Welcome to prop-bet utopia.
When the Patriots face the Rams on Super Bowl Sunday, the game almost belongs in the background because of the side show. It used to be the Super Bowl commercials, then the halftime show. But now it's the infinite side wagers that make the game crazy, zany and hilarious.
There were 442 — count ’em — 442 prop bets announced last week by the Westgate in Las Vegas. And a new one this year — perhaps crazy of all crazies — a bet on the bettors.
Nevada's sports book handle for Sunday's game has an over-under for $165.5 million, with the over as a minus 130. The state took in $132.5 million in 2016 and $158 million last year. Given technology, you have to like the over, right? You are betting that there will be more than $7.5 million additional wagering from last year.
And how about the National Anthem? Yes, it has a prop. The over-under is 107 seconds and will be sung by Gladys Knight. Think she might have to clear her throat, bet the over. The Super Bowl anthem has gone over 105 seconds in each of the last six Super Bowls. (Think we don't do our research?) And yet even this wacky bet has a handicapping angle.
“What if someone watches the rehearsal?” I was asked this week. “They can time that and bet accordingly.”
Yes, and so can the singer, with a couple of stammers, or a Ralph Kramden-like “Homina-homina-homina” (for fans of the fabled “Honeymooners”). Naturally, these are usually $5 or 10 props, but a win is a win.
And history goes into the props. For the bet about whether there will be a score in the last three-and-a-half-minutes, there has been one in 20 of the last 25 Super Bowls.
There's a wager for the total number of times announcers Jim Nantz and Tony Romo say Gronk for Rob Gronkowski. It's over 2.5. I say OVER. What will the first halftime song be? Maroon 5 takes center stage along with rapper Travis Scott, so who goes first is a HUGE variable. That gives you the gamut of “Moves Like Jagger” (+125) and “Girls Like You” (a 10-1 payout).
The choices seem endless, and you can play almost anywhere. Don't forget to check out our friends at PlaySugarHouse.com., connected with the Sugar House online casino, for updated wagers.
Some classics along the prop betting circuit include the coin-flip (-102 either way), whether someone scores within the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game, if quarterback sacks for both teams exceed 3.5, and if Tom Brady's first pass of the day will be completed. Not to mention whether there will be a missed extra point, the kickers will miss a field goal, even whether any team will score three consecutive times. There's also a bet for which team issues the first coaching challenge.
Not enough craziness? How about whether either team will ever lead by more than 14 points, if the longest scoring play of the game will be more than 49.5 yards, and can Ryan Allen, New England’s punter, actually punt a touchback?
What about the GAME, you ask. Well, the Pats hovered in the 2.5- to 3-point favored range, even after the Rams opened as a one-point favorite. For all of 10 minutes. Interesting player props include those who will score first. Running backs Sony Michel and Todd Gurley are at 6-1 and 7-1. The tight ends come in at 12-1 and Brady, known for the occasional sneak down near the goal line, is 60-1.
The over-under has been in the 57 range, and the Patriots, according to Westgate, were a ½-point favorite in each quarter. Sounds like a no-brainer if you're a Pats bettor until you realize a tie is a loss on that one.
Which will be higher? Combined points by the Thunder and Celtics from the NBA that day or the reception yardage of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Julian Edelman? Based on recent numbers, the NBA total would be in the neighborhood of 227 and the passing yards 236. A good-even prop.
Here's a tip from past Super Bowl parties: If you host one and make prop bets a feature, include one about which team scores last. That will keep people in the game, even if it's a blowout. I did this at many of these gatherings, offering up to 30 individual picks. Even casual fans who knew nothing or cared nothing about the game got caught up in the pool.
Which is as it should be. Your favorite team may not be part of this game. But your favorite prop probably will be. This is just a sampling of the menu, which gets better every year.
Beat the Degenerates
While many of these wagers involve a chuckle and an I-Dare-You-To-Be-Crazier-Than-Me outlook, some serious viewpoints came out of Beat the Degenerates, which I participated in with Brian Cahill, Jason Cardonick of Big Mountain Imaging and George Manias, a major executive for the brand-new Atlantic City Arena Football League team, scheduled to start play in April at Boardwalk Hall. The program aired on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app.
Among his wagers, Cahill likes the over 47-yard total for the longest touchdown of the game (“Watch it be 46,” he laughed). Cardonick, who offered some deep insights into past trends, loves the Patriots. I like the over 3.5 combined sacks for both teams and the over 107 seconds for the anthem.
Manias also favors the over for the national anthem. He appeared on the show promoting the new Arena Football League team. If you've never seen Arena Football, you'll be in for a treat. The action is exciting, takes place on a 50-yard field and allows no punting. Field goals must be kicked into a very narrow opening, and most kickoffs hit the netting behind the end line, prompting players to field it off the carom, turn and run the ball upfield. Scoring is prolific, usually about 100 points a game, and the action is accompanied by music.
One more new twist has been unveiled: Manias announced that Draft Kings is a major part of the league, and betting will be encouraged. That means people using their mobile apps for items like in-game wagering at the game site. It's bound to be one of the revenue streams in this league and could be a difference maker in terms of the team being financially stable.
This is the final Between the Lines column for the NFL season. It may return periodically during the winter, around March Madness and perhaps the start of the baseball season. It's been great interacting with many of you. We will do it again soon. Enjoy the action Sunday.