February 2008

Are the Patriots Cheaters?

There’s hope for Western civilization after all. The voting public appears ready to support politicians with ethical substance, and the betting public has likewise turned its back on the New England Patriots.

The Pats have become the NFL’s version of the Evil Empire, joining the New York Yankees and the Duke Blue Devils among the most hated teams in North American sports. An Empire because of all those championships; Evil because of the controversy surrounding Spygate, which the New York Times recently dealt with in a refreshingly intelligent manner.

The problem isn’t that the Patriots apparently stole signals from the New York Jets last September. That’s legal. The problem is that they did it effectively, using video technology to record activity on the Jets sideline for further analysis. This falls into what ethicists call a “gray area,” doing something that is technically allowable yet violates the spirit of the rules. It’s not illegal, but it’s cheating just the same.

NFL Offseason Odds: N.Y. Giants Super Bowl Repeat?

Depending on your outlook, the New York Giants are the worst Super Bowl champions the NFL has ever produced, or they peaked at just the right time. The futures market for Super Bowl XLIII suggests the former; the Giants opened at 12-1 to retain their title, behind four other teams.

The New England Patriots are next year’s favorites at 3-1; they may or may not bring cornerback Asante Samuel back to Foxborough, but are otherwise expected to be intact from their near-perfect 2007 campaign. That might be a problem – the New England linebacking corps is getting older, not better.

The Giants have a much better chance of playing as well in 2008 as they did during the playoff drive. It all depends on Eli Manning and his continued development into an elite player. “I’ve got to become a better quarterback. That’s my goal,” Manning told the team website. So far, so good.

NFL Pro Bowl Highlights

For a relatively meaningless game, the 2008 Pro Bowl gave us a few things to think about for next season. Minnesota Vikings fans in particular will be thinking about Adrian Peterson; he rushed for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the NFC (+3) dumped the AFC 42-30. Peterson becomes just the second rookie to be named Pro Bowl MVP; Marshall Faulk was the first in 1995.

Terrell Owens added a pair of TD catches for the NFC, one from current teammate Tony Romo and the other from ex-teammate Jeff Garcia. T.J. Houshmandzadeh also caught two TD passes in a losing effort. While the NFC featured a balanced offensive attack, the AFC could only manage 45 yards rushing on 10 carries.

The NFC improved its Pro Bowl record to 10-13 with the win, including three of their last five visits to Honolulu. Now the NFL offseason begins in earnest; Feb. 21 is the deadline for franchise tags.

Posted in NFL

Super Bowl Results and Payouts

It’s all over but the recriminations. The New England Patriots failed to complete their perfect season, losing 17-14 to the New York Giants on a last-minute touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.

It looks like the books have once again taken an absolute bath on the Patriots, although this time it was in a losing effort. The Giants were bet early and often; they were 12-point underdogs (+315 on the moneyline) at the close. Betting reports suggest 85 percent of the action was on New York. A relatively moderate 57 percent of the betting public showed a preference for the over on the total of 54.5 points, giving back some of those monster earnings.

On the props market, Manning paid out at 7-2 as the Super Bowl MVP. The Giants (+120) scored first with a field goal (+140) by Lawrence Tynes. And Kobe Bryant (+0.5) easily outscored the Patriots with 30 points against the Wizards.

Super Bowl: The Biggest Advertising Day of the Year

This weekend the big shots of American advertising will go head to head in the marketing battle to see who will be the King (or Queen) of commercials. Game day will be the biggest advertising event of the year.

According to Fox, the average cost for a 30 second spot during this year’s game is $2.7 million and with 93 million viewers of the Super Bowl last year, even more are expected to watch this year.

Companies such as General Motors, Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi are just a few that are going to be spending their millions to get their marketing message to this massive audience.

Lou D’ermillo, senior vice president of communications at Fox Sports said last week that Fox only had one available spot left for the game and that the Super Bowl was 90% sold out by the first week in November.

So what is it exactly that makes a Super Bowl spot such a great investment?

“It’s all about value,” said Michael Pavone, president of the brand consulting firm Pavone, the group responsible for spotbowl.com, a Web site that analyzes Super Bowl advertising.

Over the years Super Bowl commercials have become a cultural phenomena, and according to Pavone, more than half the audience is tuning in just to see the ads.

“The Super Bowl is a good spend because you get the chance to create a lot of buzz a head of the game.”