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Picking a Super Bowl winner is no easy task

The holidays are fast approaching and sports bettors are studying hard to make a little extra cash for the festive season. Both the college and NFL football seasons are in the home stretch, with the cream starting to rise to the top.

The NFL picture can change so quickly from week to week with injuries to key players. A large number of teams are capable of going all the way to a Super Bowl victory. The champion in January will have gotten hot during that month and stayed healthy within their squad when it comes to key players. Picking a Super Bowl winner at this point is no easy task.

The Eagles are a prime example of a contender going by the wayside due to a key injury. I may live to eat my words, but the Eagles will not be going to the Super Bowl with Koy Detmer at the helm. They are a fine all-around football team with many strengths, but Donovan McNabb is such a vital part of their offense that their season is as good as over unless he returns healthy by the playoffs. That does not look likely. The Eagle franchise may want to shell out a few bucks next year for a more solid backup QB.



Stay tuned.

This is a great week for college football fans. Rivalry matchups in the Bay Area, Southern California, Oregon and Washington are the big ones in this part of the nation. There are also many more taking place in other regions.




If you want to bet any of these games, I will offer you some advice.

Favorite bettors beware when it comes to big rivalry games. Past form and power ratings very often fly out the window when arch rivals take the field.

Taking points on underdogs in these situations has been profitable over the years, and this year should be no exception. If you made six bets this weekend on college rivalry games taking the following underdogs:

UCLA +4, Stanford +11, Auburn +10.5, BYU +8, Oregon +4.5, and Washington +8, I would be surprised if you lost money.

I realize that strong affiliations with certain schools will disqualify some from even thinking about betting on their arch rivals. Remember, though, that betting with your head makes you money. Bring the heart into the equation and, well, you know the rest.

The NFL this week also gives us some interesting encounters.

Top billing probably goes to the Packers at Tampa Bay. In days of old this would have been a key divisional matchup. Times change, however, and geography became more of factor in determining the NFL divisions (with a few exceptions).

Both teams are at 8-2, and home-field advantage in the playoffs is at stake. The Packers know that no team is keen to play in Green Bay in January. I also believe that at this point, the Packers are a better football team than the Bucs. They can win this game outright, but three insurance points as an underdog helps even more. Another point to consider is that Tampa Bay travels to divisional rival New Orleans next week. It all points to the Pack on Sunday.

Other key games are the Chargers at Miami, the Bills at the Jets, the Colts at Denver and, on Monday night, the Eagles at the 49ers. The Rams continue their walk on the playoff’s tightrope when they travel to the Redskins. They can’t afford another loss plus they have the makings of a QB controversy.

My suggestions for betting the NFL this week: Take the Packers +3, the Browns +6, and the Colts +6.5, and bet under 37 points in the Eagle/49er game on Monday night.

College basketball is getting under way. The top-ranked teams are set up on the ladder to be dethroned between now and March Madness. Early talk is mainly about Arizona and Kansas. Will they be there come late March? There are many schools who could have a say in the matter between now and then and good luck to all of them.

I have given you my thoughts on this weekend’s football.

Now I would like to take a minute to suggest a potential stocking stuffer for next year’s Kentucky Derby. What more could those near and dear to you want than a small ticket in their hands on the second coming of Secretariat early next May? The horse is named Vindication and I have been lucky enough to see his four wins in as many races this year.

History is against him. No Breeders’ Cup 2 year-old victor has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. This horse should break that trend and, if he stays healthy, the 6-1 odds offered at most race books would appear to be a great offer to the bettor. This horse is a superstar in the making.

Good luck to all of you sports bettors this weekend, and I would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful holiday in the weeks ahead.

— Paul Peterson has been a race and sports book supervisor at Caesars Tahoe for nine years.


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