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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - JAN. 30

By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/28/2012 at 12:56 PM

While this will be the fourth Super Bowl rematch, returning recent participants to the big game have become rarer in recent years with a flurry of new teams in the mix. The first rematch came in the late ‘70s as Pittsburgh and Dallas met in Super Bowl XIII after the Steelers won Super Bowl X three years earlier. Both games were at the Orange Bowl and both games ended in an exciting narrow Steelers win. More time spanned between the games but the 49ers and Bengals matched up twice in the ‘80s, with San Francisco winning narrowly in both games seven years apart. Dallas and Buffalo are the only teams to meet in back-to-back years as the Cowboys dismantled the Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII and then more modestly the following year to hand the Bills a fourth straight Super Bowl defeat. Favored New England will need to break that short sample size of history as all three repeat match-ups ended the same way as the first time around. Had Baltimore won we would still have had a repeat match-up as the Ravens handed New York its lone Super Bowl loss in 2001 in a 34-7 blowout.

 

New England has won three Super Bowls and been to six but they have only covered once, winning as big underdogs against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, the breakout year for Tom Brady and the start of the ascension of Bill Belichick as a coaching legend. Coaches that won their first Super Bowl are 9-3 S/U in their second Super Bowl so that edge may be with Tom Coughlin although Mike Tomlin lost in that role last year. Belichick is going for his fourth Super Bowl title, looking to join Chuck Noll, though Noll never lost in his four Super Bowls. Belichick is jus the third coach to lead at least five Super Bowl teams, joining Don Shula and Tom Landry.

 

This will be the ninth straight season in which the team with the best regular season record will not win the Super Bowl. Most of the teams in that stretch have not even made it to the big game.

 

The closing line on last year’s Super Bowl was -3, with this year’s line already dropping at some outlets this may be the lowest lined Super Bowl since Super Bowl XVI in 1982 when the 49ers beat the Bengals the first time, 26-21, as single-point underdogs. Super Bowl favorites of -4 or less are 4-6 ATS since 1981 but the last three Super Bowl favorites of exactly -3 all won and covered. Underdogs have had a slight edge in the Super Bowl going back to 1981, at 16-13-2, including 7-3 the last ten years.

           

While the Super Bowl should be a great one and one of the higher rated games in history given the major media markets involved, the fan bases for 30 other franchises are looking ahead to next year.  While the exact schedules are not yet set – we do know the opponents and locations for each team.

           

The AFC East faces the AFC South and the NFC West – on paper giving the division some of the weakest slates in the league. The AFC North draws the AFC West and the NFC East, making it very unlikely that three playoff teams will come from that division again. The AFC South draws the AFC East and the NFC North, and the AFC West draws the AFC North and the NFC South – meaning we could see another 8-8 champion as that will again be a division that struggles overall with the schedule being a big factor. The NFC East has the NFC South plus the AFC North so 9-7 could be good enough again in the league’s marquee division. The NFC North could excel with the NFC West and AFC South. The NFC South draws the NFC East and AFC West and this division figures to be one of the strongest from top to bottom. The NFC West has the NFC North and AFC East making for fairly tough slates for a division that showed some improvement this year despite dire preseason predictions. Best of Luck this week and into the off-season. On to this week’s slate…

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