NFL Super Bowl XLVIII – Best Bets Against the Spread

Seattle Seahawks +3 (-120) at Denver Broncos –3 (EVEN) Total: 47

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After a long season, the two best teams throughout the regular season have marched through the playoffs for a date in the game’s first cold weather Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. In a matchup that will be the ultimate battle of defense versus offense, Peyton Manning’s record-breaking aerial attack takes on Seattle’s ferocious defense. Let’s take a look at each team’s path to the big game.

After earning a first-round bye and home field advantage as the top seed in the AFC, the Broncos welcomed San Diego to Mile High Stadium and dominated for much of the afternoon until the game got close in the final minutes. Manning was able to get a critical first down to run out the clock, however, and Denver won the game 24-17. The Broncos again handled Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship with similar score line, winning 26-16.

Like Denver, Seattle was the top seed in their conference and took care of business in the Divisional Round by clamping down on the Saints offense, and powering through with their running game taking the game 23-15. They faced NFC West rival San Francisco for the NFC Championship and rallied from a 10-0 deficit to win 23-17.

One topic heavily discussed the past week has been the weather report for Sunday’s contest. The current forecast is a high of 36 degrees with some possible light rain or snow, but it does not look as a like a blizzard is in the cards for the big game. It is worth noting that almost all offshore sportsbooks, including Bovada have stated that bets made will stand regardless if the game is rescheduled. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league opened the possibly of the game being rescheduled if there was extreme weather.

For Manning, there’s no such thing as a matchup nightmare for the leader of the NFL’s most prolific offense in history, but Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary is by far the toughest unit has he faced this season. The Seahawks defense allowed a league-low 177 yards per games against the pass, by far the lowest mark in the league. If there is any unit that can stop Denver’s offense, it is this one.

Offensively, Seattle’s unit pales in comparison to the numbers that Denver has put up, but that is not exactly their style. Smash-mouth football, a strong running game and a dominant defense have been their recipe for success. Running back Marshawn Lynch, who has been listed as questionable for much of the week should be a full-go come Sunday. He is merely resting his legs for the big game.

Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson are both excellent runners and neither has been easily bottled up this season, especially Lynch. In the two playoff games against New Orleans and San Francisco, he rushed for 249 yards and three touchdowns. While Denver’s rush defense has been especially strong as of late, it is nowhere near the level of San Francisco’s top five rushing defense. San Francisco shut down Carolina’s number one ranked rushing offense a week earlier but found no success containing Lynch who rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown.

It is tough to go against Peyton Manning, especially in a year that he has broken every offensive record in the book, but this defense is the closest thing to “kryptonite” that he has seen this year. The Broncos strong running attack led by Knowshon Moreno is opened by their downfield passing game, and I’m not sure those lanes will be open Sunday. Speaking of Moreno, he is questionable as of Monday but is expected to play.

Seattle will be getting their top offseason acquisition back for the biggest game of the year, and he is expected to be fully healthy. After tearing his labrum in training camp, wide receiver Percy Harvin is ready to roll. Head Coach Pete Carroll has stated that Harvin will ‘do everything we want’ in terms of their gameplan. I expect him to be a near every down player in this one and make a tremendous impact, despite not even playing a full game this season. Harvin’s speed and ability after the catch transforms Seattle’s offense into a much more dangerous unit.

From a game plan perspective, it will be the same old formula for the Seattle. Get a lead, run the ball and keep it away from the opposing quarterback, it just so happens that is Peyton Manning. They have been a nightmare on both sides of the ball for teams this season, and a healthy Harvin gives them an entirely new dimension on offense.

One thing that Seattle does exceptionally well is create turnovers. They led the league with 28 interceptions. However, their ability to limit giveaways while being a ball hawking defense is what has made them elite. They finished with a +20 turnover differential during the regular season, the best mark in the league. This team is built to win in the playoffs and have the perfect recipe to take on a high-powered passing attack like Denver’s. I can’t help but feel good about taking Seattle plus a field goal in a Championship game that should come down to the wire.

Pick: Seahawks +3(-120)

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