19th Annual Super Bowl Prop Bet Extravaganza!
NFL Super Bowl - Andrew: Hello and welcome to another week of Scramble for the Ball. The Super Bowl is upon us! That means we interrupt your usual programming for this special edition of Scramble, featuring none of your usual favorites!
Bryan: Instead, as per tradition, we use the week after the conference championship games for the Prop Bet Extravaganza. For the 19th straight year, we have gone through the wacky and wild universe of prop bets to bring you some of the very best for your entertainment.
Although I should note that the zaniness of the bets has dropped off in recent years, somewhat correlating with the rise of legal betting in the US. It turns out, above-board companies with massive investors don't like floating strange odds on unpredictable things two weeks before a game happens! This tradition started with Scramble in its infancy, when the idea of betting on the contents of a commercial was quaint and novel. Now, you have major companies putting out videos on how to properly bet on the Gatorade color. But we were the originals, consarnit!
Andrew: That does put us in a little bit of a bind, as we're far from professional gamblers—just look at our Lock of the Week records! So as ever, we'll try to keep this light and fun, and this column does not constitute financial advice. Please bet responsibly, and we'll get to the awards and accolades from Super Conference Championship Weekend™ in our usual time slot next Wednesday.
Bryan: 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 species.
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 I imagine your Scramble writers have almost certainly killed a number of your brain cells 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 Scramble writer will correctly predict the most prop bets?
Andrew Potter -110
Bryan Knowles +130
This means that if you wager $110 on Andrew, you will receive only an extra $100, because that's the price you pay for backing the Double Survival champion this year. However, if you believe that Bryan's poor pick luck can't possibly continue and 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 bars of Gold-Pressed Latinum 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 unders 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
Cincinnati Bengals +4 (-110)
Los Angeles Rams -4 (-110)
Bryan: I imagine a running theme through a great deal of not only this preview, but of all Football Outsiders content between now and game day, will be how we rate the Bengals as worse than the general consensus would have it. So be it!
The hard part about picking the game outright is the volatility of the Bengals. At times they look like they can do anything, but other times, their offensive line appears to be made of Swiss cheese. And not the really good stuff, either, but squishy, leaky Swiss; more Lunchables than charcuterie-worthy. I can easily see the Rams taking over the game in the trenches on both sides of the ball, which could make for a long day for Cincinnati. I'm going with the Rams and giving the points.
Andrew: Unfortunately, that general consensus is likely to make for quite boring picks in this section of the prop betting. As you note, the Bengals are quite capable of winning—they have the better record of these two squads against teams that made the playoffs this year. They also lost to the Bears, Jets, Browns (twice!), and Chargers. The Rams beat the teams they're supposed to beat and, two-game skid before the bye excepted, compete against the teams with whom they're supposed to compete. They have the front to get all kinds of pressure on Joe Burrow, and the back end to help make sure that pressure gets home. The only thing that gives me pause about picking them is the spread, because I consider a field goal the most likely winning margin, but I'm not going to sweat that too much. Rams to win and cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (+165)
Los Angeles Rams (-195)
Bryan: A -195 line implies the Rams will win 66.1% of the time; a +165 line implies the Bengals will win 37.7% of the time, and the extra 3.8% of probability there implies that Vegas would like to take your money, please. Our official, Football Outsiders-endorsed projections have the Rams winning 65.3% of the time and the Bengals winning 34.7% of the time, making them both technically bad bets at this moneyline! That is, in fact, how they getcha.
I believe I'd be comfortable with the Rams at anywhere better than -250; I think they should be considered significant (if not overwhelming) favorites. I'll be interested to see how this line evolves from the time we're writing about it until gameday, mind you!
Andrew: The Rams are better on offense, better on defense, and better on special teams. They have been more consistent against a tougher schedule. In theory, they match up well with the Bengals, too. A Rams win should be the most likely outcome. The only question is whether I'm comfortable wagering 195 to win 100 on that, as this is the sort of bet that I'd normally hedge. On this occasion, I'll go all-in, because yes I believe the Rams will win.
Over 48.5 (-110)
Under 48.5 (-110)
Bryan: Both the Bengals and Rams have seen exactly half of their games this season over 48.5 and half under 48.5, which means that Vegas has placed this line in exactly the right spot, historically speaking. However, the two teams have combined to play five overtime games, and four of those games only hit the over because of the extra period. That means I'm taking the under in regulation and hoping we don't advance to some kind of crazy fifth quarter. We have seen enough of that this postseason, haven't we?
Andrew: In theory, a 28-21 or 27-24 outcome seems entirely plausible. In practice, the only Bengals game this postseason that hit the over only did so in overtime, and the only Rams game this postseason that hit the over required a furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Tom Brady. I'm fairly comfortable picking the under here, as I think it has a significantly higher chance of hitting.
Matthew Stafford (+105)
Joe Burrow (+230)
Cooper Kupp (+600)
Aaron Donald (+1800)
Ja'Marr Chase (+2000)
Odell Beckham (+2000)
Cam Akers (+4000)
Joe Mixon (+4000)
Tee Higgins (+5000)
Von Miller (+5000)
Jalen Ramsey (+5000)
Kendall Blanton (+7000)
Sony Michel (+7500)
Evan McPherson (+7500)
Tyler Higbee (+8000)
Tyler Boyd (+9000)
Van Jefferson (+10000)
Trey Hendrickson (+10000)
Samaje Perine (+15000)
Sam Hubbard (+15000)
Leonard Floyd (+20000)
Vonn Bell (+25000)
Drew Sample (+25000)
Eli Apple (+30000)
Trent Taylor (+30000)
Troy Reeder (+30000)
Chidobe Awuzie (+30000)
Jessie Bates (+30000)
BJ Hill (+30000)
DJ Reader (+30000)
Eric Weddle (+30000)
Chris Evans (+35000)
Ben Skowronek (+40000)
Kevin Huber (+50000)
Bryan: Three non-quarterbacks have won this award in the last 12 seasons. Malcolm Smith took an interception to the house in Super Bowl XLVIII; Von Miller forced multiple fumbles in Super Bowl 50; and Julian Edelman caught 10 passes for 141 yards in Super Bowl LIII. Everything else has been the winning quarterback, the default for this sort of thing.
I do think there's enough hype surrounding some of the non-quarterbacks that they could win this time, mind you. Joe Burrow took nine sacks two weeks ago; I could easily see Miller or Aaron Donald winning this award with, say, three sacks and a turnover. And both Cooper Kupp and Ja'Marr Chase are big enough stars with potential to draw voters away, with Kupp catching, say, 10 passes for 150 yards, or Chase Mossing corners for a couple touchdowns.
I'd favor both quarterbacks if their team wins, but the odds are too high for me in both cases. I'm not playing "find the defensive star," which seems like a fool's errand to me. But in terms of skill players, Chase +2000, Mixon +4000, Higgins +5000, and Boyd +9000 all seem like solid longshots, if you're on Cincinnati. I'm not on Cincinnati, mind you, and so I'm taking Cooper Kupp at 6-to-1. In the last two weeks alone, he has had a 9-183-1 game and a 10-156-2 game, both of which seem like MVP-caliber days to me. He can totally Edelman it up.
Andrew: Given my stated belief that the Rams will win, Kupp would also be my choice for a star on offense, if we're looking away from quarterbacks. However, I picked the under earlier, and I did so in part because Aaron Donald is on the Rams defense. Donald has been the consensus best defensive player in the sport for years now; the Super Bowl is his final world to conquer on the way to Canton. He's one of the very few defensive players with the profile to capture the attention of the voters if this turns out to be a low-scoring affair. If the game hits the over, then Kupp or Chase would be my pick. I'm all in on the under, and that places the game in the hands of Donald.
Bryan: Ah, yes, the true measure of skill; the coin toss wager. Someone on Reddit analyzed coin flips this season, but it turns out most broadcasts don't mention the heads or tails of each game, just who won the toss. Truly, data-driven journalism has not yet reached television trucks around the league. In the small random sample he was able to find, however, 73.3% of observed games resulted in tails. That means, logically, any pick other than Tails is just crazy. That's science, people.
Andrew: Tails, tails, never fails.
Team to Score First
Los Angeles (-145)
Bryan: I'm taking the Rams, despite the bad moneyline. This season, the Rams have been more likely to march down the field and score first and play from ahead. The Bengals have been more likely to see their opponents get on the board first, then climb back into things later. It's only, like, a 60/40 split, but the line isn't quite high enough for me to buck those trends.
Andrew: The moneyline on this makes it interesting. I agree that the Rams are likelier to score first, but I don't think they're this much likelier to score first. Both teams have strong kickers, and the Bengals could easily hit a big play on their opening drive to get in scoring range. Given the lines, give me the Bengals, specifically Evan McPherson with the...
First Scoring Play
Field Goal (+150)
Any Other (+4000)
Bryan: Once again, we have to wonder what "any other" means apart from a safety. I suppose maybe the referee could award a random number of points from a palpably unfair act? That'd be a Super Bowl first!
As for the odds, all three of these lines suck and I would avoid it with real money. Since we're playing with fake money, however, I'll take the better odds on the field goal and guess that the Bengals get held up and Evan McPherson bombs one from Anaheim.
Andrew: I'm also playing the field goal, as I do every year, because of the hedge. This year, I'm happier than usual with that, as both head coaches are comfortably on the conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to fourth-down decisions.
Will the Team that Scores First Win the Game?
Bryan: Yes, they will. It has been true in 65% of Bengals games this season and 65% of Rams games this season, and the implied probability of a -190 line is 65.5%. Good enough for me!
Andrew: Usually, the team that scores first does so because it's the better team. I'm not sure how true that remains in postseason play, but there's a reason those odds suck. Given what I just typed above, and how easy it is to envisage a scenario in which the Bengals go up 7-0, I'd rather risk 100 to win 145 than risk 195 to win 100. So while the Bengals will score first, no, they will not win.
Team to Score Last
Los Angeles (-130)
Bryan: Man, I'm going all in on the Rams in this one; I'm going to lose my shirt if Cincinnati has a good day. That being said, I like the Rams' offense to be more explosive, and that's true from the first quarter to the last.
Andrew: Either Cincinnati will score last as they try to mount a furious failed comeback, or Cincinnati will score last as they kick the game-winning field goal as time expires. Either way, Cincinnati will score last.
Will Either Team Score Three Unanswered Times?
Bryan: Oh yes, almost certainly. The possibility of the end of half-defer-one other score trifecta is too good to pass up, and any sort of blowout in either direction makes this a nigh-guarantee. I don't think this is going to be back-and-forth all the way through; I think it's more likely that both teams will score three times in a row than it is for neither team to do it.
Andrew: No. This won't be a free-scoring game with runs of points, it'll be more of a grind with the Rams gradually pulling away by scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. And by that, I mean, I'm hedging again.
Margin of Victory
Los Angeles by 1-6 (+265)
Los Angeles by 7-12 (+370)
Los Angeles by 13-18 (+550)
Los Angeles by 19-24 (+1000)
Los Angeles by 25-30 (+1700)
Los Angeles by 31-36 (+3000)
Los Angeles by 37-42 (+5000)
Los Angeles by 43+ (+7000)
Cincinnati by 1-6 (+340)
Cincinnati by 7-12 (+750)
Cincinnati by 13-18 (+1500)
Cincinnati by 19-24 (+3000)
Cincinnati by 25-30 (+5500)
Cincinnati by 31-36 (+8000)
Cincinnati by 37-42 (+10000)
Cincinnati by 43+ (+11000)
Bryan: Traditionally, I take the smallest bracket here for the team I'm going with, but I'll buck that trend a little bit and take the Rams by 7-12. I just see Cincinnati having trouble stopping the Rams' pass rush, keeping them from getting going on offense, while Matt Stafford has all day and a half to sit back and pick apart the Bengals' defense. I'm a little tempted by 13-18, but the Rams' tendency to grow passive with big leads and the Bengals' tendency to pour on points late scares me away from that.
Andrew: I'm in a similar boat. If the Bengals win, I suspect they'll be in that 1-6 range, but I have this as more of a 31-17 kind of game. (Yes, that's a little weird with what I said earlier about the Bengals scoring first and last, and the Rams not scoring three times in a row. I'm hedging.) I don't want to just take the same range as you, so I'll go one bigger. Los Angeles by 13-18.
What Will Be The First Offensive Play?
Bryan: Wait, pass is giving odds? I mean, I'm not saying it's impossible or anything like that, but the Bengals like to throw early and often, and the Rams aren't that far behind them. This feels like a line someone set expecting the 49ers to make it here, and then forgot to change it. Pass.
Andrew: Absolutely. The likelier outcome is the one with the better risk/reward. Pass. Pass all the way.
Which Will Be The Highest Scoring Quarter?
First Quarter (+950)
Second Quarter (+175)
Third Quarter (+450)
Fourth Quarter (+210)
2 or More Quarters (+800)
Bryan: I don't like the first-quarter odds, as neither the Rams nor Bengals are a "score a zillion times from the gun" team. I don't like the fourth-quarter odds because I think there's too high of a chance of someone sitting on the ball and trying to run out the clock. I don't like the two or more quarters odds because I don't like coincidences. I'm torn between the more likely second quarter or the nice odds on the third quarter. I'll be conservative and take the second quarter, but +450 for the third is very tempting.
Andrew: I'm amused that "two or more quarters" still has better odds than the first quarter. The second does seem the likeliest, but I like the return on the third quarter. The Bengals have shown that they can come out guns blazing after the interval, and an extra long interval could make for some extra fun adjustments, while the Rams stay aggressive trying to maintain their lead.
TOUCHDOWNS AND FIELD GOALS
First Touchdown Scorer
Cooper Kupp (+450)
Joe Mixon (+700)
Cam Akers (+750)
Ja'Marr Chase (+800)
Odell Beckham (+1000)
Tee Higgins (+1200)
Tyler Higbee (+1400)
Sony Michel (+1600)
Kendall Blanton (+1600)
C.J. Uzomah (+1600)
Darrell Henderson (+1600)
Tyler Boyd (+1800)
Van Jefferson (+1800)
Drew Sample (+2200)
Samaje Perine (+2500)
Rams Defense (+2800)
Bengals Defense (+3000)
Joe Burrow (+3000)
Matthew Stafford (+4000)
Brycen Hopkins (+4000)
Johnny Mundt (+5000)
Mitchell Wilcox (+6000)
Ben Skrowronek (+6500)
Chris Evans (+10000)
Brandon Powell (+10000)
Jake Funk (+10000)
Buddy Howell (+10000)
Mike Thomas (+12000)
Trent Taylor (+13000)
Trenton Irwin (+15000)
Trayveon Williams (+15000)
Stanley Morgan (+20000)
No Touchdown Scorer (+10000)
Bryan: There are some longshot Bengals that I kind of like here—Samaje Perine at +2500 and, if he's healthy, C.J. Uzomah at +1600. Mixon seems like the most likely guy to get the first touchdown on the Bengals, but there are enough other options there to be interesting. Someone whose odds I absolutely hate are Kupp at +450. Yes, Kupp led the league with 16 touchdown receptions in 2021, but do you know how many times he scored the Rams' first touchdown? Four times. That's as many as Van Jefferson. In fact, you know what? Let's just go with Jefferson with a nice +1800 payoff, and hope he finds the end zone for the first time since December 13.
Andrew: Both defenses will be focused on the other team's top playmakers, so it'll be somebody else who comes through. I really, really like Tee Higgins as a bet for the Bengals, but I think the Rams will score the game's first touchdown so that pushes me toward Sony Michel. Sure, Sean McVay still has confidence in Cam Akers. He still should give Michel more opportunities, especially near the goal line.
Longest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 42.5 Yards (-115)
Under 42.5 Yards (-115)
Bryan: I see how this is, Vegas. You want me to see Ja'Marr Chase and Cooper Kupp in the same game and hammer the over. You can't fool me that easily! I'll take Chase's highlights coming from jumping over guys on short-yardage fades and gaining zero YAC after some bombs, not on a long catch-and-run. I'll take the under.
Andrew: Yeah, the under seems the safer play here. These are explosive offenses, but both teams have pretty good safeties and defensive coordinators who know what they're about.
Shortest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 1.5 Yards (-105)
Under 1.5 Yards (-125)
Bryan: As much as I'd love to see more of Matthew Stafford's amazing quarterback sneak skills, I'm taking the over. May the refs continue to swallow their whistles and avoid pass interference in the end zone, please.
Andrew: Under. There's just too many ways the ball can end up 1 yard from the goal line, and even these head coaches are going for it on fourth down in that situation.
Which Team Will Make the Longest Field Goal?
Los Angeles (+125)
Bryan: You want me to bet against Money Mac? I'm not betting against Money Mac, or the Bengals ability to stall out in field goal range, or Zac Taylor's comfort with trotting out his kicker for an indoor moonshot. Give me Cincinnati !
Andrew: Never bet against Joe Burrow and the Bengals offensive line's ability to turn a 40-yard field goal into a 55-yard field goal. Cincinnati.
OTHER GAME EVENTS
Will the First Turnover be An Interception?
Bryan: If there's not a turnover, "no" wins, and that makes that just a little more tempting for me; I could imagine both defenses going the whole way without making a huge splash play. But, with that not spread out as its own option, I'm going yes here, and wondering within which team's 20 Stafford will throw an interception.
Andrew: This is definitely a hedge play, but there are enough realistic ways for it to come through that I'm fairly content to make it. Give me an Aaron Donald strip-sack en route to his MVP award, meaning the answer is no.
Will the Game Go to Overtime?
Bryan: Ugh. It won't, but the payout is too good if I'm wrong. I'll say yes, and we'll get a full offseason of debating postseason rules! Won't that be fun and exciting?
Andrew: We have this discussion every year, too. It won't, but I'm not risking the 2800-point swing if it does. Yes.
Will There Be a Missed PAT Conversion?
Bryan: Matt Gay was 48-of-49 on PATs in the regular season; Evan McPherson was 46-for-48. No, these kickers are too good.
Andrew: No, not in this game.
First Team to Punt
Los Angeles (-115)
Bryan: Cincinnati punted in the first quarter of 13 of their 20 games this season; the Rams did so in just 10 of their 20. The Rams are more consistent and less likely to stall out, so the Bengals will punt first.
Andrew: Cincinnati will punt first, probably following a sack.
How Many Players Will Have a Passing Attempt?
Over 2.5 (+105)
Under 2.5 (-135)
Bryan: Tyler Boyd attempted a pass in Week 8 against the Jets, but that's it for Cincinnati. The Rams, on the other hand, have seen Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham, and Johnny Hekker all throw the ball this season. I'll even call my shot and say Beckham to Kupp for a touchdown in the … let's say third quarter. Over 2.5.
Andrew: Two players, and exactly two, will have a pass attempt, but I'm not betting these odds against Sean McVay pulling out the tricks. Over.
Will Any Touchdown Be Overturned By Replay?
Bryan: No. Please, for the love of my sanity, no.
Andrew: That's strictly a touchdown taken off the board, right? No, that's not going to happen.
Will Either Team Attempt a Two-Point Conversion?
Bryan: No. These two coaches are not the kind to play around with two-point conversions in non-blindingly-obvious situations, and the kickers are too good to get either team off of the three- and seven-point grid.
Andrew: I can see it, but I'm not wagering 145 on it. No, they won't.
Will there be an onside kick attempt in the game?
Bryan: Nope! They don't work anymore!
Andrew: No, these coaches won't try those out of surprise, and the gap won't be so huge that either team needs to try one out of desperation.
Will a special teams or defensive TD be scored?
Bryan: The Bengals have two return touchdowns this season—Mike Hilton back in Week 11, and Trayvon Henderson in Week 18. The Rams also have two—David Long with an interception in the wild-card round, and Brandon Powell with a punt return back in Week 16. Neither of these defenses or special teams are opportunistic enough for me to back a 32.3% chance that they'll score. No.
Andrew: This seems like a longer shot than a touchdown being overturned by replay. No, they'll earn their points the traditional way.
Most Passing Yards
Joe Burrow (+110)
Matthew Stafford (-140)
Bryan: Color me surprised, again, that Joe Burrow is giving odds here. If this was dead even, I think I'd like Burrow to have more than Stafford. Both quarterbacks threw for about the same number of yards per game this year—Stafford was at 287, Burrow was at 288. I guess the thinking is that if the Bengals' offensive line doesn't hold up, Burrow won't have time to throw the ball, and I don't know if I agree with that—it's not like he has been working behind a stellar line until this point. Add in the probability that the Rams will be sitting on the ball in the second half, and I think this is, if not a shoo-in, then a clear favorite for Burrow.
Andrew: Right. The Bengals are more likely to be trying to come back, meaning Joe Burrow is more likely to throw a lot of passes, meaning Joe Burrow is more likely to throw for a lot of yards.
Stafford and Burrow over 4½ Combined Passing TDs
Bryan: While I suspect the answer is no, the +145 is enough to tempt me over to the yes side of the equation. Burrow has thrown for at least two touchdowns in 13 of his 19 starts; Stafford hit two in 16 of his 20. Now, the Rams' pass defense is stingier than average, and we have talked and talked about how Burrow has had a particularly easy slate of opposing defenses this season, but it doesn't seem that outlandish that both quarterbacks will continue to have at least some success through the air. Plus, this is one of those props that's just more fun when you're on the over.
Andrew: That's two touchdowns for one quarterback, three for the other, which is entirely plausible while still remaining under the line. Given that Yes has lower risk and higher reward, Yes is my answer.
Most Receiving Yards
Ja'Marr Chase (+135)
Cooper Kupp (-165)
Bryan: Once again, the high odds tempt me to the underdog. At even odds, I think I pick Kupp here, under the theory that he'll catch a zillion underneath passes for half a zillion yards, while Chase and Jalen Ramsey will be battling on deep passes all game long. But -165 is a high price to pay for a bet I'm not at all confident in; that's an implied probability of over 60%. Give me Chase.
Andrew: Yeesh, enough with the hedges already. Chase, because as already noted I do expect the Bengals to pass more, and I certainly don't think Kupp is twice as likely as Chase to put up a big line.
Kupp, Chase, Higgins, and Beckham to Each Have Over 49½ Receiving Yards
Bryan: Oh, I like this one. I like it because it's more complex and therefore more complicated; it's like a parlay without actually having to parlay things. And I like it because I'm a fan of all four of these receivers, and think they could all have big days. And at +160, I'd probably be tempted even if you threw, say, Tyler Boyd into the mix, or if you pumped the receiving yardage up to like 70 yards or so. Kupp hasn't been below 50 yards all season; consider him a given. If you scratch the Week 18 game where he barely played, Chase has just one game under 50 yards since December. Beckham has three straight 50-plus-yard games after a slowish start in Los Angeles. Higgins has gone over 50 yards in 10 of his last 13 games. Yes, yes, give me all the passing please.
Andrew: Dangit, I hate these stacked odds where it only takes one guy missing a quarter with a wardrobe malfunction or whatever to cause it to miss. Each of these guys will probably hit the line, but all four in the same game? I'm not convinced. However, the loss is so bad if they miss, and the return so good if they hit, that for the sake of the bet I have to take yes.
Most Rushing Yards
Joe Mixon (-130)
Cam Akers (EVEN)
Bryan: I just don't think Akers is going to get the runout to challenge Mixon here. Akers and Sony Michel split the carries nearly 50-50 against San Francisco and Arizona, though Akers had nearly all the carries against Tampa Bay. Michel is likely to get nine or 10 carries, while Samije Perine is going to get, what, two? From opportunity alone, I have got to go with Mixon.
Andrew: Totally agree, which is making this section of things slightly exasperating. Mixon has a far clearer path to the game lead in rushing yards. Akers isn't even guaranteed to lead his own team.
Either Mixon or Akers to have 100 yards Rushing
Bryan: No is boring, I know, but Akers last had 100 yards rushing in Week 14 … of 2020. Mixon hasn't cracked the century mark since November. These teams aren't exactly designed for pounding the ball on the ground.
Andrew: No. The Rams will have 100 yards rushing, but it will be split between two players. The Bengals won't, because the Rams front will dominate their offensive line and force them to pass.
Over 4½ (-135)
Under 4½ (+105)
Bryan: Otherwise known as "will Joe Burrow continue to be made of magic?" as he dodged heavy traffic against Kansas City a week after being flattened nine times by Tennessee. Honestly, I don't like either of these bets—I don't think Burrow is going to be able to replicate his Houdini act from the AFC Championship Game, but I don't like the price tag attached to the over either. In the end, though, I'd rather overpay for the thing I think is more likely to happen, so I'm on the over.
Andrew: Total sacks, not just Bengals sacks? Yeah, this is going all the way over. Aaron Donald, Trey Hendrickson, Leonard Floyd, Sam Hubbard, and Von Miller in the same game? All the way over.
Matthew Stafford Total Interceptions
Over ½ (-150)
Under ½ (+110)
Bryan: I know Stafford has played very well this postseason, only throwing one interception. But it was a doozy of an interception in the red zone, and he is coming off of a December where he couldn't help but give the ball away, usually multiple times in one game. Plus, the Bengals have forced multiple turnovers in each of the past four games, and with all respect to Stafford, he's no Patrick Mahomes. I'm taking the Over.
Andrew: The Bengals have had crazy luck with tipped interceptions this postseason. Stafford doesn't need tipped balls to throw crazy interceptions. The over is by far the more likely, but I just can't buy at that price. Under, as the game turns on big plays at the line rather than big plays in the secondary.
Which Will Be Higher?
Cooper Kupp Total Receptions (-130)
USA Gold Medals at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games (+100)
Bryan: Finally. After years of writing, I'm finally going to get paid for talking about the Olympic Games. I once wrote thousands of words on each Olympics for an Internet forum I used to post on, because I am that old and that nerdy. And I did it for free, because I am also that stupid. Anyway!
The US is pegged for somewhere in the upper single-digits in golds this year. They have won nine golds in each of the last four Winter Games, which includes two straight Asian games, so no worries about comparing time zones to time zones here or anything. I like Nathan Chen to recover from his disaster in PyeongChang, where a fall knocked him to 17th after the figure skating short program; he recovered to have the highest score in the free skate, landing six quads (and the first ever quadruple flip)—oh, and he's also the reigning world champion. Breezy Johnson being injured hurts, but that might just open up more opportunities for Mikaela Shiffrin to take home multiple golds on the slopes. Then you have opportunities in women's bobsled as well as the usual bundle of snowboarding and speed skating medals. While the odds of Kupp getting to double-digit receptions are decently high, I'm going with USA Golds here.
Andrew: I have absolutely no idea. Let's go with some sort of crazy day for Kupp, who is almost unrecoverable regardless of matchup, rather than Team USA, who also elude coverage on this side of the Pond. Double-digit receptions trump single-digit gold medals.
Which Will Be Higher?
Cincinnati Bengals Total Touchdowns (-125)
Yellow Cards in Leicester City v. West Ham United (-105)
Bryan: West Ham is actually the least-carded team in the Premier League this season at just 18, and Leicester City isn't too far behind them. In the earlier fixture this season, Ayoze Perez did draw a red card (if only after a VAR replay), but A) that's a red card, not a yellow card, and B) I can't imagine there's something about one card from August that's going to effect a matchup in February. Give me the Bengals.
Andrew: How do COVID postponements affect this? Do they just delay the payout until the game is played? Have fun waiting for your final Super Bowl prop to be decided in April. There will be more yellow cards in the Premier League game than touchdowns by the Bengals.
Which Will Be Higher?
Los Angeles Rams Total Touchdowns (-150)
Jayson Tatum Total 3-Point FG Made Against Hawks (+120)
Bryan: Tatum is averaging 2.8 three-pointers per game this season, with a career-low 33% field goal percentage from behind the arc. He is, however, on a bit of a hot streak—25 made in his last five games, including nine against the Wizards and seven against the Kings. The Rams aren't going to get to seven or nine touchdowns, and while the odds are Tatum will be held below that, there's just too much of a chance that he goes off and puts up some kind of insane day to make this bet way, way out of reach. Tatum.
Andrew: The last time Tatum played the Hawks, he was just 2-of-8 from three-point range. That's the only time in the past five games that he hasn't sunk at least three of those shots. That luck isn't going to hold for Atlanta. Tatum's getting the chances, whereas I'm not expecting a Rams blowout here. Tatum.
Which Will Be Higher?
Akers & Mixon Combined Total Rushing Yards (-140)
Winning Time (in seconds) at the 2022 Kentucky Derby (+110)
Bryan: The fastest ever time for a Kentucky Derby? 1:59.4, a record that has stood since Secretariat set it in 1973. Generally, the winning time is two minutes and a little change, so we're talking about 120 yards, ish, for Akers and Mixon. That sounds about right on the nose for me, so I'll take the horses with the higher odds.
Andrew: Given that we already explained why we don't think Akers and Mixon are set for big days, the horses with the better odds seems the safer pick.
Which Will Be Higher?
Total Goals in the NHL on February 13th (-130)
1st Half Total Points in Super Bowl LVI (+100)
Bryan: With COVID being what it is, we can never be sure about the schedule going forward, but at the moment there are four games scheduled for Super Bowl Sunday: Ottawa at Washington, Buffalo at Montreal, Pittsburgh at New Jersey, and Colorado at Dallas. Both the Canadiens and Sabres are in the bottom eight in terms of goals per game, but they're balanced out somewhat by the league-leading Avalanche and top-eight Penguins. I don't see much reason to expect an unusually high or low amount of goals, so we're talking somewhere in the neighborhood of 25? I'm expecting scoring to be heavier in the first half of the Super Bowl than the second, so I'll take the NFL in action here.
Andrew: You expect there to be more than 25 points in the first half of the Super Bowl? I'm thinking more like 10-3 for the first half, and most of the points coming after the break. That makes the NHL the safer bet, much as I dislike the odds.
Which Will Be Higher?
Jon Rahm First-Round Score WM Phoenix Open (-125)
Joe Mixon Rushing Yards in SB LVI (-105)
Bryan: Rahm has shot 67 or 68 in each of the past four years at the Phoenix Open; he had some 70s back early in his career, but has settled down since then. Mixon had a long stretch there in December and January where he wasn't even hitting 60 yards a game, which Rahm should easily clear. But I don't know; I like Mixon to get some serious work in this one as the Bengals try to blunt the Rams pass rush, so I'll take Mixon.
Andrew: Ugh, I hate betting more than I stand to win, but I have to do that either way in this one. Let's see ... golfer in the high 60s, fine. Mixon in the high 60s, not so much. As we have already discussed, the Bengals offensive line isn't great. The Rams defensive front is. They'll keep Mixon in check, even with Burrow as their primary focus. Rahm will shoot higher than Mixon's yards.
Which Will Be Higher?
Daytona 500 Average Speed in Miles Per Hour (-125)
Matthew Stafford First-Half Passing Yards (-105)
Bryan: Average speed in the Daytona 500 has dropped to the 140 MPH range over the last couple years, but delays and questionable weather might be at least partially at fault there. I like this year's race to be a little faster, but not to some of its historic highs. That means I'm going with Stafford, in my ongoing theory of "Rams air it out early, sit on the ball late."
Andrew: I'm just not convinced the first half of the game will be that open. Stafford will get his yards, but 150 or more is quite a high total for the first half of a Super Bowl. Even 140 might be pushing it for two fairly conservative coaches. I'll take Daytona here, and Stafford can go off in the third quarter instead of the second.
How Long Will the National Anthem Take?
Over 1:27 (-115)
Under 1:27 (-115)
Bryan: Mickey Guyton will be singing the national anthem. Country music generally falls out of my scope, so this is something of a shot in the dark for me. She does appear to sing a fast anthem, from what I have been able to find footage of, but 1:27? We haven't had one go that fast in the 21st century; a 1:30 Billy Joel anthem before Super Bowl XLI is the closest we have gotten to it. A sub-90 second anthem would be absolutely stunning. Over.
Andrew: Over one minute, 27 seconds? If it was two, then sure, the under is a possibility, but one? For an anthem that singers usually milk for all it's worth, the word "free" could hang for half that time on its own. Add an extra 0:27 and I'd still be happy taking the over.
Will a Scoring Drive Take Less Time Than the National Anthem?
Bryan: Even if Guyton isn't likely to go under 90 seconds, she still will probably have a fairly brisk anthem by Super Bowl standards. The Bengals have had 19 scoring drives this year of 90 seconds or less; the Rams only 16. I have to go with Yes here. I'm thinking a Stafford interception in Bengals territory followed by a shot play to Chase to knock this one out.
Andrew: A scoring drive, not a touchdown drive? Absolutely yes. Somebody's scoring in a hurry-up situation, and that will clock under the time the anthem takes.
Which Artist Will Perform First at Halftime?
Mary J. Blige (+150)
Kendrick Lamar (+225)
Snoop Dogg (+325)
Dr. Dre (+450)
Bryan: If I were arranging this, I'd put Lamar on first or last; DAMN. is the most recent thing any of these guys have done that has been legitimately great. I think it's down to him, Snoop, or Dre; I don't see how you bring Eminem or Blige out first over that trio for a Super Bowl in Los Angeles of all places. I'll go with Snoop getting things started, Dre closing things, and everyone else intermingling in the middle.
Andrew: Mary J. Blige is the one with the voice to kick things off, before everybody else fills in around her. She's the favorite for good reason.
Which Song Will Eminem Perform First?
Lose Yourself (+250)
My Name Is (+275)
The Real Slim Shady (+300)
Without Me (+325)
Bryan: This is a hard one this year. Normally, "what song goes first?" comes down to a question of what the best opener is, but we have no idea where in the show Eminem will be performing. He might not come on 'till the end, and close the whole thing down. I'm going with Lose Yourself for that reason—I feel it's almost a lock to be performed, and with each artist getting maybe two songs, that seems like the best I can do.
Andrew: Lose Yourself is the one song that seems like a lock to be performed, and the one most suited to the halftime show. However, introducing him with "would The Real Slim Shady please stand up?" seems too obvious not to happen. Lose Yourself will be his closer, not his opener.
Will Snoop Dogg Smoke on Stage?
Bryan: It's legal in California, but not in the NFL. No.
Andrew: You're taking a national spectacle that had people freaking out about a wardrobe malfunction, and asking me to believe somebody will light up a doobie? Noooo.
How Many Songs Will Be Performed?
Over 9½ songs (+110)
Under 9½ songs (-150)
Bryan: Since snippets count, I'm going to go over, and give each artist two songs—one full one, and one bit of an intro overlapping into one another. Have I mentioned that five people are way too many for one halftime show?
Andrew: Yeah, snippets counting seems to make the over a lock. There will be verses here and there from a variety of songs, a couple of mashups, it'll be chaos.
Will a Brand New Song Be Featured?
Bryan: Too crowded; not nearly enough time for anyone to stand out. I doubt they'll pull something out that all five of them would be credited on as a new single or something, so they'll stick to the hits. If it will be someone, I think it'll be Lamar, but I'm going with no.
Andrew: No, this really isn't an ideal format for that.
Will The Five Artists Collaborate For a Song Together?
Bryan: I'm sure there's a sing-along chorus that could get them all together—Real Slim Shady, maybe? If you're going to have them all in the same place, you might as well get them to do something together, or it feels like a waste. Yes.
Andrew: Of course they will, otherwise what's the point in having five of them? Yes.
Will Any "Bored Ape Yacht Club" Character Make an Appearance during the Halftime Show Broadcast?
Bryan: I hate that I understand that sentence.
Snoop Dogg is a massive NFT collector; Eminem reportedly spent half a million on one of those accursed apes last month. Still … no, right? No. It's not going to happen. For the sake of my sanity, no.
Andrew: I'm glad that I don't, so I'll simply minimize my risk. Yes.
What Color Will The First Liquid Be Poured on the Game Winning Coach?
Bryan: This is tough this year, because we have very little to go on—neither of these teams exactly have long Super Bowl-winning histories for us to analyze, liquid-wise. If it was an ex-Belichick disciple here, I'd go with blue, as that's what the Patriots have been drinking in their last few appearances, and Brady apparently brought it with him to Tampa for last year. Instead, I'll go with Orange, just in case the Bengals win. Gotta color-coordinate your celebration, right?
Andrew: In the absence of precedent, I'm going with clear.
Who Will the Super Bowl MVP Mention First in His Speech?
None of the Above (+1600)
Bryan: I like City a lot here. The Bengals gave out game balls to the city after their wild-card win, and a shout out to them seems like a near-given if Joe Burrow and company lift the trophy. And the game's being held in Los Angeles, which probably raises the odds that the Rams shout out their city, poor local turnout or no poor local turnout. Give me some civic pride!
Andrew: The fact that the game is in Los Angeles and I fancy the Rams to win makes City the clear choice, even though I hate agreeing with you on a multiple-option prop.