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The Bad Beat

Take the sting off some of those hard luck losses with humorist and handicapper, Jim Carr.


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Super Bowl XLIX Picks

January 29, 2015

The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be

It’s a battle of the best in Super Bowl XLIX. As I mentioned before the conference championships, the Patriots and Seahawks may be the best two teams I can remember facing off in a Super Bowl. The Seahawks are one of the best teams in the history of the league and this will be the last time we will see them this dominant as contract time is coming up for many of their key players. The Patriots have been perennial contenders for as long as I have been betting on football and this is one of the best units they have ever assembled.

SEAHAWKS (+1) 20 PATRIOTS 16 Total: 47.5

The line movement in this game has been very similar to last year’s contest as it opened with Seahawks favored by 2 and some quick money in on the AFC Champ moved it to a pick ‘em within hours after the conference games only to settle in here with the Pats favored by the stick. Last year I called this a free money alert as I believed the Seahawks were much better than Denver. This time around it’s not so easy as the Seahawks I would rate even to where they were last year, but the Patriots are a much better team than last year’s Broncos as well as last year’s Patriots.

Are the Patriots better this year because they deflate footballs and bend/break every rule imaginable you may ask? No, they also cheated in all those previous years when they weren't this good. I’m looking forward to the next apology Bob Kraft has to dole out like a scolded child to 31 other men. I’m sure that isn’t embarrassing for a billionaire at all. I promised myself I would focus on the game here but if you are one of these people who believe of word of their bullshit, you either are a Pats fan admirably defending their team, or you are a blithering idiot.

The Patriots are better this year for a couple of major reasons and a few minor ones. The most major one being this is the first time the Patriots have played in the postseason with a healthy Rob Gronkowski who may be the most valuable offensive player in the game. This offense simply is on a different level when a healthy Gronk is playing in it and it’s barely above average without him. Second, Darrelle Revis is a mercenary for hire if you want to isolate one side of the field. Now I’m not saying #RevisIsland is all about the money, but the episode of Pawn Stars where he hocks his ring is gonna be must see. The Patriots have also perfected how to use their wide assortment of backs, and Jamie Collins has become a star already in his second season. Ballghazi or not, 45-7 over the Colts is a much wider margin than I expected as Indianapolis simply couldn’t handle the elements and this phenomenal New England performance on top of others through the year makes it easy to see why the public has moved the line in favor of the Pats.

The Seahawks are much like Bret “The Hitman” Hart. They are “The Excellence of Execution”. In a league that is constantly innovating, prepping new schemes, and making endless in-game adjustments on both sides of the ball, the Seahawks do nothing fancy, nothing elaborate. Teams know everything they are going to do and they get beat anyway because Seattle executes extremely well and is just more talented. On offense, they give you a healthy dose of Marshawn Lynch running the ball, sprinkle in Russell Wilson running the ball, and then when you get frustrated and commit more players to stop this pretty conventional attack, Wilson will kill you in the play action game. On defense, they are one of the best stop units in the history of this game and again they do nothing fancy, they just cover your receivers, and hit people hard who are unfortunate enough to have the ball in their hands; there’s not much to it. Against the Packers we saw a miraculous comeback using all these same strengths and a fortuitous onside kick. There is a lot of talk saying the Seahakws got lucky in the NFC title game and I guess you could look at it that way, but in reality the Packers were lucky to have the lead in that game. Fumbles are extremely random and they got a very key one on an early kickoff return. Two key interceptions were balls thrown into the hands of their intended receiver only to be popped in the air like a volleyball towards a waiting defender. The Hawks defense was in one horrible position after another and held up time after time. They out-gained the Packers on both the ground and the air and were -3 in turnover differential (a mostly random outcome) and still won the game and statistically they deserved to win. If not for the poor turnover diff, I would expect them to have not only won but also covered. I said two weeks ago the Patriots escaping the Baltimore game was going to lead to a strong performance against the Colts. Similarly, this miraculous escape is going to give the Seahawks even more confidence than they usually have. This is a scary and overlooked combination to me.

In my analysis there are some very good match ups in favor of the Seahawks – one being the straightforward nature of how they play and how this negates some of Belichick’s core strengths, game planning and in-game adjustments. I have also watched Chris Ivory and Geno Smith give the Pats defense fits this year and a physical running game is a good way to attack this team. I mentioned before the Patriots have set up their defense very smartly to combat all the very good passing offense in this league but unfortunately that advantage is not as strong this week against a team that depends on the run. On the Patriots offensive side of the ball, the Patriots HAVE to win this game on the ground which is not their strength. As good as Gronk is there’s not a player in this league who gets a lot of yards after catch against this unit and whatever poor sap they decide to put against #BestPlayerInTheGame Richard Sherman you can put on a milk carton. One big situation at play here is teams that win their conference championship game in a blowout historically don’t perform well in the Super Bowl. I consider Seattle 3 points better, and technically the situations favor them so despite Tom Brady making me a lot of money over the years, I am going to go against him in the biggest game of the year. Usually an unjustified line move of 3 points like we have had for this game would give me a nice amount of line value but the fact we just crossed the zero doesn’t make a huge difference. It’s a virtual pick at SEA -2 or NE -1. Now let’s be clear, Brady and the Pats are so good, this would not usually be a play for me in a regular season game but since it’s the only game on the schedule that day, it has to be. What I would consider a stronger play would be the under in this game. If I know Belichick, he knows the way to beat the Seahawks is to run the ball and he has the horses to do it. I expect them to have their biggest successes spreading the field and running Blount between the tackles. My guess is both teams focused on running the ball will lead to the clock running. Even if I’m wrong about Bill’s game plan, I expect both defenses to hold up well, particularly in the red zone. Most Super Bowls also have slower starts due to a feeling out process, different atmosphere, general nervousness, etc. I plan to use this strong under bias in many of my prop plays I will release Saturday.

NFL Patriots Seahawks


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