What’s a prop bet? Good question. It’s a form of wager in which the result does not directly effect the outcome of the game; you might also hear them referred to as “side bets.” For instance, betting on whether a baseball player will hit a home run during a particular game is a prop bet. So is whether a hockey player will score a goal, or whether a basketball player will record over 20 points.
In sports, the granddaddy of all prop betting is Super Bowl Sunday. No matter the teams, the score, the circumstances–if you have prop bets on the line, you’re going to remain interested.
Without further ado, let’s run through some of the more intriguing bets currently available on Bovada. Some of them I’ll touch on just for fun. Others have serious potential to deliver big returns. Note that all odds listed in this article were correct as of the time this article was published.
Super Bowl MVP
Don’t be fooled by the fact that two of the past three Super Bowl MVP’s have been defensive players. It’s most likely that this honor will be given to the quarterback of the winning team. Whether you think the Patriots or Falcons will win, both Tom Brady and Matt Ryan are great selections.
However, you can’t simply bet on both of them, since Brady is currently listed at +125 while Ryan is at +180. If you’re interested in a higher-risk, higher reward opportunity, though, here are two other intriguing options. The first is Julio Jones (+800). Though a receiver hasn’t won this award since 2008, it’s not uncommon for a receiver to earn this recognition if they surpass, say, the 100-yard mark. And if players like Santonio Holmes and Deion Branch could win this honor, why can’t Jones? He’s twice the game-changer that those two guys were. Particularly with Rob Gronkowski unavailable for New England, Jones is the best bet if you’re interested in taking a non-QB.
I also like LeGarrette Blount’s value (+1,600). While running backs have been even less likely in recent years to win MVP, the last to do it was Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII after he piled up three rushing touchdowns. There’s an outside chance Blount has a similar performance. He’s feasted on bad rushing defenses in playoff games before, and since Atlanta ranks just 29th against the run, I wouldn’t be surprised if Blount is a vital part of the game plan. Plus, he’s their go-to guy in the red zone. At +1,600, he might be worth taking a flier on.
As for my ultimate pick, I’m going to hold off on choosing who I actually think will win the award and select a guy that I believe delivers the best bang for your buck.
Pick: Julio Jones (+800)
Coin Toss: Heads (-105) or Tails (-105)
Tails never fails. That’s why I’m going with heads.
Pick: Heads (-105)
First Scoring Play: Touchdown (-175) or Field Goal or Safety (+145)
Time for me to break out the numbers. The average drive for both Atlanta and New England typically ended in a field goal during the regular season, hence why I’m leaning towards the value on a field goal or safety as opposed to risking more to bet on a touchdown (-155). Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if each side is a little nervous on their first drives of the game. I mean, it’s the Super Bowl! These guys are human-beings. However, given how easily the Falcons and Patriots move the ball, I bet they’ll both be within scoring distance early in the game, with one team settling for a field goal.
Pick: Field Goal or Safety (+145)
Longest Score of the Game: Over 50.5 (+100) or Under 50.5 (-130)
All the evidence for this bet seems to point to the under. The Patriots’ defense didn’t allow a single touchdown over 50 yards this season, while Atlanta only had seven, which wasn’t quite as many as I expected. However, sometimes in life–and particularly in gambling–it pays to go against the flow.
Pick: Over 50.5 (+100)
Opening Kickoff: Touchback (-200) or No Touchback (+160)
Both teams tend to defer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if New England opted to receive after they did so in the AFC Championship against Pittsburgh. If the Patriots do end up kicking off, Belichick usually prefers Stephen Gostkowski to leave the return short in order to force the opposition into a situation they don’t have as much experience in given the new kickoff rules. I’ll take “no touchback” at +160.
Pick: No Touchback (+160)
Most Rushing Yards- Game
As stated earlier, the Falcons do a poor job at stopping the run. In contrast, that’s actually the strength of New England’s defense. Using this relatively simple logic, a big edge certainly goes towards the New England ground game. Though Dion Lewis is an intriguing option, he’s only out-rushed LeGarrette Blount once this season.
Pick: LeGarrette Blount (+150)
Cross-Sport: Matt Ryan TD’s (-120) or Goals Scored in Leicester City/Manchester United (-120)
Don’t be confused: These types of cross-sport bets exist. I actually didn’t find too many of them appealing, but this is one that I have a decent read on. Ryan is a solid bet to throw for at least two, likely even three, touchdowns. Across the pond, Leicester City has been in absolute free fall while Manchester United continues to struggle in Jose Mourinho’s debut season. I’m still going to pick Man U 2-0 over the reigning Premier League champs, while Ryan tosses three touchdowns.
Pick: Ryan (-120)
Who’s Mentioned First on Broadcast: Dan Quinn (-120) or Bill Belichick (-120)
Probably the man going for his fifth Lombardi trophy.
Pick: Belichick (-120)
Will There be a Flea-Flicker: Yes (+400) or No (-700)
There’s recency bias here given how New England scored on a flea-flicker in the AFC Championship. I doubt the Patriots use the same trick twice, and I’ll play the odds that Atlanta won’t get too tricky.
Pick: No (-700)
More Dropped Passes: Falcons (-110) or Patriots (-130)
I have reason to expect that Atlanta will attempt more passes than New England, which increases the likelihood that they’ll drop more passes. I’ll also give an edge to the Patriots’ receivers, who have been in a moment like this before. Atlanta’s wideouts might be a bit more nervous.
Pick: Falcons (-110)
Tom Brady Passing Yards: Over 310.5 (-125) or Under 310.5 (-105)
This line is actually a little inflated. There’s another bit of recency bias at play given how well Brady played against Pittsburgh because Brady “only” averaged roughly 296 passing yards during the regular season. Plus, as mentioned, I envision New England running the ball frequently. My brain says take the under.
Pick: Under (-105)
More Passing Yards: Tom Brady (-105) vs Matt Ryan (-125)
Building off the last prediction, I’ll also take Ryan to eclipse Brady in passing yards. Statistically, Ryan has been more efficient on a per-attempt basis than Brady. And since I like the Falcons to throw more, it’s rational to predict that Matty-Ice will finish with more passing yards.
Pick: Ryan (-125)
Julian Edelman Receiving Yards: Over 89.5 (-105) or Under 89.5 (-105)
When in doubt, Brady will always look to his most reliable weapon. Edelman came up huge in Super Bowl XLIX, and I expect similar results from #11 this time around.
Pick: Over 89.5 (-105)
Julio Jones Receiving Yards: Over 95.5 (-140) or Under 95.5 (+110)
I discussed in my preview of Super Bowl LI how Jones had a few quiet games during the regular season. Yes, he was my best value pick to win MVP. But I also think he could be held to a relatively low output if New England devotes most of their attention to stopping him. Plus, it’s a good hedge on my part.
Pick: Under 95.5 (+110)
Tom Brady Passing Touchdowns: Over 2.5 (-155) or Under 2.5 (+135)
Back to Brady. In the seven games in which the Patriots’ offense played defenses ranked in the bottom half of defensive DVOA, Brady threw 22 touchdowns–or slightly over three per game. Atlanta’s defense finished a mere 26th in DVOA, and just 19th against the pass. The thirty-nine year-old is no stranger to this stage, so I bet he comes up clutch once again and throws for at least three TD’s.
Pick: Over 2.5 (-155)
Total Interceptions: Over 1.5 (+115) or Under 1.5 (-130)
Hammer the under. Brady was intercepted on only 0.5% of his passes this year, which was the third lowest rate in NFL history. Ryan’s wasn’t quite as low, but it was still sixth among qualified starters. The odds that either of these two guys make more than one mistake are low.
Pick: Under 1.5 (-13)
Total Punts: Over 7 (+115) or Under 7 (-130)
Get out your hammers once again. Atlanta punted fewer times than any team in the regular season. New England would’ve ranked near them if Brady had started the first four games. These teams should be able to consistently sustain drives and score points at will.
Pick: Under 7 (-130)
Luke Bryan National Anthem Length: Over 2:15 (+100) or Under 2:15 (-140)
We got film to help us figure this out. Here’s Bryan singing the anthem before a NASCAR race in 2012. Get out your stopwatch and do your own analysis!
Pick: Under 2:15 (-140)
Halftime Show: Lady Gaga’s Opening Song
Plenty of options to choose from. The favorites are Born This Way (+225) and Bad Romance (+260), followed by Edge of Glory (+600), Poker Face (+1,000), Just Dance (+1,000). However, with the field listed at +110, it appears as though no one really seems to have a read on what Gaga will open with.
Tough call, but I bet she goes with one of her “classics.” She needs to start with something that audiences will instantly recognize. Throwing some money on Bad Romance and Just Dance isn’t a bad move, but I’ve been told of some compelling evidence as to why Poker Face will be her opening choice. That’s ultimately where I’ll put my big bucks.
Pick: Poker Face (+1,000)
And lastly, as customary in my weekly NFL predictions throughout the season, here are my best prop bets…
- Opening kickoff- No Touchback (+160)
- Most rushing yards- LeGarrette Blount (+150)
- Mentioned first on broadcast- Belichick (-120)
- More passing yards- Ryan (-105)
- Brady OVER 2.5 touchdowns (-155)
- Total interceptions- UNDER 1.5 (-130)
- Total punts- UNDER 7 (-130)
- Luke Bryan National Anthem- UNDER 2:15 (-140)
- Lady Gaga opening song- Poker Face (+1,000)