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26 January 2015
By Aaron Todd
One of my favorite columns to write is my annual Super Bowl bets column. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the main one is that there are just so many options. Online sportsbooks roll out more betting opportunities than you can imagine, and if you look hard enough, you just might find one where the oddsmakers get it wrong.
Paddy Power Sportsbook, for instance, offered punters a bet last year that paid 33/1 if an interception was returned for a touchdown. A few days after I posted an analysis on why Paddy Power was crazy to offer a bet at those odds, the odds fell to 25/1. A day or two after that, Paddy Power pulled the bet completely.
When Malcolm Smith intercepted Peyton Manning late in the second quarter and scored a touchdown, I knew there were a few very happy people celebrating a huge payday thanks to a bookmaker mistake.
So once again, here are my top-10 Super Bowl prop bets. Hopefully, I found a few spots where the oddsmakers have once again made errors and I can show a profit for the third straight year.
10. Length of the national anthem: Under 2 minutes 1 second (-110) – Bovada Sportsbook
At the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Menzel stretched out just about every phrase at the beginning of the Star Spangled Banner, and held some notes much longer than most anthem singers do. She also paused for three or four seconds near the end while waiting for a flyover. As a result, her rendition clocked in at a whopping 2:09.
Given that her most recent performance was so far over 2:01, the over here seems like the clear bet. But if you go back to a pre-Frozen anthem performance by Menzel, you'll find she sings the song much more quickly. At the final regular season game of the 2007 NFL season (Patriots fans likely remember the game; they barely beat the Giants to finish the regular season a perfect 16-0), she clipped through the anthem in a brisk 1:34.
I think there was someone in her ear telling her to delay at the MLB All-Star Game, because the Air Force pilots weren't going to be able to get over the stadium in time. I'll take the under and root for a more traditional performance.
9. Temperature at kickoff: 19.01 - 21 degrees Celsuis (+275) - Paddy Power
With the game taking place in Phoenix, Ariz., the weather is going to be surprisingly predictable. Paddy Power offers temperature bets in 2-degree Celsius increments, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). In January, the temperature at 3:30 p.m. local time is going almost always somewhere between 66 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit, or 19 and 23 degrees Celsuis.
I picked a range of 19.01 to 21 because it pays slightly higher (11/4) than 21.01 to 23.
8. First timeout of the game: Patriots (-120) - Paddy Power
This might sound like a bit of a crap shoot, but I think it's a good bet. Seattle fans can be very disruptive. While the game is not in Seattle, there are likely to be more Seahawks fans in Phoenix than Patriots fans, so expect the crowd to be rooting for Seattle. I think Seattle's first drive will go relatively smoothly for the offense, while the Patriots may have a hiccup which causes them to burn an early timeout.
7. Longest penalty called: Over 15.5 yards (+110) - Paddy Power
Essentially, this bet allows punters to wager on whether or not there will be a pass interference penalty over 15 yards in the game. While there have been just eight such penalties combined in the 36 games these teams have played this season (five on New England, three on Seattle), I actually think this is a coin flip. Both teams have good receivers, and both have very aggressive defensive backs. I think the stakes of this game will see both defenses taking a few chances early to see how the referees are going to call the game. As a result, I think you'll see at least one pass interference call of more than 15 yards.
6. Will there be a tie after the first score? Yes (-110) - bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook
If you think the Super Bowl will be close at any point, this is a good bet for you. I think Seattle has a good chance to go into halftime with a lead, and I think the Patriots will tie it early in the second half before the Seahawks pull away in the fourth quarter. I'll take the yes bet here and root for a back-and-forth game.
5. First second half TD scorer: James Develin (50/1) - Paddy Power
This bet is a bit dependent on New England winning the coin toss. Since the Patriots always defer when they win the toss, there's a very good chance that they will have the ball to open the second half. As a result, I think the Patriots are a little more likely to score the first touchdown of the second half than the Seahawks.
As far picking James Develin, there's no football reason — it's completely sentimental. Develin was a beast of a linebacker at Brown University when I worked in athletic fundraising, and I love seeing him on the field for the Patriots' offense. Develin scored a touchdown in the AFC Championship game, his first of the season, and he's unlikely to score again. But at 50/1, it's a bet that I can't resist.
4. Al Michaels refers to the spread or the over/under: Yes (+200) – Bovada
Has the oddsmaker at Bovada ever watched a football game called by Al Michaels? He's always finding a way to slip in a comment about the spread or the over under. It's unclear whether this means a covert reference (such as "That meaningless field goal just made a lot of people happy,") or an overt reference, but either way, I'm taking that action, especially at 2/1.
3. Seattle +2 (-110) – Bovada
Okay, this isn't a prop bet, but I do think this is a solid bet. When betting opened on this game, the Seahawks were 1.5-point favorites, but so much money has come on New England that the line has moved as much as 3.5 points.
I know the Patriots crushed the Colts, but let's be honest: The AFC Championship game really took place a week earlier when the Patriots played the Ravens. Neither the Colts nor the Broncos had a chance against either of those teams. Meanwhile, the Seahawks needed a miracle to beat the Packers at home. The movement on this line is a clear overreaction to the results of the preceding games. I think the Seahawks are going to win this game, so I love getting two points.
2. MVP: Richard Sherman (33/1) – Bovada
I think Seattle's defense is going to have a big game, and if Sherman shuts down the Patriots' wide receivers and manages to get an interception or two, I absolutely think he could be named MVP. He'd probably have to return an interception for a touchdown, which he hasn't done this season, but given the stakes of the game, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take some risks he might not otherwise to get the ball out of the Patriots' hands.
1. Number of times "Deflated" is said during the game: Over 3 (-130) - Bovada
It's the story that everyone wants to talk about going into this year's Super Bowl: Deflategate. Did the Patriots intentionally deflate their balls in their AFC Championship game over the Colts? There's no way this gets mentioned less than three times during the game. I'll take the over here all day, especially since you end up with a push on three.
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