Super Bowl XLIX tips
NFC champions Seattle Seahawks look to become back-to-back Super Bowl Champions on Sunday, as they face AFC champions New England Patriots and you can watch it live from the University of Phoenix Stadium on Channel 4, with kick-off at 11.30pm UK time.
This will be the first time in a decade that an NFL team will play in consecutive Super Bowl games, and ironically the last team to do so were the Patriots in 2004 and 2005.
For the second consecutive year, the no.1 seeds from each conference will meet at the Super Bowl - and the bookmakers can't call it, with both teams being offered at odds of 10/11 generally, although BetVictor offer the marginally better price of 20/21 on both sides.
Not that the bookies odds have been the best guide recently, with the underdogs winning 6 of the last 7 Super Bowls - Seattle were 11/10 ousiders against the Denver Broncos last year, yet cruised to a 43-8 victory - the largest Super Bowl point differential since 1993.
Remarkably this will be the 6th time in the 13 season Belichick-Brady era that the Patriots have reached the Super Bowl - winning the first three (2002, 2004 & 2005) but losing the last two (2008 & 2012). They finished 12-4 this season to win their sixth straight AFC East title, before defeating the Baltimore Ravens 35-31 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and then the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship game ("Deflategate").
Seattle also finished the regular season 12-4, despite losing 3 of their first 6 games. Their subsequent 9-1 run included a 35-6 win at this stadium last month against the Arizona Cardinals, while in the post season they beat the Carolina Panthers 31-17 in the Divisional round (the first defending champions since the 2005 Patriots to even win a playoff game the following season) and then, somehow, overcame the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship despite trailing 16-0 at half-time and 19-7 with less than three minutes left.
The first instinct is that Seattle may have used up all of their luck against the Packers - who were playing with a half-fit Aaron Rodgers - and might not be so fortunate on Sunday.
Seahawks own Quarterback, Russell Wilson, threw 4 interceptions in that game, but a mixture of brave calls by coach Pete Carroll (a fake field goal touchdown at the start of the second-half to get them on the board - see clip below) and a healthy dose of good fortune (a late onside kick bouncing off the helmet of Packers tight end Brandon Bostick, straight into the grateful arms of receiver Chris Matthews, plus winning the toss for overtime) gives them an opportunity to retain the Super Bowl - achieved on eight occasions before.
But before we rely on instincts, let´s delve into that last stat for a moment - the reigning Super Bowl champions have returned to defend their crown nine times in the Super Bowl era - and eight of those have done just that (Packers 67 & 68, Dolphins 73 & 74, Steelers 75 & 76, Steelers 79 & 80, 49ers 89 & 90, Cowboys 93 & 94, Broncos 98 & 99 and Patriots 04 & 05). The only time this sequence was broken was the Cowboys winning in 78 but losing in 79 (although in so doing they became the first losing Super Bowl team to score 30 points or more - something that has only happened once since).
It really looks a case of 'been there done that' when it comes to returning to the Super Bowl 12 months after winning and perhaps that isn't a surprise given the unique nature of the season's showpiece. Of course, no-one can accuse the Patriots, and Brady in-particular, of not having the necessary Super Bowl experience, but given the Vince Lombardi trophy has been lifted by the NFC Champions in 4 of the last 5 seasons (interestingly the exception was the 49ers in 2013 and they were the other losing Super Bowl team to score 30 points or more) we would prefer to be with the Seahawks based upon trends alone.
In what looks sure to be a close game, there is no value in backing either side at odds-on, so we are returning to an angle we suggested (unsuccessfully) last year. We also fancied the Seahawks to win Super Bowl XLVIII but rather backing them at those odds of 11/10 we decided to recommend a bet on Russell Wilson to win the Super Bowl MVP award at odds of 7/2 - on the basis that the MVP award had gone to the winning Quarterback in 6 of the previous 7 Super Bowl's. Unfortunately for us, although the Seahawks won easily, the MVP was awarded to their lineback Malcolm Smith - which rather spoiled our Super Bowl party!
Nonetheless, with 6 of the previous 8 Super Bowl MVP's being awarded to the winning Quarterback we will stick with our strategy and suggest a bet on Wilson for MVP at best odds of 5/2 with William Hill, which has to be better than backing Seattle at 10/11 - surely a Quarterback won't win successive Super Bowls and not be awarded MVP in either?
Alternatively, if you fancy the Patriots, then consider backing Brady for MVP (which he was awarded in both 2002 and 2004) at 7/4 - also with William Hill - rather than backing the Patriots at 10/11. What a story it would be if the 6th round 2000 draft pick were to win a fourth Super Bowl on his record 6th start - 13 years after he won his first.
In the First Touchdown Scorer market, we will once again focus on running backs rather than wide receivers. Last year we tipped Seattle's Marshawn Lynch, who duly obliged for us at odds of 10/1 and we see no reason not to back 'Beast Mode' again, albeit the best odds this time around are 7/1 with BetVictor or Coral.
For the Pats, LeGarretteBlount was the star in the AFC Championship game, carrying the ball 30 times (a Patriots post season record) for 148 yards and scoring three touchdowns - he also looks worth backing to score the first touchdown at best odds of 12/1 - again with both BetVictor and Coral.
But don't expect the Patriots to get off to a flyer - they haven't scored a single point in the first quarter in any of Brady's five Super Bowls, while all five were decided by 4 points or less.
Of course, you can bet on anything in the Super Bowl with over 300 markets on offer, including the outcome of the coin-toss (don't as no bookmaker has the decency to offer even-money on this). Meanwhile, William Hill are offering odds on the first Katy Perry song to be sung at half-time, with 'Roar' the 8/13 favourite ahead of 'Firework' at 4/1.
Finally, if you fancy a bet on the First Scoring Play, the favourites are Touchdown (4/6 Betfred) and Field Goal (6/4 with Bet365), but cast your mind back to last year when the ball was snapped back while Peyton Manning was moving forward resulting in the ball flying past him into the end zone. Although it was recovered to prevent a touchdown, it was at the expense of a 'Safety' to give Seattle a 2-0 lead from which they never looked back and you can back another Safety being the First Scoring Play at 50/1 with Sky Bet, or if you really think lightning could strike twice, a Seattle Seahawks Safety at 80/1 with Coral.
||First Touchdown Scorer||7/1||BetVictor & Coral|
||First Touchdown Scorer
||12/1||BetVictor & Coral
|£25 free bet||£25 free bet||£20 free bet|