It's the best time of year for football sports bettors. The Super Bowl is less than a week away, and the spread, the money line and the over/under aren't the only bets available for your wagering pleasure. Sportsbooks, both live and online, have a bevy of betting options available, so let's take a look at my top-10 wagers and let's hope I do better this year than I did last year, when I was 5-for-10 with a -7.4 percent ROI.
10. National Anthem - Under 2:15 (-130)
Hard as I tried, I was unable to find an example of Alicia Keys performing the national anthem anywhere on YouTube. That said, the "Girl on Fire" was everywhere in the news after her performance of "Obama's on Fire" at the presidential inauguration a week ago.
While some may dismiss the retooled song as unimportant when considering her upcoming performance at the Super Bowl, I watched it with a close eye and noticed a few important things. First off, she added very few vocal embellishments. She kept a very quick pace throughout the song, consistent with the pacing of the album version, though there was a brief slowdown for emphasis at the very end. This shows me that she knows how to power through a song, and I expect her to do the same with the national anthem on Sunday.
More importantly, in recent years, the song has been consistently clocking in under 2:00. Noted flourisher Christina Aguilera fumbled through the song in 1:53.5 two years ago, and Kelly Clarkson sang it in just 95 seconds last year.
Bodog.ca Sportsbook and Racebook/Bovada has set the line at 2:15, which seems inordinately long. And early bettors seem to be agreeing with me; the bet opened at -120 on both sides, but it's now -130 on the under and -110 on the over. Get on this line fast, before it changes even more.
*NOTE: At the time of posting, this line had moved to 2:12 with -120 on both sides. I'd still take the under here, but will stick with the odds I had when this was sent to my editors.
9. Length of post-game handshake/hug - Over 7.5 seconds (-120)
This is one of my favorite prop bets this year. Bodog is offering odds on how long Jim and John Harbaugh, the first brothers set to coach against each other in the Super Bowl, will shake each others' hands and hug after the game. Now these two are brothers, so they're likely to linger a bit. The fact that it's the Super Bowl and that it will be chaos around them makes it even more likely that they'll hold the embrace/handshake a little longer.
Then again, we are talking about Jim Harbaugh. The man's not that well known for friendly post-game interactions with other NFL coaches. That said, I don't think they'll be able to hear each other very well, and with the cameras focused so intensely on them, I think he'll be on his best behavior and will settle any petty sibling squabbles later on in private, so I'm picking the over on this one.
*NOTE: This line has also shifted as of publication and is now set at 7.0 seconds. I'd still take the over, but will stick with over on my prediction of 7.5 seconds as well.
8. Coin toss - Heads (-105)
Pick this and then go nuts when you win and people will think you're crazy. It can't be beat. There are two ways to make this bet: pick the team that wins, or pick whether the flip will be heads or tails.
If you're looking for the best value, you can pick the team that will win the toss at even money at Betfred Sportsbook, but then you're rooting for the team. I want to root for the coin, so I'll take the Heads bet at Bodog at -105.
7. Shortest TD scored - Over 1.5 years (-105)
The Ravens have scored a 1-yard touchdown in one of three playoff games (they also allowed a 1-yarder in another), while the 49ers have not scored or allowed a touchdown of less than 2 yards in either of their playoff games. I like the over here, priced at -105 at bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook, though I am a bit worried about seeing a pass interference call in the end zone turn into a 1
6. Double result - Ravens-49ers +650
The double result bet asks you to predict who's ahead at the end of the first half and who's ahead at the end of regulation. I'm going to take a bit of a long shot here, with Baltimore leading at halftime and the 49ers winning the game at the end of regulation (no overtime). I think the Ravens' experience will serve them well early on, while I think the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick will struggle early on but will lead San Francisco to victory in the second half.
A number of online sportsbooks offer this bet, but Paddy Power Sportsbook and William Hill Sportsbook & Racebook had the best odds I could find at +650.
5. Someone will score in the last 3:30 - Yes (-160)
The price that bet365 is offering for the yes side of this bet isn't great, but I'm pretty confident that there's going to be a score in the final few minutes of the game. I do think that the 49ers will win, but I think it could be close. And even if it's not, it's pretty common for a late-game score either to pad the lead or for the team trailing to make a last-ditch attempt to get back in the game while the defense plays "prevent defense." Another reason I like the bet is that it also includes overtime, so if the game is tied late, this will be a winner no matter who wins the game.
4. Anquan Boldin to score the first TD - +1000
As I've said earlier in this column, I do think Baltimore will get out to a fast start in this game. And I think Joe Flacco will lean heavily on his big, experienced receiver, Anquan Boldin. I love the odds on this bet at Paddy Power, because if I get it right, anything else I get right this year will be gravy.
3. Ray Lewis to win MVP - +1000
While I do think the 49ers will win the game, the Ravens have a chance if they can shut down the 49ers offense. And if that happens, look for Ray Lewis to be the sentimental choice for MVP among the media that votes on the award. I'm not personally a big fan of the guy, but this whole postseason the TV networks have been drooling all over Lewis, as this is his last season. If the Ravens win and defense has anything to do with it, Lewis will likely win the MVP, even if he doesn't make any big plays. William Hill offers the best odds for Lewis at 10/1.
2. Number of times Ray Lewis mentions God in post-game interview - Over 3 (-120)
Whether he wins the MVP Award or not, Ray Lewis is pretty likely to get a post-game interview. And the noted humanitarian is awfully quick to praise God whenever there's a camera there to capture the moment. If he wins the MVP Award, this bet is a cinch. And even if he doesn't, there's still a pretty good chance it hits, so long as there is an interview. If there's no interview, Bodog will grade the bets as "no action" and punters will have their wagers refunded.
1. Highest number of Tweets per second - Under 15,000 (-110)
Last year, the Super Bowl set records on Twitter with a peak of 12,233 Tweets per second. While Twitter has continued to grow over the last 12 months, the matchup here is not nearly as interesting from a casual fan perspective as the Giants/Patriots matchup was. And the fan bases of the two teams playing are much smaller than those of New York and New England. I think that Bodog's line here is way off, and Twitter may struggle to break into the five figures for Tweets per second at any point during the game. Unless, that is, there's a real "Wow" play, like David Tyree's catch in the 2008 Super Bowl, or a ridiculously bad call by the referees. And since I'm taking the under, don't expect to see me Tweeting until the end of the game.
Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.