Some people will tell you that prop bets are for suckers. And those people suck.
Prop betting has become one of the most popular wagering options for both squares and sharps alike, according to sister site Covers.com.
When it comes to the professional bettors – those fabled Vegas wiseguys – they don’t care what the bet is. Their biggest concern is value: do they have a significant edge over the book to make money on that bet?
Whether that’s on the Super Bowl pointspread or time of the first score of the game, money won is money won. That said, there are “smarter” prop bets to make, like handicapping prop odds for things you can actually research and quantify.
You can crunch the numbers around the longest made field goal for Super Bowl LIII and have an educated prediction. You can’t, however, accurately forecast the fashion habits of Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine and know whether he’ll wear a hat during the halftime show. I mean you can try. And boy do we try.
For all of you Super Bowl bettors — the so-called suckers — who love those unpredictable and often absurd novelty prop options: we salute you. That’s true gambling. Let’s do the impossible.
*Note: Most novelty props that can’t be officially graded in a box score are not allowed to be offered in legal sports betting states like Nevada or New Jersey. These types of props are only available online or in Europe sportsbooks. If you can’t legally take part in those markets, these predictions should simply be treated as entertainment only.
The same folks that poo-poo prop betting are the same ones that crap all over wagering on the coin toss.
Yes, it’s an actual coin toss with no way to predict what will happen. Pure 50/50. But, it’s also a coin toss, so there’s no outside factors like weather or in-game injuries that will spoil a play you thought you handicapped perfectly. Just let her rip.
Another reason to love betting on the coin toss: it’s the miso soup of Super Bowl bets. It’s quick, and early on, and you don’t have to go nuts and bet a ton of money on it. The coin toss is just a little taste to warm up your gut for the all-you-can-eat feast that is Super Sunday.
As it stands, Tails holds a 27-25 edge over Heads in Super Bowl coin toss history. Tails had hit in four straight Big Games before Heads showed up last year at Super Bowl LII. Is Heads due to come up again in order to balance out the universe or is Tails still the hot pick? Reminder: it’s a coin toss, so don’t lose too much sleep.
A couple other coin toss trends to consider (but are actually pure fluff): the NFC has won 18 of the past 21 Super Bowl coin flips but lost last year when the AFC Champion Patriots took the toss. That was just the second time in New England’s eight Super Bowl showings under Bill Belichick that the Pats won the toss – and they lost both of those games (2012, 2018).
Again, it’s a coin toss. Have fun.
PREDICTION: Tails (-105)
NATIONAL ANTHEM LENGTH
Motown legend Gladys Knight has the honors of singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LIII. The 74-year-old songstress from Atlanta has an Over/Under of 107 seconds (could vary per sportsbook), which is well below last year’s 120-second total for pop singer Pink, who clocked in at 112 seconds and cashed in for Under bettors.
Going back over the past 28 Super Bowls, the average length of the anthem is about 115 seconds but recent singers have really milked the spotlight with longer versions of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. Before Pink, three consecutive singers went over two minutes with their anthem performance and looking back at those past 28 Super Bowls, just seven versions of the anthem stayed below the current O/U of 107 seconds.
I did some YouTube sleuthing and found a recording of Knight singing the anthem back in 1991, with her finishing with a time around 105 seconds. That was 27 years ago. According to my fellow Covers Live Wire host and professional stage performer/singer Maddy Palmer, Knight’s age and breathing control have her leaning toward the Under. Maddy believes Knight won’t have the pipes to go all out like some younger anthem singers in the past. She’ll keep it quick and clean.
Good enough for me.
PREDICTION: Under 107 (-115)
Is it just me or does Maroon 5 not have enough clout to play the Super Bowl halftime show? Beyoncé, Prince, Paul McCartney, The Rolling “F-ing” Stones, and… Maroon 5. One of these things is not like the others. I guess that’s what you get when every other major musical act passes on the chance due to their stand on the NFL vs. Colin Kaepernick. But I digress.
Props around the halftime show are abundant, with Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi (God, I’d love an all Outkasts halftime show!) scheduled to appear. As mentioned above, you can wager on whether Levine will sport a hat to start the show or not, but by now that’s standard Super Bowl prop betting fare. I think the real money is in the opening song markets.
Some books have “Moves Like Jagger” as the front runner to kick off the halftime show while other have songs like “One More Night”, “Sugar”, and “Makes Me Wonder” at the top of this prop. You can grab most of these between +300 and +600.
The one trend I’ve noticed in recent Super Bowl halftime shows is a “psych out song” to open. They start playing the tune from one song but then start singing another:
We saw Lady Gaga do this three years ago with “God Bless America” and then jumping into “Poker Face”, Bruno Mars did it in 2014 with a kids choir singing “Billionaire” then he went in with “Locked Out Of Heaven”, and Beyoncé crossed us up with a “Run The World (Girls)”/Vince Lombardi mashup then singing “Love On Top”. Beware of this trend because it causes grading issues with many online books. It’s their prop and their rules, so whatever they think is the first song sung – that’s what you get. Tough tees.
The other trend I’ve picked up on in recent Super Bowl halftime shows is that acts will either open with their latest song – in order to promote the new album – or they’ll swing big with what is considered their greatest hit:
Justin Timberlake went new with “Filthy” right out of the gate last year, Lady Gaga went classic with “Poker Face”, Coldplay went classic with “Yellow”, Katy Perry went new with “Roar”, Bruno Mars went new with “Locked Out of Heaven”, as did the Queen B with “Love On Top”, and Madonna took us back to the classics with “Vogue” in 2012.
Since most of these options pay a larger sum due to the unpredictable nature of this prop, we’re pulling the trigger on three songs to open. Going classic: “This Love”. Going new: “Girls Like You”. And, digging into setlists from their recent concerts: “What Lovers Do”.
PREDICTION: Opening song – This Love (+1,500), Girls Like You (+600), What Lovers Do (+400)
BETTING THE BROADCAST
The great thing about broadcast props is that the game can be an absolute wash and you still have a dog in the fight. And speaking of dogs, did you know there’s an Over/Under prop out there on the number of dogs featured in Super Bowl commercials (5.5)? Gotta go Over, right?
Other broadcast offerings include how many time Tony Romo will correctly calls a play before it happens and will a call Romo correctly predicts finds its way to the endzone? Then you have all of the Over/Under TV appearance props: Giselle 1.5 O/U, Roger Goodell 1.5 O/U, Robert Kraft 2.5, Kylie Jenner 0.5.
There are a ton of these out there but my favorite one – in terms of probability – is will CBS mention the age difference in the two head coaches, Bill Belichick (the evil entity that uses his body as a host is 391 years old but he doesn’t look a day over 66) and Sean McVay (33).
The “Yes” on this prop is priced at -200, which may be a little too rich for the casual fan but this prop is going to hit. You bet $20 to get $10. You’re going to return half of your investment right away. No mutual fund is going to promise that kind of return.
PREDICTION: “Yes” broadcast mentions age difference between Belichick and McVay (-200)
Just because the whistle blew and confetti is flying doesn’t mean the betting fun stops. The postgame is a dog and pony show of unpredictable markets just waiting to be wagered on. You’ve got a ton of President Trump related props (Will he congratulate the winning team on Twitter by midnight ET?) and of course, who will the winning quarterback thank first (God, family, coach, team, fans)?
At the top of that list though is the color of the Gatorade bath. Depending on where you play, the price on colors is all over the place. However, most shops do have water/clear and yellow leading the charge.
Looking back to 2000, this is your Super Bowl Gatorade bath count: Water x 7, Orange x 5, Yellow x 3, Blue x 1, and 4 bone-dry coaches. You had both Water and Orange when the Ravens won in 2013, in case you’re actually counting.
If you like the Patriots, there might be value in no bath – if available at your sportsbook. In Belichick’s five wins, he’s stayed dry in three of those games (thanks to walk-off wins) with Blue and Water as the color of the other two. McVay, on the other hand, got a Water bath in his first win as the Rams’ head coach in Week 1 of the 2017 season.
Seems like H2O is the way to go.
PREDICTION: Water/Clear +360