Analyzing the Super Bowl XLV line 

February, 4, 2011

I've been trying to make these line moves columns during the playoffs extra special. Instead of just one guy firing off on several games, I've offered 360-degree views of each game by bringing in multiple voices. The idea was to show how very sharp bettors and bookmakers can see things differently, whether it's because of homemade stats, gut instinct or situations. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone can be right.

And that is certainly the case for Super Bowl XLV. This line is tighter than an Aaron Rodgers spiral and has been from almost the moment it opened. That's what happens at this point in the NFL season. One game remains and it comes on the heels of nearly a month of high-visibility football. At this point, anyone betting anything worth moving the line has seen enough of the two teams to come to the same conclusion bookmakers did as soon as the AFC title game ended: The Green Bay Packers are a little bit better than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

When the line was first posted at Pack -2.5 (-110), sharp bettors jumped on it. They knew it wasn't going to get any better than that. And they were right: Over the past two weeks, the spread has pretty much hovered around Pack -2.5 (-120) or Pack -3 (+100). That also looks like this: Steelers +3 (-120), which means you are paying a premium to get the extra half-point for the Steelers. In fact, I'd venture to say most sharps have spent the majority of the past two weeks ignoring the sides and breaking down props. As Teddy Covers told me in a podcast this week, "We can sit out the BCS title game or the hoops title game, but sharps see too many opportunities in the props to walk away. I'll have 100 tickets in my pocket by Sunday."

Teddy told me about a great scene from this past Super Bowl cycle that took place at the Hilton, as soon as the props were posted on Thursday, Jan. 27. All over the floor were the bank wrappers that had been ripped from stacks of $100s that come in packs of $10,000. That's how excited the professionals were to make some bets on something other than the game itself.

Now, between my props podcast with Teddy and with Hilton bookmaker Jay Kornegay, my Right Angles props video, my props contest column and when I appeared on Simmons' podcast, we've had plenty of talk about which props sharps like, which provide the best opportunities and which ones you should avoid. It's time to break down the game.

One question I've been getting a lot this week is: With two such public teams, will this be the biggest-bet Super Bowl ever? The record for highest volume in the state of Nevada is $94M, set when the Steelers played the Seattle Seahawks, according to The Mirage's Jay Rood. Right now, he doesn't see that record being broken. "For one, the money line doesn't offer a great opportunity for someone to come in and bet $3 million to win $500,000. The odds on both teams are too low. That would happen at three or four books around town -- so you are taking big money out of the equation. Also, who knows if the planes can get people here. The weather has made that tough around the country and right now I am seeing less bodies than I normally do."

But how are the bodies he is seeing sizing up the game? For Rood's take, as well as many others, I spanned the world of wiseguys (and gals). I spoke to sharps who study stats, sharps who study trends, even the sharpest astrologist I know, Courtney Roberts, who truly uses her celestial power for good by examining the stars to predict outcomes -- against the spread!

So here we go:

Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers