Super Bowl betting: How to win on Super Bowl Props (By Brian Gold for


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Dec 2, 2008
Super Bowl betting: How to win on Super Bowl Props

Super Bowl proposition bets became popular in the 1980s and according to some industry insiders now exceeds the amounts bet on straight wagers and spreads. The reason seems obvious.

While a game line is purposely designed for even action on either side, proposition bets generate action based on emotion and a lot of subjectivity. Consequently, lines can be way off. As well, many props are created to generate instant results and are preferred by bettors who don't want to wait a full game for a payout. In essence it is the same reason scratch and win lottery tickets are now outselling those for draws several days in advance. Lastly, for some bets the odds offered are quite high and can result in great payoffs.

The key to winning on props often involves in prognosticating. This may sound difficult but it doesn't have to be. Horse players can usually guess how a race is going to be run by looking at past races and determining which horse has early speed, which closes, which horses like to ride a rail trip which usually goes to the outside etc. Similarly one can determine which teams like to kick off first versus those that prefer to defer, which teams generally like to come out passing versus those that play conservatively etc. And if a bettor can guess the play calls momentum they can then bet props accordingly. We know for example that Pittsburgh almost always defers if they win the coin toss whereas Arizona almost always takes the ball. With that in mind it's a safe bet that Arizona will take the ball and hence is very likely Arizona will get the first first down in the game, they will punt first and very possibly they will score first. At Betfair Arizona are about +130 to score the first points of the game. If you feel that they will march down the field on the opening drive as they have been doing then that represents a great value bet even if you don't like them to win the game.

There are many props on total receiving yards and rushing yards on Betfair. For example the over/under on total yards for Larry Fitzgerald is 97.5. Given the numbers he has been putting up lately that seems like an easy over but Arizona has not played a defence like Pittsburgh in a while. Furthermore with the way Larry Fitzgerald has been dominating defences all post season it seems likely that Pittsburgh will be double or triple teaming him making it unlikely he can reach that receiving total. In fact it wouldn't be surprising to see very few pass attempts to Fitzgerald in the game. If Warner can't get the ball to his go to guy then all of a sudden total passing yards by Warner seems like an easy under. Similarly Hines Ward has a total receiving yards prop of 77.5 yards. The question with Ward of course is how healthy he is. His leg is sore and he will play but if you think his injury is severe then the under seems like a steal. Mind you that makes the over on players like Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller who will be used more often great bets as well. As mentioned these bets are all based on prognosticating what you think is really going to happen but if you guess right or better yet if you have enough information to make an intelligent speculation then these bets represent far better value than a bet on the game itself.

Two other very common proposition bets on the super bowl are first touchdown scorer and player to be named MVP. Both bets offer huge odds if you can pick the right player. These bets are usually a crapshoot but it often isn't difficult to rule out pretenders. For first TD scorer it is a safe assumption that if Arizona scores it will be a passing play. Neither Tim Hightower nor Edgerin James are power backs and the Pittsburgh defence is almost unpenetratable in the red zone using the rush.

Consequently, it's likely Arizona will score with a pass. Larry Fitzgerald is the obvious choice but he'll be triple teamed in the end zone given his recent scoring prowess. That opens up the likely possibilities of Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston or Tim Hightower with a play action pass. Other than those 3 the only other TD scorers this year for

Arizona have been Edgerin James 3 times and Larry Fitzgerald. So betting anyone else on Arizona seems like a waste of money. On the Pittsburgh side of the ball the scoring has been more spread out. Hines Ward scored 7 times, Santonio Holmes scored 5 times, Willie Parker scored 5 times, Mewelde Moore scored 6 times (mostly when Parker was injured) and Nate Washington, Heath Miller, Gary Russell and even Ben Rothlesberger all scored multiple times during the year. This may make the bet seem overwhelming but let's prognosticate. Arizona is terrible against the run in the red zone and have been all year. Pittsburgh is unlikely to go to the deep ball much which means it is highly likely that a Pittsburgh TD will come in the red zone via a run. In that case the only two real choices are Willie Parker or Mewelde Moore. Parker is available at almost 7/1 for the first TD and Moore is available at the juicy odds of 25/1. Of course another possible scoring play for Pittsburgh is from their defence which has given opposing teams headaches all year. In that case Troy Polamalu at 30/1 or the field bet (any other player) at 10/1 is tempting as well.

Lastly we'll look at the MVP bet. Most people assume the quarterbacks win this bet all the time but that's just not true. In 42 super bowls, the QB won the MVP 22 times representing only 52% of the MVP winners. 7 times running backs took the award, 5 times wide receivers won, 1 time a punt returner won the MVP award and astonishingly on 8 occasions defensive players won. It's a safe assumption that if Arizona wins the Super Bowl it won't be as a result of their defence and it is unlikely that Edgerin James or Tim Hightower will steal the show. That leaves really only 3 options to win the MVP award for Arizona; Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Boldin. My guess is that with the coverage on Fitzgerald, Warner will have to spread the ball around quite a bit meaning that if Arizona pulls it off Warner is the only logical bet to repeat his 2000 MVP win when he played for St. Louis. On the Pittsburgh side of the ball it is more complicated. Willie Parker could steal the show but that seems unlikely. On the receiving end Pittsburgh has numerous receivers that could win including Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes, Gary Russel etc. But the fact the team is so evenly split on the receiving end of the ball it is unlikely one of these players will be dominant enough to win the award. That really makes 3 likely winners for Pittsburgh; Rothlesberger, Santonio Holmes if he can run rampant on punt and kickoff returns or a defensive player. If it is a defensive player, which seems very possible, Troy Polamulu is the obvious choice. At 20/1 he represents great value.

Again propositions involve a lot of guessing and prognosticating but more often than not games are played out as expected once a team gets the lead. My hunch is Fitzgerald will have little impact as he will be heavily covered and without him Arizona will be hard pressed to get first downs. I also expect Kurt Warner to be throwing into a lot of coverage, and be hurried over and over which will result in interceptions. In fact, it wouldn't be shocking to see this game get out of control. If I'm right I stand to win big on my proposition bets. If I'm wrong I could lose big.

Fortunately, games this post season have been going more or less as expected even if the winners were often unpredictable.

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