Super Bowl XLIX Picks: New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks

The NFL’s best are in Arizona for Super Bowl 49 and after pouring over the lines, ATS stats and totals, we’ve nailed down our Best Bet for Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Seahawks!

Football handicapping for the Super Bowl is different than betting any other NFL game of the season. First of all, we’ve seen more games from each of these teams this season; 18 each plus preseason. Secondly, the game is being played on a neutral field so any 12th man advantage from Seattle’s Century Link Field or the Patriots’ league-best .829 straight-up home win percentage since 2002 (102-21) are greatly reduced. And then there is the hype. No sporting event in the world gets more attention and if the players didn’t know it before they touched down in the desert, they certainly feel it now after a few days in the spotlight.

The sheer number of Super Bowl systems and trends found on the net nearly matches the build-up for this contest and our first publication of the week, ‘Pick Sixty Super Bowl Trend Tips’ covered a pair of angles with SDQL that are worth checking out. Today we finally booked a flat bet for the game and posted it via Twitter @PickSixtySports. Here’s the scoop!

SUPER BOWL XLIX: PATS vs. HAWKS

Odds for betting the side have favored New England by -1 all week and the Over/Under line can be found at 47.5 or 48 (Sports Interaction). The Pick Sixty power ratings, which went 5-1 ATS in the playoffs and 28-16 ATS (64-percent) on the season originally showed New England having a slim advantage in this game (0.8 PRA), but it wasn’t nearly enough to qualify it as a play. This week, however, I decided to run a different set of numbers based on a neutral field and the new reading was leaning strong towards Seattle (3.8 PRA). That still wasn’t enough to make the Hawks an official play but some of the key stats produced solid ATS and O/U records with SDQL that suggested the Seahawk defense will be the top unit in this game.

STAT PACK

In road games this year with a total between 44 and 48 points the Seahawks O/U margin was -7.12 this year, third lowest in the league. Going back to 2013, the Hawks are 2-5 O/U in this spot (-7.64 points) and outscoring opponents 24.7 to 13.6 on average. The three teams they faced with winning records finished with 8, 9 and 14 total points. Access this group of games at SportsDatabase.com with SDQL Text: season >= 2013 and team = Seahawks and A and 44 <= total <= 48

HISTORY LESSON

Playing in Round 2 of the playoffs or later, New England has a 3-7 ATS record against defenses who allowed an average of less than 22 points per game on the season. Only three of those 10 games went “Over” the total (3-7 O/U) and the two that occurred away from Foxboro took place eight and ten years ago.

2004 Conference Finals at Pittsburgh – Pats won 41-27

The Steelers defense ranked 2nd overall that season, third against the pass and third against the rush but Big Ben threw three picks, one which was returned for a touchdown. Pittsburgh also lost one of two fumbles while the Pats turned the ball over zero times (+4 turnover margin). Pittsburgh’s offense that year averaged 30.4 points per game (PPG).

2006 Conference Finals at Indianapolis – Pats lost 38-34

Indy averaged 29.8 PPG on offense that season but their defense was 24th overall. The Patriots went into that contest expecting a shootout and that’s exactly what they got.

COUNTER POINTS

New England will gameplan to score at least 27 points in this contest but taking the outcome from those two games into account along with last week’s game against the Colts, here is why I think they’ll have a hard time getting there.

  1. Russell Wilson

The 28-22 OT win over Green Bay was just the second time this year Wilson threw more than one interception in a game. His TD-to-INT count was 24:11 and not once this season did RW throw a single pick immediately following a game where he was picked off (six for six). In 2013, Wilson had streaks of 3- and 4-straight games with interceptions but he threw zero picks during last year’s playoff run.

Seattle’s pass protection is a concern just as it was in 2013-14. Last year, Wilson was sacked 19 times in five games leading up to the Super Bowl but the Broncos pass rush was shutout (zero sacks). In total, Wilson was hauled down 51 times in his second season and 49 times so far this year, with three-plus sacks in five of his last eight starts. New England’s pass rush is middle of the pack and they had three or more sacks seven times this year but zero in the past two games and only four in total the two before that. Indy and Baltimore both ranked top 10 in pass protection but Buffalo and the Jets were in the bottom third of the league. None of these teams had a QB with the mobility of Wilson.

Wilson led the league in QB rushing this year with 849 yards – 210 better than the next highest passer (Kaepernick, 639 rush yards)

  1. Legion of Boom

The Seahawks have only allowed 10 teams in the past three years to score more than 24 points against them. Only one of these games occurred after Week 12 and it was on the road in the 2012 playoffs. From Week 13 out the past three seasons, Seattle has outscored opponents 28.1-12.3 on average. Away from home those averages are 28.6 and 12.8 and only one of 10 teams broke 20 points (Falcons in 2012 playoffs). Caution: This may be the best QB they’ve faced in this situation (sound familiar to the warnings people gave before last year’s Super Bowl?).

THE FINISH

Seattle is so much better than the Indianapolis Colts team New England dominated last week. The Hawks are second overall defending the run (Indy was 26th), the Hawks lead the league in Toxic Differential (Colts = 21st) and Seattle has the second-best YAC-yard rating in the NFL (Colts = 25th). Indy was also 27th defending tight ends and 31st against running backs as receivers. Seattle does not shine in those two departments but we have to feel that stopping Rob Gronkowski will be the team’s No. 1 priority. Tom Brady has also aged 10 years since winning his last Super Bowl and in the past 25 years or so, the average age for starting QBs in the Super Bowl has been coming down and the young bucks are getting the job done. Let’s remember, the defenses are getting younger and more athletic, too, and the coaches are using more advanced metrics to devise their gameplan. When you add it all up, it points towards an advantage for the younger team, especially one who was good enough to make it to the Super Bowl in the first place. We like the Seahawks to win but our top pick takes a different approach.

Super Bowl Best Bet: Take the Patriots Team Total UNDER 25 points (-118)

Pick Sixty’s NFL Playoff Record is 7-3 ATS! Read Super Bowl Database Picks, ATS and SDQL for more winning info!

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