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Best of Aaron Todd

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Top 10 prop bets for Super Bowl 50

1 February 2016

On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers will try to complete one of the most successful seasons in NFL history against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. The game features an exciting young quarterback in Carolina's Cam Newton, taking on living legend Peyton Manning, who may be playing the last game of his NFL career.

Of course, fans in Carolina and Denver will be cheering for their team, while millions more will tune in to the game to watch the action, the commercials and the halftime show.

There will also be millions of people watching because they've got something on the line. The American Gaming Association estimates that $4.2 billion will be wagered on the Super Bowl — with 97% of that money being bet illegally. If you're looking to place a wager on the Super Bowl, we hope you do it with a sportsbook that is licensed and regulated to operate in your jurisdiction.

The best thing about the Super Bowl is the sheer number of things that can be bet upon. You can bet on the coin flip — in fact, Sportsbook.ag offers both sides at -101. It's hard to find a bet with a lower house edge than that.

I spent the weekend scouring the lines the oddsmakers have offered on dozens of markets, and if anything has become clear, it's that shopping around is incredibly important. I've cherry-picked the best bets with the best odds. Hopefully things will go my way on Sunday, and in addition to enjoying a great football game and entertaining commercials, I'll finally go 10-0 in my annual Super Bowl prop bets column.

10. Panthers to record the first sack (+115)
Both the Panthers and the Broncos have talented defensive lines. The Broncos averaged 3.25 sacks per game, half a sack more than Carolina this season. But without knowing which team will start the game with the ball, it's difficult to assess who has the edge in getting the first sack. I'm going to a William Hill book and picking Carolina here because I love getting better than even money on a bet that's pretty close to a coin flip.

9. There will be a successful 2-point conversion (+330)
A lot needs to go my way for this to happen. It needs to make sense for a team to even attempt a 2-point conversion, and then the team needs to be successful. Denver attempted a total of one in the entire 2015 regular season, while Carolina didn't even have one attempt. Of course, when you're winning most of the time, it doesn't make a lot of sense to go for two.

Both teams, however, were successful in their only 2-point conversion attempts of the postseason. I'm betting that there's going to be at least one 2-point conversion attempt, and considering the NFL-wide success rate of 47.9% on 2-point conversion attempts this year, I like getting better than 3/1 on this bet.

This bet is available in multiple locations, but no one is offering odds of better than 3/1 that I could find other than the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, which recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation at its renowned SuperBook.

Why is Mike Ditka to blame for the proliferation of Super Bowl prop bets? Casino City's Gary Trask explains.


8. No interceptions for Peyton Manning (+190)
A month ago, if you'd told me that Peyton Manning would be starting in the Super Bowl against Carolina and that I'd be willing to wager that he wouldn't throw an interception, I would have said you were crazy. But after two playoff games in which Manning managed the game well and didn't make many mistakes (other than a lost fumble against the Patriots), I like getting nearly 2-to-1 on a bet against a Manning interception at the Westgate.

Considering his history in the Super Bowl, this may not be the best bet, as he's thrown four picks in three games (including two against Seattle in 2013) — but his approach to the game now that he's at the end of his career is very different than his approach in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

7. Cam Newton over 19.5 completions
This wager would have been a loser thus far in the season, as Newton only managed 20 or more completions seven times this season. Against Denver's formidable defense, it may seem strange that I'm taking the over here, but it is, in fact, as a result of that defense that I'm going in this direction. I think Denver is going to try to force Carolina to rely on Newton's arm. Carolina's offense has many weapons, and with Denver's speed, Newton may have a hard time putting up a big game rushing. Watch for Newton to get out of the pocket and pick up open receivers 10-12 yards down the field.

This wager is available in multiple incarnations across several books, with Paddy Power Sportsbook offering the lowest number at 17.5 completions at -125. That's likely the best bet available, but I don't like paying the extra juice, so I'm going to take the Westgate's 19.5 at -110.

6. Ward saves (-1.5) vs. Newton completions
One of the best innovations in prop bets is cross-sport wagering. This wager pits the Carolina Panthers' quarterback against the Carolina Hurricanes' goaltender, and by some weird twist of fate, they're both named Cam.

William Hill Sportsbook & Racebook is offering this wager, and I'm taking Ward -1.5 here because I think it's a great middling opportunity. The Hurricanes are taking on the Montreal Canadiens, who have averaged 33.3 shots per game over their last 10 contests. The Hurricanes have allowed 28.8 shots per game during their last 10 games, and Ward (if he starts) should be in line for somewhere around 25-30 saves. If Newton completes 20-something passes, I could win two bets.

Of course, Ward has to get the nod in net. He's missed the last three weeks due to a concussion, but hopefully the All-Star break has given him a chance to recuperate. The best thing about this bet is that if Ward doesn't start, there's no action. The worst-case scenario is that he starts and bombs in the first period, only making a few saves before getting pulled. But that scenario is far less likely than him making 25-30 saves, so I'm going for the middle.

5. Cam Newton under 1.5 TD passes (+160)
Carolina's offense has been electric in the playoffs. The Panthers have scored 80 points in two games, and Cam Newton's passer rating is an impressive 113.4. However, he only had three passing touchdowns in those two playoff games. In fact, he had fewer than two touchdown passes in six games this year, and some of those teams (Jacksonville, Dallas and Atlanta, to name a few) don't have defenses nearly as skilled as Denver's.

Newton may go off for five touchdowns in this game, as he did three times earlier this season. But I love the odds William Hill set on this, so I'm taking the under.

4. Greg Olsen 100+ yards receiving (+400)
Other than the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, it's hard to find a better tight end in the NFL than Carolina's Greg Olsen. Olsen had an enormous season in 2015, finishing the regular season with 77 receptions for 1,104 yards and seven touchdowns. Predicting a 100-yard game for a receiver is pretty hard to do, especially when it's a tight end. But I love the price on this, even though it has dropped from +450 when I first saw it at Sportsbook.ag.

Olsen had three games with more than 100 receiving yards in the regular season and added a 113-yard game against Arizona in the NFC Championship game. While Denver's defense is tough, they have been vulnerable to great play from a tight end. Need proof? Look no further than Gronkowski's 144-yard game in the AFC Championship.

This is a bit of a long shot, but I still think there's a reasonable chance Olsen has a big enough game to make this bet a winner.

3. Last scoring play — Denver passing TD (6/1)
I'm envisioning a game in which Denver is behind late in the game, and I think Manning could lead the Broncos down the field to cut into the lead or even take the lead late. I love getting 6/1 on my money at William Hill here.

2. Over 2.5 players to attempt a pass (+175)
Both William Hill and the Westgate offer this wager at these odds, and I think it's a steal. There are so many situations that could lead to someone other than the starting quarterbacks attempting a pass. Coaches pull out all the stops in the Super Bowl, which means there are tons of trick plays in the playbook. I can imagine Ted Ginn being tossed the ball on a reverse and throwing the ball to a wide-open Cam Newton. And if Peyton Manning struggles or gets hit hard and has to come out the game, Gary Kubiak won't be shy about using Brock Osweiler the same way he did during the second half of the regular season.

While this would generally be a bad bet in a regular season game, taking this bet at these odds is just like printing money. (Unless I'm wrong.)

1. Ted Ginn to win MVP (50/1)
Nowhere is the importance of odds shopping more important than in the Super Bowl MVP race. Ginn is listed at 15/1 at Sportsbook.ag, 18/1 at William Hill, 20/1 at Bovada Sportsbook and 25/1 at the Westgate. Paddy Power, however, lists him at 50/1, and I like those odds.

While Ginn winning the award is very unlikely, there's just no value in picking Newton (listed at most books at -130) or Manning (7/2) to win. I'm picking Ginn because I think he could catch a touchdown pass, rush for a touchdown and throw a touchdown pass. That would be some kind of Super Bowl performance, and I think it would be hard to ignore. Is it likely to happen? No, not really. He only had four rushing attempts in 2015, just eight total in the three seasons prior. But as I said earlier, coaches pull out all the stops in the Super Bowl, and I think a crafty veteran like Ginn will be given some opportunities to make plays on Sunday. If he puts up some big numbers, he just might win the MVP award.

Oh yeah, and as for the game, I'll take Denver +6 with a backdoor cover.
Top 10 prop bets for Super Bowl 50 is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.