Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching, and in addition to filling out grids and helping buoy Pepsico stock through purchases of Tostitos chips and salsa, many football fans have been paying close attention to the betting line.
The Seattle Seahawks opened as the favorites, but money poured in on Denver and the Broncos are now 2-point favorites at most sportsbooks. We pick every game NFL game against the spread in our Casino City Gang podcast, and while I think the Broncos will win and cover the spread, my record this year hasn't been so stellar. My -22.2 percent ROI during the regular season actually looks quite good in comparison to my -59.9 percent ROI in the playoffs.
But the great thing about the Super Bowl is that sportsbooks roll out some amazing prop bets, which make the game even more fun to watch. Here are my top-10 Super Bowl prop bets offered by online sportsbooks, with a $10 bet laid down on each.
(Disclaimer: Since I live in the United States and betting on sports online is prohibited, these are all fictional bets. Please be sure gambling is legal in your jurisdiction before making any wagers.)
10. National Anthem under 2:25 (-140, Bovada Sportsbook)
The NFL went against recent tradition this year and selected opera singer Renée Fleming to perform the national anthem. Fleming is a world-renowned soprano with a beautiful voice, and I think it's a great choice, considering that most of the recent pop star renditions have been a disappointment, in my opinion.
Last year, Alicia Keys's anthem went over 2:30, but she was also playing piano and took a lot of liberties with the song. Fleming will likely have accompaniment of some sort, and while she is accustomed to singing with lots of embellishment, the songs in her wheelhouse are meant to be sung with lots of embellishment. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is meant to be sung as almost a march, and I expect Fleming to sing it as such. I think the under on this bet is a cinch.
9. Denver to win a tails coin toss (2-team parlay at +281, Bovada)
Heading into the 2012 Super Bowl, the NFC team had won 14 straight coin tosses in the Super Bowl. Since that time, the AFC team has had two in a row. Stands to reason that the AFC has 12 more to go to match that run, right? I'm also going make it a two-pick parlay and say it will be tails just to add some more drama to the call itself. Obviously, getting $28.12 on a 4/1 proposition isn't a great value bet, but I do think there is a human predilection to pick heads. Since the Seahawks are labeled the road team at this neutral site matchup, if my assumption is correct then it actually does have some value.
8. Over 27.5 Manning "Omahas" (-130, Bovada)
If you've watched Denver play at all this year, you've likely heard Peyton Manning yell "Omaha" during his pre-snap instructions at the line of scrimmage. In fact, during the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, the veteran quarterback shouted the Nebraska city's name 44 times.
The only reason you'd pick the under here is if you think that Manning and the Denver offense will want to throw off the Seahawks, but football players are a superstitious bunch, so it seems unlikely that the Broncos would want to mess with what has been working. You may also pick the under if you think Seattle's defense will dominate the game and keep Manning off the field, but I just don't think the game will end before Manning gets to 28 Omahas. I'll take the over.
7. Longest touchdown under 44.5 yards (-125, Bovada)
This is a very interesting bet, because 11 of Denver's 18 games have seen a touchdown of more than 44 yards this year. However, when you look at recent results, just one of the Broncos' last five games had a touchdown of more than 44 yards. In fact, the longest touchdown in Denver's two playoff games was just 16 yards.
There were touchdowns of 45 yards or more in just five of Seattle's games this year, and with Seattle's tough defense, I don't expect any really long scoring plays from the Broncos. I'll take the under here, even though the juice is higher.
6. Longest field goal under 44.5 yards (-110, William Hill)
I'm normally not a huge fan of longest field goal bets because you never know when a drive is going to stall out, or whether a team is going to have a shot at a long field goal at the end of the first half. But with temperatures expected to be in the low 20s in East Rutherford, N.J., I'll take the under. I don't think you're going to see any attempts over 52-53 yards, and then maybe only in extreme situations (the aforementioned end-of-half or end-of-game scenarios). So that means a drive has to end in about an 8-yard section of the field, and the kicker has to make it.
Most sportsbooks have added juice on the under, so I'm taking William Hill Sportsbook & Racebook's standard -110 line here.
5. An interception will be returned for a touchdown (33/1, Paddy Power)
There were 65 interceptions returned for touchdowns in 256 regular-season NFL games this year, or one about every four games. Seattle's defense returned three interceptions for touchdowns, and Denver's returned one. Peyton Manning threw 10 interceptions this year, and Russell Wilson threw just nine.
Do I actually think this will happen? No. But I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the odds at Paddy Power Sportsbook; at 33/1, you'd be crazy not to take it.
4. Bruno Mars will wear a tuque (10/1, Bovada)
As mentioned earlier, the forecast calls for chilly temperatures on Super Bowl Sunday. And Bruno Mars is from Hawaii, so he's not accustomed to cold weather. I'm betting he's going to come out sporting a Seattle Seahawks winter hat (aka a "tuque" if you grew up near the Canadian border like me).
Other choices include a fedora at -160, a fur hat at +500 (worst value on the board) and no hat at +200.
3. Olympic medal parlay combination bet (+308, Bovada)
As someone who grew up within shouting distance of Lake Placid, the Winter Olympics have always held a special place in my heart. (Look for a top-10 Olympic bets column in the not-too-distant future.) So the idea of combining Super Bowl prop bets with Olympic prop bets is too good to pass on.
Bovada is offering first-half points bets against U.S. and Canadian Olympic teams. There line on Denver scoring more first-half points than Team USA's gold medal total is listed at -150. This seems like a no-brainer to me. In the last three Winter Olympiads, the U.S has totaled just 29 gold medals. It seems highly likely that Denver will score more than 10 first-half points. If they get to 14, this looks really good; at 17 points, it's practically a lock.
You can also bet on Seattle to score more or less points in the first half than Canada's gold-medal total in Sochi. Canada had a similar number of golds as the U.S. in the last three Winter Olympics at 28; however, Canada led all nations with a whopping 14 on its home turf in 2010. I think Canada will excel again this year and I like the +145 odds you get on Seattle finishing under Team Canada, so I'm going to combine the two in a two-team parlay for a $30.83 payout on a $10 bet.
2. Archie Manning on TV - Over 1 (-160, Bovada)
If you think Denver's going to win, this bet seems like a complete freeroll. If Peyton Manning wins his second Super Bowl title, there's no way the cameras don't show the Manning family celebrating at least once. If Peyton has a huge game, they're likely to be shown more than once. And even if he has a bad one, there's a pretty good shot they'll show them staring at the field, wondering how Eli is the one with more Super Bowl titles. Even though there's quite a bit of juice on this bet, there's likely still very good value on the over because of the power of the push.
1. Wes Welker to win MVP (33/1 - bet365)
Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are the overwhelming MVP favorites, but I think the best value bet is on Denver wide receiver Wes Welker. Obviously, for Welker to have a big day, Manning will have to have a big day. But the reason I like Welker here is because he runs a lot of short routes and often has to create his own yardage. If he gets more than 10 receptions and scores two or more touchdowns, he's got a shot to win. If I just had to pick who I thought would win, I'd say Manning, but getting barely over even money just isn't worth it, so I'll take Welker. Most sportsbooks have him listed at 25/1, so I'm taking bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook's higher payout at 33/1.
Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. 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. Follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.