12 hoop headlines this year but don’t sleep on these clubs that each have hit bumps in the road early in conference play. The latest hiccup for the UCLA Bruins came last Saturday with that 74-69 loss at one-point fav Utah as Steve Alford’s gang stormed back from a 17-point deficit to get within two points late before the Utes salted things away at the charity stripe.

Now, we’ll see if UCLA swingman Kyle Anderson (28 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists versus Utah) can get the Bruins off to a better start here while the flip side says Stanford do bop into Tinseltown on a three-game winning streak following conference-opening back-to-back losses against Cal and Oregon State.
In last Saturday night’s 79-67 home win/cover against 10-point pup Washington, the surging Cardinal rode the hot hand of Chasson Randle who netted a career-tying 33 points while banging home 11-of-15 field-goal tries – and note Stanford’s 6-foot-10 F Dwight Powell was a stat-sheet stuffer there with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Hey, these Pac-12 teams won’t meet up again till Feb. 22nd in Palo Alto and so the Bruins look to “hold serve” here against a hot club that could be hitting its stride.
In other College Basketball News & Notes …

The “Bracketology” folks say that #5 Wichita State (19-0, 6-0 Missouri Valley Conference) has unofficially entered the “No. 1 seed line” following the woes of aforementioned Wisconsin and Villanova – and now the Shockers may be having visions of a perfect season before they land in the NCAA Tournament. Note that the toughest game ahead appears to be tonight’s game at Illinois State. How about the fact Wichita State allows just 60.1 ppg to rank first in the MVC and 11th nationally? …

Finally, if you wish to keep your eye on a “sneaky-good” team out there than check out the UMass Minutemen (16-1. 3-0 A-10) who are ranked #13 in the current Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Minutemen are led by G Chaz Williams (16.3 ppg) who has banged home 32-of-75 shots from beyond the three-point arc (a 42.7 percentage) and this run-run bunch already has scored 80-or-more points on 10 different occasions this year.

NOTE: Catch our Super Bowl XLVIII News & Notes all this week plus get more NCAA Basketball Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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