Wagering on Super Bowl Sunday means more than just NFL point spreads, moneylines and totals, this is the time of year when the sportsbooks prop betting (proposition betting) pages come alive with literally hundreds of betting options. Saying hundreds is not a lie, you will find Super Bowl props as per usual such as how many quarterback yards, players receiving yards, how many sacks, punts, touchdowns in the game etc. You will also find props that border on the bizzare, that is unless your specialty is handicapping propositions such as Will any part of Beyonce's hair at the start of the half time show be curled, waved or crimped? which is currently trading at 5Dimes (with whom TheFootballLines.com has an affiliate relationship) at odds of -319 ($1.313) for Yes - curled, waved or crimped and +150 ($2.50) for No - hair is straight.
Handicapping a Prop Bet
There are a few different ways you can tackle proposition wagers. Lets look first at handicapping one ourselves, we will look at the prop for how many sacks in the game. First off we need to establish an average result or expected number of sacks. Over the regular season the 49ers defense recorded 38 sacks and their offense allowed 41 while Baltimore allowed 38 and their defense recorded 37, the league average is 36.5. To adequately allow for San Francisco's offense against the Baltimore’s defense and vice versa we need to compare how they perform against the league's average. We do that by dividing each teams defensive sacks by the league average times the oppositions sacks allowed.
However before jumping straight in we are going to make some adjustments to our teams averages, well San Francisco’s to be precise. Having essentially played the first half of the season with Alex Smith at QB and the second half with Colin Kaepernick we will check their stats. Smith was sacked 24 times in 10 games while Kaepernick has been sacked around 16 times in 13 games. Using the later stat 16 divided by 13 times 16 equals 20, so we will adjust SF's offensive number to 20. So lets get our average, SF (38 sacks defense) / (36.5 league average) x (BAL 38 allowed) = 39.5, BAL (37 defense) /( 36.5 average) x (SF 20 allowed) = 20. Adding the two and dividing by 16 gives us an expected 3.73 sacks for the game. We can now use a Poisson Calculator to establish the probability of either outcome. To use the Poisson Distribution method certain criteria must be met which is generally the case here, doing so gives us an expected probability of under 4.5 sacks as 68.33% which equates to odds of -215 ($1.47) and over at around +215 ($3.15). Currently the under 4.5 is trading around -150 ($1.67) so there appears to be a bit of value on offer.
Other Ways to profit from Super Bowl Props
With the sheer number of Super Bowl prop bets and their price fluctuations handicapping your own is a tricky business. There are other ways to enjoy and profit though! If you look you will no doubt find plenty of arbitrage or scalping opportunities and well as no risk or low risk middle opportunities.
Arbitrage - opportunities basically consist of wagering one side of a proposition at one sportbook and the other side at another when the odds match up to create a guaranteed profit. An example might be you find one sportbook offering Total Pass Completions in Game Over 38.5 at +110 ($2.10) while another sportsbook is offering Total Pass Completions in Game Under 38.5 at +110 ($2.10). In this instance you could safely risk $100 on the over at sportsbook number 1 to win $110 and risk $100 on the under at sportsbook number 2 to win $110. Total outlay $200 for a guaranteed return $210. Now these types of scalping opportunities are not always so obvious however they do exist, an example of one we placed between Seattle v Atlanta in the divisional playoff game a few weeks ago was: Alternate handicaps, sportsbook #1 SEA +10.5 at -317 ($1.315) and at sportsbook #2 we took ATL -10.5 at +340 ($4.40) this represented a risk free return of 1.24%. You can also mix the amounts on either side to increase the return up to 5.4% return if the underdog wins staying even if they lose.
Middles - Another profitable tactic is to look for middles, not only can these be very profitable but they can sometimes be found with no or low risk and even arbitrage included. Basically when the odds and lines are right you bet both sides of a prop with the line or handicap making it possible to win both bets. An example of a risk free middle prop that we placed in the Green Bay v Minnesota games was: A. Rodgers Passing yards we went over 290.5 yards at sportsbook #1 at -115 ($1.87) and Under 309.5 at +115 ($2.15) with sportsbook #2. In this scenario risking $100 on the over and $87 on the under gives a risk free middle opportunity that could return a profit of $174 if he passes for between 291 to 309 yards, if not you break even. Unfortunately we fell short on this one as he threw for 274 yards!
Essential to successful NFL prop betting is to have accounts with multiple reputable sportsbooks, the more the better. This gives you the best opportunity to compare and find the best odds, as well as locating risk free profits and middles. Here at TheFootballLines.com we hope you all enjoy one of the best sporting spectacles in the world, no not Beyonce's curly hair the Super Bowl!