Everyone knows about March Madness. But not everyone pays attention to the conference tournaments the week before the Big Dance.
The same goes for the Super Bowl. Everyone and their dog watches the Big Game – even if you’re not a follower of football – but not everyone takes in the conference championship games that precede the Super Bowl.
For sports bettors, going against the public grain is often times the path to profits. And, much like finding more betting enjoyment wagering on college basketball’s conference tournaments than the NCAA tournament, NFL bettors may gravitate toward the conference championships rather than living and dying for the Super Bowl.
Sure, Super Bowl has all the pageantry and hoopla surrounding it but when it comes to turning a profit and having a little fun while doing it, NFL Conference Championship Sunday takes the cake.
Here are six reasons why NFL Championship Sunday is better than Super Bowl Sunday:
TWO GAMES, MAN
The basic math says NFL Championship Sunday is twice as good as Sunday Bowl Sunday. The fact that there are two games means more options for sports bettors, but it also serves as a safety net – or merciless pit of quicksand with rusty razorblades at the bottom – for football bettors.
With kickoffs at 3:05 p.m. ET and 6:40 p.m. ET Sunday, Championship Sunday offers those bettors coming off losing wagers in the first game a chance to redeem themselves – the infamous “Get Even, or Get Even Deeper” late game.
While plenty of money will be played on the early game – New England at Denver – a lot of that action will funnel into the late game – Arizona at Carolina – with winners looking to double up and losers trying to save their shirts.
Some people like the Divisional Round or Wild Card Weekend, due to the fact there are four games on the slate. But I find NFL Championship Sunday has the perfect balance between big-game buzz and betting options.
Try finding a nice seat to watch the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. If you’re in Las Vegas, you better have called ahead – and by ahead we mean like six months ago.
Sportsbooks and sports bar are packed to the gills on Super Sunday, which means simple tasks like taking a pee or getting a refill on your beer will take at least 10 minutes. And those luxuries may not come with a clear view of a TV.
A few years ago, my kid and I took in a matinee NBA game on NFL Championship Sunday and then casually walked into a sports bar following the basketball game and got a premium seat in a booth, right in front of the TV midway through the second quarter of the early kickoff (Yeah, I take my kids to bars. WHAT?!).
Try something like that on Super Bowl Sunday and you’ll find reserved seats on the frozen sidewalk, scanning through the window at a sea of warm drunken heads just to get a glimpse of the 9 a.m. pregame show.
The smaller crowds also translate to the sportsbook on NFL Championship Sunday. This weekend will be a busy day for bookmakers in Nevada, but you won’t need to camp out for a spot in line like you’re trying to get Rolling Stones farewell tour tickets.
Waiting until minutes before kickoff to place your bet is always a little risky, even on a regular NFL Sunday, but you can wait out line moves and grab the spread you want late on Championship Sunday – something that Super Sunday just doesn’t allow.
Depending on where you wager in the Silver State, be prepared to stand in line like the DMV to get down on the Big Game – well ahead of kickoff.
NO BYE WEEK
The bye week before Super Bowl is the Christmas Eve of sports betting: a painfully long period to wait before the grand finale, that always seems longer than time and space will allow.
And for what? The extra week between conference title games and Super Bowl Sunday is more time to second guess your handicapping, twist your brain around the media machine’s bullshit, and cloud your judgement on what is – when stripped down – just another football game.
You don’t have to deal with that crap during NFL Championship Sunday. The odds hit the board immediately following the Divisional Round matchups and whether you jumped on the early numbers or you’re waiting it out, those lines have one week – and one week only – to move around before game time.
Plus, nothing is worse than having that free Sunday before the Super Bowl. The downstairs toilet that you’ve abused and neglected all football season, yeah, your wife wants you to give it a good clean because she knows you’ve got nothing better to do.
“Make it a real ‘super bowl’”, she says with a smile.
Could be worse. You could watch the Pro Bowl…
BETTER LINE VALUE
NFL odds this time of the year are tighter than that Roger Goodell’s butthole every time a player is carted off with a concussion. However, finding an edge in the conference title odds is easier than finding the same value with the Super Bowl numbers.
Books don’t need to drastically move the odds for the Super Bowl so quickly because they have two weeks to try and even out the action and they know the majority of money is going to come on Saturday and Sunday. So, if you’re waiting for the Big Game spread or total to budge a week and a half before game day, you may want to bring a book or better yet write one – you’ll have some open space on your daily planner.
The lines for the conference championships are a little more liberal. Books and bettors have a pretty good idea of what these teams are made of at this point in the postseason, but you will see more movement, more often simply because of the limited window of time. You’ll get those half-point hiccups that make the difference between winning and losing bets at this time of the season.
NO HALFTIME SHOW
If you’re like me, halftime is a chance to get some shit done before the game picks up again.
Gotta poo? Dump out during halftime.
Want some nachos? Bake them bad boys during the break.
Got some household chores to tend to? Take out the trash or toss a load of laundry in while the teams take a breather.
The lack of a must-see halftime spectacular during the conference championships allows football bettors to multitask. Lay some second-half lines while also giving yourself a little break from the action. Clear your head. Acknowledge the existence of your kids for the first time today.
Super Bowl Sunday, on the other hand, is a relentless heavyweight of entertainment that keeps you glued to your seat with haymaker after haymaker, even when the teams aren’t even on the field. Besides the onslaught of great commercials and blockbuster movie trailers, the halftime show itself is something you just can’t risk missing. Especially this year.
What if I get up to put out a grease fire in my kitchen and Beyonce’s boob pops out? And don’t say it doesn’t happen, because we all know it does…
MODERATE MEDIA BLITZ/NO NON-FOOTBALL FANS
Working in sports media can leave you with a Super Bowl hangover well before game day. I recall my days as a content editor on shift work, watching the news wires in the two weeks before a Super Bowl many moons ago.
The stories were interesting in the first week before the game, but quickly deteriorated in quality and topic as the game drew closer. By the time Friday rolled around, reporters were filing in-depth profiles on the kickers and long snappers. At that point, I just wanted the Super Bowl to be over with so I could once again sleep at night.
Even if you’re not in sports media, the two-week ramp up to the big game – that builds ever so slowly like a Rush song – is a lot to digest. The ESPNs and Fox Sports of the industry are constantly cranking out content like some infinite Play-Doh Mop Top Hair Shop, and then you have the non-sports hacks taking their best swing at an entertaining twist on the Big Game: “Twenty dollars for a hot dog?! That’s a great deal! Ha Ha Ha!” BARF!
And while we’re on the subject of Super Bowl newbies, how about those people your girlfriend invited over from her work to your Super Bowl party. The ones who’ve never sat through an entire football game in their lives and thought they should announce that upon arrival, like they’re doing something sooooo daring for the first time.
I haven’t had my first prostate exam yet but I’m sure as hell not going to blab all over the waiting room about it when the time comes to bend over and take a deep breath.
Oh, and there’s always this guy, usually some random girl’s boyfriend who decided it would be ironically insulting to sports fans everywhere to wear a shirt and skinny tie to your “Super Bowl Soiree”. This guy doesn’t exist during Championship Sunday. He’s off rock climbing or buying old vinyl records at a flea market. I hate this guy…
Don’t get me wrong. As a football fan, I love Super Bowl Sunday (more so when my Dallas Cowboys get to play in it). It’s just behind Christmas and Halloween in the holiday pecking order at my house (Sorry, Easter). But, as a sports bettor, NFL Championship Sunday seems made for me.
Are you in the same boat? Is NFL Championship Sunday the real “Super Sunday”?
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Jan. 2015.