01/30/2014 2:56PM

Dave Tuley: Defense will have its day in Super Bowl


President Obama gave his State of the Union address on Thursday night. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to make his State of the League speech Friday.

Now, there’s no official talking head for the Las Vegas sports betting industry giving a speech this weekend, but if there were, they would be giving a very upbeat and optimistic one indeed. The key points of that speech (I’m available to moonlight as speechwriter):

◗ Last year, Nevada set a Super Bowl handle record with $98.9 million, of which the sports books won $7.2 million, their most-profitable game in six years and the sixth-highest win for the books since the state’s Gaming Control Board started keeping track of such info (or at least releasing it to the public) in 1991. The casinos are optimistic of breaking that record with this year’s game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

◗ Nevada has had four straight years of increases in Super Bowl handle. The previous record handle was $94.5 million in 2006, before the recession hit, and it was followed three straight decreases. But now things are looking up, and this year we have the added attraction of the top two teams in the league facing off for the first time in four years and only the second time since 1993. That alone should have added to increased betting interest, but then having Peyton Manning in the game adds a whole other level to the already popular proposition wagering.

◗ Another factor likely to increase betting is that the big game is being held in New Jersey as opposed to its traditional warm-weather locale, and that gives people more of a reason to come here. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority expects an increase from the 311,000 that came to town last year on Super Bowl Weekend and filled 91.5 percent of the city’s 150,000 hotel rooms. That’s more hotel rooms than in New York and the New Jersey Meadowlands area combined, and it’s possible more out-of-towners are coming to Vegas this weekend than to the Super Bowl host city.

◗ Another big draw are the Super Bowl parties. Not counting the free invite-only parties at the bigger casinos (and if you haven’t received an invite by now, you’re not getting one), there are plenty of options.

The biggest free party is in the LVH Theater with its 40-foot-wide HD screen and food and drink specials. The other long-running giant public parties are in the ballrooms at the Coast Casino/Boyd Gaming family of casinos such as the Orleans, the Gold Coast, Suncoast, and Sam’s Town, as well as the South Point.

If you’re looking for more options, my best suggestion is to grab a copy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which will be full of ads from all sorts of places (some with more adult themes than others) looking for your business.

Back to the actual betting on the game.

The action was fast and furious right after the Broncos-Seahawks matchup was determined two weeks ago in the conference championship games. The Seahawks actually opened as high as a 2-point favorite at the LVH and at –1.5 or –1 at most of the books here in Vegas (while offshore books mostly went with pick-em), but it took about a half-hour for the Broncos to be bet to favoritism at all books and the line quickly climbed to the Broncos –2.5 the following day and has stayed mostly there ever since. The over/under has wavered between 47 and 47.5.

Seahawks +2.5 vs. Broncos

I knew I would like the Seahawks right away in this matchup and was conflicted when they opened as the favorite, but I’ll gladly take the bonus points (I’d advise waiting for closer to game time to get +3 if you’re with me). The Seahawks have the much stronger defense (better than any that the Broncos have faced all year, with the Chiefs having the only defense that’s close). The key to the game might come down to penalties. Seattle will get physical with the Denver receivers, and it’ll be interesting to watch how the refs call it. If they let them play, it favors the Seahawks. Beyond that, the Seahawks also have a balanced offense, which I’m confident coach Pete Carroll is going to have well prepared. Like most Seattle backers, I think inclement weather would have helped their chances, but then the line would probably have moved back to pick-em by now.

PLAY: Seahawks for 2 units.

Conference title games: 1-1 for a net loss of 1.2 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1, and I had the Patriots as a 2-unit play). NFL playoffs: 3-2-1 for net loss of 0.3 units.