During the NFL season, folks who enjoy wagering on the outcome of games will spend a good deal of study time turning over statistical rocks to get an edge.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, however, all bets are on. It’s a world of the extreme, when a person can go broke or win a fortune before the game even starts (coin toss), or during halftime when a musical guest breaks out with a certain tune or when his/her clothes start falling off.
A tip of the helmet goes to the “Father of the Prop Bet,” Jay Kornegay, VP of Race & Sports Operations for the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, along with top managers Ed Salmons and Jeff Sherman, for continuing to throw lighter fluid on the prop bet charcoals each year.
Unlike online sites, which have relaxed rules, if any, Vegas books are restricted to handle only props in which the results can be determined off the gamebook posted on NFL.com. Thus, no one can walk into a Strip casino and wager on whether Janet Jackson will streak across the field during a timeout or trigger a brawl at halftime.
Props wagering on a grand scale started in earnest 21 years ago when Kornegay said he wanted to come up with something to spur interest in a Super Bowl in which the 49ers were an 18-point favorite over the Chargers. The options have since ballooned from 170 to 180 back then to many times that now. Kornegay said he doesn’t ever keep track.
As an example, a fan can make every Super Bowl play exciting by wagering that the game will go into overtime for the first time in history at +550 (essentially 5½-1 odds, with a winning $100 bet resulting in a $550 profit). Whereas a bet against overtime occurring would be at -800 (a person would bet $800 to make a $100 profit).
Here’s taking a stab at finding some soft spots in Westgate’s offerings:
n Peyton Manning throws an interception (-220 yes/+190 no): A definite yes, even though he hasn’t pitched one in 69 postseason throws. But this marks the 14th time in his 18-year career he’s facing a team that wound up with the league’s top defensive passer rating and he’s thrown 21 INTs in those previous 13, including two vs. Seattle two Super Bowls ago. Manning also happens to be the worst-rated passer in the league. Thus, it’s a toxic combination for the Broncos’ QB.
• Total score over/under 35.5 (-450 over/+375 under): Under is the choice here at nice odds considering Denver has the top-ranked overall defense and Carolina’s unit is No. 6 overall.
• There will be a missed extra-point try (+300 yes/-360 no): No. In a game that likely won’t have that many TDs and probably at least a few field goals, there won’t be many opportunities for either kicker to miss. And, FYI, even if it is a scorefest, the two PKs have combined to hit on 95.8 percent of their attempts this season.
• The number of passers in the game (over 2½ +175/under 2½ -200): Over. If Manning gets beat up by the Panthers’ pass rush, has a rotten game and gets benched again, or if Brock Osweiler comes in to run the Wildcat, it’s worth the chance and will keep bettors riveted all game. But by taking the over it also likely would cause an awkward moment if a QB is knocked silly and his injury is met with wild cheering. Cam Newton, meanwhile, will be trying to dodge a defense that had the most sacks in 2015.
• Receiving yards by Carolina TE Greg Olsen (over/under 67.5; both -110): Under. He’s the Panthers’ clear No. 1 receiver, which means he’ll be the focus of the Broncos’ stout defense, which has given up that many yards to a tight end only twice this season — and both times it was to New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Olsen isn’t in the Gronk’s class.
• Receiving yards by Carolina’s Ted Ginn Jr. (over/under 49.5; both -110): While Denver concentrates on Olsen, the fleet Ginn will find room to roam, much like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown did when he had 187 yards in the regular season vs. Denver and the 154 yards the Steelers’ Martavus Bryant had in Denver in the divisional round.
• Longest completion by Manning (over/under 34.5; both -110): Under. Since returning from his long layoff he hasn’t had a completion longer than 34 yards in 78 throws, and those were against teams with defensive passer ratings 13th or worse, not first.
• Receiving yards by Denver TD Vernon Davis (over 5.5 +120/under 5.5 -140): Under. The 10-year veteran already has been in a Super Bowl with San Francisco, so there’s probably no desire for Broncos coach Gary Kubiak to get him a “pity catch,” the way Bill Belichick did with Chad Ochocinco four years back. Not to mention, Davis hasn’t even been targeted the past four games.
• Will the Broncos score in all four quarters (yes +300/no -360): No. But it would be worth a “yes” if you’re a Broncos fan. Your team could lose and you still would have a chance for a big payday.
• Will the NBA 76ers score at least six more first-quarter points vs. Nets on Saturday than the Broncos will have total first downs, both -110: Denver is the choice. Philly is playing for second day in a row. In 10 previous games in the end of a back-to-back, the 76ers have averaged 20.8 first-quarter points. Thus, if the 76ers don’t reach 21, the Broncos would need only 15 to prevail. They’ve hit that mark in every game but one this season — in their last game against New England with 12.
• Will Kevin Durant score seven more points in OKC’s NBA game against the Warriors on Saturday than Manning will have completions, both -110: Durant. In his past two meetings with Golden State, both last season, he had 30 points in one half before getting hurt and then 36 in another game. Manning won’t be able to keep up.
• Will the rugby showdown Sunday between Wales and Ireland total more points than the distance in yards of the first Super field goal, both -110: No idea. But it’s always fun to root for a high-scoring rugby game. Last year those colossal rivals totaled 39 points.
• Will Carolina’s Cam Newton have more TD passes than the NHL’s Alex Ovechkin has points when the Capitals play host to the Flyers on Sunday, both -110: Ovechkin, well-rested after the All-Star break plays on the league’s best power play and will be going against a Philadelphia team that’s fifth-worst on the penalty kill. And he doesn’t even have to score to get a win if Denver’s top-rated defense stifles Newton.
• 9,999-1 Carolina will score exactly four points: Kornegay says someone bets on a team scoring four every year. Some team is due hit that number, though, since the last time it happened in a game was in 1923.
• 30-1 the teams combine for more than 80 points: The league has been conducting title games since 1933 and this has never happened. It has occurred twice in the postseason this century, but in both cases at least one bottom-feeder defense was involved. That’s not the case here.
Outside the box
Here are some wagering options that have been offered online. First, it’s onlinegambling.lv:
• 75-1 the goal posts will fall down: Huh? Both of them? Maybe if they’re expecting an earthquake.
• 56-1 there will be an earthquake in San Francisco during the game of at least 2.0 magnitude within 50 miles of Levi Stadium: FYI, the 1989 quake that struck during the World Series was a magnitude of 6.9. And that happened just before a game, so no one would have collected on that one.
• 150-1 someone catches on fire during the halftime show: As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. Anyway, what’s stopping someone from throwing a tiki torch at a slow-moving member of Coldplay’s halftime entourage. Tiki torches get through metal detectors, right?
• 25-1 there is a halftime show wardrobe malfunction: Take it. It would be fun to root for.
• 3-1 Coldplay’s closing halftime song will be “Princess of China.” It’s the favorite.
• 6-1 Coldplay gets booed: If there’s at least one Philadelphia Eagles fan in the crowd, these odds are too good to be true.
• Even money Peyton is featured in a commercial during the broadcast: Mr. Pizza will probably be in every single one.
Now, from SportsBettingDime.com:
• 6-5 Beyonce’s belly button will be visible during her halftime show: No way. She’s wants people to recognize her only as a singer.
• Odds on what color Panthers jersey is worn by the kid who gets the first TD ball from a Carolina player after a TD (black 3-2; white 2-1; blue 3-1; no jersey 18-1): It’s got to be white, which is what the majority of fans wear at home, despite the Panthers being in black Sunday.
And finally …
• 1,000,000-1 that Peyton Manning will get a penalty for excessive celebration: If anyone’s got $1M, this is a guaranteed way to make a dollar by saying he doesn’t get one.