With only a week until the Super Bowl, the road to New Orleans runs through Hawaii at the Pro Bowl. Betting on the Pro Bowl could be considered a degenerate special, but there are often small angles to find that can give us an advantage. I wouldn’t advise taking a loan or unloading your account on this game so tread lately, treat it like a preseason meeting and you’ll be fine. I remember it well several years ago when the defense purposely allowed a lineman to score a touchdown. I don’t recall the entire details, but it was a mess of a play at the end of the game that probably cost some people some money. That seems to be the story of the Pro Bowl: the defense sits back and lets the offense put on a show. Eclipsing 70 points is the norm now. However, due to such a pathetic display by the defenses last year, Roger Goodell has publicly stated that he is sick and tired of the lack of effort from players in this game. Rightfully so though, why should they risk a major injury in a pointless game that could jeopardize their career? There are several players that are going to be no shows in Hawaii, so I’ll break down the AFC and NFC, and what they will be bringing to the table Sunday night.
With regards to the AFC, I know that Peyton Manning is going to bring some fire to the equation. Like Goodell, Manning has been disgusted with the level of play in this game in recent years. While addressing both sides from the AFC and NFC, Manning urged them to play at full speed to make this look like some resemblance of a game. The comeback story of the year, Peyton Manning, will be starting for the AFC. Manning concluded his 2012/2013 campaign in disappointment with a loss to the Baltimore Ravens in overtime. The Ravens’ prayers were answered with a last second 80-yard bomb to a streaking Jacoby Jones along the sidelines to send the game into extra minutes. The Ravens are of course in the Super Bowl and the best thing the Broncos have to look forward to is Manning in the Pro Bowl. Manning finished with 4659 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions for a 105.8 QB rating, a year certainly worthy of making it to the Pro Bowl. Manning will start with Arian Foster at running back with A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, and fellow Bronco Demaryius Thomas in the mix at receiver. Andrew Luck will take over quarter-backing duties following Manning, with Matt Schaub of the Texans finishing up. The AFC defense will have a few more familiar faces from the Broncos’ roster on it, including linebacker Von Miller, and corner Champ Bailey.
The NFC will counter with some punch on offense of course as well. Drew Brees will get the nod as the starter. The Pro Bowl will give Brees a fresh, new start to forget about the atrocities that occurred this past season. Brees will have Sean Payton back in his corner on the sidelines, so that is definitely something he can look forward to for next season. Brees finished with 5177 yards, 43 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions, so it certainly wasn’t his fault that the Saints were so abysmal. Following Brees on the depth chart is Eli Manning, who will be preceded by the ultra talented rookie Russell Wilson from the Seahawks. You can bet that Wilson is going to play full out regardless of the importance of this game. Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch will anchor the running game, with rookie Doug Martin of the Buccaneers assuming the third spot on the roster. Receiver Calvin Johnson will be absent from the Pro Bowl due to injury, but they still have a few talented receivers that can provide some excitement including Julio Jones, Victor Cruz, Larry Fitzgerald, and Vincent Jackson.
AFC vs. NFC Spread and Betting Odds:
AFC pk (-120)
@ NFC pk (+110)
Over 79 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
AFC vs. NFC Pick:
Before locking in a wager remember that this game is purely for entertainment purposes with neither side too motivated for this one. It is essentially a paid vacation to Hawaii courtesy of the NFL for the players. With all this talk of players coming to play, are defenses really going to leave it all out on the field on Sunday? Are they really going to risk an injury heading into the offseason that could impact their check books dearly? I am leaning more towards no. I think there could be a competitive nature to this game for the first quarter, but after things loosen up it could turn into a circus. With the side bet a virtual toss-up, I think its best to look at the total when looking at All-Star games.
Taking an under in any All-Star is downright painful when you have to endure points piling up. I originally liked the under at 85 where it opened, but I think the over at 80 looks good. If you can get the over at 80 or anything less then I like the wager. The game hit 100 points last season and 96 in 2011. I believe there will be some resemblance of a game in the first half, but I think the second half will present an explosion of points. Third stringer Russell Wilson will push the envelope and continue to try and compete, that’s just the kind of player he is. There is rain expected in the forecast, but this may actually help the over as defenders are not going to take chances turning an ankle or knee in sloppy conditions. Take the over for a small bet and wait for the Super Bowl to open the wallet up. This should be a recreation bet, nothing more.
PICK = OVER 79