Last week, the Westgate SuperBook unveiled a 36-page menu of Super Bowl props consisting of hundreds of wagers for Sunday’s game. There is insatiable interest among Super Bowl bettors in playing props. As a result, it would not come as a surprise if prop wagering represented more than 50% of the Super Bowl handle at legal sportsbooks nationwide, Vegas Sports Information Network (VSiN) VP of Digital Content Ben Fawkes told Sports Handle.
“There are so many different ways to bet the game,” Fawkes said. “I think that people both from a casual and professional perspective find something they like. For the public perspective, they always like to bet small amounts to win a lot, much like the lottery. I think all of a sudden that adds up, even if it’s five dollars here, 10 dollars there, when you’re tossing down on 10, 20, 30 props.”
Now, a disclaimer. Play our props at your own peril. When we published a set of props for Super Bowl LIV, we hit on only three of 12 selections, producing a dismal clip of 25%. Sports Handle Editor-In-Chief Brett Smiley suffered an all-time bad beat when Patrick Mahomes took a knee on three consecutive plays to end the game, losing 15 yards combined. Mahomes finished with 29 rushing yards on nine carries, missing the over by two mere yards.
We promise to be better this year. Maybe there should be a prop on that.
Eric Raskin, US Bets Managing Editor/Media Director
Novak Djokovic aces in first round Australian Open match > punts in Super Bowl, -110, BetMGM
Shoutout to my colleague Matt Rybaltowski for bringing this prop to my attention in his “What’s On Tap” column on Monday. Typically, the cross-sport bets aren’t my bag, but this one jumped out at me as great value — in large part because I’m not expecting many punts on Sunday.
The Chiefs, with their perpetually productive offense and their risk-taking (and math-embracing) coach, are as unlikely as any team in Super Bowl history to punt. Tommy Townsend punted once in the AFC title game against Buffalo and put up no stats at all the week before against Cleveland. Those were outliers, but even during the regular season, he averaged just 3.25 punts per game. Bucs punter Bradley Pinion has averaged three punts per game during the postseason and was at a modest 3.44 during the regular season. So even if you use their regular season averages and ignore the fact that Andy Reid and Bruce Arians have both proven more likely to go for it amid the pull-out-all-stops atmosphere of the playoffs, you’re looking at 6.69 punts on Sunday.
How many aces did Djokovic average per hard-court match in 2020? A nearly identical 6.7. But … plenty of those matches were scheduled three-setters, whereas the Australian Open matches are five-setters. He’ll be playing a minimum of three sets in the opening round (barring injury withdrawal).
🎾📖 Good read for high-performance coaches & players to better understand strategy at the highest levels
The Story of How Novak Djokovic Improved His 2nd Serve in 2018https://t.co/OLi3k0afwA
— Will Boucek (@WillBoucek) January 20, 2021
So the low side of the Djokovic projection is basically a push with the high side for the punt projection. Realistically, we’re looking at a range of 4-7 punts in the Super Bowl and 6-9 aces from Djoker. BetMGM is giving us a standard -110 on both sides, which screams value. I’m betting the Djokovic side — with the added gambler’s benefit of extending my Super Bowl sweat into the beginning of the Aussie Open fortnight.
Brett Smiley, Sports Handle Editor-In-Chief
Higher scoring half, second half, +100, PointsBet
This has the makings of an exciting Super Bowl. BOOYAH. I’ve made a mixture of wagers, including Kansas City on the moneyline (-154 and -160), some player and game props, and some major longshots like Mecole Hardman and Jason Pierre-Paul to win MVP, which I got at FOX Bet when they were 200-1 and 250-1, respectively.
Anyhow, I’ll highlight here one of my annual Super Bowl favorite bets: Which will be the higher scoring half? Second! Or 2H scoring to exceed 1H scoring.
It’s usually the second half, I suppose owing to the slower starts and unavoidable nerves factoring into the Super Bowl. You probably will only see a three-way market where “tie” is an option, which would stink if that occurred, but it’s baked into the price with the second half being even money (+100) at PointsBet. I’ve seen it anywhere from even to -130 at some other books. The most absurd sweat on this prop came in the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl LIII, when only three points were scored in the first half, but the game remained 3-3 until the Patriots finally broke the tie with the only TD of the game with seven minutes left in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time. Anyhow, cheers to a second half track meet.
One other prop I really like is the total combined sacks: over four (PointsBet is at -125 as of Wednesday; this may rise to 4.5 sacks). I think there’s going to be a ton of dropbacks and not much running in this game, creating many opportunities for Brady or Mahomes to get wrapped up and dragged down. The Chiefs have been getting more pressure down the stretch, and we know the Chiefs have some serious offensive line issues with both starting tackles out against a talented Tampa Bay front.
John Brennan, Analyst
Total Players to Attempt a Pass, OVER 2.5 at +165.
There are so many ways to win: a bad snap turns a kicker into another Garo Yepremian (Google him, kids); wide receiver tries a flea flicker variation; either QB gets hurt — and Patrick Mahomes is banged up and with a banged up offensive line. You don’t have to root for an injury, but if it happens it happens, and notice that you don’t even need a completion!
Over/Under Points Total Alternate Line, UNDER 44 at +400.
In a normal year, nobody wants to be “that guy” at the neighborhood block party who lets out an involuntary WOO HOO! every time a punter makes an appearance. But this is anything but normal, so feel free to go 12 points under the “real Over/Under,” and let two punters be your best friends for The Big Game. (Bet the OVER next year.)
First Play From Scrimmage Will Be a RUN, +100.
If you figure out which team will receive the ball first, and you know it’s the Buccaneers, double up on this bet — they WILL run on their first play, and probably the second play as well. It’s more problematic if it’s the Chiefs and Mahomes, but you’re still in The Game. Plus this one get you in on the action early without getting in on the lunacy of betting the coin toss.
Chris Altruda, Analyst
Tyreek Hill and the OVER for his receiving yards.
In Illinois, the number ranges from 92.5 yards at DraftKings and BetRivers (-125/+101) to 98.5 yards at William Hill (-110) and was 93.5 yards at PointsBet (-115). However, the best offer as of Thursday afternoon was FanDuel at 94.5 yards at -110. The sportsbook shared that there is nary a bettor looking to bet against TyFreak as the total continues to rise.
That said, any sportsbook offering this below 100 yards is an opportunity to get a fairly nice return given the offering. Hill turned Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis into cinder in their Week 12 matchup with 200 receiving yards in THE FIRST QUARTER and finished with 13 catches for 269 yards and three scores. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has targeted Hill 10 or more times in seven of their last nine games, and the expectation is at least three targets Sunday will be deep shots.
Even one hook-up on those attempts gets you at least halfway to the total, and then there is Hill’s YAC capabilities on short throws due to his speed. Even if a guns-blazing shootout fails to materialize, Hill is such an integral part of Kansas City’s offense he should get to 100 yards with minimal resistance.
Gary Rotstein, Analyst
Either team to score three straight times? No, at +200
What if I told you a prop bet available with 2/1 odds would have rewarded you handsomely in three of the past five Super Bowls?
It’s a small sample size, to be sure, but at those odds, why not take a chance? And so it is with one of the common scoring prop bets available – whether the Chiefs or Buccaneers will get on such a roll that they score three straight times (with some sites also offering a betting option for four straight scores).
A bet on the “no” would have lost last year, when both the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers scored three straight times. But the “no” would have hit in the Super Bowls of 2019, 2018, and 2016. In this year’s two conference championships and four divisional round games, the bet would have gone 3-3, which is pretty good for an option widely available at a significant plus price.
— SI Gambling (@SIGambling) February 5, 2021
A professional sports bettor I know especially likes the bet in a game involving evenly matched teams, as is the case this year. “I like ‘no three straight scores by either team’ at around plus-180 or so,” he said. “The thinking is that one team will drive and score, then kick off to the other team that will drive and score, with the teams hopefully trading scores back and forth.”
While that pro uses +180 as his threshold for the prop, FanDuel offers it even better this year, at +200 (with -260 for those betting “yes”). If you don’t have a FanDuel account, the bet against three straight scores is +170 from DraftKings, +165 from William Hill, and +155 from Caesars, among others.
Jeff Edelstein, Analyst
Total Players to Attempt a Pass, OVER 2.5 at +165.
Fair warning: This is a bad bet. As in, the odds are against you. I do not recommend you place this bet, and if you do, it should be with an amount you’re comfortable literally lighting on fire. This is not a drill.
But I will say this about the bet: It will make each and every play interesting, from 4th-and-10s with time winding down in the fourth quarter to extra-point attempts in the third quarter of a blowout. Punt? It’ll be fun. Simple handoff? Still fun. A pitch, a pass behind the line of scrimmage, a wildcat formation? Edge-of-your-seat fun.
So what’s the prop? It’s over at DraftKings, found under the “novelty prop” section, and it’s “total players to attempt a pass,” with the over set at 2.5 with +165 odds. If you really want to live on the wild side, you can get +250 odds that over 2.5 players will complete a pass, and +1100 odds that 2.5 or more players will throw a touchdown.
It doesn’t take an advanced degree in analytics to see that the “.5” in all these props is the key. Taking the first bet, for example, it’s pretty obvious that at least two players will attempt a pass in this game. The question, of course, is will a third?
As I said, it’s a lousy bet. Why? Because at +165, the implied odds of it happening are about 37%, and I promise you, there is not a 37% chance of a third player tossing a pass.
For starters, just a little Super Bowl history: It’s only happened five times in the last 25 years. The last one was of course the Philly Special back in 2018 (above). Before that, it was in 2014 when Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson threw a pass. Before that, you have to go back to 2006, when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle-El (a college quarterback at Indiana) completed a 43-yard touchdown to Hines Ward. In 2000, Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback Tony Banks threw a pass. And then, in 1995, five different players threw a pass.
So that’s five times in 25 years. That ain’t 37%. So already we’re mathematically doomed on the over. (You could bet the under at -215, but what fun is that?)
Furthermore, looking at the two teams actually playing the game, Tom Brady threw all the passes for the Buccaneers outside of Blaine Gabbert, who threw 16 passes — one in week 6 when they blew out Green Bay, and 15 in week 16 when they whomped the Lions.
As for the Chiefs? A little bit better. Chad Henne had two games where he came on in a blowout, plus week 17 and coming on for the injured Patrick Mahomes in their divisional round playoff game against the Browns. Other than that? There were a few others: Travis Kelce threw two passes, Sammy Watkins and punter Tommy Townsend one each. Tricky, those four.
So the Bucs, no trickery. The Chiefs, four times. Add it all together and … nowhere near 37%. The odds of either quarterback getting hurt and missing time … nowhere near 37%.
Again, it’s a bad bet. But also again: Every single play will have that little bit of excitement.
Matt Rybaltowski, Analyst
Days before Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady scoffed at the notion that the New York Giants could contain the New England Patriots’ high-flying offense, laughing off Michael Strahan’s prediction that the Giants would hold the unbeaten Patriots to 17 points. Then, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo devised a masterful scheme presenting Brady with constant pressure up the middle. Spagnuolo’s ingenuity proved to be critical in the Giants’ 17-14 win, one of the largest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Nearly 15 years later, Spagnuolo is back as defensive coordinator for the Chiefs. While Vikings coach Mike Zimmer expects Brady to handle the pressure better, telling the NFL Network this week that the Bucs’ quarterback will release the ball extremely quickly, Spagnuolo’s scheme alone will likely produce a sack or two. Brady must also account for Chiefs defensive back L’Jarius Sneed on the corner blitz. Sneed, a rookie from Louisiana Tech, has four sacks on the season, including two in the playoffs. During the regular season, Kansas City averaged 2.56 sacks per game.
On the other side, the Bucs could produce a good amount of A gap pressure themselves. The Chiefs will be without top tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, necessitating double teams on the outside to contain Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett on the edge. After recording five sacks against the Packers in the NFC Championship, the Bucs lead the NFL in the playoffs with seven.
The Bucs also benefit from the return of nose tackle Vita Vea up the middle, allowing defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to become even more creative with his play calling. On one third down vs. Green Bay, the presence of Vea enabled Bowles to line up tackle Ndamukong Suh at linebacker. Such unscouted looks could give Mahomes fits on Sunday. At a minimum, I think the teams will combine for at least four sacks. The bookies seem to agree, and I’m willing to pay the extra juice.
More on the Super Bowl prop betting here.