by Vince Verhei and Ben Riley
Depending on who you ask, betting on pro football is either a black mark on the reputation of the NFL, or the reason the league is so powerful in the first place. For the latter, what better way to celebrate the Super Bowl than by making a friendly wager or two? And since this is the biggest game of the year, it seems silly to bet just on the winner, or even the total number of points scored. No, we -- that is, those of us who live in places where gambling is legal -- want to bet on everything. Who scores first. Who scores last. Who scores in a given timeframe. The pregame show. The commercials. Halftime. If it's going to be on TV, we want to bet on how it will turn out.
With that, we turn to Bodog.com's Super Bowl prop bet page. Those friendly chaps have listed bets on 25 different possibilities directly and tangentially related to Super Bowl XLIII. Betting on most of these is closed at Bodog.com, but gambling numbers are listed for entertainment purposes only, anyway.
What will be the result of the Super Bowl XLIII Coin Toss?
Vince: How is it that Football Outsiders has never studied this? What if the NFL has been rigging games with specially-weighted coins for years? Tails.
Ben: The coin will be called heads on the field, but reversed after replay review. Tails.
Which Super Bowl commercial will have a higher rating on USA Today's annual Ad Meter?
Go Daddy.com: 8/1
Vince: Can't go wrong with Budweiser. Clydesdales. Frogs. "But I wanted a Bud Light." Bud Bowl. This is the real Super Bowl dynasty.
Ben: Hey, why aren't there any car manufacturers on this list? Is there something going on I should know about? I'll vote for the clueless advertising executives at Go Daddy, who put the T&A in "domain names."
What Song will Bruce Springsteen sing to begin his Halftime Show at the Super Bowl?
Born in the USA: 2/1
Glory Days: 2/1
The Rising: 4/1
Born to Run: 5/1
The Wrestler: 5/1
Radio Nowhere: 8/1
I'm on Fire: 12/1
Vince: If Bruce comes out before thousands of screaming fans wanting fervently to be rocked, and then sits down with only his acoustic guitar and a piano accompaniment and begins to sing about one-trick ponies and one-legged dogs, it will be my favorite halftime show of all time. Glory Days.
Ben: Is now a good time to revisit your anti-Bruce Audible broadside, Vince? No? I have no idea why "I'm on Fire" is paying on 12 to 1 -- that line should be 100-to-1. It's also unclear to me if that song is about pedophilia: "Hey little girl is your daddy home/did he go and leave you all alone/mmm hmmm/I gotta bad desire..." Kevin Bacon? The Woodsman? Born To Run.
What Super Bowl will average more viewers?
Super Bowl XL: +110
Super Bowl XLIII: -150
Vince: Two similar matchups: The Steelers vs. NFC first-timer Super-Bowlers. I'm assuming that the Seahawks have a more fervent fan base in Seattle than the Cardinals do in Arizona, where the Suns are kings. (Isn't it ironic that in Los Angeles, it is the Lakers, not the Kings, who are kings?). Super Bowl XL.
Ben: The Cardinals fans are much maligned, but they've helped carry their team through these playoffs. Super Bowl XLIII. Speaking of fervent fan bases in basketball, how about them Oklahoma City Whatever-the-Hell-They-Call-The-Team-They Stole? Schadenfreude never felt so good.
Which state will have the largest market share in TV Ratings?
Vince: As noted, I have Super Bowl experience with Steelers fans. They are as devoted and passionate a fanbase as any team could hope to have, but what makes them unique is their unfailing optimism and complete lack of cynicism. Unlike fans of other high-profile sports teams -- the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Celtics, etc. -- Steelers fans are always HAPPY to be Steelers fans. God, it's annoying. Pennsylvania.
Ben: Yeah, there's some irony in asking two die-hard Seahawks fans to write a column about the Pittsburgh Steelers, a franchise that I used to respect and admire, and would still today, if they hadn't blatantly stolen a title that belonged to us. Not that I'm still bitter (or writing letters to Dan Rooney). Pennsylvania.
Will Matt Millen pick the correct team to win the Super Bowl on the NBC Pregame?
Vince: Yes is the favorite? Yes is the favorite. Are we talking about the same Matt Millen? No.
Ben: The weird thing about watching Matt Millen is that it's becoming clear to me how he hypnotized the Ford family. You listen to the guy, and he seems knowledgeable and his arguments are coherent and pretty soon you're thinking, "You know, maybe the Lions should take Michael Crabtree and...WAIT A SECOND." Just say No to Matt Millen, America.
Who will the MVP of the Game thank first?
Doesn't thank anyone: 3/1
Vince: I would love, love, love to see someone win the MVP award and thank themselves and themselves 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.
Ben: Question: if the player thanks "Jesus Christ," does that count as "God" per Bodog policy? And if not, does that raise an interesting theological question? I say President Obama gets the nod.
Who will be tackled by his hair first in the game?
Troy Polamalu: +450
Larry Fitzgerald: -650
Vince: I think the odds for either of these happening is slim, but if it's going to be somebody, it's going to be Fitzgerald.
Ben: I say their hair gets tangled up and they tackle each other. Push/no bet.
What will happen with the Stock Market the day after Super Bowl XLIV?
Simply predict whether the New York Stock Exchange Index will be up or down at the end of trading Monday February 2.
Pittsburgh Wins, Market Up: 7/5
Pittsburgh Wins, Market Down: 7/5
Arizona Wins, Market Up: 3/1
Arizona Wins, Market Down: 3/1
Vince: The Cardinals winning the Super Bowl would be a sign of a coming apocalypse, like rivers turning to blood or frogs falling from the sky. How could the market possibly go up in those conditions? There is only one way to bet on an Arizona win, but still two ways to bet on a Pittsburgh win, so the one Arizona bet seems safer. Right? Arizona wins, market down.
Ben: With logic like that Vince, you should be put in charge of the Treasury! The market is going down, down, down as the flames of the American economy go higher, so I'll go with your pick too. Arizona wins, market down.
Will there be a score in the last 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the game?
Vince: I can see the Steelers getting a late lead and killing the clock, but there are always seem to be wacky plays late in Super Bowls -- turnovers, meaningless kickoff returns -- that put points on the board. Yes.
Ben: Does Leinart hitting on someone in the front row count as a "score"? Then I say Yes.
Margin of Victory
Game must go 55 minutes for action. Overtime counts towards wager.
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 1-6 points: 3/1
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 7-12 points: 7/2
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 13-18 points: 11/2
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 19-24 points: 19/2
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 25-30 points: 27/2
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 31-36 points: 19/1
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 37-42 points: 40/1
Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 43+ points: 30/1
Arizona Cardinals to win by 1-6 points: 7/2
Arizona Cardinals to win by 7-12 points: 13/2
Arizona Cardinals to win by 13-18 points: 27/2
Arizona Cardinals to win by 19-24 points: 25/1
Arizona Cardinals to win by 25-30 points: 50/1
Arizona Cardinals to win by 31-36 points: 90/1
Arizona Cardinals to win by 37-42 points: 150/1
Arizona Cardinals to win by 43+ points: 100/1
Vince: If you place a bet in this category, you're officially addicted. I do think it's interesting that the Cardinals have better odds of winning by 43 points or more than they do of winning by 37 to 42 points. Apparently, once that 43-point margin is hit, there will be no stopping the Cards. Also, "Game must go 55 minutes for action?" Are they worried about a rainout? I'm very undecided about who I think is going to win this game, but I kind of like the 7/2 odds on Pittsburgh Steelers to win by 7 to 12 points.
Ben: Yeah, that 55 minutes thing makes no sense to me either -- is there a typhoon headed to Tampa? I'll take the Arizona Cardinals to win by 43-plus points. Ten dollars wins you a thousand! That's a great bet, right? (Cue chirping crickets.)
How many more of these are there?
Ben: Good lord.
Who will throw the first touchdown pass in the game?
Ben Roethlisberger: -120
Kurt Warner: -110
Vince: Pittsburgh can score via ground or air. Not Arizona. Warner.
Ben: Anquan Boldin will throw the first touchdown pass on a fake reverse! Boldin.
Who will throw more interceptions in the game?
Kurt Warner: -150
Vince: Roethlisberger threw one more pick during the regular season, but the Steelers defense topped the Cardinals', 20-13. Warner.
Ben: Must. Supress. Anti. Roethlisberger. Bias. Can't. Do. It. Still. Bitter. Roethlisberger.
Who will have more receptions in the game?
Larry Fitzgerald: -1/2 (-145)
Anquan Boldin: +1/2 (+115)
Vince: I can see Boldin playing the Wes Welker to Fitzgerald's Randy Moss and picking up a dozen somewhat meaningless grabs.
Ben: How can you have 12 meaningless grabs? Is that a new stat we're tracking? I swear, I'm the last to hear about these things. Boldin again!
Player to score the first touchdown for Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger: 9/1
Hines Ward: 3/1
Santonio Holmes: 15/4
Nate Washington: 6/1
Heath Miller: 9/2
Limas Sweed: 15/2
Willie Parker: 5/2
Mewelde Moore: 6/1
Gary Russell: 6/1
Troy Polamalu: 10/1
Field (Any Other Player): 5/2
Team does not score a touchdown in the game: 20/1
Vince: Ridiculously high odds on Polamalu. Can I just bet against him? I'll go with Mewelde Moore.
Ben: I like playing the field -- cue my wink-wink joke -- but I love me some mini-Pocket Hercules too. Moore.
Player to score the first touchdown for Arizona
Kurt Warner: 25/2
Larry Fitzgerald: 5/2
Anquan Boldin: 7/2
Steve Breaston: 5/1
Jerheme Urban: 15/2
J.J. Arrington: 15/2
Tim Hightower: 15/4
Edgerrin James: 15/4
Field (Any Other Player): 5/2
Team does not score a touchdown in the game: 12/1
Vince: Larry Fitzgerald is a pretty good football player.
Ben: So is Anquan Boldin, I tell you.
Total Passing Yards Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl XL vs. Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl XLIII
Ben Roethlisberger had 123 Passing Yards in Super Bowl XL.
Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl XL: +96½ (+140)
Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl XLIII: -96½ (-170)
Vince: I think we can all agree that Roethlisberger was really, really stinky in Super Bowl XL, when his only meaningful completion came on a jump ball in traffic and it was Antwaan Randle El who threw the clinching touchdown pass. He can't possibly play worse than that, can he? Super Bowl XLIII.
Ben: Agree? Agree? I can't even handle this question. Seriously, I'm moving on. No bet.
Total Passing Yards Kurt Warner Super Bowl XXXVI vs Kurt Warner Super Bowl XLIII
Kurt Warner had 365 Passing Yards in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Kurt Warner Super Bowl XXXVI: -99.5 Yards (-115)
Kurt Warner Super Bowl XLIII: +99.5 Yards (-115)
Vince: Conversely, it will be damned near impossible for Warner to top his prior performance. That's where the 99.5-yard difference comes in. Can Warner hit 266 against the Steelers? Of course, he can, but nobody did it during the regular season. Super Bowl XXXVI.
Ben: I say Warner goes nuts, so make mine that other roman-numeral thingy I'm too lazy to figure out.
Total Passing Yards Kurt Warner, Over/Under 265 1/2
Vince: Didn't we just bet on this exact same issue? Under.
Ben: Yeah, why is this even on here? Over. (Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.)
Player to record the most receiving yards in the game?
Larry Fitzgerald: 1/1
Anquan Boldin: 2/1
Steve Breaston: 11/2
Jerheme Urban: 15/1
Hines Ward: 2/1
Santonio Holmes: 3/1
Heath Miller: 6/1
Nate Washington: 7/1
Limas Sweed: 15/1
Vince: Larry Fitzgerald has not gotten any worse since the last time I wrote that he was a pretty good football player.
Ben: Ditto Boldin.
Total Receptions Larry Fitzgerald, Over/Under 6 1/2
Vince: Have you noticed that I am a Larry Fitzgerald fan?
Ben: Whereas apparently I am on the downlow with Boldin?
Total Receptions Anquan Boldin, Over/Under 5 1/2
Vince: OK, this is automatic. Boldin could have a half-dozen catches by halftime. Over.
Ben: This is autotext at this point.
Total Rushing Yards Edgerrin James, Over/Under 49 1/2
Vince: Can we talk about Larry Fitzgerald some more? Under.
Ben: It's weird for me that I've played fantasy football for so long, I can remember when guys like Edge James were complete studs. Now, he's but a punchline in an overly long Scramble column. (When are these going to end?)
Will Willie Parker score a touchdown?
Vince: I'd say it's a 50-50 shot, but the odds are (very) slightly better for the yes bet.
Ben: As a FO staffer, I feel contractually obligated to rip on Parker for no apparent reason. So: No.
Will Troy Polamalu get an interception in the game?
Vince: In 2009, I could never bet on any individual player pulling in a pick in any given game. No.
Ben: Why does "pulling a pick" sound weird to me? I say yes, for no apparent reason.
Have you placed all your bets? Money still burning in your pocket? Then head over to Bodog's Super Bowl player prop bet page, where you can find 103 more wagers, including such crucial questions as whether Willie Parker's rushing total will be odd or even.