All bets favor Packers, at least for now
All bets favor Packers, at least for now
All bets favor Packers, at least for now
Spread may be raised to 7½ points
Bookmakers who established the Green Bay Packers as a 7-point favorite to defeat the New York Giants on Sunday are expected to raise the spread to 7½ points over the weekend to attract more bets on the Giants.
"The action has been very heavy on Green Bay," said Ryan Stetson of Covers.com, a gambling house headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "About 79 percent of the betting has been on Green Bay and the houses want balanced action. So they can only take that kind of money for so long before doing something. I think most sports books will be at seven-and-a-half."
Stetson said some bookmakers reported that they've taken bets earlier than usual this week, as customers took advantage of the Packers being a one-touchdown favorite.
"Usually you don't see most of the bets until game day," Stetson said. "The houses usually take 10 percent of the bet so if they stay at 7 points, they might bump up the juice (bookmakers' share)."
Doug Harper, of the online gambling site zewkey.com, said customers who decide to bet on a team "straight up" are putting their money on the Giants because they could win more if the Giants win. He said 90 percent of the straight-up bets are taking the Giants.
"It's people chasing the underdog because that's always enticing," Harper said from his Dallas office. He said that with the Packers close to a 3-1 favorite, someone would have to bet $320 on the Packers to win an extra $100 while they could bet $100 on the Giants and win an extra $260.
"But a lot of trends go the Packers' way," Harper said. "Green Bay just kills teams that come to Green Bay late in the year. And I think Green Bay has been underestimated until this week. The tide started turning when (Ryan) Grant started to emerge."
Thomas Jensen, of Montreal-based Pointspread.com, said the Packers are a popular bet because of quarterback Brett Favre.
"Brett Favre is the sentimental favorite and everybody is thinking about the blowout (last weekend)," Jensen said.
Mike Seaton of The Spread.com, with offices in Detroit, said most of the bets made so far are by more hard-core bettors.
"The recreational and casual bettors wait until the day of the game," Seaton said. "We've seen about 30,000 bets so far, but it could go as high as 160,000 by game time."
Re: All bets favor Packers, at least for now
Frozen footballs used as prep for frigid day
Coach Mike McCarthy didn't take the Packers into the cold for practice this week, but he tried to bring some of the cold to them by freezing the footballs they used in practice.
McCarthy said he got the idea from the common NFL practice of preparing for rain games by dipping the ball in a bucket of water before each play in practice, something many NFL teams do occasionally during the season. Instead, McCarthy had the balls placed in a portable freezer at practice, and on each play during team drills, the equipment men grabbed a ball from freezer to try to simulate what it will be like throwing, catching and handing off the ball Sunday in the NFC championship game at an arctic-like Lambeau Field.
"Didn't tell the players about it and just rolled them in there on Wednesday and did it throughout the week," McCarthy said. "Really, I was just trying to get them to focus more on catching the football. We had a couple of quarterback-center exchange problems in the shotgun there on Wednesday, but I thought they handled it very well."
The forecast Sunday calls for a high of 5 degrees, low of minus 8 and wind chill of between minus 20 and minus 30.
"They never told us that the balls were coming out of the freezer, we just kind just felt it as we caught it, 'Wow, the balls are cold,'" receiver Donald Driver said. "We thought most likely the balls had been outside all day, but they were in the freezer. They were kind of slippery. Mostly, I think it's for concentration, because when it's warm weather, you basically don't have to concentrate too much on the ball. Basically, if you've got good hands, you're going to catch. But I don't care how good your hands are, in cold weather, you have to focus on the ball and make sure you catch it before you run with it."
The Packers appear to be about as healthy as they could hope for a championship game.
Their injury list was cut to six players on Friday, and five are sure bets to play Sunday. The only player whose status is questionable is cornerback-returner Will Blackmon, who hasn't played since aggravating a foot injury in the regular-season finale and is listed as questionable (50 percent chance of playing) on Friday's injury report.
Blackmon took part in some drills Wednesday and Thursday, and had full participation Friday. But to play Blackmon, McCarthy will have to decide which player to drop from last week's 45-man game-day roster to play Blackmon, and whether he is ready to play cornerback if injuries at that position force him onto the field in that role.
Also, there's the risk Blackmon could aggravate the injury and be lost for the rest of the game.
"Wednesday and Thursday and Friday during special teams work, I thought he looked great," McCarthy said. "But the defensive work, he improved through the week. We'll see how he feels (Saturday), and it'll be a game-time decision."
Blackmon said he's ready to go.
"The main thing is I was able to do everything I was supposed to do in practice," he said. "I didn't slow anything down or change this or change that. I just went out there as if I never did anything to it."
McCarthy removed Greg Jennings (groin) from the injury report, so he's ready to play. The five other players on the injury list also had full participation in practice Friday. McCarthy listed them as probable (virtual certainty they'll be available for regular duty), and all are expected to play: linebacker Nick Barnett (hamstring), center Scott Wells (glute), tight end Bubba Franks (knee), receiver Koren Robinson (knee) and cornerback Charles Woodson (knee).
Favre on Moss
There's no telling how good the Packers' offense might have been this season had they acquired receiver Randy Moss in an offseason trade, though even without him, it's turned out much better than most people, including quarterback Brett Favre, could have expected.
In the offseason, Favre was upset when General Manager Ted Thompson didn't make a hard enough run to acquire Moss from the Raiders. New England won the bidding, and Moss went on to have a huge season with the Patriots after his career took a major downturn in Oakland.
At a pre-championship game press conference on Friday, Favre was asked about his concerns with the receiving corps in the offseason that prompted his strong endorsement of trying to acquire Moss.
"I felt like (Moss) could bring experience," Favre said, "obviously talent, a dimension that you can double him and triple him, and still he can make plays. So, that was what I was concerned about.
"We have a young receiving corps outside of Donald (Driver). We know what Donald Driver can do and what he has done for us. I had a feeling Greg (Jennings) would emerge as a star in this league. Had he played the first two games (this season), who knows? He's going to continue to get better. Our receiving corps is pretty good. We all here know that, have seen that."
If the Packers win Sunday, Robinson will play the Super Bowl in the same Arizona Cardinals' stadium in which he met with commissioner Roger Goodell last fall and was told he'd be reinstated in the NFL after his one-year suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's alcohol and substance-abuse policy.
Robinson had been working with a personal trainer in Arizona to get ready for his return and happened to be at a Cardinals game when he received a call from the commissioner's office to set up a meeting. The commissioner happened to be at that game too, so they met at the stadium.
"We have to take care of business Sunday in order to get to the Super Bowl," Robinson said. "But if we are fortunate enough to make it to the Super Bowl, it'd be amazing. It'd be overwhelming. Just for everything — how I met with the commissioner in Phoenix, and I was in Phoenix working out and everything, and I got reinstated back at the stadium. Then, to come back, go through all of this and then go back and play for the Super Bowl there, yeah, it'd be rewarding.
"It'd be like confirmation, the Lord showing me, like, 'OK, Koren, if you do what I ask you to do and you do what you're supposed to do, this is how I reward you.' And that's how I look at the situation."