Super Bowl LVII Prop Bet Extravaganza
NFL Super Bowl - Call us the Fridge and keep Walter Payton on the bench, it's time for Prop Bet Extravaganza XX!
It's hard to believe that Football Outsiders has been doing this for 20 years, stretching back to when Al Bogdan and Ian Dembsky riffed on the Patriots-Panthers Super Bowl. Back then, to get Tom Brady and a NFC South champion with a negative DVOA in the same playoff game required two whole teams!
The gambling world has changed as well. Unless you lived in Nevada, your wagering options in 2004 were limited, with billions of dollars going through office pools, under-the-table bookies, or Internet sites based offshore. The idea of an "official sports betting partner of the NFL" was crazy talk—the NFL, getting in bed with the oddsmakers? Nonsense of the highest order. Heck, the league even tried to avoid any association with Las Vegas—they even famously refused to allow a tourism ad during that Patriots-Panthers Super Bowl and had ongoing battles for years to try to keep them off the air. Remember when "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" was a controversial advertising slogan? Now you have Cooper Manning going Full Caesar during every other commercial break. It has been a weird 20 years.
We also used to be the only site really doing a prop bet breakdown, highlighting some of the stranger bets you could place on The Big Game. Now it's big business! And with big business has come a bit of a reigning in on the truly wacky bets. You have been able to put money on the color of the Gatorade that gets dumped on a coach for so long that there are serious articles out there advising you on the sensible ways to bet that prop. At some point, satire and reality became indistinguishable! Rest assured, your humble writers treat this yearly tradition with all the pomp and circumstance it deserves.
In this special milestone year, I'll be joined by Vince Verhei, a former Prop Bet Extravaganza champion in his own right. Back in 2009, he had to pick from a field of 25 whole prop bets to come out on top. This year, we had to pick a cross-section from over 1,000. We'll see if the cagey veteran has what it takes to come out on top once more as we run down the Andy Reid Bowl.
A reminder for those of you who aren't familiar with how prop bets work:
- These are all Super Bowl odds that people are actually betting on, because we have far more money than sense as a people.
- Most of these bets are whether a proposition is over or under the "line," usually a total. For example:
Number of brain cells lost due to reading this column (9.5)
Here, you would be betting on how many brain cells this week's column will destroy. You would have to choose either more or fewer than 9.5. Since football stats are generally whole numbers, most propositions won't have "push" as a viable option. If you were to bet that more than 9.5 of your little dudes would croak, you would have to wager a hypothetical $115 to win $215: your $115 that you wagered, plus $100 more (hence the "-115"). If you wanted to take the under, you would wager a hypothetical $100 to win $205: your $100 back, plus $105 (hence the "+105"). Since long-time Prop Bet Extravangaza readers have almost certainly had a number of their brain cells killed purely through fright at this point, the under is less likely to win, therefore you'd get more money if it actually does come through.
- The other bets are those with many possible options, like wagering on who will score the first touchdown in the game. The odds there will be something like:
Which writer will correctly predict the most prop bets?
Vince Verhei -110
Bryan Knowles +130
This means that if you wager $110 on Vince, you will receive only an extra $100, because that's the price you pay for backing the presumptive Staff Fantasy champion this year. However, if you believe that Bryan's poor pick luck can't possibly continue, and you choose to back him, you will receive your $100 back plus an extra $130.
- For the purposes of determining a winner of this column, we're laying down 100 Solaris on any of these "pick from a crowd" bets. For over/unders we're wagering 100 on any overs where we're receiving positive odds (e.g., anything above +101) or whatever it takes to win 100 on any overs where we're receiving negative odds (e.g., anything below -101).
Confused? Don't worry; we're keeping track of all that. All that matters are the results of the bets. So let's bet on the Super Bowl and everything else we can think of!
GENERAL SUPER BOWL BETS
Kansas City Chiefs +1.5 (-110)
Philadelphia Eagles -1.5 (-110)
Vince: This game has my head going in circles. On the one hand, the Eagles are the more talented team at about 17 or 18 starting positions, maybe more if you get into sub packages and special teams. But they don't have the advantage at quarterback, and I am pretty much done picking against Patrick Mahomes. So I'm taking Kansas City, because in a matchup this close, I'd rather take the points. But really this is part of a two-leg strategy, and I'll explain the second leg in a minute.
Bryan: While I generally agree with Vince's "take the points" strategy, 1.5 isn't really enough to swing my pick either way. Once we start getting up to a field goal, then game theory starts coming into play, but at this mark? I think you just take who you think is going to win. And, like Vince, I think the Eagles are the more talented team overall, and I could imagine their run game just overwhelming Kansas City's defense. As much as it sucks picking against Mahomes, I'm taking Philadelphia and laying the points.
Kansas City Chiefs (+105)
Philadelphia Eagles (-125)
Vince: The second leg of my strategy: I am taking Philadelphia to win straight-up. So between these two bets, if Kansas City wins the Super Bowl, I win a little bit of money; if the Eagles win by two points or more, I lose a little. Ah, but if the Eagles win by exactly one point? If A.J. Brown gets a last-minute touchdown, and Nick Sirianni turns down overtime, and Jalen Hurts sneaks in a two-point conversion? Now I win both bets! And yes, this is a preposterous, lightning-in-a-bottle scenario that I'm building my strategy around, but all in all it's a low-risk combo that could (could!) result in a double payoff.
Bryan: As I said, I think the Eagles win straight up. But am I willing to go to -125 to get paid on that? It's a tough call, as that's right on the line of what I'm comfortable giving; Vegas is very, very good at this. This is a fairly even matchup, and if I was getting any kind of positive return on the Chiefs, that'd be enough to swing me. But I do think the Eagles are the better team, and you can over-analyze these odds to death—I know, because that's what we're doing for the rest of this article! I'll stick with Philadelphia here.
Over 49.5 (-110)
Under 49.5 (-110)
Vince: The Chiefs hit 49.5 combined points in 10 of their 19 games; the Eagles hit it six times in 19. That's 16 hits in 38 opportunities, which means they went over 42% of the time, but under 58%. Under.
Bryan: I can't argue with math like that. I should note that this line has actually dropped, too; it was at an even 50 when I was first gathering all these props, but has dropped since then as bettors have been hammering the under. Never let it be said I can't follow the will of the people! Under. One interesting wrinkle, however—the Eagles and Chiefs were the first- and third-fastest offenses in neutral situations, and a faster pace could lead to more scoring. Still happy with the under pick, but it's something to think about.
Jalen Hurts (+110)
Patrick Mahomes (+130)
Travis Kelce (+1000)
A.J. Brown (+1000)
Miles Sanders (+2200)
Devonta Smith (+2500)
Isiah Pacheco (+3500)
Haason Reddick (+3500)
Chris Jones (+4000)
Jerick McKinnon (+5000)
Vince: Picking the quarterbacks is prudent, but it's also boring, so I'm looking elsewhere. And I already picked Philly to win straight-up, so I'm looking at the Eagles. And the Chiefs were 31st in DVOA against No. 1 WRs, so there's only one way to go here. A.J. Brown.
Bryan: The last 10 Super Bowl MVPs have been six quarterbacks, two receivers (both of whom led their team in receiving yards on a day when their quarterbacks failed to hit 300 yards passing), and two defenders (each of whom forced a turnover leading to a defensive score). We haven't seen a running back win this award since Terrell Davis and the Broncos' first Super Bowl win, after the 1997 season. Maybe we're due, with the Eagles run game being what it is?
With that in mind, I'd actually take a couple of picks here. I like the long odds on Miles Sanders, who has seemed to be the Eagles' back of choice in competitive situations in the postseason; he has been outcarried by Kenneth Gainwell, but a lot of that came in the second half of the blowout against the Giants and the later stages of the quarterbackless 49ers game. Sanders is my official pick, but heck, I'd also throw in a flier on Gainwell sitting at +20000. My biggest fear is the Eagles' run game spreading enough around, with a couple of vulture touchdowns from Gainwell and Boston Scott, to return the award to the "when in doubt, pick the quarterback" default, but +2200 odds on the team's leading rusher is too good to pass up.
Bryan: After going on a losing streak in the middle of the 2010s, heads has now won four of the past five Super Bowl coin flips. The one exception was in the Chiefs' win over the 49ers three years ago, but heads came through strong in Kansas City's most recent Super Bowl appearance and Philadelphia's win over the Patriots. I gotta go with the savvy veteran in heads; you can't beat experience.
Vince: I found an online coin flip simulator (because who actually carries coins anymore?) and flipped it. Then I flipped it again to be sure. And since I had come that far I just did a best-of-seven. The final results: heads, tails, heads, tails, tails, tails. Tails takes it 4-2. Tails.
Team to Score First
Kansas City Chiefs (+100)
Philadelphia Eagles (-130)
Vince: I picked the Eagles to win. But I also fantasy-booked a scenario where they're coming back at the end! Kansas City.
Bryan: Philadelphia has scored first in 11 of the 16 games they have played with Jalen Hurts starting, while the Chiefs have allowed their opponents to score first in seven of 19 games they have played this year. Don't love the longer odds, but give me Philadelphia.
First Scoring Play
Field Goal (+160)
Vince: Kansas City was sixth in red zone offense DVOA. Philadelphia was 10th in red zone defense … and 31st in red zone rush defense! Touchdown.
Bryan: What Vince said. I'd like to see the health of the Chiefs receivers before taking this one, but the Eagles' red zone advantage over Kansas City should be more than enough to swing this towards touchdown.
Will the Team that Scores First Win the Game?
Vince: Sticking with my comeback storyline. No.
Bryan: I don't think this one will become a blowout. But if it does, the team that scores first is likely the one instigating it. So, sure, let's go yes.
Team to Score Last
Kansas City Chiefs (-115)
Philadelphia Eagles (-115)
Vince: Sticking with my comeback storyline. Philadelphia.
Bryan: It works in a comeback narrative. It works in an "Eagles dominate the game" narrative. It works in a "Chiefs win, and Andy Reid's teams tend to play soft coverages while sitting on a big lead" narrative. Give me the Eagles.
Will Either Team Score Three Unanswered Times?
Vince: "-251?" "+184?" These numbers are so oddly precise they make me nervous, and if we were betting real money I would stay away from this one. But this matchup is very even, so no, I don't see either team putting up three straight scores. No.
Bryan: Some sportsbooks really like min/maxing these odds, yes—and they're the ones who generally get the props up first, so I was unable to replace these with more sensible odds before we started picking! I actually would pick a team putting up three straight scores if this was a 50/50 proposition—momentum rolling one way, or a halftime double-up plus one extra possession isn't too much to ask for. But -251? I mean, this clearly should be at -152.419. Obviously. No.
Margin of Victory
Kansas City Chiefs by 1-6 (+310)
Kansas City Chiefs by 7-12 (+550)
Kansas City Chiefs by 13-18 (+1000)
Kansas City Chiefs by 19-24 (+1900)
Kansas City Chiefs by 25-30 (+3000)
Kansas City Chiefs by 31-36 (+5000)
Philadelphia Eagles by 1-6 (+310)
Philadelphia Eagles by 7-12 (+500)
Philadelphia Eagles by 13-18 (+800)
Philadelphia Eagles by 19-24 (+1500)
Philadelphia Eagles by 25-30 (+2500)
Philadelphia Eagles by 31-36 (+4500)
Vince: Hmm. I'm torn here between going all-in on my "winning two-point conversion" scenario and trying to hedge my bet a little bit. And the fact that the two teams have the same odds of winning by 1-6 points, even though the Eagles are favored overall, strikes me as odd, and something to take advantage of if you wanted to combine several different bets with guarantees to win one. The more that I think about it, making two bets—one on each team to win by less than a touchdown—might be the soundest way to go, because I don't think either team is winning by multiple scores. But now I'm starting to talk myself into circles, and making safe bets is no fun, and it's not real money anyway, so let's just go with something with a higher payoff but still a realistic chance of happening. Eagles by 7-12.
Bryan: I think the game's going to be close, if not "winning two-point conversion" close. I like a single-digit win, no matter who comes out on top, and I'm not getting nearly the value out of the seven- to 12-point range to justify going away from the favorites. I'll take Eagles by 1-6 and go chalk on this one.
Which Will Be The Highest Scoring Quarter?
1st Quarter (+700)
2nd Quarter (+200)
3rd Quarter (+650)
4th Quarter (+165)
Vince: Kansas City was No. 1 in offensive DVOA in both the first and second quarters, but second in the third and seventh in the fourth. Philadelphia also played better early, going from third to fifth to 13th to ninth. Then I look at the defensive stats, where Philadelphia was 15th in the first quarter and Kansas City was 23rd. At these odds, this is a no-brainer. 1st Quarter.
Bryan: Yeah, the DVOA numbers really do shunt this to the first half, but if you're not a fan of those fancy-schmancy advanced stats, then a) what are you doing here, and b) let me give you something else. The Chiefs and Eagles combined to play 35 games with their starting quarterbacks this season. In 21 of them, the second quarter was the highest scoring. I get Vince's argument behind the first quarter because of the bigger potential payoff, but I'll take the 2nd Quarter.
TOUCHDOWNS AND FIELD GOALS
First Touchdown Scorer
Miles Sanders (+650)
Jalen Hurts (+700)
Travis Kelce (+700)
Isiah Pacheco (+800)
A.J. Brown (+1000)
Dallas Goedert (+1000)
Jerick McKinnon (+1100)
DeVonta Smith (+1300)
Kadarius Toney (+1600)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+1800)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (+2000)
Kenneth Gainwell (+2200)
Boston Scott (+2500)
Patrick Mahomes (+2800)
Justin Watson (+3000)
Eagles D/ST (+3500)
Chiefs D/ST (+3500)
Quez Watkins (+3000)
Skyy Moore (+4000)
Noah Gray (+4500)
Jody Fortson (+4500)
Bryan: There are a number of decent plays here that intrigue me. The Jalen Hurts patented Unstoppable Quarterback Sneak is a tempting offer, even at +700, and I really like Miles Sanders scoring at some point, so +650 isn't a nightmare. The Eagles do vulture enough touchdowns that Kenneth Gainwell at +2200 is worth a shout. (The Eagles are not playing the Giants, and thus Boston Scott's odds drop dramatically.) I could even talk myself into going with Dallas Goedert at +1000 as Kansas City ranks just 19th against tight ends.
But those are just too many options there for any Philadelphia scorer, so I turn to Kansas City. I'm torn between Kadarius Toney, who has been a nice find for the Chiefs and has tantalizing mid-range odds. But sometimes, you can just count on the player with the second-most postseason receiving touchdowns in NFL history to make hay in the red zone. Travis Kelce.
Vince: I already said Kansas City would score the first touchdown, so let's stick with that theory. My gut instinct was actually to go with Isiah Pacheco, but his odds are terrible—the guy with five touchdowns all year, and none in the postseason, has about the same odds as Kelce, who had a dozen scores in the regular season and three more in the playoffs? Really, the only sound options for KC are Kelce and Jerick McKinnon (10 touchdowns in the regular season, including eight in his last six games, but none yet in the playoffs). And it turns out the Eagles are sixth in DVOA on passes to tight ends, but 24th on passes to running backs. That's enough info for me. Jerick McKinnon.
Jersey Number of 1st Touchdown Scorer
Under 11.5 (-140)
Over 11.5 (+110)
Bryan: Picking the under gives you, among others, Jerick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco, Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith. The over gives you Travis Kelce, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mecole Hardman, Miles Sanders, and so on.
The over gives me Kelce, who I picked in the individual player prop, plus the entire Eagles running back corps and Dallas Goedert. Yeah, I'm taking the over; these odds frankly seem like they're the wrong way 'round.
Vince: I have never been much of a jersey number guy, so I'm just going to trust your research and take the safer bet. Over.
Longest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 39.5 (-115)
Under 39.5 (-115)
Bryan: Forty yards is a lot! Both teams had six 40-plus-yard touchdowns this season; even the most explosive playmakers in the league have trouble scoring from this far out. JuJu Smith-Schuster has a pair, A.J. Brown has a pair, and most of the rest are one-offs; a bunch of defensive scores and the like mixed in. The Eagles also have only allowed two such touchdowns: a Christian Watson reception from Jordan Love with the Packers down big, and an Andre Cisco interception return back in Week 4.
If this is going to happen, it's presumably going to be Brown or DeVonta Smith on a go route, taking advantage of Kansas City's 31st-ranked defense against top wideouts. Davante Adams basically did that back in October, slipping behind the Chiefs secondary twice from midfield for scores. I'm not feeling it at even odds. It's no fun to root for there to not be explosive plays, but I think the under is the more prudent bet here.
Vince: Forty yards is indeed a lot, and I'm wondering if the people who set this line know that Tyreek Hill is in Miami now. I agree that Brown and Smith would be the favorites to make it happen, but I also agree that they won't. Under.
Shortest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 1.5 (+120)
Under 1.5 (-160)
Bryan: Otherwise known as the "will there be pass interference that results in the Unstoppable Jalen Hurts Sneak?" prop. Sure, there are other ways for this to happen, but that seems the most logical scenario, doesn't it? Trent McDuffie tackles A.J. Brown in the end zone, and then five Eagles line up behind Hurts and just shove him through the defensive line for a score? Hurts alone has seven 1-yard touchdowns this season, and Gardner Minshew picked up one in his absence. The Chiefs as a team, meanwhile, have just five all year, as they like to have a couple yards to do one of their screwy "spin in a circle" plays to score.
At even money, take the under all day long. But the price to pay here is a bit steep; the Chiefs don't contribute as much to the odds as I'd hope, and Hurts doesn't get a sneak touchdown every game. I'll take the over and be prepared to complain on social media about pushing.
Vince: These odds are a deliberate attempt by the Vegas guys to frustrate people. Obviously under is more likely, but at -160 odds? They're intentionally trying to scare you away from the bet you want to make. In real life I would not risk a single penny on this bet, but since we're not allowed to pass in this contest, I'll take the Over so at least I won't lose much if I'm wrong.
Longest Field Goal Made
Over 47.5 (-105)
Under 47.5 (-125)
Bryan: Chiefs kickers are 6-for-10 from 48 yards or longer this season, but Andy Reid really doesn't like sending his kickers out for long bombs. The longest field goal he has attempted in what I would call normal situations—i.e, not as time expired in a half, or when it would tie or take the lead late in the fourth quarter—was 52 yards. Once you get outside the 35-yard line, he would much rather either trust his offense or punt. Nick Sirianni has let Jake Elliott blast away a little more often; he's only 5-for-6, but every attempt was in regular play rather than an end-of-half bomb. In short, Sirianni is much less likely to play for the long field goal but is more likely to attempt one if the opportunity naturally occurs.
I'd stick away from this one, but take the under if forced to choose. If there was ever a time to be aggressive and avoid the long field goal, it's in the Super Bowl, surely?
Vince: A 47.5-yard field goal try would be snapped from the 30.5-yard line—right smack dab in the middle of what we call the front zone, between the 20- and 40-yard lines. In that part of the field, the Kansas City offense ranks much higher in DVOA than the Philadelphia defense (2 vs. 18), and vice versa (7 vs. 23). So I'm assuming that once they get there, the offenses will smoothly progress to the red zone without incident. Under.
Shortest Field Goal Made
Over 27.5 (-105)
Under 27.5 (-125)
Bryan: "Yes, I shall kick a field goal in the red zone. That is how I beat these high-powered offenses," said no one, ever. Over.
Vince: The Chiefs only had seven field goals of less than 27 yards or less this season, including three in one game against the Rams; the Eagles only had five. I'm going to kick myself when the Chiefs play a game of hopscotch out of the huddle to set up Travis Kelce throwing the ball out the back of the end zone, but I'm taking the Over.
Which Team Will Make the Longest Field Goal?
Kansas City Chiefs (-114)
Philadelphia Eagles (-114)
Bryan: Andy Reid seems more likely to send his guy out to kick one, so I'll take the Chiefs just on pure opportunity.
Vince: Both Harrison Butker and Jake Elliott have hit 66% of their kicks from 50-plus yards in their careers, so no edge there. But Elliott (5-of-6) was more reliable than Butker (3-of-7) in 2022. Eagles.
OTHER GAME EVENTS
Will the First Turnover be An Interception?
Bryan: Jalen Hurts had a 1.3% interception rate this season, fifth-lowest in the NFL, and it's not like Patrick Mahomes was throwing picks left and right, either. Philadelphia was, however, in the top 10 in fumbles—not fumbles lost, but balls put onto the ground. A lot of that has come from Hurts himself, and quarterback fumbles are recovered by the offense more frequently than other fumbles, but still—balls on the ground are opportunities for turnovers, and the better odds are there to boot. No.
Vince: Over half of the turnovers in both team's games were interceptions (57% for Philadelphia and 53% for Kansas City, to be precise), so yes would be the choice in an even-money but. But this is not an even-money bet. No.
Will the Game Go to Overtime?
Bryan: I think you pretty much have to pick yes on this one if you don't want to automatically lose if the game goes to overtime. Plus, the NFL would really, really like to show their fancy new overtime rules! C'mon, somebody tie so we can show them off!
Vince: If Nick Siranni turns down a game-winning two-point try to play for extra time instead, I'm going to be furious. No.
Will There Be a Missed XP After a Touchdown?
Bryan: No, Brett Maher did not make the Super Bowl. Note that this is explicitly missed extra points, and not failed two-point conversions, which would be a horse of a different color.
Vince: Between them, the two teams missed only seven extra points all year. No.
First Team to Punt
Kansas City Chiefs (-120)
Philadelphia Eagles (-105)
Bryan: The Eagles attempted 32 fourth-down conversions; the Chiefs just 12, second-fewest in the league. But then, the Chiefs only punted 53 times, third-fewest in the league. The Chiefs just rarely faced fourth downs! They're very good! Still, I think if a decision has to be made, Andy Reid is the more likely of the two to opt for kicking, so Kansas City it is.
Vince: The Eagles punted 55 times, so that's basically a wash. But the Eagles forced 74 punts, while the Chiefs forced … 68? That's much closer than I was expecting, so I will go with the better odds and take Kansas City.
How Many Players Will Have a Passing Attempt?
Over 2.5 (+175)
Under 2.5 (-215)
Bryan: While Andy Reid has called a number of odd formations before, only one non-quarterback has attempted a pass this season for Kansas City; Tommy Townsend had an incompletion on a fake field goal against Indianapolis way back in Week 4. And the Eagles haven't had anyone attempt a pass other than their quarterbacks this season.
That being said…
So this just happened? 😂
📺: #KCvsLV on ESPN/ABC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/nMh7vXuCB4 pic.twitter.com/rbasxmK9yJ
— NFL (@NFL) January 7, 2023
Give me the over, and I'll try and call my shot and say Kelce-to-Mahomes for a touchdown.
Vince: Travis Kelce (3), Kadarius Toney (3), Tommy Townsend (3), and Jerick McKinnon (1) have all thrown passes in the NFL. So have Brett Kern (3), A.J. Brown (2), Zach Pascal (2), and Jake Elliott (1). That's too many options to say no to, especially with the Eagles having the league's best pass defense and perhaps forcing Andy Reid to get creative. Over.
Will Any Touchdown Be Overturned By Replay?
Bryan: No analysis. Just no, please, let's not have a referee's decision decide this one, thank you.
Vince: Of course, because the NFL often seems devoted to making its product as dull and unintersting as possible, and who doesn't like watching the same three frames 500 times in a row to see if maybe there's contact between pigskin and turf that would nullify the catch that made you jump out of your chair? Yes.
Will There Be a Successful 2-Point Conversion?
Bryan: You know? Let's take a gamble and say yes. While neither team went crazy with the two-point conversions this season, they did combine to attempt nine of them, converting five. This one seems highly dependent on game state, but both Reid and Sirianni are willing to go for two a bit earlier than the average coach, so with the +200 odds, I think it's worth the shot.
Vince: Literally my entire betting strategy is built around a successful two-point conversion. Yes.
Will a special teams or defensive TD be scored?
Bryan: Forget about special teams touchdowns. That's not going to be a thing. Both Kansas City and Philadelphia have two interceptions returned for a touchdown this season, but as previously stated, neither of these teams are particularly likely to throw picks! The odds are poor, but I still think no is the safe bet.
Vince: Between the two teams, there were only seven non-offensive touchdowns scored or allowed all season. No.
Total 4th Down Conversions
Over 1.5 (-170)
Under 1.5 (+125)
Bryan: I love that not only do we need two conversions for this to count, but that we have a pretty poor line towards the over. Vegas thinks that there will be plenty of fourth-down opportunities, and that makes me happy; the fourth-down revolution continues apace. And with Nick Sirianni calling the shots, I have to take the over, just on principle. Andy Reid isn't the ideal opponent for this prop, but sometimes, you have to vote with your heart.
Vince: The Eagles converted 22 fourth downs this season, second only to Cleveland. The Chiefs allowed a league-high 20 fourth-down conversions. That latter stat mostly tells us that Kansas City was ahead a lot—they faced 35 fourth-down attempts, also most in the league—but I still think the Eagles probably top this by themselves. Over.
PLAYER VS PLAYER PROPS
Most Passing Yards
Jalen Hurts (+195)
Patrick Mahomes (-275)
Bryan: They're killing me with these odds here. -275? For those of us who don't speak odds, that's saying you think Mahomes has more passing yards 73.3% of the time. Ouch.
On an individual level, Mahomes' over/under is 290.5 and Hurts' is 239.5; I'd like the over and under, respectively. I hate, hate, hate taking -275, but it's just hard to imagine the game where Hurts is slinging it all over the field and Mahomes doesn't respond, barring an aggravation of the ankle injury that keeps him out entirely. Mahomes.
Vince: The Eagles only allowed one quarterback all season (Dak Prescott) to throw for over 300 yards. Kyler Murray had the next-highest total at 250 on the nose. Meanwhile, the Chiefs allowed four 300-yarders and four more over 250. At these odds, I will happily take the underdog. Hurts.
Most Passing TDs
Jalen Hurts (+165)
Patrick Mahomes (-225)
Bryan: Mahomes' individual over/under is 2.5; Hurts is at 1.5. This one seems much more reasonable, too; even if the Eagles run up and down the field while the Chiefs are throwing the ball all around, you can only score one touchdown per possession! I'm still taking Mahomes; Hurts has had six games where he didn't throw a single touchdown and the odds of the goose egg are too high for my blood. But if you told me there was going to be a split here, this is where I'd jump on Hurts.
Vince: Oh, this is tough. As good as the Eagles pass defense was, they still gave up 22 touchdown passes, just below the average of 23.4. Mahomes threw the most touchdowns in the NFL and should, in theory, get his scores. On the other hand, the Chiefs defense gave up 33 touchdown passes, four more than any other defense. On the other other hand, Hurts has thrown only 44 touchdowns in his career while running for 26; that's not even a 2-to-1 ratio. In short, I absolutely hate this bet and would never risk actual money on it, but taking the underdog is the safer play by our rules. Hurts.
Most Rushing Yards
Miles Sanders (+125)
Isiah Pacheco (+200)
Jalen Hurts (+325)
Kenneth Gainwell (+500)
Jerick McKinnon (+1200)
Boston Scott (+2500)
Patrick Mahomes (+3300)
Bryan: Patrick Mahomes, on a still-sprained ankle! I mean, how could I possibly lose?!
If I were just picking one, I'd take Sanders; he's the favorite for a reason. But Jalen Hurts had four games with 75-plus rushing yards, including three down the stretch as the other Eagles backs started rotating in and out more. With Sanders and Gainwell perhaps eating into each other's totals, and the Chiefs being more pass-focused, I'll take the medium odds on Hurts' legs.
Vince: If we were betting on teams, I'd take the Eagles here for sure, but their yardage totals could be split four ways. In Kansas City, meanwhile, Isiah Pacheco has outgained Jerick McKinnon by nearly 500 yards since taking over the starting role in Week 7, and I think we can agree Mahomes won't take away many of his opportunities. Isiah Pacheco.
Most Receiving Yards
Travis Kelce (+275)
A.J. Brown (+300)
DeVonta Smith (+300)
Dallas Goedert (+775)
JuJu Smith-Schuster (+850)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (+900)
Kadarius Toney (+900)
Jerick McKinnon (+1800)
Mecole Hardman (+2000)
Quez Watkins (+2500)
Isiah Pacheco (+2500)
Kenneth Gainwell (+3000)
Zach Pascal (+5000)
Boston Scott (+5000)
Jack Stoll (+5000)
Bryan: With so much of the Chiefs' receiving game at least somewhat in question, I think Kelce is the way to go here; his odds aren't so bad that I feel awful taking the favorite. In fact, I think there's an off chance that he breaks the record for most receiving yards in a Super Bowl by a tight end, which is currently at 133 yards by, uh, Travis Kelce.
Vince: When you're making this many bets across this many categories, you have to make intriguing decisions. I already picked A.J. Brown to win MVP, which surely means he would lead the game in receiving yards. But now I have to choose whether to put all my eggs in one basket, or diversify and give myself more ways to win, if a lower jackpot. I'm definitely taking an Eagles receiver, because the Philly defense only allowed four 100-yard games all year and no more over 80, while Kansas City gave up 11 over 80 including six over 100. And the Eagles' top two wideouts have equal odds, while the Chiefs defense was especially vulnerable to WR1s. Eggs in one basket it is! A.J. Brown.
Kansas City Chiefs (+100)
Philadelphia Eagles (-120)
Bryan: Let's see. One team has a quarterback on a weak ankle, facing the pass rush with the highest adjusted sack rate of the 21st century. The other has a quarterback more likely to be running towards the line and out of the backfield. I mean, the Chiefs recorded 55 sacks! That's the second most in the league! That's really good! It's just, well, the Eagles recorded 70. Eagles, please and thank you.
Vince: My eyes about popped out of my head when I first saw this one. I was about to race to the casino and put some hefty real-life cash on Philadelphia. Then I realized that Jalen Hurts was sacked a dozen times more than Patrick Mahomes this season, in two fewer games. Now the odds make more sense—but I'm still taking the favorites. Eagles.
How Long Will the National Anthem Take?
Over 2:02 (-135)
Under 2:02 (+105)
Bryan: Your singer this year: Chris Stapleton! Honestly, you could do worse if you're looking for contemporary country; he has at least a little bit of a country rock edge and there's a faint whiff of Tom Petty about him. None of that will come through in the anthem, I'm sure.
There are no videos, anywhere on the Internet, of Stapleton ever singing the national anthem. Not one. So there's nothing to go on here other than gut feeling, and the trend that no one wants their time in the spotlight short. The Star-Spangled Banner lends itself to some really obnoxious drawn-out phrasing, so when in doubt, take the over.
Vince: I miss Dr. Z for … well, dozens of reasons, but one of them was his habit of timing national anthems, praising those who got in and got it done and scorning those who dragged it out. And like you say, most artists drag it out. And you get better odds on the Over too.
Will Any Scoring Drive Take Less Time Than the National Anthem?
Bryan: The Eagles have had 18 scoring drives take less than two minutes. The Chiefs have had eight scoring drives which have taken less than one minute. Yes, 100% certainty.
Vince: Yeah, the odds on the last two bets suggest that Vegas is expecting a quick anthem. I disagree. Yes.
First Song at Halftime
Don't Stop the Music (+300)
What's My Name (+500)
Lift Me Up (+700)
We Found Love (+700)
Where Have You Been (+800)
Needed Me (+1500)
Rude Boy (+1600)
Hate That I Love You (+2000)
Vince: I have put more thought into the halftime show wagers than into any of the game-related bets. Definitely some good options here. You need something up-tempo to the party started, and Diamonds would qualify. So would Rude Boy, and man those odds are tempting. But I keep going back to We Found Love. It's the perfect halftime opener: Start with the closeup on Rihanna as she sings the first verse. Zoom out as she hits the chorus, which is just the same seven words over and over again so you don't need to see her sing it more than once. Then the vocals drop and it's just EDM for a bit, and that's when the dancers and acrobats and aerialists appear on stage and the fake fans go dashing onto the field. And it's a midrange payoff if it hits, too. We Found Love.
Bryan: First of all, ANTI still holds up seven years later, and Love on the Brain gets stuck in my head on a semi-regular basis.
The last time Rihanna went on tour, Stay was her usual opener, but I agree with Vince—you want something a little more up-tempo. So I'll stick with the favorite and go with Don't Stop the Music.
Number of Songs in Rihanna's Set
Over 9.5 (-125)
Under 9.5 (-105)
Vince: I think there's a loophole here to exploit. This specifically says "number of songs in Rihanna's set," not "number of songs BY RIHANNA in her set." So if she brings in Jay-Z or A$AP Rocky or T.I. or Eminem for a cameo, their song pads the total, right? Over.
Bryan: You also get the "a part of a song counts as one song" bit, and Rihanna has been known to go to medleys before. I agree; if we get a cameo, we'll go over, and I see no reason to doubt all the stops being pulled out.
To Occur During Rihanna's Performance
Rihanna to Confirm That Her Lyrics Were Censored by the NFL (-105)
Rihanna to Open an Umbrella (+275)
A$AP Rocky to Appear on Stage (+300)
Jay Z to Appear on Stage (+300)
Rihanna to Suffer a Wardrobe Malfunction (+500)
Drake to Appear on Stage (+500)
Rihanna to Wear a Bucket Hat (+700)
Rihanna to Announce She is Pregnant (+800)
Rihanna to Announce Her Son's Name (+800)
Rihanna to Trip and Fall Over (+1600)
Rihanna to Propose Marriage to A$AP Rocky (+2500)
Vince: First of all, how is it possible that we can't bet on Tom Holland appearing to recreate his awe-inspiring Umbrella performance from Lip Sync Battle? Nothing else that could happen during the halftime show would make me any happier.
Further, "wardrobe malfunction" seems like an awfully vague term, especially given how attitudes towards sex and nudity have loosened in the past couple of decades. Like, if Rihanna rips off tearaway pants to reveal standard bikini bottoms, would that count? What if it's a thong? Who gets to decide what does and does not qualify here? (Note to HR: it was 100% job-related when I used my work computer to Google "Rihanna + thong.")
I'm stalling here because I am an out-of-touch pariah who barely has a grasp on what most of these options even mean. I had started a paragraph about how backup dancers would be the ones opening umbrellas and Jay-Z would be an effective stage presence in stark contrast to Riri when I Googled "Rihanna bucket hat" and was blown away by the variety of automatic suggestions. "Rihanna fuzzy bucket hat!" "Rihanna pink bucket hat!" "Rihanna green bucket hat!" Clearly there's a bigger industry here than I ever realized. Rihanna to Wear a Bucket Hat.
Bryan: I just want to imagine the world in which Rihanna, on stage, during her performance, talks about the NFL censoring her. Like, just picture that moment; her waving off the music to talk about the complicated relationship she has had with the league after turning down the opportunity to do the halftime show in 2019. That would certainly be, uh, memorable.
I'll go with A$AP Rocky appearing on stage with her; he's going to be there anyway, so why not pop on for a number or two?
Number of Beers Sold
Over 120,000 (-135)
Under 120,000 (+105)
Vince: Capacity for State Farm Stadium is 63,400, so we're looking at less than two beers per person. Obviously there will be children and non-drinkers present, but I think there will be enough there partaking to make up the difference. Over.
Bryan: I was originally thinking the under, because the Super Bowl isn't a normal crowd; there's a lot of promotional tickets and sponsor giveaways and not. And then I remembered the last work party I went to (not with Football Outsiders, I should clarify; I never get invited to the cool parties) and I remember just how wasted everyone got. Well, well over.
Number of Hot Dogs Sold
Over 17,000 (-110)
Under 17,000 (-140)
Vince: Here's an article from last August on the wide variety of food options available at State Farm Stadium. I can't imagine anyone passing these up for a hot dog, which you could get at Costco whenever you want. Personally, I'd go with the Sonoran carne asada nachos from Lola's Tacos. (Though Lola Olivares' statement that "I had to bring tacos in here because everybody gets burgers and hot dogs" does give me pause.) Under.
Bryan: I'll take the quesabirria burger, thank you very much. Under.
What Color Will The First Liquid Be Poured on the Game Winning Coach?
Vince: There are lots of blue Gatorade flavors, way more than I realized. Fierce Blue Cherry, Cool Blue, Frost Icy Charge, Frost Glacier Freeze. Frost Arctic Blitz could count as blue or green. Seems like a reasonable calculated risk to go with the longshot here. Blue.
Bryan: It has been blue in three of the past four years, but, for the sake of being different, I'll go orange. It was orange when Andy Reid won Super Bowl LIV, and daggum it, he's not going to change now!
Who Will the Super Bowl MVP Mention First in His Speech?
None of the Above (+1600)
Vince: I'm just going to recycle my answer from the last time I did one of these because it still makes me laugh, and I think the statute of limitations on re-using old material has expired after 14 years.
I would love, love, love to see someone win the MVP award and thank himself and himself alone. Just stand up there talking about how great he is and how he carried this sorry bunch of losers to a championship, which he will now take home to a bunch of undeserving fans. More likely, though, he goes with the Big Guy. God.
Bryan: From his State Farm commercials, we have learned that Patrick Mahomes tragically lacks a personality. In which case, he'll go with the absolute rote path of teammates first, while behind him Andy Reid will actually be doing something entertaining.
11 comments, Last at 06 Feb 2023, 7:02pm
#3 by David // Feb 03, 2023 - 4:44am
Sports betting. It is explicitly a zero-sum game, and contributes nothing to society as a whole (it just moves resources around). Marijuana is a creation thing. It adds to society resources that were not there before. They aren't particularly useful resources, but still, better than literally nothing.
#7 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 03, 2023 - 5:09pm
Sports betting is the worse vice because there's no cap on consumption. There's a limit to how much even Snoop Dogg could smoke in one day, but nothing to stop a gambler continuing until their resources exhaust.
#6 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 03, 2023 - 5:07pm
I was originally thinking the under, because the Super Bowl isn't a normal crowd; there's a lot of promotional tickets and sponsor giveaways and not. And then I remembered the last work party I went to (not with Football Outsiders, I should clarify; I never get invited to the cool parties) and I remember just how wasted everyone got. Well, well over.
The prop is # of beers sold, not served. I am assuming that everyone plowing beers in the suites or in some swank pre-game party are not counting towards the stat.
#8 by medelste // Feb 04, 2023 - 11:44am
Thanks for the annual laughs. And by the time I got to the end of the article, my sportsbook balance has been cut in half thanks to all the dumb bets I made. Will be very pleased if I break even.
One additional one I made: "total times chains brought out for measurement. Over 1.5 (+200) Under 1.5 (-300)". I dumped money on the Under just from gut feel of watching 40+ games this season. Based on my age-addled memory alone, it seems like the average number of times the chains have been brought out has been 0.626 times per game. Anyone else think the odds for the Under should be more like -600?
#10 by mrh // Feb 04, 2023 - 5:04pm
Where did you get your stats on # of 100-yard receivers allowed by KC? Vince says 11, stathead say 6, including playoffs. https://stathead.com/tiny/6G2cR Am I missing something?
Football Guys game logs also show 6. Note that 4 of those 6 came in the first 8 weeks, before McDuffie returned from injury.
#11 by Vincent Verhei // Feb 04, 2023 - 5:20pm
That was an error that has been fixed. It now reads:
"I'm definitely taking an Eagles receiver, because the Philly defense only allowed four 100-yard games all year and no more over 80, while Kansas City gave up 11 over 80 including six over 100."
#12 by jheidelberg // Feb 06, 2023 - 7:02pm
The second leg of my strategy: I am taking Philadelphia to win straight-up. So between these two bets, if Kansas City wins the Super Bowl, I win a little bit of money; if the Eagles win by two points or more, I lose a little. Ah, but if the Eagles win by exactly one point? If A.J. Brown gets a last-minute touchdown, and Nick Sirianni turns down overtime, and Jalen Hurts sneaks in a two-point conversion? Now I win both bets! And yes, this is a preposterous, lightning-in-a-bottle scenario that I'm building my strategy around, but all in all it's a low-risk combo that could (could!) result in a double payoff.
Thanks to FO playoff odds report, I took a strong position on the Eagles before the playoffs started (Unfortunately I had a strong position on the Bengals as well as a value pick during the BUF game). Incredibly, with one fewer game to play the Eagles had longer odds to win the SB than did SF.
So I did exactly your strategy, I got in on Sunday after the games were played on the Chiefs at +2.5. So if PHI wins, I win, if KC wins I win, but if PHI wins by 1 or 2 points, oh do I like that situation!
I have a great way for PHI to win by one point, KC leads by 3 and is driving but gets stopped. Instead of going for 4th down, Reid orders a FG which is successful. Then PHI drives for the game winning TD and extra point. Now as an FO writer, don't you like this better than your two point conversion scenario? FO can write forever (as if they are not already) as to how foolish the FG up 3 late in the fourth quarter is as a strategy.
You will have the eyes of the whole world as it is done in the Super Bowl. Meanwhile you know that you will have the broadcasters saying, "You must take the 3 points here."