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Steinberg: Analysis of big game

February 04, 2012|By Leigh Steinberg

The nasty little secret behind a portion of the popularity of the NFL is the passion for betting which generates billions of dollars every week.

When you are at a game and hear cheering after scores that seems disconnected with the action on the field — it is occasioned by the point spread. Now many of you may not know that a point spread is not an indication of what oddsmakers think in respect to the outcome on the field. It is set at the midpoint which will motivate equal numbers of bettors to back each team.

There are dozens of novelty bets on the Super Bowl game which start with which team will win the coin flip and continue on each second — how far will opening kickoff go? Who will be first player to touch the ball? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

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The one action that can destroy professional sports is a connection between players, executives, agents and gamblers. The presumption is that games are played on a level playing field. If fans ever suspected that player performance and effort had anything to do with gambling, it would reduce the sport to professional wrestling status.

I have spent 40 years staying away from gamblers and betting. When I would visit a player hotel prior to the game and discover that my quarterback client had a bad thumb that was unreported but would prevent him from gripping the ball properly — that would be invaluable information to bettors. So for your entertainment only, here's how I analyze Sunday's Super Bowl matchup.

The New England Patriots are the most superbly run franchise in professional sports. They have a brilliant and decisive owner, outstanding player evaluation and the best coach in the NFL in Bill Belichick. He has outcoached other teams on a regular basis by designing game plans that accentuate strengths and finesse weaknesses.

Tom Brady is the Joe Montana of contemporary football, with three Super Bowl rings. He is able to elevate his play in critical situations to a transcendent level. He has multiple receiving weapons — two incredible tight ends and the best possession receiver, Wes Welker, in the game.

If Brady is given enough time he will move the team and score. The New York Giants defensive line puts a ferocious rush on the quarterback. They have the ability to put the most intense pressure on Brady that he has seen all year. He has a very quick release, but finding time to throw may be a major problem.

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