For those fortunate enough to hold a much coveted ticket to Super Bowl XVI featuring the Colts and Bears, there will be plenty of variety to be had by paroosing the sands of South Beach. For those seeking variety of a different type, betting options will run into the several hundreds courtesy of what has come to be known as the proposition wager.
Unlike the championship games of yesteryear which were confined to wagering on the game spread and the total, the proliferation of proposition options has turned Super Bowl betting into a virtual smorgasbord that would rival that of a Sunday brunch at the Bellagio
‘Prop’ bets originated in the early 1980’s and provide a wagering menu that ties in to individual players, team performance, and specific events that occur within the game, or in the case of the coin toss or duration of the national anthem, ones immediately preceding it. Variations of the point spread and total are also available. For example, while the Colts have been installed as a 6 ½ to 7 point favorite depending on the locale, one that anticipates an Indianapolis blowout victory could opt to lay more points in exchange for better odds.
In recent years, prop wagers have taken on such a creative flavor, that they now link other sporting events taking place in and around the Super Bowl to players, stats, and events in the big game itself. Last year, one casino went so far as to offer props that pitted players of the then present day Steelers against those of the 1979 team that defeated the Vince Ferragamo led Rams by a score of 31-19.
In a game that will tip off half past noon (EST) on Super Bowl Sunday, the NBA will showcase Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Detroit Pistons in a battle of teams vying for first place in the Central Division. Count on at least a few props to titillate bettors’ fancies by pitting player stats from that contest versus that which occurs on the turf of Dolphin Stadium later that evening.
As props vary from venue to venue, and are often times created by innovative managers striving to set their book apart from the competition, the number of props that will be available cannot be pinpointed, though it is safe to say that it will easily exceed 500. The sheer size of the prop menu will create betting opportunities, as the more options that the lines makers must address the more prone he is to an oversight or miscalculation.
A classic example of that occurred in Super Bowl XXXVI as an under/over prop for now Colt, and then Ram receiver Ricky Proehl, opened at 14.5 yards, which was inexplicably low based on the numbers which he compiled during the regular season. Proehl played in all 16 regular season games that season and rang up 563 yards, an average of some 35 per contest and more than twice what the over/under opened. Gradually the yardage moved up, eventually closing at 16 ½, as did the ‘money’. By game time, one had to lay 150 to win 100, or 3 to 2, to wager that Proehl would exceed 16 ½ in terms of receiving yards . In the end, Proehl proved to be a bargain at any number. Kurt Warner found the now soon to be 39 year old journeyman 3 times for 71 yards and delivering over bettors some easy cash.
Those rare miscalculations are just that, rare, but there are other keys to enjoying success in proposition wagering.
In addition to being aware of any injuries that may be lingering, understanding the many aspects of a coaches’ game plan is essential. Those factors could influence how a particular player is utilized, for example, in the case of a tight end, whether for blocking purposes, or for running passing routes.
Bears’ tight end Desmond Clark’s offensive role may very well hinge on whether Indy can get pressure on Rex Grossman, as it looms probable that soft spots will emerge in the Colt secondary considering that safeties Antoine Bethea and Bob Sanders have been known to play close to the line of scrimmage to assist with run support. Lovie Smith may of course, decide to dedicate his tight end more for blocking purposes as was the case last year when Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller surprisingly went without a catch in the Steelers’ 21-10 victory over Seattle.
Speaking of Bob Sanders and lingering injuries, those choosing to play ‘over’ on the number of tackles will be venturing into dicey waters as the Colt free safety played in only 4 regular season games this year due to a chronic knee injury. Sanders could be seen limping off the field midway through the 4th quarter of this past Sunday’s victory over the Patriots. Proceed with caution.
Avoid putting yourself in the position of facing elimination on the strength of one play, or you may find yourself taking an unexpected, and possibly a very early cold shower. A few years back, those that chose to go under 15 ½ yards for Deion Branch’s longest pass reception found themselves doing just that, as Tom Brady found the then Patriot receiver for a 16 yard reception on the games 5th play.
Additionally, take note of special circumstances that present opportunity. Often times, injuries influence the averages that go into forming the lines and those factors are sometimes overlooked in the setting the numbers. Special situations are also known to play out as was the case last year with Jerome Bettis, whose impending retirement figured to influence his role in the offense. Those that backed the theory that Steeler coach Bill Cowher would feed him the ball were rewarded as Bettis finished with 43 yards on 14 carries, in each case roughly twice his season average. Both numbers went over the total, although those that wagered that ‘the Bus’ would reach the end zone were frustrated as he was stuffed short of the goal line on a pair of attempts
If you take your props seriously, and are in it for profit, steer clear of those wagers that are determined by nothing more than luck, the classic example of that being that of the coin toss, unless of course you happen to work for the Psychic Hotline. Other props such as ‘which players will score the first touchdown’, or ‘whether the quarterbacks’ first pass will be completed’ are also based on little more than chance and should be treated accordingly.
Another vital factor of successful proposition wagering is to understand the all of the elements that may affect your wager. In last years’ Championship game, the Steelers grounded the Seahawks by a score of 21-10 which would lead one to believe that Ben Roethlisberger easily out dueled Matt Hasselbeck in terms of passing yardage. Not so.
The Seattle signal caller more than doubled the productivity of Big Ben, who managed only 9 completions in 21 attempts in amassing a mere 123 yards. Hasselback, in a losing effort, generated 273 on 26 of 49. It is common for a losing QB to pass for more yards than their victorious counterpart, as coaches tend not only sit on leads but often go into prevent defenses, both of which will statistically benefit the signal caller of the team that is trailing.
Finally, as with any betting endeavor, lines vary, and it is always wise to shop around. Many bookmakers, in an attempt to shift the odds in their favor, widen the conventional 20 spread between the favorite and underdog, to 30 cents, and on rare occasions, as high as 40 cents. The latter situation should be avoided at all costs, unless of course you enjoy paying $8 for a toothbrush in the casino gift shop. No thanks.
Good luck to all.