The big game is finally here!

As promised, were here the day before the Super Bowl with our official stat preview. We want to thanks all of you who were with us week-by-week throughout the football season to learn about the value of handicapping with DRIVE POINTS (those scored and allowed on drives of 60 yards or more).

We can't give away all of our secrets here in the NOTEBOOK. The full scope of JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK involves scouts, sources, computer programmers, trend historians, and Wise Guy connections behind the line in Vegas and offshore. Their information stays protected. The selections generated from that information is exclusively for paying customers. We're happy to give you a taste of the "stat handicapping" portion of our exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach here on these web pages. We hope what you've learned has helped you pick more winners and make more money during the season.

We're down to one last game. Let's see what the numbers say.

If you're new to the site, we focus on:

DRIVE POINTS: because they're the single best indicator for true quality in this sport. We'd argue they're the best indicator of any sport! You have to be able to drive the field to score points. You have to prevent your opponents from doing so.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: because the risk/reward quotient is such an important part of the modern game. You can't win if you're giving the ball away too often...or failing to take it away to reduce opposition scoring opportunities. Some handicappers will tell you that turnovers are random. Longtime readers of the NOTEBOOK know this is INSANE! Pressure defenses force them. Erratic quarterbacks commit them. Do you know how hard it is to reach the Super Bowl without a positive differential?

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: because stats can be misleading if they're accumulated against a very soft or very hard schedule. In the case of this year's Super Bowl, the teams played very similar schedules in strength according to the USA Today's computer ratings. You'll recall both Indianapolis and New Orleans faced the AFC East this year. That's four identical opponents right there.

Enough with the build up. Let's see the numbers!


Indianapolis: 18.3 on offense, 9.1 on defense, +2 TO's, 23rd schedule
New Orleans: 19.4 on offense, 12.8 on defense, +11 TO'S, 22nd schedule
Las Vegas Spread: Indianapolis by 4½, total of 56
: Note that these are regular season numbers. We always stick with the 16-game data for all playoff teams in our postseason analysis.

As we mentioned often during the regular season, these teams were very similar. It's not just that both started the season 13-0. Both:

  • Were great when it came to driving the field for points. New Orleans was best in the NFL in this stat. Indianapolis was second best.
  • Were strong defensively. Indianapolis was one of the best in the NFL at keeping teams from driving the field. Nobody but us even noticed! New Orleans allowed almost four more points per game on drives, but made up for that by forcing a lot of turnovers. The Saints did a really good job of exploiting opponents' tendency to panic. You saw that again last week against Minnesota. New Orleans wouldn't be here if not for all the Viking turnovers.
  • Were on the positive end of turnover differential. Drew Brees wasn't handing the ball back when his defense got it for him. Peyton Manning has become a very conservative quarterback even though he passes a lot. He only takes risks when he has too.
  • Were challenged by below average schedules. Frankly, neither was as good as their 13-0 starts in terms of what records like that usually mean. Each eked out some close wins in games that could have gone the other way. New Orleans ultimately lost a couple of games they were trying to win. Indianapolis lost a couple once the starters were pulled.

The similarities continued in the playoffs. Both:

  • Were #1 seeds in their respective brackets.
  • Were rested hosts vs. surprise first round winners in their opening games.
  • Had one game where they topped 400 yards on offense, but one where they couldn't reach 280.
  • Failed to take a lead into the second half of their conference championship game, but found a way to win and advance anyway.
  • Were able to exploit the turnover category, with Indy winning 2-5, New Orleans 1-7.

Hopefully we've made the point that these two teams are almost identical! So, if that's the case, why is one rated anywhere from a four-to-six point favorite over the other depending on the day of the week and the latest injury news? This is a neutral field. How could one of these clones be that big a favorite over the other?

Several reasons:

  • Recent form. Indianapolis is 16-0 this year in games they were trying to win, and just scored a combined 50-20 win in the AFC playoffs. They're playing very well...arguably peaking at just the right time thanks to the rest they gave themselves late in the year. New Orleans is nowhere near their best form. They were lucky to beat Minnesota last week (getting outgained 475-257), and lost their last three regular season games.
  • Quarterback aura. Peyton Manning is seen as being invincible this year. If he doesn't play well, he finds a way to win. If he plays well, Indy wins easily. Bettors want to invest in Manning, and oddsmakers have to charge them a premium in attempt to avoid one-sided action. It should be noted too that Drew Brees seemed to disappear in the second half of the Minnesota game. Brett Favre lost that one, Brees didn't win it.
  • Super Bowl history. Favorites get jacked up every year. For many seasons, it didn't the superior teams posted blowout after blowout. Sportsbooks have started getting some of that back this decade, with underdogs getting the money more often than not in the new century. Still, Super Bowl favorites are typically going to be more expensive than the stats say they should be.

And, that's the case here. Our DRIVE POINT stats show the Colts as marginally better. New Orleans makes that up with turnover differential. If this is a regular season game in London in Week 10 or something, we're looking at a virtual pick-em. Maybe the Colts are favored by 1-2 points.

So, as handicappers, the key to picking the winner is fairly simple. You either decide if these teams are going to play to their regular season form...meaning New Orleans is a virtual steal. Or, you decide if they follow their recent form. Hey, if Indianapolis outgains New Orleans 475-257 like Minnesota did, it's going to be a slaughter!

Can New Orleans win a blowout? It's the Super Bowl. Anything can happen! It's certainly within the realm of possibility that Indy comes in a bit flat after silencing critics who didn't think they'd reach the big game because they  rested their starters early...while New Orleans plays with less fear as an underdog than they did as a favorite.

What does JIM HURLEY think?

JIM HURLEY thinks he wants to know the status of Dwight Freeney's ankle before making a final call! JIM HURLEY thinks he needs to hear more on site reports about which players are spending too much time enjoying the South Beach rather than focusing on the task at hand. JIM HURLEY thinks he wants to know what the Wise Guys are doing in Vegas. There are conflicting reports coming in daily about swerves and counter-swerves as high rollers try to get their team at the best possible line. JIM HURLEY thinks YOU SHOULD CALL HIM OR CLICK HERE SUNDAY MORNING TO GET HIS VIRTUAL LOCK RELEASE IN THE BIGGEST LEGAL BETTING GAME OF THE YEAR!

NETWORK will have all the I's dotted, and all the T's crossed on game day. Information from our scouts...sources...statheads...and computer programmers will have firmed up a projected final score to compare against the side and total numbers. Our Wise Guy connections will know for sure who's doing what, and how strongly they backed their opinions. All that's left is to get YOU on the right  plays!

The number to call is 1-800-323-4453. Our best advice is to call TODAY so you can build your bankroll for the big game with some MONSTER releases in college basketball. Among the highlights:

You know you'll be parked in front of the TV watching games all day. We're paying particular attention to Villanova-Georgetown, Duke-Boston College, Texas-Oklahoma, South Carolina-Tennessee, Wisconsin-Michigan, and Michigan State-Illinois. But, you regulars know we can strike ANYWHERE at ANY TIME when big play information comes into the office.

If you prefer taking care of business over the internet, you can purchase all the key elements of SUPER BOWL WEEKEND right here at the website with your credit card.




Today’s Hot Plays