I. Can’t. Care.

This is the second Super Bowl in the past decade over which I simply cannot get myself worked up. No matter what I try, Pittsburgh v. Seattle leaves me coooooold. The other game that failed to stoke any fires whatsoever was Oakland/Tampa, a.k.a., the Gruden Bowl. Everyone involved in that contest just seemed like kind of a prick. In this one, everyone seems vaguely nice. Jerome Bettis is a fine fellow, but I am neither surprised by the fact that he has parents, nor am I surprised that they are overweight, nor do I want to read any more media types talking about how tired of the Bettis story they are. The whole thing has basically soured me on The Bus, at least for this weekend. Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Hasselbeck are middle-of-the-road QBs who are being called “great,” but that’s because people need to overstate things…it’s the Super Bowl. Willie Parker is a glorified third-down back. Shaun Alexander seems soft to me. Hines Ward is tough as nails and a great teammate, but looks to be slowing down severely. Bill Cowher has a mustache. Mike Holmgren has a mustache.

I suppose this is what betting’s for. Lay down a few fins on either of the squads and some miscellaneous prop bets, and the contest gets quite a bit more interesting. (Thank heavens for offshore gambling.) For the record, I’m taking Seattle and the points, though not heavily. It’s just kind of…a humdrum matchup. Does anyone really think the Steelers are the best team in the AFC? (People in Boston and Indianapolis, I see you waving your arms.) And does anyone think the NFC is any kind of test of whether a team is any good? What are the leading storylines here? “Can Roethlisberger Not Suck Once Again?” “Can Hasselbeck Snap The Ball Before Pittsburgh Can Set Its Blitz?” “Can Bill Cowher’s Jaw Reach Midfield With Cowher Standing On The Sidelines?” Yawn. There’s simply not much here, unless you’re from the ‘Burgh or Latte Land.

I think the Seahawks’ D will confuse Big Ben a bit, I think Shaun Alexander shows he’s better than you think, and I think Seattle keeps it close enough to cover. But I don’t think any of these things with any kind of real enthusiasm. For me, this is the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros facing off in a World Series. Bleh.

Predictions for Super Bowl XL?

Greg Jorssen, BoDog.com: I predict that we will have a record breaking Super Bowl in terms of handle. That’s for sure! As for the game itself, this will be a defensive battle, thus I predict a low-scoring affair. That said, the Super Bowl never fails to surprise me. Maybe it is the adrenaline pumping through the players’ veins, but Super Bowls tend to be higher-scoring than what I usually expect. In fact, the past five Super Bowls have been higher than the posted totals. I do feel, however, that this is the year that trend comes to an end. As to which team will win, I am going to look at the teams’ histories playing in the Super Bowl. This is Pittsburgh’s 6th trip back, and they are 4-1 straight up and against the spread. As for Seattle, this is of course their first trip to the big one, and teams playing in their first Super Bowl are 9-14-1 against the spread. Based on this, my head says Pittsburgh will win, however my heart is with Seattle, a team that I have followed since I was just a kid. All I know is that this should be a great game with two classic defensive teams.

How is the handle for the Big Game? How does it compare to previous years?

GJ, BoDog.com: Still too early to tell. However, it’s well ahead of last year’s handle at this time. The majority of our handle (around 80%) comes in 24 hours before the game, and most happens two hours before kickoff. I expect a handle well over $ 10 million just on this game, including props and future bets.

Are you interested at all in the Ricky-Davis-for-Wally-Szczerbiak trade?
Does it do anything for either team in terms of who you’d wager on?

GJ, BoDog.com: I know the ladies in Minnesota are quite upset to lose Wally, or so I hear! Szczerbiak is having a great season; however he is not exactly strong on defense. Ricky Davis is more of a complete player, as long as his attitude stays in check. Jury is still out on who got the better of the deal. However, I believe you have to give that edge to Boston. They are that much better (and younger) now with Wally in the line-up, a legitimate 3-point shooter. Seems clear they have made their big push for a playoff spot in the East, and you can expect far fewer turnovers now that Ricky Davis and Mark Blount are out of the lineup. Celts can stretch the floor better now that they finally have a shooter that can hit from downtown. The Celts are only four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, with around 37 games still to play. When you factor in the youth, the decreased turnovers and the ability to spread the floor and hit the deep one, there is no doubt in my mind that they will be a team to reckon with before this season is through.

Kind of an off-beat question: How good is Northern Iowa in college hoops? They’re ranked 25th this week, and are 19-3 with wins against Iowa and LSU. Will they make the Sweet 16?

GJ, BoDog.com:Who? Just messing with you. Right now there is a lot of hype on the Panthers due to them making the Top 25 for the first time in team history. That said, I think there will be a lot of pressure on these kids to continue down the stretch, as evidenced with their loss to Creighton this week. I’m sure they will get into the tourney, but I can’t see them doing much damage due to it being slightly overwhelming for them.

Christopher Harris is a featured writer for the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com

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