Monday, January 24, 2011

Packers Open as the Super Bowl Favorite


Two of the oldest franchises in NFL history meet in the Super Bowl for the first time as the Packers opened up as 2 ½-point favorites over the Steelers. Green Bay will attempt to be the first sixth seed to win a Super Bowl since Pittsburgh accomplished that feat in 2006.
Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas houses Super Bowl XLV as the Packers play in an elimination game for the sixth straight week. Green Bay needed wins in the final two weeks of the regular season over the Giants and Bears just to advance to the postseason. As a sixth seed, Mike McCarthy's team knocked off the Eagles and Falcons on the road as short underdogs. The Packers were listed as an away favorite in Sunday's NFC Championship at Chicago, as Green Bay cashed with a 21-14 victory.
The Steelers made it the more conventional way by winning two home games after receiving a first-round bye. Pittsburgh rallied past Baltimore in the Divisional Playoffs, 31-24 to cash as three-point favorites. Mike Tomlin's club jumped out to a 24-0 lead over the Jets in the AFC Title game, but New York made it interesting with 19 unanswered points. The Steelers held on for a 24-19 win as four-point 'chalk,' heading to their third Super Bowl in six seasons.
This is the shortest line since the Ravens demolished the Giants as three-point favorites in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7. Since that game, the underdogs are 7-2 ATS, including New Orleans' 31-17 outright victory as five-point 'dogs. The only wins by favorites in the past decade were the Steelers in XL over the Seahawks (21-10 as four-point 'chalk') and the Colts over the Bears in XLI (29-17 as seven-point favorites).
From the totals perspective, the number opened at 45 ½ with the total heading towards 46 shortly after the opener was posted. VegasInsider's Chris David discusses the move, "The early total money on Super Bowl XLV came in on the 'over' and right now, you can argue it both ways. Both teams have capable quarterbacks that can dice up any defense, if given time. However, that's a big if. But even if the defenses show up, like they did in their championship games, they've both shown that they can help light up the scoreboard as well."
However, David points out that the defenses do step up in this game, "Make a note that the 'under' has been golden in the last six Super Bowl appearances, producing a 5-1 record. And, you can make a case that the 'under' should've cashed in the Steelers 27-23 victory over the Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII from Tampa if it wasn't for a late outburst in the fourth."
It's not crazy to think that a sixth seed should be favored over a team that had a first-round bye in the playoffs. As mentioned earlier, Pittsburgh's 11-point victory over Seattle at Ford Field in 2006 was the fourth straight win on the highway for the Steelers, as the Packers look to turn that trick in Texas on February 6.

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