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Super Bowl 51: How to Wager the Game

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NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots
Bennett bros are winners
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The last pick of the Seahawks season was to take them while getting 4.5 points in Atlanta in the Divisional Round. That game shifted quickly on a safety taken by Russell Wilson and “better luck next year” came soon after for the Hawks.

Cognitive dissonance is the concept that one is stressed by holding two contradictory ideas in their head at the same time. That sums up Super Bowl LI, Atlanta Falcons vs New England Patriots, as who I would like to see win I can’t back with a wager. No, this is a situation where you have to throw your heart aside and pledge allegiance to the dark side.

The number one scoring defense going up against the top offense in the league in the Super Bowl should sound familiar to Seahawks fans, as that was the situation when Seattle attained their first title. This time it is the Patriots who have the number one scoring defense in the league, giving up only 15.7 points per game. On offense, the Falcons put up 34.4 points per game. However, at this point in the season it can’t be forgotten that New England went the first 4 weeks without Tom Brady, which certainly would make their offensive scoring average higher than it is. The Pats were shut out on the road in Buffalo in Week 4, after all.

Those 4 weeks off for Brady to begin the year, and this extra week before the Super Bowl, can only be a positive for the 39-year old quarterback’s legs. The Super Bowl is an incentive enough for a player to be dialed in, but I’d like to imagine the profanities whispered under breath as Brady takes the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell should they win this game. Let’s stack the deck against Brady and Belichick to start the season; just to watch them go 16-2 SU and 15-3 ATS as they tell the rest of the league to shove it.

New England opened as 3-point favorites in this one and the public has been eating that line up. Currently about 82% of betting action is on the Patriots, yet the line hasn’t moved off of the important number of 3. The sportsbooks are accepting a bit of risk in this position, but the underdog has covered in 7 of the last 9 Super Bowls. They are taking on this risk with an eye towards immense profits, and the myriad house bets and props available should cover them if the Falcons lose.

But the full game is not the only action in town, as the first half spread favors the Patriots by only 1 point. A fast start by the more experienced Super Bowl team is not out of the question, and New England has covered their first half spread in six of their last seven games. Their defense has only allowed an average of 7.3 points per first half on the season, while scoring 15.5 of their own. I don’t expect that to be exactly the case against the Falcons, but I’m betting they can get the job done.

The total in this game is sky high and the highest listed total for a Super Bowl at 58.5. This line is also getting hammered by public action on the Over. Frankly, I’m a bit afraid that I am betting with the public on both sides here, as I like the Over too, but I see either offense being able to score points at will if they are acting out of desperation. Atlanta’s offense in no huddle late in the game should be able to move the ball, especially if they can establish the run. And of course, after the nerves have settled from the first half of play.

So, those are the picks I am working with on Sunday. I’m taking the Patriots at -1 in the first half, and also taking the very high Over of 58.5. Maybe that cognitive dissonance isn’t there after all, since I can win both of these wagers and still see New England lose. Go NFC.

P.S. I’m also wagering that Martellus Bennett scores a touchdown for the Pats at 1.6 to 1 odds. I really just want to see celebratory Bennett brother tweets.