02/04/2010 12:00AM

Saints have enough weapons


LAS VEGAS - Twice in speeches, President Obama has discouraged people from coming to Las Vegas.

Last year around this time, Obama was quoted as telling bailout companies "You cannot go to the Super Bowl or Las Vegas on the taxpayers dime." Sin City officials were obviously miffed that the commander in chief was telling people to not come to our fair city. Three months later he came to town for a fundraiser for Sen. Harry Reid and said it was a great time for people to start going to Vegas.

This past week, Obama gave a speech in New Hampshire in which he said, "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college." While his point is a valid one, Vegas officials lashed back for Obama making Vegas the whipping city of the country. Obama apologized for his choice of words.

But nothing the president has said is likely to keep bettors away this weekend. Vegas is gearing up for a big Super Bowl weekend, and 300,000 people are expected to fill up this town. All of the big casinos will be hosting parties for their high-rollers and there are also free parties with big-screen TVs in showrooms or ballrooms that are open to the public, including the Las Vegas Hilton, South Point, and the Orleans (that certainly would be an appealing venue for Saints fans).

Saints +5 vs. Colts (o/u 57)

This is the matchup most people have been anticipating all season long. Both won their first 13 games (with the Colts going 14-0 before benching their starters vs. the Jets) and were the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences. This is the first time since 1993 (Dallas vs. Buffalo) that both No. 1 seeds have made it to the Super Bowl, and Vegas bookmakers were cheering the matchups because it's not only attractive from the traditional betting standpoint, but also because the two high-powered offenses with a lot of recognizable names make for robust proposition wagering, which has become such a big part of the betting handle.

This line opened here in Vegas as low as Colts -3 -120 at the M resort two weeks ago, but that wasn't around long. Most books went with Colts -3 1/2 or -4, but when offshore books were posting 4 1/2, the run of money on the Colts continued until it went to 5 1/2 at just about every book in Vegas (with the Station Casinos and the Cal Neva chain out of Reno going as high as 6). It looked like it would settle there, but then the news came out that Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney had a torn ankle ligament and the line started dropping and was sitting at a consensus of Colts -5 as of Thursday morning.

I've gone on record many times saying that the Colts are overrated, certainly not as good as their record. There were many games in which they were outplayed and should have lost. To their credit, they not only got the wins but often covered with their final score of the game. But I'm not going to say I had the wrong side of the Jets-Colts game when I was getting +8 and the Jets were leading 17-6 (beating the spread by 19 points) midway through the second quarter.

The Saints certainly have the weapons to keep up with the Colts, and if Freeney is limited that helps the Saints even more. I was encouraged by the amount of pressure they were able to put on Brett Favre last week. If they can rush Peyton Manning into forcing some throws, they can get key turnovers to aid their upset bid.

The total started at 55 and also has been bet higher. These teams can both certainly put points on the board (and Super Bowls tend to be higher scoring, with the long commercial breaks and more chances for offenses to make in-game adjustments and strike for big plays), but I am thinking a few long, time-consuming drives - either with the run or the short passing games - or a low-scoring quarter will keep this under the number.

With the way the Colts have consistently rallied, you may want to consider shortening the game and take the first-half line of the Saints +3 (currently available at even money for better value) or even the first quarter line of Saints +1/2 at -110.

PLAY: Saints +5 for 1 unit; under 57 points for 1 unit.

Title games: 1-1, including 0-1 on 2-unit play on Jets, for a net loss of 1.2 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). Season record: 35-28, including 2-4 on 2-unit plays, for a net profit of 1.8 units.

Super Bowl proposition bets

Here's a look at some props I've either bet or I'm waiting until the public bets it the other way so I can get a better price:

Team to score first: Saints +130. This could be determined by who wins the coin flip, so +130 seems generous.

Saints over/under 100.5 rushing yards: Over -110. I don't trust the Colts' run defense. (I might instead take Saints vs. Colts rushing yards at same -110.)

Will Darren Sharper intercept a pass: Yes +250. See above about pressuring Manning, and Sharper is a ball hawk.

Longest completion by Drew Brees over/under 38.5 yards: Over -110. The running game sets up deep passes.

Player to score first touchdown: Reggie Bush 12-1. Not as lucrative as when I picked Devin Hester at 30-1 three years ago, but I'll take it.