Never has timely betting been more critical than the upcoming Super Bowl featuring the Rams and Patriots. The line moved 4 points in three days, with New England lurching from a 1-point dog to a 3-point favorite for the contest next weekend.
This is a departure from past trends, in which a line was set early and didn't move that much. And the only reason it did at all was because people loaded up on their favorite teams, regardless of analysis.
But not this time. It took only 10 minutes for the Rams to move from 1-point favorite to 1-point dog. One day later, it was 2 points. Then 2.5 ... then 3! It moved so quickly that Patriot bettors may have to wait and hope the line comes down to present a buying opportunity.
What's probably driving this is the belief that an experienced Super Bowl team like the Patriots has an edge over a Rams team making its first appearance in the better part of two decades. If you are a Rams bettor, you will study that money line and try to make perhaps 3- or 4-to-1. A Pats bettor is hoping he/she already has gotten at least one bet down.
There are usually about 400, ranging from the National Anthem's Over-Under to a hybrid bet like touchdowns in a Super Bowl vs. a score from that day in another sport. We'll cover that next week.
But there's also a huge emotional spillover from last week, including a lawsuit filed by New Orleans Saints fans trying to force the NFL to implement an obscure rule and replay the last couple minutes of their controversial loss to the Rams. Won't happen, and boy wouldn't THAT disrupt the accounting for tickets already cashed, but it shows the lengths to which a blown call impacts a result and a team's fans.
The NFL admitted its officials blew a big pass interference non-call late in the game, enabling the Rams a chance to come back and win.
“We Were Robbed” screams a message flashed across a bridge in New Orleans, where the Saints were denied a Super Bowl berth after an uncalled pass interference penalty denied them the chance to run out the clock.
And in Kansas City, the team's defensive coordinator was fired Tuesday, two days after his team gave up four straight touchdowns to the Patriots in a game they dropped in overtime. A self-inflicted wound, lining up in the neutral zone, cost the Chiefs the interception they would have had to seal the game.
Top 10 Takeaways
1. Johnny Hekker: How about that fake punt when the Rams were down 13-0 early in the second quarter? It was 4th-and-4 from their own 30. Hekker threw a short completed pass, the receiver then took upfield for a first down. If the play backfires, the Rams probably never get in the game. And, to double down on the risk, the pass was completed SHORT of the first down. The receiver had to make someone miss him. That was guts. And it was rewarded.
2. Sean Payton's play calling in the final two minutes: The Saints had first down deep in Rams’ territory with under two minutes left. The Rams had two timeouts. Normal strategy: Run the ball, make the Rams burn their timeouts, bleed the clock down under a minute and kick a field goal (or run the ball in), forcing the Rams to cover most of the field with no timeouts. Payton instead called for two passes that were incomplete, and after the Saints got the field goal, the Rams had plenty of time to drive down and kick the game-tying points.
3. Horrible call: The NFL had to acknowledge it. The Rams were not called for a pass interference call, nor a helmet-to-helmet hit on 3rd-and-10 that would have given the Saints a first down at the Rams 5-yard line. They most likely would have then reverted to that run-the-ball strategy and squeeze the clock. Sunday was not a good day for NFL officials. And it did not stop in this game.
4. Really? What was that bogus roughing-the-passer call on the Chiefs when Tom Brady threw an incomplete pass in a key drive in the fourth quarter? It kept a drive and the Pats scored.
5 and 6: Two incredible calls via Instant Replay. The fumble that wasn't - Julian Edelman on a punt - may have missed him by an eighth of an inch. And the Chris Hogan unbelievable catch was confirmed by replay. The calls became part of a touchdown drive for New England.
7. Did you have the over in the Pats-Chiefs game? No worries, despite the teams only scoring 24 points after three quarters. You needed 30 points in the fourth quarter. They got you 38 and then 6 in overtime.
8. The Chiefs had the game won on an interception, but were flagged for lining up in the neutral zone. That may have been the biggest crusher of all.
9. Don't blame Kansas City coach Andy Reid: People thought he would be outcoached by Bill Belichick, but Reid called a nifty backside screen in the fourth quarter resulting in a touchdown, and, without the neutral zone infraction, he's in the Super Bowl. Reid is still labeled as the guy who can't win the big one, but he's not the one who lined up offside.
10. It came down to a coin toss: The Pats called heads, won it and went down the field to score. It again raises the debate of whether both teams should get a chance to handle the ball in overtime, but it also serves as a metaphor for the weekend. All the teams had parity. All had played each other. These were the best four teams in the league. The coin flip was a fitting separator.
We still have a couple more editions of Beat the Degenerates, which I co-host with Scott Cronick, director of entertainment publications for the Press of Atlantic City. Our show airs on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app. Check out next week's show 4 to 5 p.m, Wednesday, Jan 30.