Patriots and Eagles Expected to put on a Super Show as Prop Betting Interest Soars
So many prop bets to digest and research, and I'll perhaps tweet out more prop plays of interest as Super Sunday and kickoff approaches. But colleague Rob has spent additional time reviewing an array of props from Vegas properties and offshore sites, and provided some thoughts and insight below for Super Sunday. I've chipped in additional prop plays at the bottom and my thoughts on others of interest, along with a strong position on the Eagles.
I won't traffic in what Al Michaels might say or how many times we'll hear "Dilly" during the broadcast, hokum tailor-made for the expert separation of you from your dollars, euros or yen. Tread carefully and inspect the numbers, for they are likely to alter. It's imperative to have a blueprint, a rationale of how the game might play out. That will present options.
I do not believe Philly quarterback Nick Foles, away from the confines of the Eagles' nest, will match the outlandish passing figures - 352 yards, a gaudy 10.67 yards-per-attempt - he put up against Minnesota. It was only the second time in his six-year career, spanning 52 games, he threw for more than 350 yards with a double-digit YPA, an élite benchmark. Tom Brady has accomplished that feat 16 times, and he was this close on about a dozen other occasions.
Foles, in his first Super Bowl, is going up against the master Brady, who will be participating in his eighth. The shops stake their business on setting accurate numbers, and they've established the over/under on New England's total points at 27½, the Eagles at 21½.
The SuperBook set the over/under on Brady's passing yardage to surpass Foles's at 47½. In the Patriots' three defeats, and only in those losses, were they outgained by their foes in passing and rushing yardage, and third-down efficiency. If the wisest voices say Brady will have a better day, in the air, than Foles, that's gold. Moreover, an influx of Philly action in the first week of Super Bowl wagering activity reinforces a Golden Rule - when the herd zigs one way, zag the other way.
Rob: The stage and the foe will trump Philly. The Eagles, however, can take solace in at least keeping it close - and covering - in a tough defeat. I peg it at 24-21, New England.
Fairway: I have Eagles winning, and won't be surprised if it's by margin. Philly 31-20. Penalties can be problematic for the Eagles, which is not the case for the Brady and Belichick bunch. But the Patriots have faced a lightweight schedule in the closing months. New England has faced four incompetent QBs in their last four games, Bortles, Mariota, Petty and Taylor. Add in Cutler and Moore both of Miami in two of the three games prior to that, and you see why the Patriots defensive numbers improved. Only one of those teams with sub-par QB's ranked in the top half of the league in total offense. Not a singled QB in that group ranked top-15 in QB rating, with the best of the bunch 89.2. The Eagles have one of the very best offensive lines in the NFL, and after watching the Jaguars out-rush, out-pass and out-play the Patriots in Foxboro for a larger portion of the game in the AFC Championship, I see QB Foles making enough plays and the ground game pounding the Patriots. Combined with a top-5 defense that is No. 1 against the run and just dominated a strong Vikings team, I see a #FlyEaglesFly Super Bowl victory for Philadelphia fans and betting backers.
Rob: I will employ a two-team teaser, involving 6 points, to whittle the Pats minus-4½ to the Pats plus-1½, and tying that to a shaving of the total to 42½, taking it Over. That covers New England victories of 1, 2 and 4 points - obviously, key numbers - even a Patriots' defeat by a point, and fashions a more-manageable total score. Averaging each team's past 10 games yields a total of 58 points to be scored in Super Bowl LII; in theory, I should not drop a single bead of sweat.
Playing with those 6 points comes with a price, as I'll get about an 80 percent return on my two-pronged investment. This is my largest SB bet. I'm no whale, but I despise expensive book marks. The sole goal is to return that ticket to the counter for cash. (I could also bet, at the Westgate, an alternative total of 52½, at plus-170 to go over, for an enviable return if I determine that that 58 could be reached; it'll be a game-time decision.) Some shun the teaser. Bollocks. Not me. It has been a stellar money maker this season.
Fairway: No teaser yet, but Eagles plus the points is best, and Eagles money line (+170). Also play Eagles over team total of 21.5. Sharps are taking under 24 in first half.
Patriots minus-4½ vs. Eagles
Fairway and Rob: Take the Eagles and the points, at minus-110. Hey, it's the Year of the Dog, according to Chinese New Year. And the playoffs are evidence, as underdogs have covered 9 of 10 games. Before Super Bowl LI, a year ago, underdogs had gone 12-4 ATS in the previous 16 big games; moreover, before Tom Brady engineered that incredible comeback against the Falcons, underdogs had won 8 of the previous 9 Super Bowls, including 5 in a row.
To score first touchdown
Rob: Take Rex Burkhead, anywhere from 10-1 to 22-1.
In England, skybet.com gauges the Patriots as an 8-13 favorite to score the game's first TD; the Eagles 5-4. Those odds are roughly universal. The folks who post the numbers expect New England to score the first TD. And Rex Burkhead gets my nod because he has tallied his team's first TD in 6 of its 18 games. The 5-foot-10 running back out of Nebraska caught scoring passes of 19 and 14 yards, in two games, from Brady, and toward the end of the season he scored first, on short runs, in four consecutive tilts. In his four seasons, Burkhead has 20 touchdowns; 13 have come this season. With this line of thinking, it would not be unwise, too, to put something on Burkhead just to score a TD - Yes on that outcome is plus-190 at Station Casinos.
Gronk? Tight end Rob Gronkowski scored first in three games, on two short passes and a 17-yarder. He might be the most effective decoy in the game. If Burkhead capitalizes on his ability to snag receptions as well as run with the pigskin, maybe he touches pay dirt multiple times. His MVP odds, of 25-1 to 100-1, should be heeded. Curiously, the Westgate's SuperBook does not list Burkhead on its list of MVP candidates, although at 25-1 on FIELD enables shoppers to snag the ex-Cornhusker and anyone else not among its 25 player-options. Brady is the MVP front-runner, at less than even money, at most establishments.
Will Tom Brady have a rushing touchdown?
Yes +475, No -650
Rob: These are William Hill odds. No is the only option. Brady injured that right thumb, of course, before the Jacksonville game. Not only did it appear to not hinder him - or did you miss those two fourth-quarter TD passes to Danny Amendola? - but he also ran it up the gut 2 yards for a key first down with 4 minutes left. Just don't get sucked into thinking he'll be bold enough to carry it over the goal-line against the Eagles; in his 7 previous Super Bowls, Brady never carried the ball into the end zone.
Who will have more?
Crystal Palace-Newcastle goals +110
Jay Ajayi receptions PK -130
Fairway and Rob: Take Ajayi. In his past eight games, the Eagles' running back has averaged two catches. Palace has tallied 5 goals in its past 5 matches, while Newcastle has scored 6 in its previous 6 matches; but that's a mirage, for 3 of those goals were against fourth-division Luton. The futebol match might end nilly-nilly. William Hill's offer is a solid Ajayi decision, and FairwayJay also recommends Jay Ajayi over 1.5 receptions (-160).
What will happen first?
Patriots punt -110
Patriots score -110
In their 18 games, New England capped 10 of their first possessions with 7 TDs and 3 field goals. They ended the other 8 with punts. The edge - an actual 55.5 percent to implied odds of 52.3 percent - goes to the Patriots scoring before they punt. (They allowed their foes only one TD on 18 first-possession outcomes. Should these trends continue, Pats fans will enjoy the first quarter). Must consider that the Eagles defense is stronger than most of New England's opponents.
Most penalty yards
Eagles -180, Patriots +160
Rob: Take Philly. Okay, the game is not being staged in Foxboro, Mass. Still, have you been watching the playoffs? The regular season? The Eagles actually began one game this season with 4 consecutive penalties. FOUR. Overall, Philly is in the league's top six in penalty yardage, New England the bottom eight. The Eagles have a negative net, while the Pats gained an NFL-best 313 yards via the flags. The cost of taking Philadelphia here will be rewarded.
Will either team win by 3 points?
Yes +500, No -650
Rob: Take Yes. Have seen this one with Yes as low as plus-300, which still has value. In New England's previous 7 Super Bowls, 4 were decided by 3 points. In fact, it had been 4 consecutive until it lost by 4, won by 4 and, a year ago, won by 6 in that overtime thriller. Sure, it's a smallish sample size, but at 57.1 percent for a 3- to 5-fold return, I am in.
Will there be a safety?
Yes +800, No -1250
Rob: Half of the past 6 Super Bowls have had one, so 8-1 odds (have also spotted it at plus-500 and plus-600) on a 50-percent recent probability is advantageous.
Will there be overtime?
Yes +1000, No -1500
Rob: In the 51st Super Bowl, it finally happened. So the rough likelihood on extra time being required is less than 2 percent, meaning the probability of the game being completed in 60 minutes is greater than 98 percent. At Station Casinos, No is minus-900. At William Hill, it's minus-800, with implied odds of 88.9 percent, an edge of nearly 10 percentage points suggesting a comfortable bet on No. Even at minus-1500, with implied odds of 93.8 percent, this wager is justified.
Total money wagered on Super Bowl LII
$4.5 billion – Over -115, Under -115
Fairway and Rob: Take Over. The American Gaming Association reported that $4.7B was wagered on Super Bowl LI in 2017. Betting on the game has been increasing in all areas, arguably surpassing interest in the game itself; the 111.3 million TV viewership last year was its lowest figure since 2014. This one, offered at BetDSI.eu, seems to be a slam dunk.
Additional prop plays
Will first kickoff by Gostkowski result in a touchback? No +145
2nd half (-125) to outscore 1st half
Dion Lewis over 2.5 receptions (-150) and over 21.5 receiving yards (-110)
Tom Brady over 38.5 pass attempts (-110)
Rob Miech contributed to this article
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay