Am I the only one who’s surprised Green Bay is favored?

The AFC champ has won nine of the past 13 Super Bowls. Pittsburgh was the No. 2 seed in the AFC, going 12-4. Pittsburgh has won two of the past five Super Bowls, and now, facing a wild-card qualifier that won two fewer games this season, Pittsburgh is …

A 2 1/2-point underdog.

Not much surprises me anymore, but this did. Not that I don’t think the Packers are good — Arthur Blank and I witnessed firsthand just how good they can be — but because I think the Steelers are powerful and proven and a Brand Name to boot, and that’s the type of team that tends to be given the benefit of most doubts. (Not that I have doubts about the Steelers. Saw them beat the Falcons, too — without their starting quarterback.)

I know Green Bay is the flavor of the month. I know it has beaten the Nos. 3, 1 and 2 seeds in the NFC en route to Super Bowl XLV. But still: Favored over Pittsburgh?

I also know that there’s precedent for a No. 6 seed being favored in the Super Bowl: The Steelers were against Seattle, which was the NFC’s top seed, six years ago. And I know, too, that a betting line isn’t so much a prediction on the game as it is an estimate of how the public will wager. (The perfect line is one that never moves, meaning that an equal amount is bet on both teams.) I know all of that stuff. And still I don’t get this one.

Who should be favored?

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Maybe I’m just being obtuse. It wouldn’t be the first time. I was surprised the Packers wound up only a 1-point underdog against the Falcons, who were playing at home and who were 13-3 and who’d already beaten Green Bay.  (I was less surprised the Packers were favored over the Bears.)

Obviously some folks with money know what they’re doing. And I could see Green Bay being favored over the Jets. But it’s not playing the Jets. It’s playing the Steelers, and the Steelers are really good.

That said … the Super Bowl line can be tricky. The Broncos, who were 10-4-1, were favored over the Redskins, who were 11-4, back in January 1988. (Washington won 42-10.) The Raiders, who were 11-5, were favored over the Buccaneers, who were 12-4, in 2003. (Tampa Bay won 48-21.) Heck, the team widely regarded as the NFL’s greatest ever — the unbeaten Dolphins of 1972 — was only a 1-point favorite over the 11-3 Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

That said … I still don’t get this one. Maybe you do. If so, I’d appreciate it if you could explain to me.

By Mark Bradley

139 comments Add your comment

Pete

January 25th, 2011
3:05 pm

Mark Bradley

January 25th, 2011
3:07 pm

Kudos, Pete. You’re the choice of this betting line.

toddh

January 25th, 2011
3:12 pm

I think the only reason is b/c it’s indoors. If it were outdoors in cold weather, the Steelers would probably be the faves. Indoors favors GB’s passing game though.

Mark Bradley

January 25th, 2011
3:14 pm

I don’t know, toddh. Green Bay is pretty good outdoors itself.

Mark Bradley

January 25th, 2011
3:16 pm

I just kind of assumed the Steelers would be favored by a field goal. I’m not very good at picking games, but I can usually figure out who’s going to be favored. Usually.

toddh

January 25th, 2011
3:16 pm

True, but that wasn’t the question. Wouldn’t you say it being indoors favors the Packers more?

Willy

January 25th, 2011
3:21 pm

If you HAD to put 1000 dollars on the game – no spread – who would you put it on? You might not feel great about it, but you’d probably put it on the Pack. That’s why.

Sports Review

January 25th, 2011
3:23 pm

[...] Am I the only one who's surprised Green Bay is favored?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The AFC champ has won nine of the past 13 Super Bowls. Pittsburgh was the No. 2 seed in the AFC, going 12-4. Pittsburgh has won two of the past five Super …Steelers withstand Jets' charge in AFC tFOXSports.com [...]

Paul H

January 25th, 2011
3:26 pm

I am definitely surprised

Thank god football is here

January 25th, 2011
3:30 pm

Defense is going to win this game, and I would take great defense over a great qb any day of the week. Big Ben isn’t the best, but he’s proven he’s good enough to get it done. I just don’t see GB winning 4 huge games in a row. Rodgers is very mortal, as he has shown in the past.

El Bravo

January 25th, 2011
3:33 pm

If I had $1,000.00 on the game I would put it on the sexually deviant QB with the two rings…

GT-93

January 25th, 2011
3:37 pm

Bradley likes The Steelers.

Which is as good advice as you can get to bet on Green Bay.

I can’t believe anyone would pay money to a betting service.

Green Bay is officially now the lock of the month.

The Real Fan

January 25th, 2011
3:37 pm

Yes you are. Did you actually see their last 5 games?

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Walker, Texas Ranger

January 25th, 2011
3:43 pm

Mark, I agree. Pittsburg has a much better offense than Chicago and a defense that is equal with speed at the LB position. I think Pittsburg by at least 3, I think it will be 7 or more.

And if I hear one more word about Big Ben’s year and all he has had to deal with, I will explode. I hate the Jerk will be mentioned in the same breath as Montana.

joe

January 25th, 2011
3:46 pm

Pitt’s D, especially up the middle, is too tough for the Pack…BTW, the correct spelling is Pittsburgh.

Walker, Texas Ranger

January 25th, 2011
3:49 pm

Sorry Joe, spell check let me down. That’s why I majored in round house kicks to the head instead of english.

GSU Eagle 91

January 25th, 2011
3:51 pm

ToddH has a valid point. With a fast indoor track, and weather not a concern, GB is the faster squad.
I have them nipping the Steelers in a tough, hard-hitting game for the ages..
20-17…
Packers are the champs..

Rickster

January 25th, 2011
3:53 pm

Even though I own one share, I’m surprised a bit myself that the Packers are favored. They’ve been on a roll, lately, but this is basically the same team that lost to Detroit and couldn’t even score a touchdown!!

Rickster

January 25th, 2011
3:54 pm

GSU Eagle, I hope you’re right!

Double Zero Eight

January 25th, 2011
3:59 pm

The Packers are favored because of Aaron Rodgers. Their fans and the
media are sounding as if he is the new version of Bart Starr. The Packers
are in for a surprise. The Steelers will win by 7. You heard it here first.

Jeff

January 25th, 2011
3:59 pm

Does it really matter? It’s a tiny line. Not like they are favored by a touchdown…

GeorgiaBoy

January 25th, 2011
4:00 pm

Sorry.
The Steelers, by at least seven.

GTBob

January 25th, 2011
4:04 pm

I was pretty surprised too Mark. The Packers are playing pretty well but I’m not sure that is going to carry them one more game against a team as strong as the Steelers. Especially when they have a fairly weak running game and Pittsburgh is the best rushing defense in football. Rodgers is going to have to play the game of his life in this one.

Hoss

January 25th, 2011
4:05 pm

Strictly a line of how bettors will bet. Blue collar bettors, your every day casual bettors, outnumber your white collar bettors, the “Professional Bettors”, by more than 1000-1. Now the Packers have a huge following, mainly blue collar types, who are gonna bet between $100-$1000 each on the game, obviously on the Packers.(I know the Steelers have a huge following, just not the betting type) This line on the game is based solely on WHO is betting, NOT on the BETTER team. Actually I’m surprised the line is not higher for the Pack, which tells me the “Professional Bettors” are loading up on Pittsburgh, but because they are so outnumbered, the line is skewed such that it creates an equal amount of betting.(If the line were say -3PITT, well you’d still have your Packer bettors, but then you’d have your “Pros” betting on the Packers too, causing an imbalance, where the House could stand to lose should GB win. It’s all about the “Juice” or the “Vig” for the House) So, if this were a regular season game, the line would be probably be more like Pitt -3 or -6(if at Pitt) because your GB bettors don’t bet regular season. The smart bet is to LOAD up on Pitt!!!!

falconsnut

January 25th, 2011
4:07 pm

Still can’t believe the Falcons aren’t going. You can bet we would not be favored! Now, do you pull for GB so we can say the SB champs beat us or do you hope they get a butt whooping for payback?

ASHCAN.

January 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

@GSU Eagle 91,not so fast.The steelers have two speedy recievers of there own in brown and Wallace(i think thats his name)who can run 4.3 4.4 in the 40. and H.ward is a plus.There younger and less experienced than GB recievers but they can also run and catch.

ACE

January 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

The Steelers lost to Ravens, Saints, Patriots, and Jets. 4 legitimate SB contenders. The Packers lost to the Bears, Skins, Dolphins,Falcons,Lions, and Patriots. 3 sb contenders and 3 non playoff teams. So I’m not sure what Vegas is looking at.

KDAWG

January 25th, 2011
4:09 pm

The Packers are favored simply because they are a *hotter* team. The Giants in baseball this year were not favored early in the season, but once they went on an impressive run and dominated the playoffs with great pitching and hitting, they became a favored team. Look at it this way, 9 times out of 10, the Steelers by a TD, but they way Green Bay is playing, odds-makers are thinking otherwise.

ASHCAN.

January 25th, 2011
4:15 pm

Rodgers will throw throw and throw some more in this game being that i think they will not(GB)be able to run the ball against pitts D.I think pitts FS SS will play a big role in this game.This one is tough to call but ill take the steelers 24-20.

toddh

January 25th, 2011
4:17 pm

Hoss, I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Sure, the line is intended to induce equal betting on both sides, but the house generally doesn’t know any more than the betting public. So, either way you look at it, they’re putting a line on what the outcome of the game will probably be. And I don’t know how you can assume GB fans will bet more. I know way too many Steelers fans myself, and I’m quite sure a few of them like to bet.

ACE

January 25th, 2011
4:19 pm

The last 3 times the Falcons made the playoffs they lost to the eventual NFC championship. So at least they have that going for them

Gbal

January 25th, 2011
4:22 pm

NO – Just your ego – You want to think you are.

teedub

January 25th, 2011
4:26 pm

Most of this argument is based on the Steelers 2 seeding. However, the Steelers probably should have been the wild card. They are more lucky than they are good. Not knocking them, just sayin’. In the regular season, Buffalo drops 2 wide open td passes, either would have won the game. Most people saw the botched ending where the Dolphins actually beat the Steelers, but the Steelers won on a loophole in officiating. “There is no video evidence that Miami recovered the fumble”. Move those 2 games from W to L, and you have at best a wild card team.

ACE

January 25th, 2011
4:29 pm

@teedub-Every season the team that wins the SB has a few games along the way that they could/should have won. That is what seperates the great teams from the good teams.

DARNELL

January 25th, 2011
4:29 pm

THIS IS THE GREATEST TIME TO BE LIVING IN AMERICA IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!

USA GOT THE PRESDENT AMERICA EVER HAD!

THE PITSBURGH STEELER GOT THE BEST COACH ANY NFL TEAM EVER HAD!

THE EAGLES GOT THE BEST QB TO EVER TOUCH A FOOTBALL!

THE ONLY REASON ANY BODY WOULD PICK GREEN BAY OVER COACH TOMLYN IN THE SUPER BOWL IS BECAUSE OF BEING HATERS NOT CONGRATULATERS!

Hoss

January 25th, 2011
4:31 pm

toddh: Believe it or not, a lot of research is used to determine the line of a game. Put it like this: If you are in a room of 100 people who are going to bet on the game, and say 60 are Packer fans and 40 are Steeler fans, what line would you put on the game? 1-Pickem? If it is a pickem you are going to have a 60/40 split which is no good. 2-If Pitt is favored, you may end up with an even more lopsided split towards GB as some steeler fans may not think the steelers can over, BUT 3- If GB is favored, well you may have some GB fans think twice about betting on GB, and actually bet on Pitt since they are getting points, creating more of a 50/50 split.

TU87

January 25th, 2011
4:31 pm

Who has the better coach – Pitt IMO. I wouldn’t bet on this game too close to call but it should be great to watch.

Jim

January 25th, 2011
4:31 pm

Just because the Packers are favored, doesn’t mean Vegas thinks they are the better team. All a point spread does is allow for equal betting on both sides. Bettors have been riding Green Bay hard for the last month and this line anticipates the same thing happening.

Jason

January 25th, 2011
4:32 pm

When the betting lines opened Pittsburgh was a 1 point favorite. the betting public is who swung the line to the Packers. The only thing Vegas is concerned about is getting equal action on both teams.

ACE

January 25th, 2011
4:33 pm

@4:29 pm SORRY-That should be could/should have lost, not won

dean

January 25th, 2011
4:34 pm

Have another Schlitz there Darnell.

Tosh.No

January 25th, 2011
4:34 pm

I… I actually agree with you Mark. It is definately a strange day.

No way GB is the favorites though, thats weird.

Hoss

January 25th, 2011
4:35 pm

Thank you Jim. Relay that to todd. :)

ATLBadger

January 25th, 2011
4:35 pm

Keep in mind that the six games the Packers lost were all lost by four points or less. Factoring in the massive amount of injuries and lineup shuffling as a result, it’s not surprising they had some dissapointing games along the way. Other than the late season loss at Detroit (who really wasn’t as bad as their record might indicate), they played darn well since mid October. Heck, they almost won in NE in December with a backup QB. Since they’ve essentially won five playoff games in a row (since they had to win the last two regular season games to get the WC), it’s hard to bet against the hot hand I guess…

ACE

January 25th, 2011
4:35 pm

@Jason-I didn’t see that. The first line I saw was Monday morning and it was already GB-2 1/2

stevie zero

January 25th, 2011
4:37 pm

mark, i think the pack has the hottest qb in the league and a pretty stout d. also physical, fast receivers, and a great young running back. and just dominated the three best teams in the nfc. on the road. the steelers are the steelers. but 2-3 pt fave sounds right to me. id be suprised if it moved more than half point by kickoff

Capologist

January 25th, 2011
4:40 pm

teedub, that could be said about every team in the playoffs, especially the Falcons – so I wouldn’t be so quick to pass judgement.

TheRoss

January 25th, 2011
4:40 pm

It’s very simple actually. More people are betting on the Packers than they are the Steelers, and the line adjusted accordingly.

Charles Queen,Somerset,KY

January 25th, 2011
4:41 pm

I’v always been a Packers fan even though I am originaly from Michigan outside of detroit.It’s time for them to win a super bowl been a long time coming