Super Bowl XLV – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) at Green Bay Packers (-3), Over/Under 45

Yesterday’s bet, Thunder at Jazz, was a loser. The Steelers opened up as a 3-point underdog. The line hasn’t moved much since opening. There are a handful of story lines coming into the game; Roethlisberger sings, Capers vs. LeBeau, Polamalu or Matthews, etc. Not worried too much over any of the angles but expecting a good game today.

Pittsburgh (14-4) has been in 3 of the last 6 Super Bowls. This is the first time they are the underdog. The Steelers know how to grind out close wins. Pittsburgh averages 5.7 yards per play (YPP) and 14.1 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense. On defense, they allow 4.7 YPP and 17.6 YPPT. Pittsburgh is a very efficient team. QB Ben Roethlisberger averages 8.23 yards per attempt (YPA) with 17 TDs and 5 INTs for a 97.0 QB rating. Roethlisberger is the public’s favorite QB but he has experience in the Super Bowl and is a unique challenge to defenses. The Steelers will likely be missing rookie center Maurkice Pouncey; that is a big hole to fill. Pittsburgh was criticized for being out on the town this week, but expect a prepared team for the big game.

Green Bay (13-6) fought off injuries most of the season. They seemed to get healthy at the right time. The Packers rolled through the playoffs and their late-season momentum is reflected in the betting line. Green Bay averages 5.9 YPP and 14.3 YPPT on offense. On defense, they allow 5.3 YPP and 19.9 YPPT.  Green Bay has an excellent defense and their offense improved in the 2nd half of the season. QB Aaron Rodgers averages 8.26 YPA with 28 TDs and 11 INTs for a 101.2 QB rating. Green Bay faces a talented and fast defense today, running the ball will be tough. The Packers are very focused for this game; they have to control Roethlisberger and limit turnovers to win.

The Sagarin Ratings have Pittsburgh 31.35 and Green Bay 31.18. With no home advantage, the fair line is Pittsburgh -0.17. According to, spread bets are 50/50 and 72% of total bets are on the Over.

My NFL Model predicts Pittsburgh 21.3 over Green Bay 20.15 for 41.45 total points. Green Bay moves the ball better than Pittsburgh on offense. Pittsburgh is more efficient on offense. The defenses are very similar; but Pittsburgh has the better rushing defense. The key variance contributor is Pittsburgh’s pass defense. They have to keep Green Bay below their average passing yardage per game to win and cover.

I don’t have a strong lean on either team today. I modeled the game at Steelers -1.15. Based on that and the Sagarin Ratings, I think the betting value is with Pittsburgh. Since I don’t have a strong lean (partly because I had preseason Super Bowl bets on the Packers, Steelers and Cowboys), I am taking the Under. Here’s why. A majority of the public is on the over and the line hasn’t fluctuated much.  There are two excellent defenses playing. The extended commercials and hoopla make it more difficult for an offense to get in rhythm. I modeled the game at 41.45 total points. Bet Steelers/Packers Under 45.

Follow me on Twitter for all my picks. Good Luck!


NFL Conference Championship Round

Yesterday’s bet, Marquette at Notre Dame, was a winner. Taking a bit of a different approach today. I am going to preview both NFL games.

Green Bay Packers (-4) at Chicago Bears (+4), Over/Under 42.5

This is the 3rd meeting between the Packers and Bears this season. They split the first two games. It will be cold (20 degrees) with a chance of snow (as it should be). Green Bay had an injury-plagued season but now enter this game full of momentum. They have an excellent QB and defense.  Chicago found a running game mid-season winning 8 of their last 10 games. Like the Packers, they have a good QB and defense (of course, at this point of the playoffs most teams have those two qualities).

Green Bay (12-6) clinched a playoff spot in the last week of the season. They can thank Chicago for that. The Packers average 6.0 yards per play (YPP) and 14.2 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense. On defense, they allow 5.4 YPP and 19.8 YPPT. They are efficient. QB Aaron Rodgers averages 8.26 yards per attempt (YPA) with 28 TDs and 11 INTs for a 101.2 QB rating. Rodgers played excellent in both playoff games.  The Packers will need another big game from Rodgers and their run defense to win today.

Chicago (12-5) is likely regretting that final game against the Packers. They won relatively handily last week (more than the score shows) holding the Seahawks to 34 rushing yards. The Bears average 5.3 YPP and 13.7 YPPT on offense.  On defense, they allow 5.2 YPP and 17.1 YPPT. They are efficient on both sides of the ball. QB Jay Cutler averages 7.58 YPA with 23 TDs and 16 INTs for a 86.3 QB rating. Cutler will need a big game and help for his running game to win today. The Bears are a good home team and shouldn’t be overlooked as home-underdog.

The Sagarin Ratings have Green Bay 30.5 and Chicago 25.4. With the 1.9 home advantage, the fair line is Green Bay -3.2. According to, 66% of spread bets are on Green Bay and 58% of total bets are on the Under. The point spread moved from Green Bay -3 to -3.5 early in the week; it is now sitting at -3.5 and -4 depending on where you look.

My NFL model has Green Bay 22.6 and Chicago 20.3 for 42.9 total points. Green Bay has a more effective passing game. The teams are similar in offensive efficiency. The teams are also similar in defensive yards allowed. Packers are better against the pass; Chicago is better against the run. The Packers are more efficient. The key variance contributor is Chicago’s passing yards allowed.  Chicago has to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packer receivers to win.

New York Jets (+4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4), Over/Under 38

The Jets beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier this season. The Steelers out gained the Jets in that game but the Jets won the special teams battle. QB Mark Sanchez had a mediocre game against a Steeler defense missing Troy Polamalu.  Polamalu is playing today. The Jets beat the number 1 seed Patriots last week.  Can they win their 3rd straight road playoff game today? The Steelers faced a physical Ravens team last week. They were down by 14 at the half. Will that physical, emotional win cause a letdown today?

The Jets (13-5) said all preseason its Super Bowl or bust.  Should we be surprised they are one game away? They have been quiet all week following their upset win in Foxboro. New York averages 5.3 YPP and 15.2 YPPT on offense. On defense, they allow 5.0 YPP and 15.7 YPPT. They aren’t the most efficient team. QB Mark Sanchez averages 6.49 YPA with 17 TDs and 13 INTs for a 75.3 QB rating. Sanchez is turnover prone but took a big step forward in the 2nd half last week. The Jets have more offensive weapons but must protect Sanchez (this isn’t the Colts or Patriots defense).  The Jets will need to limit turnovers, have excellent special teams play, and control Roethlisberger and the Steeler passing game to win today.

Pittsburgh (13-4) didn’t look like a playoff team in the 1st half last week. They scored 24 points and held the Ravens to 3 in the 2nd half. They don’t have the momentum that the Jets do, but they have proven all year they can put it together when they need to. The Steelers average 5.7 YPP and 14.3 YPPT on offense.  On defense, they allow 4.7 YPP and 17.8 YPPT. They are efficient. QB Ben Roethlisberger averages 8.23 YPA with 17 TDs and 5 INTs for a 97 QB rating. Roethlisberger is the better QB and has the playoff experience advantage. The Steelers have to get pressure on Sanchez and limit the special teams big plays.  Pittsburgh will be tough to beat at home twice.

The Sagarin Ratings have Pittsburgh 30.74 and New York 28.76. With the 1.9 home advantage, the fair line is Pittsburgh -3.9. According to, 56% of the spread bets are on Pittsburgh and 59% of total bets are on the Over.  The point spread opened at Pittsburgh -3 and has slowly moved to -4.

My NFL model has Pittsburgh 22.5 and New York 17.4 for 39.9 total points.  The teams have similar offensive yardage production; Steelers pass more, Jets run more.  The Steelers are more efficient on offense.  The Steelers have a better, more efficient defense.  The key variance contributor is both teams pass defense.  Whichever team can better pressure the QB and limit passing yards will win the game.


The Packers have momentum entering today. The Bears have steadily improved this season. Green Bay is the better overall team; but the Bears have dangerous weapons and are a home underdog. I think the Packers edge out a close win today but the Bears cover the spread. I modeled the game at Packers -2.3. I think there is value with the Bears. Bet the Chicago Bears +4.

The Jets beat the bet two QBs in the league over the last two weeks. They are living up to their own hype. Pittsburgh comes off a physical, come-from-behind win over a divisional rivalry.  Both teams have a case for deflation. The Jets have better offensive weapons but winning 3 road playoff games is a tall task.  I modeled the game at Pittsburgh -5.1. Pittsburgh will be tough to beat twice at home and has the playoff experience in key positions. Bet the Pittsburgh Steelers -4.

Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

Bet of the Day – Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, Sept. 27, 2010

Green Bay Packers (-3) at Chicago Bears (+3), Over/Under 46.5

Yesterday was a complete flop.  We will make it up.  Time to move on to Monday Night Football.  The 2-0 Packers visit the Bears in the first of their two-game divisional series.  Both teams can play defense; Is the story tonight the offense?  This will be an exciting games with two highly motivated teams.

The Packers opened with a nice road win in Philly and completely shutdown the Bills at home (i.e. 184 yards and 7 points allowed).  Green Bay seems legitimate; tonight they find out about Chicago.  Starting QB Aaron Rodgers is averaging 7.38 yards per attempt (YPA) with 4 TDs and 2 INTs for a 94.0 QB rating.  The Packers are averaging 5.4 yards per play (YPP) and a very efficient 10.6 yards per point scored (YPPT) while allowing 4.8 YPP and 18.8 YPPT on defense.  The Packer defense is very aggressive.  Expect them to try to pressure Bears QB Jay Cutler.  Green Bay is a low penalty and turnover team.  Green Bay took both games in the series last year and have won 3 of the last 4.

The Bears haven’t won in the convincing fashion the Packers have.  But they have won.  Better yet, the pride of Santa Claus, IN and former Commodore, Jay Cutler has thrown only 1 INT (so far, but will he regress to his career mean?).  Cutler is averaging 10.14 YPA with 5 TDs and 1 INT for a 121.2 QB rating.  The Bears are averaging 6.8 YPP and 16.8 YPPT on offense while allowing 4.6 YPP and 17 YPPT on defense.  The Bears’ offense needs to score more efficiently and protect Cutler.  Cutler has been hit 12 times and sacked 6 (Rodgers’ has been hit 6 and sacked 3 times; ‘sources’ confirm he didn’t have to wash last week’s jersey).  The Bears defense is keeping its end of the bargain.  The Bears are the home underdog on Monday night; didn’t handicappers used to print money on that angle?

The Sagarin Ratings have Green Bay 26.46 over Chicago 22.03.  With the 3.16 home advantage, the ratings indicate the fair value line is Green Bay -1.27.  This indicates the betting value is on the Bears +3.

My football model predicts Chicago 25.7 over Green Bay 19.1 for 44.8 total points.  On paper, both teams have solid defenses.  The Bears have given up too many passing yards but their run defense has shutdown opposing teams and is a major driver in model outcome.  Each additional or fewer 15 yards that Green Bay rushes for equates to +/- 1.5 points.  Both teams have balanced and effective offenses.  The Bears have used short passes to RB Matt Forte to supplement the running game; expect that to continue with pressure coming from Green Bay.  The key variance contributors are the Bears pass offense against a stingy Packer defense.  Each additional or fewer 15 yards equates to +/- 1 point based on their historical scoring efficiency.  The Bears have to move the ball in the air for success tonight.

My gut (and data) tells me the Packers are the better team in a neutral game.  But how much does home advantage on Monday night mean for Chicago?  Is +3 enough cushion for the Bears?  I think so and here’s why.  First, the Bears haven’t done anything wrong (Beat an up and coming Detroit team and went to Dallas and won).  Second, they are moving the ball and not making mistakes.  Third, the home underdog on Monday night and road favorite following a lopsided win angles have play here.  Last, there is betting value with the underdog Bears (It is hard to give up points on the road of a divisional Monday night game).  Bet on the Chicago Bears +3. Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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