$119.4 million. That is the record amount of money that was waged last year in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. It also resulted in a record $19.7 million profit for Vegas. That obviously only accounts for the action in Las Vegas, where the total number is estimated in the billions.
I'm fascinated by this. Sports betting feels very similar to Wall St. to me. Anyone can read an article and go buy a stock or make a wage on the Super Bowl, but few people actually know what really goes on behind the scenes. Only twice in the last 25 years has Vegas lost money on the Super Bowl (one year the amount lost was insignificant and the other year was when Giants upset the previously unbeaten Patriots). You think that's an accident? Not even a little bit.
Sports betting has been all about computational analysis and mathematical analysis since Charles K. McNeil invented the spread betting in the 1940s. Since then, the math has only gotten more complicated every year. I'm fully convinced that with the right team of data scientists, you could crack the code and beat the odds. Until then, I'll rely on my intuition and extremely limited knowledge to make educated guesses.
Youth vs. Experience
This year's Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots is your classic example of youth vs. experience. You have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick who will be playing in their 6th Super Bowl together. You don't get any more experienced than that. On the other hand, you have the young and hungry Seattle Seahawks. Sure they have some experience as they won the Super Bowl last year and Pete Carroll is no spring chicken, but they definitely represent team youth in this matchup.
There are certain situations which youthful naivety may be more valuable than an experienced veteran, and you can certainly make the opposite argument. When asked who wins, the clear answer is: it depends.
When it comes to physical activities, youth tends to have the edge which is exactly why the Seattle Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl.
Raw Talent vs. Trickery
When you line up each team and evaluate the skill at each position, Seattle clearly has the more talented team. Yes, New England gets the nod for Brady and Gronk, but mostly everything else goes to Seattle. That means that New England will have to rely on something other than talent to beat the Seahawks.
Bill Belichick is the master of making the most out of what he has. Together, him and Tom Brady have made it to the AFC Championship 9 out of the 13 seasons that the two have been together. that's completely insane, and I don't want to understate that. That said, Coach Belichick has had to pull out some interesting moves to get to the Super Bowl this year. Putting aside the whole #deflategate controversy, people quickly forget the fact that the Pats needed to use trick plays to beat the Ravens. Completely legal, just like using the hidden ball trick in baseball, this type of stuff is clever but definitely not an indication that you can just go out there and line up against the other team and win.
Maybe Tom and Bill have some more tricks up their sleeve, or maybe they used them all up just to get to the Super Bowl. Regardless, it's not going to matter against a more talented Seahawks team. They'll be ready for it.
Optimistic vs. Win At All Costs
Pete Carroll is a very intriguing character. Yes, there was some shadiness that went down at USC with paying players, and I don't think you can let him off the hook for that. But, Coach Carroll has some incredible energy to him. If you didn't know he was 63, you'd probably think he was 50 at most based on his presence on the sidelines. Carroll has been so focused on the culture of the Seahawks since his arrival, and it shows.
Carroll has "unrelenting and hyper-focused attention to cultivating optimism, mindfulness and gratitude." That can't be discounted. It's what helped them win the Super Bowl last year, and it's what has them there again. There were many opportunities this season for the team to give up, particularly in the NFC Championship game against the Packers, but the team pulled together and never stopped believing in each other. Team first. Always.
Belichick, on the other hand, is known for his emotionless demeanor. The mantra has always seemed to be: win at all costs. New England has been found guilty of illegally videotaping opponent's play calling with what has become known as Spygate. Of course we all know about Deflategate. It's just a very different culture than what we see in Seattle. I'm not here to knock Belichick or Brady; their accomplishments speak for themselves.
All I'm saying is that in this particular instance, I think Carroll's culture of optimism trumps Belichick's stoic approach.
We'll know the answer to how this all unfolds in a few hours, but for now, you have my prediction. The Seahawks are going to defeat the Patriots to become back-to-back Super Bowl Champions for the first time since New England accomplished that feat in 2003 & 2004.