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Top 10 Super Bowl prop bets and tips

28 January 2019

After the massive William "Refrigerator" Perry bowled into the end zone from the one-yard line way back in 1986, the way we bet on the Super Bowl changed forever.


Yep, that's right. The novelty bet on whether Chicago's popular defensive lineman would score a touchdown in Super Bowl XX during the Bears beatdown of the Patriots is responsible for what happened in later years. The proposition bet craze has gotten to the point where most sportsbooks will take more action this Sunday on things like the coin flip and total passing yards for Tom Brady than the actual game itself.

It's hard to blame the betting public for falling in love with prop bets. Each year, it seems, the number of prop bets expands, as does their creativity. In fact, when the e-mail with this year's list of Super Bowl prop bets from the the renowned SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino landed in my inbox late last week, there were more than 1,000 ways to bet on the game inside.

You also can’t fault the bookmakers for feeding the prop bet frenzy each year. Last year, for the eighth time in nine years, the handle for Super Bowl betting at Nevada sportsbooks broke a new record, shattering the 2017 number by more than $20 million. A total of $158.6 million was wagered at the state's 198 outlets when the Philadelphia Eagles took down the Patriots in a crazy 41-33 final.

So, even though Nevada sportsbooks have come out ahead in 26 out of the 28 years since the Nevada Gaming Control began tracking bets on the Super Bowl in 1991 (the only losses were Chargers-49ers in 1995 and Giants-Patriots in 2008), we're going to go ahead and take a shot at making some money on Super Bowl LIII. And in doing so, we're going to concentrate on the prop bets, since we don't have a real strong feeling on the side or total. (Gun to head? We'll call for a 31-23 win by New England.)

But first, here's a few handy tips for when it comes to plunking down your money on Super Bowl props.

10. Lean toward "under" and "no"
The betting public loves to root for points. It's only natural. And it’s also the reason why over/unders in football games are typically inflated for national TV, standalone games. Same goes for Super Bowl prop bets. The bookies know that you are more likely to bet the over on passing or receiving yards for certain players. It’s no fun to root for things not to happen, right?

Veteran bookmakers, like the ones at South Point Hotel Casino and Spa, know full well that you'd rather bet the "yes" on Rob Gronkowski scoring at TD at +180 rather than the "no" at -210. So, with the numbers slanted that way, when it doubt, put your dollars on the "unders" and "nos."

9. Avoid "needle in the haystack" wagers
The whole idea of betting Super Bowl props for most people is to have fun and try to make a little money. The problem is that many of the "bet a little to win a lot" prop options are what many pro bettors like to call "needle in the haystack" wagers, and those are the ones that bookmakers will welcome you to bet with open arms.

The reason? When you make bets on props such as "Who will score the first TD?" or "Who will win the Super Bowl MVP?" or "What will the margin of victory be?" there will only be one winner out of dozens and dozens of options to bet on, meaning the house's hold on these bets is enormous.

So, if you are compelled to make one of these wagers, keep your bet size small and be mindful that you are much better off betting when there are just two or three sides to a wager, or a definitive "yes" or "no" with a fair price on each.

8. Follow the money
Until recently, Las Vegas sportsbooks have been limited to offering proposition bets solely on things that happen on the field and appear in the box score. The Gaming Commission has allowed wagers on things like the MVP or the Heisman Trophy in recent years, but that's about it. When it comes to the more elaborate and creative prop bets that get a ton of mainstream media attention, you have to go offshore.

For instance, Bodog Sportsbook and Racebook is offering wagers such as "Will Gladys Knight be wearing a skirt, dress or gown to sing the U.S. National Anthem?" (Yes -240, No +165), "What color will the liquid that is poured on the game-winning coach be?" (Clear/water is the favorite at +220), and "Which commercial will air first?" (Bud Light is the -105 chalk).

If you're going to jump in on these types of exotic wagers, keep a close eye on which way the line moves as we get closer to Super Bowl Sunday. Typically, if there is a major move in one direction or the other, you are better off following the money, because chances are that somebody knows something. The limits are so low on these kinds of wagers, the sportsbooks don't mind having a little liability in exchange for the publicity of offering such wild betting options.

One more thing about these off-the-wall wagers: Be sure to read the wording and the terms and conditions closely. The bookmaker has the final say on determining the outcome of these wagers, and there can sometimes be controversy.

Just ask the people who bet on Lady Gaga's national anthem performance before Super Bowl 50.



7. Be "neutral" with prop bets
The worst thing you can do with prop bets is load up on a bunch of wagers that are all based on who you think is going to ultimately win the game on Sunday.

For instance, if you like the Patriots to beat the Rams, don't bet a laundry list of props that all favor a New England win, such as Tom Brady to win MVP (even money at the Westgate SuperBook), or over rushing yards for New England running back Sony Michel (75.5 at bwin Sportsbook & Racebook), or that the Patriots will win every quarter (10.5-to-1 at bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook).

Why? Because if you're wrong about the Pats, you're not only going to lose your main bet on the side, but more than likely you will lose all or the vast majority of your prop bets. Always try and find prop bets that are neutral toward the end result of the game.

6. Shop for the best number
Last bit of advice before we get to some actual opinions on this year's Super Bowl, and this may be the most important point we will make.

When betting sports, it's crucial to try to find the best number available, and this is especially true for Super Bowl prop bets. With close to 500 different types of wagers out there for Super Bowl Sunday, it's only natural that you will find different prices at different books on many of these props. Make sure not to bet a "bad" number. Don't bet under 19.5 rushing yards (-118) for New England running back Rex Burkhead at bwin Racebook & Sportsbook when you get under 22.5 (-115) at Bodog. Because if Burkhead runs for 20 yards, you're going to deeply regret not shopping for the best line.

In fact, having multiple "outs" for the Super Bowl can help lead to some generous "middle" opportunities where, for instance, you could bet over 19.5 yards for Burkhead at bwin and under 22.5 at Bodog and collect on both wagers if it falls in the middle.

5. Brandin Cooks under receptions and no TD
OK, let's put some money into play.

Yes, Cooks, the Rams flashy wide receiver and former Patriot, has only gone under five catches in seven out of 19 games this season, but there's a reason why this number is so low. New England Head Coach Bill Belichick is the master of taking away what the opposing offense does best.

With Rams RB Todd Gurley an absolute enigma right now, I'm guessing Belichick will be able to put an extra emphasis on shutting down Cooks and not allowing him to do too much damage. Also, we love the fact that Cooks played a full season for the Patriots last year, so the team knows his strengths and weaknesses better than anybody. Following our credo above about betting "no" and "under," we'll call for a down game from Cooks.

Risk $140 to make $100 on under 5.5 receptions for Cooks at the South Point.
Risk $190 to make $100 on Cooks NOT to score a TD at Intertops Sportsbook.

4. Under total sacks
This is a relatively low number for total number of sacks in an NFL game, but I think it's warranted, so we'll go ahead and play the under.

First off, with a point spread of around 3 or just under, this game is expected to be close — meaning neither team will likely build a huge lead, which would lead to an inordinate amount of pass attempts and more opportunities for a sack for the team playing from behind.

Secondly, despite his lack of mobility, Brady gets rid of the ball very quickly and is difficult to get a hand on. Football Outsiders, an absolute "must" source for any football fan, ranks the Patriots offensive line as No. 1 in the league in both pass protection and adjusted sack rate, which isn't a surprise since New England tied for best in the NFL this season with Indianapolis for sacks allowed (1.2 per game).

On the other side of the ball, the New England defense ranked 31st out of 32 NFL teams this season in sack percentage, and the Rams offensive line was fifth in the Football Outsider rankings for pass protection.

There are some books out there with 3.5 as the number for total sacks with plus money on the under, but we'd rather lay the extra juice and make a bet where there needs to be five sacks for us to lose money.

Risk $120 to make $100 on the under 4 total sacks at the South Point.

3. No roughing the passer penalty
Our under on total sacks leads us directly to this wager we found at South Point, which is giving us +130 if we bet there will NOT be a roughing the passer penalty called in the game.

We like this bet for a couple of reasons, beginning with the controversial "hands to the face" penalty that was called against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship. It came late in the game and kept a New England drive alive at a crucial moment, even though the replays showed the KC defender did not touch Brady's helmet.

This helps us in a couple ways. The Super Bowl officials are well aware of this mistake. They are also only human and will not want to be guilty of a similar overreaction if Brady gets hit late. Secondly, even though the Rams tied for first in the league this year with six roughing the passer penalties, they also know full well that Brady has a reputation — whether it's fair or unfair — of being "protected" by the refs. I'm guessing the Rams coaches have been telling their defensive pass rushers all week to be wary of getting in a late hit on Brady and being hit with a costly penalty.

Finally, as stated above, we're not expecting too many hits on either QB in this game. Also, because of Belichick, the Patriots are typically very disciplined and tend to avoid stupid penalties. For proof, look to the fact that they Pats have been flagged for roughing the passer just seven times over the last four seasons combined.

Risk $100 to win $130 and bet there will NOT be a roughing the passer penalty at the South Point.

2. Second half higher scoring than first half
This is a bet we have made quite a bit in recent years on Super Bowl Sunday and it has paid off handsomely. In fact, over the last 20 years, the second half of the Super Bowl has been higher scoring than the first half 15 times.

The logic makes sense. As with any game of this magnitude, teams tend to start the game by feeling each other out and playing it a bit conservative. This makes even more sense this year for the Rams, who have just four players with Super Bowl experience. And, believe it or not, in the previous eight Super Bowl appearances by the Patriots under Belichick, they have scored a TOTAL of just three points in the first quarter, proving that The Genius tends to use the early stages of the Super Bowl as a testing ground for what he might be able to do later on.

Risk $150 to win $100 that the second half will be the higher scoring half at Bodog Sportsbook

1. Gostkowski no touchback on first kickoff
Historically, each year, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski ranks at the bottom of the league in touchback percentage, and it's by design. Belichick likes his kickers to try to land the ball inside the 10-yard-line to force a return, instead of just booting it into the end zone and giving the opposition the ball at the 25. This year, New England ranked 27th out of 32 teams in touchback percentage (49.5%) and over the last three seasons it ranks 27th in the league at 23.8%.

In the five previous Super Bowls Gostkowski has played in, his first kickoff was a touchback just once, versus Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX.

Even though Gostkowski's touchback percentage has risen over the last few years, let's roll the dice once again and hope history repeats itself.

Risk $150 to win $100 that Gostkowski's first kickoff will NOT result in a touchback at the Westgate SuperBook.
Top 10 Super Bowl prop bets and tips is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT