Forget the spread and the over/under, the real fun of Super Bowl betting comes in the absurdist prop bets that allow you to wager on everything from presidential tweets to sweatshirt color to Apollo 13 quotes. Here are the 17 best from Super Bowl LI.
Prop ball deflated during postgame ceremony (Yes +1000 / No -2000)
I'm not quite sure what's being anticipated here. Do they think Matt Ryan is going to hold up a deflated football in celebration of conquest, like Joffrey did with Ned Stark's head? Is Tom Brady going to bring up the game ball with him to the podium and then, as Roger Goodell announces the Pats as Super Bowl champions, tear it up like a strongman does to a phonebook? I don't know what's supposed to play out. Oh, I'm gonna watch, but I don't know what to expect.
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Color of Bill Belichick's hoodie - blue (4/11), gray (3/1), red (40/1), field (50/1)
Belichick has worn a hoodie in his last four Super Bowl appearances (he wore a pullover in the first two). The first was gray (win over Philadelphia), the second was red (perfect season lost to Giants), the third went back to gray (another loss to Giants) and then he wore blue in the Super Bowl XLIX theft. He hasn't donned the red since that loss to the Giants and has almost exclusively worn blue for the past few years.
Winslow TownsonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Lady Gaga has a wardrobe malfunction -- must expose intimate body part (+1300)
I think it's cute they believe that Lady Gaga exposing an intimate body part will necessarily be a malfunction.
Total tweets from Donald Trump on Sunday (Over 7.5)
This one feels like a safe over, especially if there's a debate about crowd size.
Lady Gaga says “Trump” during halftime show (3/1)
This goes part and parcel with the last one. If Lady Gaga says "Trump" during the halftime show, then expect POTUS to crush the over on the last one.
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Will the word "lacrosse" be said over 0.5 times?
Did you hear Pats receiver Chris Hogan played college lacrosse at Penn State before transferring to Monmouth and playing both ways at receiver and corner? Oh, you have? 500 times this season? At least three times a broadcast? Well, get ready to hear it again and for good reason. Remember, hardcore NFL fans are in the minority for Super Bowl viewership. Let's say 30 million watch per NFL Sunday -- well, quadruple that audience and you still won't hit the number of people who'll tune into the Super Bowl. It's a broad audience. Because of that, the stories you've heard all year must be rehashed. You can't just say "the Pats are cheaters," you'd have to specifically say what they've done to earn that moniker. One won't be able to throw out "the Falcons are another part of a big year for Atlanta" without explaining Donald Glover or Migos or why Migos got hot overnight despite 95% of fans insisting they liked them before Bad and Boujee. And in Hogan's case, you can't really do him justice without mentioning his backstory. (Also, Belichick grew up playing lacrosse and loves the sport, which is a bit of a deep track on the game notes.) Hit this one hard.
Jersey number of first player to score a touchdown (Over/under 18.5)
Two years ago, the over/under on this prop was 79.5. It's a full 61 jersey numbers lower this year! Why? Though it's still a bit of a surprise (as you'll see), it has mainly to do with the recent adoption of jersey numbers in the teens for receivers. Julio Jones, Julian Edelman, Michael Floyd, Chris Hogan, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel all wear jersey numbers lower than 18.5. They scored a total of 34 touchdowns this year. But then there are the other players, the random tight ends, the little-used receivers and vital cogs in each offense (Martellus Bennett, Devonta Coleman, Tevin Coleman -- each of whom have the most touchdowns on their respective teams). They combined for 75 TDs. I don't get this one at all. But the oddsmakers do, and that's why I'm working from a Starbucks drinking a small coffee and flirting with the old lady behind the counter to give me a free refill instead of writing while overlooking my infinity pool.
Power outage interrupts game play (45/1)
A prop that only came into existence after the Superdome blackout of Super Bowl XLVII. The odds have been getting steadily longer throughout the years and have thus far peaked this week. I mean, the game's at NRG Stadium. Get it? Say it slower. No? Say it faster. There you go. Running out of power at a stadium named after energy would be like running out of ketchup at Heinz Field or partying only a responsible amount at Hard Rock Stadium. We can't have it.
Goodell seen shaking hands with Brady, Belichick and Kraft (3/2)
The only scenario in which the Patriots win and the Big 3 do not shake Goodell's hand is if Brady doesn't win MVP. Otherwise, they're going to handle it like the classy, honorable and ethical franchise they are. Spite can come during the victory parade.
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Luke Bryan's national anthem (Over/under 135 seconds)
That's 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Does this feel too easy, too? In the past 10 Super Bowls, here are the anthem lengths, from longest to shortest:
Alicia Keys – Super Bowl XLVII – 155 seconds
Jennifer Hudson - Super Bowl XLIII - 130 seonds
Lady Gaga - Super Bowl 50 - 129 seconds
Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin - Super Bowl XL - 128 seconds
Idina Menzel - Super Bowl XLIX - 124 seconds
Jordin Sparks - Super Bowl XLII -114 seconds
Renée Fleming - Super Bowl XLVIII - 114 seconds
Christina Aguilera - Super Bowl XLV– 114 seconds
Carrie Underwood - Super Bowl XLIV - 107 seconds
Kelly Clarkson - Super Bowl XLVI - 94 seconds
Billy Joel - Super Bowl XLI - 90 seconds
What do the top two anthem drawer-outers -- the only ones who came close to this over/under -- have in common? They're both torch singers who really, really like to hear themselves sing. I imagine Jennifer Hudson just walks around with an iPhone that only plays that one song from Dreamgirls. Idina Menzel, in the height of her Frozen fame, didn't get close to 135, and she was trying to milk her 15 minutes. (Don't worry, Idina, you're still very famous in the Chase house.) Renée Fleming is an opera singer and she didn't crack two minutes! An opera singer! And even Christina Aguilera, who added like three verses to the anthem, couldn't hit the 120-second barrier either. Somehow, I have a feeling the singer of Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day isn't going to draw this one out.
Gisele Bundchen shown on TV over (0.5 times)
Do you ever see Gisele during games? Yelling at receivers after games? Yes. Serving as part of Brady's "look, I'm a regular guy just like you" Facebook posts put together by his social-media team? You know it. Strutting across the Maracana wearing a dress cut as high as Christ The Reedemer? The only memorable part of the Opening Ceremony. But during games, not so much.
“Houston we have a problem” said on TV (4/1)
This is a toss-up. A savvy announcer like Joe Buck will almost always have heard the in-game props beforehand. Al Michaels once said "Deflategate" four times quickly during a game, like he was trying to summon Beatlejuice or Ted Wells. Turns out he was trolling gamblers who had been betting on a prop that said the term would be used three times that night. If Buck says it it'll be with a heavy, heavy does of irony. Like if the scoreboard goes out or you can't hear the ref or Bill Belichick successfully cuts off the Falcons' helmet feed, you might hear "Houston we have a problem," after which Buck would play the sad trombone sound if he could. As a serious call, though? No.
Who will the Super Bowl MVP mention first?
God - 2/1 Team/teammates - 2/1 Coach - 9/1 Family - 9/1 Owner - 9/1 Donald Trump - 20/1 Does not mention anyone above - 5/2
There has been late action on team/teammates, making it the sole favorite in some places over "God." Maybe the oddsmakers think Tom Brady won't want to thank himself first.
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What color will the liquid be that is poured on the winning coach?
Clear - 3/1 Lime/green -3/1 Orange - 3/1 Yellow - 3/1 Red - 6/1 Blue - 15/2 Purple - 12/1
Clear Gatorade? Is that just water? Ideally it'd be orange because orange Gatorade (aka Citrus Cooler) is the best. Don't sleep on blue, either. We've seen that dumped in a few big games of late. But where are the odds for "not pouring any drink at all?" That completely seems like the snobby sort of thing the Patriots would do, right?
AFP/Getty ImagesDAVID AKE
Roughing the passer penalty called (5/3)
The best kind of prop bets are the ones that keep you interested in the whole game. A wager on the coin toss is over before the smoke clears from the post-anthem fireworks. MVP is a nebulous concept. You're betting on who people will vote as having the best game. You can't even root for that. Bets on a player gaining a certain number of yards or scoring a certain number of touchdowns can be fun, but both can have the drama disappear early. When you bet on something like roughing, you have a chance to win on every play. And if it happens on the first play, well, then, at least you won.
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R. Allen punts a touchback (5/2)
Feel like this is a dangerous one. If you make a max bet on this and it comes true, earning almost three times the payoff, what's to stop the book from saying "wait, you thought we meant Patriots punter Ryan Allen? No, no, we meant Falcons safety Ricardo Allen. Or NBA champion, three-point legend and Oscar-nominated He Got Game actor Ray Allen." Wait, he wasn't nominated for an Oscar?
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Tom Brady retires prior to the 2017 NFL opener (35/1)
I highly doubt it, but 35/1 isn't bad to ride off into the sunset as a 40-year old. Brady's skills are going to decline, and when they do, it'll be quick. (See: Manning, Peyton). The odds I'd really like to see are Tom Brady announcing his retirement just after being named MVP while shaking Roger Goodell's hand, holding up a deflated football, punting it into the end zone, thanking lime/green Gatorade dumps, calling Gisele up to the stage and retweeting Donald Trump, all while Vic Beasley Jr. comes from nowhere to tackle him and earn a roughing-the-passer flag. That's action you can't buy.