Aside from betting the game itself, a myriad of betting propositions abound in every Super Bowl as amateur gamblers with an opinion come out of the closet more often this time of the year than homosexuals at a gay rally.
It’s important to remember that when betting Super Bowl props the oddsmaker holds a huge edge as many of the props carry as much of a 40-cent ‘juice’ edge in his favor. Thus, it’s critically important to make sure you have some sort of built-in advantage working in your favor before taking the plunge.
In addition, the props are designed to create more action for the books.
"The props were designed not only to get us publicity but to spread the money out. We didn't just want one big decision for the day; we want 10 or 20 big decisions. Our chances obviously are better if we have 20 major decisions compared to one," said Jay Kornegay, director of Race and Sports at the Las Vegas Hilton.
According to Kornegay, this is the only NFL game of the year where he doesn't set the line with the professional bettors in mind. The professionals, he adds, do bet on props but the handle taken in from the public masses that flock to Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend far outweighs the smart money.
Here are some “tips” on some of the more popular propositions when it comes to prop wagering on this year’s Super Bowl.
1. The Coin Toss
A wildly popular prop that fans love betting on is the Coin Toss. It’s fast and it takes place just prior to kick-off. It has also witnessed the NFC winning the pre-game coin flip each of the last 13 years in a row. What does it mean? Nothing. The odds on the NFC winning this year’s coin flip: 50/50.
2.Quarterback Action Tops Player Props
Bets involving the quarterbacks are extremely popular and for all the right reasons as signal callers have won the Super Bowl MVP award 23 times in 44 previous Super Bowl games. Running backs and wide receivers have carted home the MVP trophy seven times each, with others (read: defensive performers) also totaling seven MVP’s.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger lead the charge this year. In head-to-head proposition competition the Hilton favors Rodgers by 30.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns over Roethlisberger.
3. Sacks Are Not Tackles
When betting on the over/under number of tackles it’s important to know that sacks are not recorded as a tackle.
4. Team Scoring Tendencies
Certain edges can be found when it comes to scoring props but rest assured, you are not pulling the wool over the oddsmaker eyes.
Here is a breakdown of quarter-by-quarter scoring and averages for-and-against in all games played this season for both squads -
1Q – Green Bay: 88-46 / 4.64-2.43
1Q – Pittsburgh: 72-63 / 4.00-3.50
2Q – Green Bay: 162-102 / 8.53–5.37
2Q – Pittsburgh: 165-42 / 9.17-2.34
3Q – Green Bay: 131-40 / 6.90-2.11
3Q – Pittsburgh: 107-46 / 5.95-2.56
4Q – Green Bay: 110-87 / 5.79-4.58
4Q – Pittsburgh: 127-114 / 7.06-6.34
Notice that Green Bay’s defense has been its stingiest in the 3Q this season, whereas Pittsburgh’s defense has performed at its best level in the 2Q. Meanwhile, both the Packers and Steelers offenses were most effective in the 2Q and least effective in the opening stanza.
Incidentally, each team played two overtimes games this season, with Pittsburgh winning both (9-0) and Green Bay losing both (0-6).
5. Player Scoring Tendencies
The leading candidate to score first in Super Bowl XLV is Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall. He tied for 2nd in rushing touchdowns this season with 13.
Behind Mendenhall in the prop wars to score first is Green Bay WR Greg Jennings with Pittsburgh WR Mike Wallace next in line.
Interestingly, Jennings leads the NFL in postseason receptions with 17 for 239 yards through the first three games of the 2011 playoffs, but zero touchdown receptions so far. Look for the Packers’ top receiver to finally find the end zone.
Over the previous 44 Super Bowls, wide receivers lead the brigade, scoring the first touchdown 17 times. Running backs are right on their heels with 16 initial scores. Tight ends have scored first five times, with quarterbacks, kick returners and defensive players two times each.
6. Odd Props
Melding Super Bowl props with other sports (i.e. - will there be more sacks in the Super Bowl or shots on goal by Washington Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin in his team’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins) is another popular prop.
One personality prop that fans are sure to be attracted to is the over/under on the amount of times Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will appear live on the cameras during the game (photos do not count). The opening number is 2.5. Our best guess is that while Jones loves hogging camera time, we won’t see his made-over mug more than twice.
Another is the length of time it will take pop singer Christina Aguilera to sing the national anthem. Knowing it took her 1:54 seconds to perform the same in the 2010 NBA finals, and figuring she will want as much air-time as possible, the ‘over’ 1:53 sounds like music to our ears.
With this, the question becomes: “Which history repeats itself?”