Super Bowl Game Plans
My Apology For Saturday’s Big Game
I am having a solid basketball season in both the colleges and the NBA, but I also feel obligated to acknowledge when I fail - and I did just that this past Saturday when I lost my 200-unit GOY when 7th-ranked West Virginia (-10) was upset in Morgantown by a very young and struggling Kentucky Wildcats team.
Here are the three elements that made me take my biggest stand of the college basketball season:
- It was a game of the men against the boys. WVU was a veteran team, Kentucky at times has five freshmen on the floor.
- WVU has one of the strongest home court bias figures in the country and was 10-1 at home before the Kentucky loss.
- At home the Mountaineers had already beaten such powers as 7th-ranked Kansas, Baylor, 12th-ranked Oklahoma, 26thranked Kansas State and had handed #2-ranked Virginia its only loss of the season.
- WVU has one of the best lockdown defenses in the country, giving up just 66.6 points per game and that aspect of its game figured to frustrate the inexperienced Kentucky team that already was turnover prone.
- WVU was in major bounce-back form off an 82-73 loss at TCU in a game it hit but 33.3% from the floor, including 25.9% from 3-point range.
In the first half, the West Virginia defense kept Kentucky’s offense off balance while forcing 11 turnovers. At the half, WVU was up by 15, 48-33, and cruising.
I have no idea what transpired in the second half, except WVU did not play with the defensive focus of the first half and for reasons unknown decided they did not need to press as much. Kentucky opened the second half on a 17-2 run, and gaining confidence by the minute. The Wildcats outscored WVU 50-28 in the second half and won, 83-75.
I have no answer for the outcome but want to apologize for it. Keep in mind I also had a host of winners on Saturday, including underdog Virginia (+5) 65-63 over Duke, Butler (-9) 70-45 over St. John’s and 12½ point underdog N.C. State’s 95-91 upset of North Carolina.
On Sunday, I released my 175-unit College Triple Crown of the Year and came within a half-point of sweeping it with Loyola-Illinois and Washington winning in blowouts and Clemson missing by a half point. Also on Sunday I won with two underdogs—Marquette over Villanova in the colleges and the Los Angeles Clippers over New Orleans in the NBA.
Again, I offer to all of you my sincere apology for Saturday’s loss, but rest assured I will continue to make you a winner the entire season.
From The Heart, Sincerely
Are we headed for yet another super-close Super Bowl?
Hey, when the New England Patriots are involved, the Super Bowls are always close as the Pats (since the 2001 season) have won five of 'em by a grand total of 19 points - and that, of course, includes last year's biggest margin of victory in a 34-28 overtime triumph over the 3-point underdog Atlanta Falcons - while New England's two Super Bowl setbacks in the head coach Bill Belichick/megastar quarterback Tom Brady Era occurred by 3 and 4 points, respectively, against the New York Giants.
The Las Vegas oddsmakers opened this SB LII tilt at Patriots minus 6 points and that price tag has been chiseled down to just 4.5 points - interesting that Philadelphia Eagles money has been pouring in pretty good and now the smart folks in the desert don't want to be "middled" as was the case in Minnesota's wacky 29-24 non-cover win against New Orleans in the NFC Divisional Playoff round (that's when lots of folks grabbed Saints + 6 and the Vikings at - 4 or 4.5 points that week).
So, our gut feeling is this price will stay right around 4.5 points for Super Bowl LII but anything can happen, right?
SUPER BOWL LII GAME PLANS
When New England Has the Ball ...
The Patriots can pooh-pooh the idea that they need better "balance" here but let's just say that if Brady throws the ball 38 times and the Pats run it just 19 times (yes, the exact 2-to-1 ratio in New England's 24-20 non-cover win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the recent AFC Championship Game) then we're likely not gonna see a Pats' repeat. Brady doesn't mind chuckin' it plenty - and he's been rather adept at stepping up in the pocket and avoiding the big hit - but if Philly's fierce pass rush is allowed to get into its own rhythm here than watch out. Note that RBs Dion Lewis and James White - the latter a major goal-line threat in post-season play (go ask the Falcons!) - only toted the ball 12 times for 38 yards in that aforementioned win against the Jaguars and we believe they'll need to carry it twice that much in order to keep the Philly pass rush off Brady. P.S., we're also sure to see at least a couple of gadget or trick plays here with WR Danny Amendola involved in the fun.
When Philadelphia Has the Ball ...
Wanna talk balance? Well, the Eagles threw the ball 33 times and ran it 30 times in the blowout 38-7 win/cover against Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game back on Jan. 21st but do keep in mind that Philadelphia was only trailing that tilt for about four minutes of game time. So, it's easier to dictate a run/pass balance when your team is playing with the lead and that's a key here 'cause Philly head coach Doug Pederson really doesn't want to have QB Nick Foles (26-of-33 for 352 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs against the Vikings) throwing the ball 40 times or more here - see underrated Pats' pass rush getting into its own little rhythm. If Foles can "take the top off the defense" with an early-game deep throw (or two) than he'll be that much more effective with those quick in-slants and gotta say WR Alshon Jeffery and TE Zach Ertz (a combined 13 catches for 178 yards and two TDs in NFC Championship Game) must hang onto everything thrown their way ... or else!