Finding Value in Super Bowl Props

Betting on the Super Bowl is one of the most difficult tasks gamblers have each year. During a normal NFL Sunday there are over a dozen different games to play, and if one has a bad line, good handicappers can exploit it. With all of the attention on a single game, sportsbooks don’t usually make a major mistake. Case in point: the Panthers have to be over a field-goal favorite, but you can’t give the Broncos more than a touchdown. Hence, the line is around Carolina -5.

If the spread is about right, how should you bet on the big game?

What Super Sunday lacks in games it makes up for with a laundry list of prop bets. But don’t take their ubiquity as a sign that you should bet on the lot of them. A major mistake many bettors make is to wager on too many props.

Do your research, whittle down your list to about three, and see if you can hit on two of those.

Here are a trio worth considering.

Will the Super Bowl go to overtime: No (2/25)

You have to have a big bankroll and high risk-tolerance to bet $100 to win $8. The reason this is a good play is simple; it’s clearly the right side. No Super Bowl has ever gone to OT. Of the 1,050 playoff games contested in the history of pro football, 64 have gone to overtime. That equates to six-percent. The odds being offered suggest a seven or eight-percent shot at OT.

With the advent of the two-point conversion, even if Denver is driving, down a touchdown in the final minute, as an underdog they could score and opt to go for two and the win. Panthers coach Ron Rivera, nicknamed Riverboat Ron, will certainly consider going for two if his team can win the game at the end of regulation, which would eliminate overtime. Yes, a Super Bowl will go to an extra session at some point, but the numbers say betting against it is the right play.

O/U on catches for Jonathan Stewart: Over 2 (9/5)

The Broncos allowed the fewest yards per carry in the NFL this year. The Denver D was also number-one in yards per pass attempt (6.2 yards). However, Denver yielded 344 completions during the regular season, which wasn’t even in the top-ten. In other words, they give up short catches.

They ranked right in the middle of the pack when it comes to running back receiving yards. In the AFC Championship game, Patriot running back James White made five catches (and had a lot more targets) while Brandon Bolden hauled in two throws. Stewart only had 16 catches during the regular season, but he had 47 grabs in 2011 and is fully capable of being a part of the passing game. With two weeks to prepare, Panther coaches have had plenty of time to look at film and see what worked for New England.

Which team will have the longest kickoff return: Denver (4/5)

Several stats suggest the Broncos will have the longest kick return. First, Carolina is the favorite and likely to score (and thus kickoff) more.

Second, the Broncos only had 25 kicks returned against them this season; the Panthers had 34. (Denver kicker Brandon McManus has a big leg and produces a lot of touchbacks.)

Third, Denver opponents managed just 20.3 yards per return. The Panthers gave up 26.6 yards, fifth-highest in the league.

Finally, Carolina was the worst kick return team in the league, managing just 18.5 yards on 22 returns. The Broncos brought back 27 kicks, averaging 21.8 yards per try. You have to lay a little juice, but all that evidence combined makes the Broncos having the longest kick return seem pretty likely.

(Photo credit: Pantherfan11 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)

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