Cook’s NFL Picks: Super Bowl LI

Hi, hello & welcome to Super Bowl LI Weekend! It’s the last official football game that matters until September 7, so let’s hope we get a good one. The New England Patriots are back, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Just another season for them. The Atlanta Falcons weren’t expected to be here before the season started, but their high-powered offense has taken the league by storm and taken them to their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Let’s take a look at the prop bets!

Will any player on the Falcons or Patriots roster be seen kneeling during the national anthem on TV during live broadcast?
Yes +250
No -400

No seems like the safe bet here, as neither team has been involved in the anthem controversy other than the Falcons joining the Saints in a “unity circle” back in September.

Which song will Lady Gaga play first during the halftime show? (Bovada)
“Born this Way” 9/4
“Bad Romance” 5/2
“Edge of Glory” 6/1
“Poker Face” 10/1
“Just Dance” 10/1
“Any other song” 11/10

Gaga’s setlists change pretty frequently so there isn’t one song she goes to for an opener dramatically more than any other. “Born This Way” seems like the way to start a concert to me, so that’s where I’d put my money. Gaga is very unpredictable though, so this is one of the more volatile prop bets.

How many times will “deflate” or “Deflategate” be said on TV during live broadcast? (Bovada)
Over 1½ Even (or 1/1)
Under 1½ -140 (or 5/7)

The over seems like a pretty safe bet on the most manufactured scandal in the history of professional football.

Will a roughing-the-passer penalty be called in the game? (Bovada)
Yes +120 (6/5)
No -150 (2/3)

Absolutely. Brady is one of the best at drawing them & Ryan tends to get the benefit of the doubt from officials as well.

Will there be a flea flicker attempted in the game? (Bovada)
Yes 5/1
No 1/9

Flea flickers are fun and both teams have utilized them in the past. I expect one in this game, so this is a good one to lay some money on.

What will be higher on Super Bowl Sunday? (Bovada)
Patriots total points scored -140 (or 5/7)
Russell Westbrook points scored Even (or 1/1)

Russ & the Thunder host the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday. The last time he played againt Portland, on December 13, he went for 20-6-6 in a 114-95 loss. I think Westbrook will be out for revenge in this game against a team with one of the least efficient defenses in the NBA and put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-35 points, maybe even higher. We’re expecting a high-scoring Super Bowl, but it seems like whenever we do that we end up with a matchup in the twenties. I’d roll with Russ.

What will be higher on Super Bowl Sunday?
Matt Ryan TD Passes -120
Total Goals scored in the Leicester vs ManU game -120

The Falcons better hope it’s Ryan TD passes. I think we’re close to a push here but I’m leaning towards Matty Ice. Leicester City could be the first team to be relegated from the Premier League the year after winning the championship, they’ve been pretty lackluster so far this season & aren’t far ahead of the bottom three. They’re been great in Champions League though, which is pretty bizarre. United’s ups & downs have been pretty crazy and we’re not sure what to expect from them on any given week. Ryan is more of a sure thing than these squads are.

Super Bowl LI MVP (Bovada)
Tom Brady (NE) 7/5
Matt Ryan (ATL) 5/2
Julio Jones (ATL) 9/1
LeGarrette Blount (NE) 16/1
Julian Edelman (NE) 16/1
Devonta Freeman (ATL) 16/1
Dion Lewis (NE) 16/1
Chris Hogan (NE) 25/1
Vic Beasley (ATL) 40/1
Tevin Coleman (ATL) 40/1
Martellus Bennett (NE) 50/1
Mohamed Sanu (ATL) 50/1
Matt Bryant (ATL) 66/1
Malcom Butler (NE) 66/1
Taylor Gabriel (ATL) 66/1
Stephen Gostkowski (NE) 66/1
Austin Hooper (ATL) 66/1
Logan Ryan (NE) 66/1
James White (NE) 66/1
Devin McCourty (NE) 75/1
Malcolm Mitchell (NE) 100/1
Danny Amendola (NE) 150/1
Patrick Chung (NE) 150/1
Dwight Freeney (ATL) 150/1
Dont’a Hightower (NE) 150/1
Deion Jones (ATL) 150/1
Chris Long (NE) 150/1
Keanu Neal (ATL) 150/1
Rob Ninkovich (NE) 100/1
Levine Toilolo (ATL) 150/1
Eric Weems (ATL) 150/1
Field 25/1

It’s going to be Brady or Ryan. 27 Super Bowl MVP awards have been won by quarterbacks, and the team that wins this game will do it on the back of their passing game. Forget the rest of the field on this one.

What color will the liquid be that is poured on the winning coach? (Bovada)
Clear 3/1
Lime/green 3/1
Orange 3/1
Yellow 3/1
Red 6/1
Blue 15/2
Purple 12/1

The Patriots used blue Gatorade last time they won. If the Falcons win I imagine they’d use red Gatorade to fit their color scheme. Those are the two colors I’d lean towards here, and you’re getting pretty good value on both.

If the Patriots win, will Brady, Belichick or Kraft be seen shaking Roger Goodell’s hand on TV? (Bovada)
Yes -180 (or 5/9)
No +140 (or 7/5)

I think “Yes” is the obvious pick here, because if you’re one of the three New Englanders mentioned you want to shake the Commissioner’s hand & give him a sinister glare. It’s part of rubbing your enemy’s nose in it.

New England (-3) vs. Atlanta

The Patriots & Falcons both come into this game on quite the roll. The Falcons demolished the Packers in the NFC Championship Game while the Patriots basically did the same to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. We’ve got the two best teams in football deciding the championship, which is really all one can ask for from a Super Bowl. There was a decent stretch of competitive Super Bowls going until last year, when the Denver Broncos destroyed the Carolina Panthers in a dull game Jeremy Lambert and the rest of us that aren’t diehard Broncos fans wish we could forget. Actually, I think Jeremy forgets most of that particular Super Bowl Sunday thanks to whatever he was drinking.

The Broncos were also involved in the other boring Super Bowl of the past few years: their blowout loss to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII. Hopefully with Denver out of the way we’ll have an exciting game! Sorry Broncos fans, as a fan of a team that never goes to Super Bowls I have to root for two things:

-Pittsburgh not being in the game

-The game being exciting

There’s definitely potential for excitement when you look at the offensive side of the ball. Tom Brady is playing like a man that really could be active at 50 like he says he will be. Whoever surrounds him ends up being a pretty useful weapon. No Gronk? No problem. We got Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Hollywood Chris Hogan, James White, Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount, and heck I think Danny Amendola even shows up occasionally. Most of these guys wouldn’t be much in other systems, but the Patriot system utilizes them to their full potential.

If you wanna talk offense, you have to talk about the Falcons. Matt Ryan had the season of his career, and when you’ve got as many options to give the ball to as he does it’s pretty easy. Either Devonta Freeman or Tevin Coleman in the backfield. Mohamed Sanu & Taylor Gabriel made their way over from Ohio teams and are more than capable second & third receivers. And then there’s Julio Jones. You don’t even need anybody else when you have Julio Jones. Kyle Shanahan had a lot of tools at his disposal and has coordinated one of the best offenses in recent NFL memory. They tied the 2000 St. Louis Rams for the seventh-most points in NFL history.

Of course, the downside there is that the teams in front of them on that list didn’t find much success in winning a championship. You need balance in order to go all the way, and that’s why this game is going to come down to defense. Who’s going to be able to stop the other team’s high-powered offense on more drives?

The Patriots have better defensive numbers & look like a much stronger defense on paper. But you have to keep the schedule in mind when you look at these stats. Atlanta got two games against Drew Brees, two games against Cam Newton & two games against Jameis Winston. Winston’s the weak link there, obviously, but he’s better than the scrubs New England went up against from the Bills, Dolphins & Jets. Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Bryce Petty, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor. Those names do anything for you? They played the Steelers when Landry Jones was throwing the ball instead of Ben Roethlisberger. They got two games against Brock Osweiler, and one of them was in the postseason! Then there were the likes of Jared Goff, Trevor Siemian & Colin Kaepernick. The Patriots played against three good quarterbacks this season: Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco & Andy Dalton.

And believe me, that third name is debatable in the city of Cincinnati. I like Andy but there’s a lot of haters out there.

So yes, the Patriots did give up the fewest points in the NFL this season. Take a look at some of the QBs the Falcons played in addition to the NFC South guys: Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers. So they’ve played against better talent. The problem: they weren’t able to stop most of them. They still gave up 20 & 21 points in their playoff blowout victories.

I’m rooting for the Falcons to win this thing. I’d like to see new Super Bowl Champions because that’s more fun than the same old thing. But I can’t see their defense stopping Tom Brady & company from doing what they want to do. The New England defense will have some difficulty as well, but they do have a knack for making big plays at the end of games. It happened last time they were in the Super Bowl, and I see a similar result this time. I can’t bet against Bill Belichick & the Patriots. I’d like to, but I can’t.

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everybody!

bluto-chug-o

 

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