Much is being said about the two teams, but one quarterback is the topic of all of the talk, and it’s not Russell Wilson. Maybe that’s a positive sign for the Seattle Seahawks, and maybe Wilson will sneak up on everyone.
It’s all about Seattle’s dominant defense and America’s favorite quarterback. Win or lose, Peyton Manning says he has no plans to retire, which is good news for the Denver Broncos.
Did anyone seriously think Manning might call it quits? Still, that was the big story on the Sunday before Super Bowl Sunday.
Nick Bogdanovich, director of William Hill sports books, was taking a rare day off while talking about the forecast for next weekend.
“The books will probably need Seattle,” Bogdanovich said, “but I don’t think it’s going to be a monster decision.”
The NFL is a betting monster, but the Pro Bowl is of little significance, so even the Las Vegas books were quiet. There were some decent NBA and college basketball games on the board, and a golf tournament to watch.
I called or stopped in to see four other sports book directors. One was on a brief vacation to Palm Springs, Calif. One was in a movie theater. Another was off and not returning calls.
South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro was making plans to watch a rerun of “Columbo,” a popular TV show in the 1970s about a homicide detective with the Los Angeles police department. (That’s a show most kids — or readers under 40 — won’t remember.)
“I’m going home at 3 o’clock on a Sunday,” Vaccaro said. “It’s very uncharacteristic of me.”
It was a slow-motion day. The action has been steady for the past week, but nothing spectacular, and about 90 percent of what is wagered on the Super Bowl will pass over the counter and through phone apps from Friday until Sunday afternoon.
“No big wagers whatsoever. A lot of little tickets on both sides,” Vaccaro said. “It’s all junk both ways.”
The Broncos are consensus 2½-point favorites, and the total is 47. The public jumped on Manning’s side early, but there are some bettors drifting toward the Seahawks. It’s not quite an avalanche of money on the favorite. Bogdanovich said the ratio of dollars wagered is around 2-to-1 on Denver, and Vaccaro said it’s 3-to-2.
“Obviously, the first push was on Denver,” Bogdanovich said. “There are several sharps I talk to who like Seattle.”
Bogdanovich said he doubts William Hill will move the line to 3. A majority of underdog bettors are either waiting for 3 to pop up or taking plus-115 on the money line.
“I hate to use the words ‘dead number,’ but it will liven up if you go to 3,” Vaccaro said.
The unveiling of hundreds of proposition bets boosted electricity the past few days. I’ve got five separate books of props, one put together by Vaccaro and South Point book director Bert Osborne.
“Bert says there’s about 240 up right now,” Vaccaro said. “You forget what you’ve got up, there’s so many.”
The LVH set the total for Manning’s passing yards at 286½, and William Hill opened it at 323½. That triggered a flurry of sharp action, with bettors hitting the “over” at LVH and the “under” at William Hill until Bogdanovich lowered his number to 296½. That’s how the pros try to middle props.
When the amateur crowd hits the Strip for the weekend, most will look to bet the popular player props over, and the total could get pushed up to 48.
“If it’s not blizzard-like conditions, the public will bet ‘over’ and ‘yes’ on everything, which is the exact opposite of the sharps,” Bogdanovich said.
The weather is another hot topic. How cold will it be Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., and will there be high winds, rain or snow?
“The key is going to be the weather,” Bogdanovich said. “If he doesn’t have to contend with the wind, I think Manning is going to do a lot better than people think. That’s his only problem, his arm strength is not what it used to be. But he can stay away from the pressure, and the Broncos offense will definitely move the football.
“I’m sort of rooting for Denver because what Manning has been through is amazing. I do like Russell Wilson, but I can’t stand Pete Carroll.”
Bogdanovich said picking the winner is a tough call, and not just because he can’t stand the Seahawks’ coach. Art Manteris, the director of Station Casinos’ sports books, said the same — but didn’t mention Carroll — when we crossed paths Saturday at the UNLV basketball game. Manteris said he’ll be rooting for the side his book needs, so he’ll probably be rooting for Seattle.
When asked for my opinion on the game, I waffle, similar to a politician on a controversial issue. I’m leaning to the Seahawks, but like the weather forecast, that could change.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.