PlayBook: The Great Gronk Gamble

By Fraser Lockerbie

It's Super Bowl weekend and has all your props.

It is a well-documented fact that Rob Gronkowski scored touchdowns this season at an alarming pace. Seventeen of them and 1,327 yards. He is a purebred athlete, a season long live wire and a 6’6,” 265 pound monster tight end with a penchant for scoring and new-found taste for winning and blood. He’s dangerous to everyone around him but he’s been in a walking boot with a supposed high ankle sprain and if history has taught us anything it’s that high ankle sprains are seriously debilitating things that limit production, if not end careers.

So this week folks, we will not bet heavily on Gronk until we see him march out onto the field in full form at which time we will invest homes and daughters to the cause and call for three touchdowns or more. A hundred plus yards of nothing but straight Gronk.

Gronkowski lines worth taking if…

…he is healthy:Receptions over 5.5: -145, Score a touchdown: -160, 51 to 70 yards: +350

…he isn’t healthy:Receptions under 5.5: +125, 11-20 receiving yards +1000

But a more modest if not likely proposal will be the Giants tandem of Nicks and Cruz valued at +700 and +800 respectively to score the first touchdown. The Giants are favored for first possession as Bill Belichick is a creature of superstition and habit, refusing to receive the ball if he wins the toss since that fateful ACL tear cost Tom Brady a season. Adding intrigue to this gambit are the Patriots corner backs who have been asleep at the wheel for the better part of a year and will allow predators like Cruz and Nicks to wander around unguarded down field for extended periods of time.

Manning is an equal opportunist these days, take both: Hakeem Nicks +700, Victor Cruz +800

We’ll also be taking this guy for the value of the line: Jake Ballard +2000

So it’s something like 7-0, 7-3 or 7-6 now for those of you keeping score at home. The last time these two teams met the whole thing was a scoreless tie for the entire first half which we all know to be unacceptable and unlikely to be repeated in the Super Bowl. The Patriots will want to play like cowboys in Indy but the Giants can keep pace and have also shown ability on the other side of the ball, holding the Falcons and Packers to a combined 22 points in two games. Brady is unstoppable when he really gets going and he’ll want to air it out if Gronk isn’t in the midfield mix but he’ll be under pressure on third and fourth downs and Corey Webster will be lurking somewhere in the shadows, licking his chops and lying in wait.

Will Tom Brady throw an interception:Yes -140, No +120

Taking the “yes” and parlaying that with a “yes” on…

Will Corey Webster intercept a pass: Yes +400, No -500

…will net you somewhere in the neighborhood of five times your original wager. Not a bad day’s work for a Sunday.

By now, you’ve probably noticed a trend favoring the Giants here in the early goings. Here’s another.

How many different Giants will score:Over 3.5 -140 and kickers count.

Two TDs and a short yardage rush are not that hard to imagine against the Pats but this is just about where the fun stops for them. We need to take this Patriots team seriously and not forget the flurry of 20 plus point comebacks Brady has engineered this season. So what if the Giants take early advantage of the horrible New England defensive sprawl?

Biggest lead by either team:Over 13.5 points -160

Then Brady kicks this whole team into high gear and starts an offensive march that only ends in touchdowns. Two or maybe three of them. He’s got Welker, Branch, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Aaron Hernandez, the ugly but almost as good step brother of Gronkowski. And by God if Gronk is healthy you can believe this thing will turn into an all-out shoot ‘em up western.

Combined points for both teams:55 Even, 62.5 +200, 69.5 +400

We’re getting ambitious when we start talking about 70 points but if the Pats fall behind they don’t have a track record of limping away to die. An early big lead for the Giants might just be the most dangerous thing of all which leads us to our final bet of the day.

This Week’s Lines:

New England (-3) over New York

What we’ve laid out here is a scenario in which the Giants lead early and Pats play from behind the whole game only to sneak out a win in the dying minutes of the fourth. But what if Brady, seeking redemption for a defeat still fresh on his mind, runs wild and free all game? Do the bets still work? Well the Gronk bets are totally dependent on him so we’ll set them aside. The odds the Giants score on the opening drive and within the first five (for the record the line on that is +105) are pretty good. The odds that it’s one of three mentioned above are better so the bet stands. Even if the Patriots answer right back and play ahead all game, the Giants can keep up so taking the over on 3.5 different players to score is good and if that’s the case, the score will definitely be pushing the limits of 70. If Brady gets rolling he can easily break off a 13.5 lead and what if in the hustle and bustle he throws a pick? The wagers all play!

This is the Super Bowl folks. No slowing down now. These are fast times for fast people and it’s just the way we like it.


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