My Super Bowl 50 Wagers and Betting Propositions
No man is an island and when it comes to considering the vast multitude to different wagers and propositions on today’s Super Bowl, I’ve become less an island and more of a continent swayed by other influences.
I wish to respectfully cite five sources that were used to make today’s selections. Harvard Sports Analytics (listed at COVERS.COM), Case Keefer (at the LAS VEGAS SUN), Aaron Todd (CASINOCITY.COM) the private Las Vegas Sports List (which is not public), and Earl Burton’s blog (SUPER BOWL 50) were each of particular value. Bettors would be well advised to visit any of these websites above and read a more comprehensive list of the wagering possibilities.
Here are the wagers I’ve made so far, as of 9 am on Sunday (Game Day). Obviously, the lines can and do change. But these numbers are still widely available at the time of this posting:
BEST BET: FIRST SCORE OF THE GAME WILL BE: A FIELD GOAL OR A SAFETY (+125) [RISKING $500 TO WIN $625]
NFL games average either a FG or safety as the first score about 57 percent of the time. That means touchdowns as the first score happen only 43 percent of occasions. Carolina is 50-50 on this prop in their 18 games this season. Denver is much worse percentage wise in scoring a TD first, only 6 times in their 18 games (33 percent). We are getting a PLUS PRICE and a generous one at that coming back on a prop where we should probably be laying extra odds. Add some conservative-minded play calling from both first-time Super Bowl coaches in the first quarter and I think it’s reasonable to expect the first score of Super Bowl 50 will be a field goal (two excellent kickers good at long distances, by the way — also helps the chances of this prop cashing).
TEAM TO CROSS MIDFIELD FIRST: DENVER (+115) [RISKING $100 TO WIN $115]
This appears to be a coin flip, but we’re getting a positive price. One certainly understands why Carolina would enjoy a slight edge on game props like this as the favored team, but I’m not convinced that matters much in the first few drives. Given that Denver’s players are the most experienced team in championship-level games and the Bronco defense is the NFL’s top ranked unit, I’ll take a small flyer on the Broncos’ offense being the first team to cross midfield. Hoping they will either stop Carolina in the first series or pull a surprise and go aggressive early, by being able to move the ball successfully. This is officially graded at the first team to reach the opponent’s 49-yard line.
DISTANCE OF CAM NEWTON’S FIRST TOUCHDOWN PASS: UNDER 13.5 YARDS (-110) [RISKING $330 TO WIN $300]
The Harvard Analytics group made a strong case that Newton doesn’t often throw long passes early on, especially for scores. Combine this with Denver rarely giving up long touchdown passes in the opening drive, and we have enough justification for a wager. Stats this season show that Newton’s first TD pass has been longer than 13.5 yards just 44 percent of the time, and that includes some very bad defensive opponents. Now, he faces a MUCH STRONGER defense that has allows the first TD at 13.5 yards or longer just 25 percent of the time. Here, we are getting even money on a prop that should probably be somewhere around -130.
SHORTEST PUNT BY BRAD NORTMAN (CAROLINA): UNDER 34.5 YARDS (-110) [RISKING $110 TO WIN $100]
Few of us pay much attention to punters, but this is Carolina’s weakness. Nortman is ranked 28th in the NFL in distance and has a poor track record of nailing kicks inside the 20 (one could argue this lack of ability to pinpoint kicks helps the OVER on this prop). I’m expecting a shank or a weak effort at some point in the game by a punter prone to some bad recent history. Case Keefer pointed out Nortman has produced at least one punt of less than 34.5 yards in four straight games. With Denver’s far-better-than-average defense, we also suspect Nortman will have more punt attempts than normal. So, I’ll lay what amount to even money that this punter will continue to struggle on the NFL’s biggest stage.
TEAM TO RECORD FIRST SACK: CAROLINA (+115) [RISKING $400 TO WIN $460]
Even though he’s immobile, Manning has been traditionally difficult to sack throughout most of his career. However, the Denver QB is no longer at the peak of production which tells me there could be more hesitation in Manning’s throws, especially early in the game. Moreover, I watched last week’s rout of the Arizona offensive line, which was shredded up front by the Panthers’ defense. Carolina stunted and blitzed early and often, and Cards QB Carson Palmer spent the first quarter laying on his back much of the time. With yet another older immobile quarterback on deck who is similar in style, look for Carolina to practice the same game plan early in this game. Newton, by contrast, is far more difficult to bring down for defenses and has genuine breakaway ability. We’re getting plus money on a prop where I think we should be LAYING money. Again, I stress the biggest factor for me in making this wager for a slightly larger amount was seeing Carolina’s game plan in a similar situation two weeks ago, which leads to be believe Manning is going to get some early heat.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS TO THROW A PASS (BOTH TEAMS COMBINED): OVER 2.5 (+170) [RISKING $100 TO WIN $170]
I’ve been burned on this prop in recent years. It’s usually a sucker play. But this time around, the payback has inflated to some extra value combined with two additional factors that leads me to lay a small amount on the prop that three players will throw a pass. Obviously, two players are certain to throw passes, so we need either a trick play (a RB or WR throws a pass) or an injury to either Manning or Newton where the backup comes in and passes at least once. One can’t envision Manning being pulled at any point given this could be the final game of his illustrious career. However, injuries to an older QB certain to face pressure and Cam Newton’s frequent runs increasing his likelihood of injury makes this somewhat attractive. I wouldn’t make this wager for anything less than +170, but there’s enough value here to make the play.
CAM NEWTON TOTAL RUSHING YARDS: OVER 40.5 (-115) [RISKING $230 TO WIN $200]
CAM NEWTON’S LONGEST RUSH: OVER 13.5 (-115) [RISKING $230 TO WIN $200]
WILL CAM NEWTON SCORE A TOUCHDOWN: YES (-120) [RISKING $240 TO WIN $200]
I’m grouping these three props together, since they are closely related. I’m bullish on Newton, who is at the top of his game right now and playing in the biggest game of his career. We know he’s capable of rushing as well as any QB in the game, and this is the perfect stage for some showboating by the 2015 NFL MVP. Not being critical, but Newton’s ego and competitive drive is likely to fuel a “Superman” effect where Newton runs out of the pocket and tries to do things on his own. Combine Newton’s propensity to run more often than normal, his obvious athleticism (meaning, he’s likely to run for longer gains), and a nose for the end zone (he’s probably already orchestrated a dance and giving the ball to someone in the stands) and this creates what should be an irresistible temptation for Newton to try and be the star. Moreover, Denver’s defense is solid on the secondary, meaning blanket coverage should force him into more rushing attempts. The TD prop is not justified by any metric, but given these special circumstances and the uniqueness of Newton’s character and experience, I’m going against the grain and looking for big rushing numbers from the Carolina QB. These all appear to be reasonable numbers for Newton to achieve and surpass.
BEST BET: GAME TOTAL: OVER 44 (-110) [RISKING $1,100 TO WIN $1,000]
The total opened up at 45.5. Most years, Super Bowl bettors drive up the number. But this hasn’t been the case in 2016, as many wagers appear to be based on belief in the Wade Phillips-coached Bronco defense which is expected to be the major determinant in where this total lands. I’m as impressed as anyone with this #1-ranked defense. However, Super Bowls tend to be higher-scoring in recent years based on several factors. First, there’s a greater adrenaline rush which creates both incentives for players to shine on the game’s biggest stage, combined with game-day jitters that lead to mistakes (consider how many defensive scores we’ve seen in recent games). Second, Carolina has clearly been well-prepared coming into both previous playoff games, running up huge first-half leads. These lopsided offensive performances were against Seattle and Arizona, two teams with pretty solid defenses. So, one could argue Carolina has proven its ability to embarrass good defensive units, which would include a team like Denver. Add in some showboating on Cam Newton’s part, some uncertainty about Manning’s arm strength at age 39 and apparent lapse in judgement leading to interceptions this season, and the total on this game now down to a key number for totals betting (44) and we enough compelling reasons to pull the trigger on an OVER wager.
WHO WILL WIN SUPER BOWL 50?
As for picking a side, it appears to me that Carolina is the public choice, but the smart money is taking Denver plus the points. Public tends to overreact to teams that steamroll into Super Bowls off impressive playoff performances, which tilts the case for Carolina. However, the atmosphere of playing on a neutral field away from the comforts of home is a different challenge for Panthers, especially for a younger team unaccustomed to the pressures of a Super Bowl (by contrast, most of the Denver players have been in this spot before — and were humiliated two years ago). Carolina also struggled somewhat in road games during the closing stages of the 2015 regular season, which makes me believe taking the points is probably the right side. I would take DENVER +6 in a heartbeat, but that number is no longer available. Now, all I see is +5.5 with moneyline figures listed at -235 / +195. Gun to my head, I’d take Denver because of my contrarian nature. But there are better plays on the board that will tie up my money. Passing on the side and moneyline.
Oh, and now to the most important event of the day: 2016 PUPPY BOWL: TEAM RUFF -3 VS. TEAM FLUFF (-110) [RISKING $110 TO WIN $100]. Yes, there REALLY is a betting line (offshore) for this game, which starts prior to the Super Bowl.
TOTAL WAGERS MADE: 11 tickets with $3,450 at risk, and two “best bets’
NOLAN DALLA — 2015 NFL SEASON RECORD
76 WINS – 102 LOSSES — 3 PUSHES
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BANKROLL: $13,515.
NET GAIN/LOSS: + $3,515.
BEST BETS OF THE WEEK: 14 – 10 – 2
LAST WEEK: 2 — 1 — 0 (+$950)
BEST BET: Arizona-Carolina OVER 23.5 in First Half (-110) — Wagering $1,100 to win $1,000…..won
Arizona +3.5 (-110) — Wagering $550 to win $500…..lost
Denver +3 (-105) — Wagering $525 to win $500…..won