A complete guide to Super Bowl prop culture
Roger Goodell believes the Super Bowl is the ultimate celebration of the great American game. It’s a day where friends and families come together, joined by a love of football (or commercials). I’m not here to dispute that it means either of those things although the first Sunday in February is about something much bigger than even the game, the players, or the fans; it's about gambling.
Regardless of what the league office wants you to believe, the growth in popularity of football is directly connected to gambling. Whether it’s of the fantasy variety, parlay cards, or office pools, the country relishes its action fix every Sunday throughout the fall.
Come Sunday evening everyone from 9-year-olds (not that we condone that sort of thing) to 90- year-olds will have more than a passing interest in the result of Super Bowl XLVIII. However, it’s not just the traditional point spread or over/under that creates a catatonic state among viewers but rather the almighty prop bet.
The Manning Narrative
The thing about prop bets on Super Bowl Sunday is they’re driven by star power. There wasn’t buzz around Trent Dilfer’s passing yardage back in the day like we’re seeing with Peyton Manning heading towards Sunday. “His (Manning’s) passing yardage prop has drawn tons of attention…Behind that, other popular props include Manning rushing yards, Manning TD passes, well basically anything with Peyton Manning’s name attached to it. What can you say? He’s a huge draw," Nick Bogdanovich told me.
Nick is the head oddsmaker at William Hill US, the American arm of international bookmaking behemoth William Hill, and Nick’s logged many a big game handling risk management for some of Vegas’ largest operations. Manning is just one name in this game but he will clearly drive a lion’s share of the prop bet handle sportsbooks will relish this weekend.
Mike Perry of Sportsbook.com went one step further than Bogdanovich on what he’s noticed regarding betting patterns when asked how fear of weather impacted prop markets. “(Inclement weather) definitely has.Take Peyton Manning’s passing yards for example: we opened 289.5 and got sharp action on it immediately and moved to 287.5. Right around 60 percent of bets we’ve seen are coming in on that side.” From a personal standpoint, the buzz about Peyton under being a good play has me slightly concerned and I’d actually be looking to explore his passing attempts under 41.5 instead of actual yardage. The O/U on his longest completion for the game is set at 35.5 and may also offer a compelling angle to go under given the Broncos quick hitting offense.
Of course, no talk of Peyton propalooza would be complete without mention of America’s favorite city in Nebraska, Omaha. Marketing director at BetOnline, Dave Mason, offered a short and sweet response about what he’s observed on their Omaha prop, “We’re seeing substantial action on Peyton Manning over 24.5 ‘Omahas.’ It’s getting a ton of love.” The Omaha prop becomes more intriguing when you consider every sportsbook used a different opening line ranging from Betonline’s 24.5 at the low end to Irish bookmaker Paddy Power hanging their prop total at 32.5. Arbitrage anyone? Let’s just say I don’t envy the intern responsible for calculating official results come gameday
Manning is the prop bet headliner nevertheless he isn’t the only name on the board drawing action. There’s plenty of money coming in from the professionals and recreational bettors alike on rushing, receiving, and defensive props too. Mason said Russel Wilson “over” in just about everything (TD passes, yards, completions) has attracted a lot of attention along with respected cash coming in on Montee Ball over both yards & receptions, Welker not to score a TD, and yes....wait for it, NO snow during the game. One of the chief oddsmakers at Bovada even went so far as to share they’ve pulled all weather related props off the board each night until they get an updated forecast in the morning. Perry shared that sharper bettors at Sportsbook.com were laying -165 (risking 16.50 to win 10) on YES there would be three consecutive scores by one team during the game. This prop excludes extra points for those thinking there was a potential loophole in the wording worth exploiting.
Offshore books have the luxury of going one step further than Vegas based operations, turning the game’s biggest storylines into wagering opportunities for bettors. Without boring you with semantics no wagers are allowed on the Super Bowl (or any other game for that matter) where the winner can’t be determined by an actual boxscore.
However, just because you can’t bet them in Nevada doesn’t mean there aren’t millions in play elsewhere. The off the wall props continue to grow in popularity meaning offshore books leave no stone unturned. From the length of the national anthem to game time temperatures (a fixture this year given the location) to color of Gatorade dumped on the winning coach, there’s a bet for everyone. Here are some of the off the wall props courtesy of sportsbook.com. (The entire list of Bovada’s props both football related and otherwise are listed at the end.)
Renee Fleming - How Long Will it Take Her to Sing the National Anthem (From first note starts until she completes saying Brave)
Over/under is 2 min 22 seconds
Richard Sherman - Will He Receive a Taunting Penalty During the Game? (Must Play for Action - Kick Off to Final Whistle)
No is 2/15, yes 4/1
Richard Sherman - Will He Receive an Unnecessary Roughness Penalty? (Must Play for Action - Kick Off to Final Whistle)
No is 1/9, yes 21/4
Richard Sherman - Will He Receive a Pass Interference Penalty? (Must Play for Action - Kick Off to Final Whistle)
No is 5/9, yes 7/5
What will the Nielsen TV Rating be for Superbowl XLVIII (Source Nielsen)
Over/Under is 47.5
How Many Americans Viewers (in Millions) for Superbowl XLVIII (Source Nielsen) (US Market ONLY)
Over/Under is 112 million
Who will the Super Bowl MVP of the Game Thank First
God 11/10, Teammates 2/1, Doesn’t thank anyone 3/1, family 11/2, fans 6/1, coaches/owner 8/1
What Color will the Gatorade (or Liquid) be that is dumped on the Head Coach of the Winning Team
No Gatorade/Liquid Bath even money; clear/water 2/1; yellow 7/2; orange 9/2; red 15/2; blue 15/2; lime green 10/1, chicken broth 50/1, hot chocolate 50/1
Record volume expected
There’s no surprise that the betting handle (volume) on the Superbowl makes for the single largest day of sports gambling. Last year, Nevada set an all-time record with $98.9 million put through the sportsbooks in Nevada. I won’t bother throwing out conjecture for figures that can’t be verified on worldwide betting handle nor that which changes hands illegally on the game. Betonline set an O/U for this year’s handle at 102 million statewide meaning speculation was rampant it would be the first ever 9 figure event. “I would say it looks ‘on pace.’ It’s all going to boil down to the final 48 hours to see whether we set the record. Right now, it’s been pretty much business as usual.”
Back in 2009 there was a major drop off in volume largely attributed to economic factors but there’s been an upward trend each of the past five years with no reason to think anything differently this year.
Here's an extensive sampling of game and entertainment props being offered by Bovada for Sunday's big game
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will it snow during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What will be the temperature at Kickoff?
Over 32 degrees Fahrenheit -120
Under 32 degrees Fahrenheit -120
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What will be the lowest temperature during the game?
Over 28 degrees Fahrenheit -120
Under 28 degrees Fahrenheit -120
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will the power go out in the stadium during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How long will it take Renee Fleming to sing the official US National Anthem?
Over 2 minutes 25 seconds EVEN
Under 2 minutes 25 seconds -140
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will forget or omit at least 1 word of the official US National Anthem?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Renee Fleming wear gloves when she starts singing US National Anthem?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - If Renee Fleming wears gloves when she starts singing the US National Anthem, what color will they be?
Any Other Color 3/1
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Knowshon Moreno cry during the signing of the National Anthem?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How many times will Archie Manning be shown on TV during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How many times will Eli Manning be shown on TV during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What will be said more during the game?
Reference to Denver Broncos #1 or Best Offense -120
Reference to Seattle Seahawks #1 or Best Defense -120
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Which coach will be mentioned first by name after kickoff?
Pete Carroll -120
John Fox -120
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Who will be seen first on TV after kickoff?
Erin Andrews -140
Pam Oliver EVEN
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How many times will "12th man" be said during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How many times will "Beast Mode" be said during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How many times will Peyton Manning say "Omaha" during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will the announcers say the word "Marijuana" during the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will the announcers refer to Russell Wilson being drafted in the MLB?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during their performance
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will the Halftime show break the record for most watched ever (Record Madonna 114 million viewers)
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers play a song on stage at the same time?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Which song will Bruno Mars perform first?
Locked Out Of Heaven 3/1
Just The Way You Are 6/1
Marry You 7/1
The Lazy Song 10/1
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What will Bruno Mars be wearing on his head at the start of his Halftime performance?
No hat 2/1
Fur Hat 5/1
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Richard Sherman receive a taunting penalty in the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Richard Sherman receive an unnecessary roughness penalty in the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Richard Sherman receive a pass interference penalty in the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Richard Sherman be interviewed on field after the game by Erin Andrews on the live FOX broadcast?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Michael Crabtree mention Richard Sherman in a tweet during the Super Bowl from kickoff until final whistle?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Wes Welker drop a pass in the game?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will any player receive a penalty for excessive celebration?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - If the Broncos win will Peyton Manning retire before game 1 of the 2014 Regular Season?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Peyton Manning throw a pick 6?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Will Percy Harvin be injured in the game? (Must be injured and reported by broadcasters and not return to game)
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Who will Barack Obama pick to win the game?
Seattle Seahawks -120
Denver Broncos -120
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What color will the Gatorade (or liquid) be that is dumped on the Head Coach of the Winning Super Bowl Team?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Who will the Super Bowl MVP of the mention first in his speech?
Other Team or Player of Other Team 7/1
Does not mention any of the above 4/1
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What will the TV Rating be for the Super Bowl?
Over/Under Nielsen Rating 47½
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - How many average viewers will the game have?
Over 112 Million Viewers -140
Under 112 Million Viewers EVEN
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - Which region will have the higher local TV Rating?
SUPER BOWL XLVIII SPECIALS - What will happen with the Dow Jones the day after the Super Bowl?
Market Up -140
Market Down EVEN
Player to score the first TD in the game?
Marshawn Lynch (SEA) RB 5/1
Knowshon Moreno (DEN) RB 17/2
Demaryius Thomas (DEN) WR 9/1
Wes Welker (DEN) WR 9/1
Eric Decker (DEN) WR 9/1
Percy Harvin (SEA) WR 10/1
Golden Tate (SEA) WR 12/1
Julius Thomas (DEN) TE 12/1
Russell Wilson (SEA) QB 14/1
Doug Baldwin (SEA) WR 14/1
Montee Ball (DEN) RB 16/1
Zach Miller (SEA) TE 20/1
Jacob Tamme (DEN) TE 22/1
Robert Turbin (SEA) RB 33/1
Peyton Manning (DEN) QB 40/1
No TD scored in the game 66/1
Total Passing Yards - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 199½ (-115)
Under 199½ (-115)
Total TD Passes - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 1½ (+135)
Under 1½ (-165)
Total TD Passes - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 2 (+200)
Under 2 (-260)
Total TD Passes - Russell Wilson (SEA)
5 or more 40/1
Total Interceptions - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over ½ (-150)
Under ½ (+120)
Total Interceptions - Russell Wilson (SEA)
3 or more 9/1
Total Completions - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 16½ (-105)
Under 16½ (-125)
Longest Completion - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 35½ (-115)
Under 35½ (-115)
Total Yards on 1st Completion - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 9½ (EVEN)
Under 9½ (-130)
Total Passing Attempts in the game - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 26½ (-105)
Under 26½ (-125)
Russell Wilson (SEA) - What will he do 1st?
Throw a TD Pass -230
Throw an Interception +190
Russell Wilson (SEA) - 1st Passing attempt of the game will be?
Total Rushing Yards - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 30½ (-115)
Under 30½ (-115)
Total Rushing Attempts in the game - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 6½ (EVEN)
Under 6½ (-130)
Total Rushing Yards on 1st Attempt - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 4½ (-115)
Under 4½ (-115)
Longest Rush - Russell Wilson (SEA)
Over 10½ (-115)
Under 10½ (-115)
Will Russell Wilson (SEA) score a Rushing TD in the game?
Total Rushing Yards - Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
Over 87½ (-115)
Under 87½ (-115)
Total Rushing Attempts in the game - Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
Over 21½ (-115)
Under 21½ (-115)
Total Rushing Yards on 1st Attempt - Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
Over 3½ (-115)
Under 3½ (-115)