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ASA's Super Bowl Pick

   by ASA - 08/09/2012

Play On: Green Bay Packers +615

The Packers finished one of the best regular season’s in NFL history last season. Green Bay went
15-1 while scoring 35 points per game (1st in the NFL) and gaining 405 yards per game (3rd). QB
Aaron Rodgers added an MVP to his resume after tossing 45 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions
and it looked as though GB was headed for a second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl. Instead,
the Giants caused the Pack to play their worst game of the season in the Divisional Round of the
playoffs en route to their Super Bowl victory. The Packers didn’t lose much from last year’s prolific
squad, while also adding some strong pieces this offseason – most importantly on defense – and
we expect Green Bay to be right in the thick of the Super Bowl chase come season’s end. The
Packers gave up the most passing yards in NFL history last season and allowed the most yards per
game overall. A lot can be attributed to the fact that Green Bay was usually winning (big) in games
and defensive coordinator Dom Capers would call for a more conservative approach, so as to limit
big plays and run the clock instead of blitzing and taking unnecessary chances. Also the Packers
lost All-Pro safety Nick Collins to a season ending neck injury in week two while Pro-Bowl
cornerback Tramon Williams played injured for the entire season after suffering nerve damage
in his shoulder in week one. Still, there needed to be improvement. GM Ted Thompson used his
first six (!) draft picks to upgrade the defense, most notably the pass rush. They drafted OLB Nick
Perry out of USC and DT Jerel Worthy out of Michigan State, both of whom have high motors
and are expected to start from day one. Also, with a full offseason to prepare (which no team got
last year) it should help the young rookies get prepared to have more of an impact. Offensively,
the Packers retained all of their playmakers and as long as QB Rodgers stays healthy, this unit
shouldn’t miss a beat in 2012. Take the Packers as your 2012-13 Super Bowl Champions.

Play On: Houston Texans +1410

I’ll start off by saying I don’t think the Texans success last year was a fluke and that they can be a
team to contend in 2013. They play in the one of the weakest divisions in the NFL (AFC South)
with the Colts, Jaguars and Titans who combined had a 16-32 SU record last season. It’s highly
likely they’ll win the AFC South again this year as the other teams in the division haven’t made
significant improvements over last year’s editions. The Texans did some outstanding things in
2012 and could see dramatic improvements in other areas of their overall game which makes them
an attractive bet here. The Texans were very good defensively overall with the 2nd best Total ‘D’
in the NFL. Leading the way on the defensive side of the football were rookie J.J. Watt and linebacker
Brian Cushing. If defensive end J.J. Watt picks up where he left off last season, he should
go from the All-Rookie Team to be perennial Pro Bowl selection. Cushing led the defense with
114 tackles during the regular season and then added 19 more in the post season. The Texans as
a whole allowed just 283.2 yards per game and were 2nd in the league in yards per play against
at just 4.7 yppa. They can improve on their 3rd down conversion defense which was 12th best
in the NFL but with nearly everyone back on that side of the football we expect that improvement
to happen. Offensively they had some solid statistics which could get dramatically better
this upcoming season. Houston was 5th overall in 3rd down conversions, 13th in yards per play
offense and finished 13th overall in the NFL in total offense. They achieved those solid numbers
without one of the best receivers in the game, Andre Johnson, and their starting QB Matt Schaub.
Those two stars missed a combined 15 games last season to injuries. Schaub completed 178 of
292 passes last year for 2,479 yards and had 15 TD’s to only 6 INT’s before going down with an
injury. In 2010 the Texans had the 4th best passing offense in the NFL when Schaub threw for
4,370 yards, had 24 TD’s and only 12 INT’s. With a healthy Andre Johnson back on the field we
expect the Texans passing game to return to the form we witnessed in 2010. Those two key offensive
injuries forced Houston to change their game plan which is one reason they’ll be that much
better this season. They now have a running game with Arian Foster leading the way. Houston
was 2nd in rushing attempts per game and averaged over 153 yards rushing per game which was
2nd best in the NFL. Foster finished the season with 1,224 rushing yards which was good for 5th
overall in the entire NFL. Houston did benefit from an easier schedule last year and they’ll face
a much tougher road schedule this season but if they remain healthy they can pull a couple upsets
away from home. If you believe in the age-old-adage that to win in the NFL you need to be able to
run the football, maintain possession of the football (3rd down conversions) and play defense then
Houston has everything in place to make a serious run in 2012-13. As of this writing the Texans
are currently +$1410 to win the Super Bowl. Bet it!

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