by Bryan Knowles and Andrew Potter
Andrew: Here we go again. We know the rules. We know the game. Masters of the scene. We've done it all before and now we're back to get some more. You know what I mean.
Voulez-vous (faire un pari)? Uh-huh!
We're proud to bring you, for the 15th year in a row, one of the original Football Outsiders features -- the Prop Bet Extravaganza! And, for the seventh time in these 15 years, it yet again features the New England Patriots. Sometimes, Football Outsiders is accused of having a Patriots bias, but I'm pretty sure reality has a Patriots bias at the moment. Well, this too shall pass, one day.
Andrew: Alas, today is not that day. The Patriots will wear their white jerseys for the big game, and we all know what that means. Fortunately, we are here to help distract you from the inevitability of the Patriots winning again, with fun things to keep an eye on while you try to ignore the scoreboard!
Bryan: Now, hang on there just a minute, sport. You seem to be right in line with what Vegas thinks -- or what Vegas thinks bettors think -- in predicting a fairly sure New England victory. Almost every line is more Patriots-heavy than it was at this point last year, as everyone and their brother rushes to get money in on Tom Brady over Nick Foles. The Nick Foles that just helped shred the Vikings to the tune of 38-7. I think this will be a more competitive game than most people think! And I suppose you'll see that in the prop bets to come.
There's also one very, very important thing still at stake. Forget the Lombardi Trophy; you and I are tied in Lock of the Week. It all comes down to Super Bowl Sunday!
Andrew: To the death then! He who bets not with me, bets against me!
Bryan: In addition, I've got to get mine back for last year, when Tom Brady's record-setting day vaulted you past me, dang nab it.
Andrew: Last year, we posted the fourth-biggest loss in Scramble prop bets history. Our editors would thank you for not drawing too much attention to last year.
Bryan: At least in defeat, I did better than many of our past Scramblers, but yeah. Definitely need a better performance here, in our 15th annual edition.
|Scramble's Prop Bet Extravaganza Champions|
|Super Bowl||Winner||Loser||Scramble Champ||Total||Scramble Chump||Total|
|XXXVIII||NE||CAR||Al Bogdan||435||Ian Dembsky||-780|
|XXXIX||NE||PHI||Al Bogdan||1390||Ian Dembsky||-1670|
|XL||PIT||SEA||Al Bogdan||1765||Vivek Ramgopal||-1205|
|XLI||IND||CHI||Bill Barnwell||-2050||Ian Dembsky||-2255|
|XLII||NYG||NE||Bill Barnwell||-415||David Lewin||-1565|
|XLIII||PIT||ARI||Vince Verhei||5||Ben Riley||-595|
|XLIV||NO||IND||Mike Kurtz||1445||Tom Gower||255|
|XLV||GB||PIT||Tom Gower||622||Mike Kurtz||-23|
|XLVI||NYG||NE||Mike Kurtz||2443||Tom Gower||1058|
|XLVII||BAL||SF||Tom Gower||-135||Mike Kurtz||-3755|
|XLVIII||SEA||DEN||Tom Gower||-4185||Mike Kurtz||-4900|
|XLIX||NE||SEA||Mike Kurtz||1360||Tom Gower||530|
|50||DEN||CAR||Sterling Xie||545||Andrew Healy||-425|
|LI||NE||ATL||Andrew Potter||-1720||Bryan Knowles||-1755|
Andrew: What that says to me, apart from that Mike Kurtz has higher variance than any football team in history, is that I do not recommend making actual bets based on the advice in this column. Which fits nicely into our usual disclaimer: all picks are made solely for entertainment purposes, and should absolutely not be considered financial advice of any kind.
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, mostly courtesy of our friends at Bovada. We've gone off the board for a few other ones to give you the most interesting selection, but these are all real things that people are really betting money on. Crazy.
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 -130
Bryan Knowles +110
This means that if you wager $130 on Andrew, you will receive only an extra $100, because that's the price you pay for picking the guy who jumped out to an early lead in the Lock of the Week this year. If you instead believe Bryan has been saving up his correct picks for one dramatic showdown, you will receive your $100 back plus an extra $110.
For the purposes of determining a winner of this column -- and in honor of the Boston Lockdown in place regarding high-profile Patriots injury news -- we're laying down 100 Sixth-World Nuyen 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, which are as follows:
GENERAL SUPER BOWL BETS
Super Bowl LII Game Odds
New England Patriots -5 (-110)
Philadelphia Eagles +5 (-110)
Bryan: Case in point with the Patriots favoritism: we have the game odds. New England was favored by three points last year, and it's gone up to five this year. Last year's victory also broke something of a streak -- the underdogs had covered in five consecutive Super Bowls stretching back to the Giants beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. They've still managed to cover in eight of the last ten years -- the general betting public, and especially the wider Super Bowl betting public, puts too much faith in the favorites, year after year. Five points is a fairly generous offer, too, so I'm going to take the Eagles +5 and root for the 'dog yet again. Woof woof.
Andrew: It should be remembered, of course, that the only reason the Patriots covered the spread last year was their eventual overtime victory coming courtesy of a touchdown rather than a field goal, after overcoming a 25-point third-quarter deficit. Until that very last moment, the Patriots had never once been in a position to cover the spread. Vegas is good at this.
This game is a toss-up, and even an eventual Patriots victory seems more likely to be of the common three-point variety than the projected touchdown-ish margin. I think the Eagles (+5) will cover, at the absolute minimum.
Super Bowl LII Money Line
New England Patriots (-190)
Philadelphia Eagles (+165)
Bryan: A Patriots -190 line implies that they'll win 65.52 percent of the time. An Eagles +165 line implies that they'll win 37.74 percent of the time. That adds up to more than 100 percent because sportsbooks hate you and want to take your money. I do think the Patriots will win in the end, but this is a fairly substantial gap in the money line, here. If it was Patriots -130 or something, I'd be right on it, but as it stand, I think I need to go with the Eagles yet again.
Andrew: We'll get to the disagreement in a minute. Eagles here for me, too. The money line is simply too enticing. Yes, I'm the guy who picked the Falcons last year too. No, I haven't learned a thing.
Super Bowl LII Over/Under
Over 48.5 (-105)
Under 48.5 (-115)
Bryan: Since Nick Foles took over behind center, the Eagles' offense has been a little shaky; in the last two weeks of the season and the divisional playoffs, they failed to break the 20-point barrier. Obviously, they got back on their feet last week, but this isn't the same Carson Wentz-led attack that was putting up 30 points on a regular basis. Even the Patriots, with their high-powered offense and their more questionable defense, only topped a combined 48.5 points half the time this season, and that was usually against a Deshaun Watson or Drew Brees or something with a high-powered, explosive attack. I'll say the game finishes Patriots 24, Eagles 20, and go with the Under.
Andrew: If the Eagles win, it is less likely that the game was a shoot-out: they are more likely to win through defense and running than through trying to keep up in a track meet. In the modern game, however, 49 combined points is not that crazy a total: 28-21 would do it. I lean more toward a 27-24 kind of finish, which puts me quite firmly in over territory.
Super Bowl LII MVP
Tom Brady (-125)
Nick Foles (+325)
Rob Gronkowski (+850)
Dion Lewis (+1800)
Danny Amendola (+1800)
Jay Ajayi (+1800)
Zach Ertz (+1800)
Alshon Jeffery (+2000)
Brandin Cooks (+2200)
James White (+4000)
LeGarrette Blount (+4000)
Fletcher Cox (+4000)
Rex Burkhead (+5000)
Chris Hogan (+5000)
Nelson Agholor (+5000)
Jake Elliott (+5000)
Stephen Gostkowski (+5000)
Torrey Smith (+7500)
Corey Clement (+10000)
Patrick Chung (+10000)
Devin McCourty (+10000)
James Harrison (+10000)
Malcolm Butler (+10000)
Phillip Dorsett (+20000)
Malcolm Jenkins (+20000)
Nigel Bradham (+20000)
Mychal Kendricks (+20000)
Patrick Robinson (+20000)
Brandon Graham (+20000)
Jalen Mills (+20000)
Rodney McLeod (+20000)
Ronald Darby (+20000)
Corey Graham (+20000)
Kyle Van Noy (+20000)
Trey Flowers (+20000)
Lawrence Guy (+20000)
Ricky Jean Francois (+20000)
Trey Burton (+20000)
Bryan: Now we come to the point where we start to hedge our bets. Quarterbacks are generally the favorites to win these awards, and for good reason -- they've taken it home seven times in the past ten years. Here's the thing, though -- would Nick Foles get the normal quarterback bump? He's a backup and not someone people generally think of as a star, so while Brady will get the "I dunno, I guess Brady" vote, an Eagles win is much harder to predict. It could go a number of ways -- a great rushing performance by Ajayi, some great defensive work, whatever receiver Foles locks onto, etc. Conversely, if the Patriots win, it's very, very difficult to imagine Brady not picking up his fifth Super Bowl MVP. Call it boring, but I'll go with Brady.
Andrew: I hate that there are so many options named, because it really diminishes the value of the field. Do we really need 30 separate specific possibilities before we get to "anybody else?" Not that it matters too much, because Tom Brady is the favorite for good reason. He gets the vote almost any way the Patriots win -- short of two Devin McCourty pick-sixes or something -- so he gets my vote too. Tom Brady.
Bryan: The all-time score here is Tails 27, Heads 24. On a truly even coin, you'd expect 25.5-25.5, with I guess Super Bowl I ending up with the coin landing on its side, or something? Every year, the NFL produces a special, commemorative coin, and I suppose it's not out of the realm of possibility that it isn't as well balanced as you'd expect a standard coin to be. Still, I'm going to go with the gambler's fallacy here: heads is due!
Andrew: You are only saying that because you know I will disagree. Tails never fails.
Bryan: If you're so confident, why not make this our… LOCK OF THE WEEK? Winner wins the season!
Andrew: Because that's not until next week's article, silly.
Bryan: Come on, comment section, back me up! Coin flip or we riot.
Team to score first in the game
New England Patriots (-145)
Philadelphia Eagles (+115)
Bryan: Fun fact for you: since Nick Foles took over at quarterback, the Eagles have only scored first in one game: their Week 16 win over Oakland. Even last week, Minnesota marched right down the field before the Eagles Explosion occurred. Small sample size? Sure, but it's not like New England is in the habit of not scoring first; they've opened the book in 13 of their 18 games. Give me the Patriots marching to victory.
Andrew: I was impressed by New England's opening script against the Jaguars, but I think they'll find the Eagles tougher sledding. Yes, it took Philadelphia a big turnover to get going against the Vikings, but they are a physically powerful side who can impose themselves on the game from the start. The Eagles will score first, possibly after converting on a fourth down along the way, and force the Patriots to adjust.
First Scoring Play
Field Goal or Safety (+140)
Bryan: The Eagles generally do not settle for field goals. Only 19.2 percent of the Eagles drives that ended in the red zone resulted in (successful) field goals, lowest in the league. When you include misses, it goes up a little bit (they've had their fair share of kicking difficulties), but still -- if they're in scoring range, they usually end up in the end zone. The Patriots do settle for more field goals, but they also have the sixth-highest red zone touchdown percentage; they just don't turn the ball over when they have the chance to score. All things considered, I'll say someone plunges in for a touchdown.
Andrew: Both of these teams understand the value of going for it on fourth down when they get the chance, which improves the odds of a touchdown. I like the odds enough to sway me toward a field goal though. Eagles will go up by three.
Will the team that scores first win the game?
Bryan: Now. I've said the Patriots will win the game. I've said the Patriots will score first. Logically, that means I should take "yes" here, but that's a big, big money line to overcome. I'm not super-confident in any of these picks, so I'll take the money here and go No with the assumption that one of my previous picks are wrong. It's called hedging, and it keeps you from going broke, kids.
Andrew: In for a penny, in for a pound. The Eagles will score first and yes, the Eagles will win the game.
Team to score last in the game
New England Patriots (-140)
Philadelphia Eagles (+110)
Bryan: I think I'd take the Eagles here even without the better odds. Last-second field goals against a soft prevent Patriots defense; a desperation pick-six against a Patriots team trying to come back; a stifling defensive performance -- there are plenty of ways that this could happen, especially in a Super Bowl setting.
Andrew: The Patriots will tie the game near the end, but allow just enough time for the Eagles to drive for a game-winning field goal. 27-24. Eagles score last.
Will either team score 3 unanswered times in the game?
Andrew: Now, the critical question, does this actually mean unanswered, or merely consecutive? That's an important distinction! If the three scores are genuinely unanswered, that means we are betting on one team to get the last three scores of the game. That is so nigh-unprecedented that it has only happened once in any Super Bowl since the last time we wrote a prop bets column!
Bryan: That's a very good point. Checking the fine print, it does look like they mean "consecutive," so that's what we'll go with for our purposes.
Commentators sure make a lot out of the Patriots loving to get a double score, scoring at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second after deferring the opening kickoff. Thing is, every team would love to do that; it's not just a Patriots thing, and they haven't actually done it all that often this year. And even when they do do it, that's still only two scores! That being said, I actually went back and checked, because of course I did. One team or the other has scored three times in a row in 12 of New England's 18 games, and three of the five Foles games. That's enough for me to go with yes.
Andrew: I've been writing for this site, between my previous intern segments and Scramble, for four years now. I still do not understand how American sportsbook odds work on bets like this. Yes is ... 9-5 on, and no is 3-2 against?
Bryan: Your lack of knowledge on American betting makes my loss last year look even worse.
Andrew: You will probably look considerably better in relative terms this year. Anyway, the fact that the odds are 3-2 against, giving me a better return, and that I expect this will be tight, closely contested, and quite back-and-forth game, all points me in the same direction: no, no team will score three times without allowing the other team a point.
Margin of Victory
Patriots by 1-6 points (+300)
Patriots by 7-12 points (+750)
Patriots by 13-18 points (+600)
Patriots by 19-24 points (+900)
Patriots by 25-30 points (+1600)
Patriots by 31-36 points (+2500)
Patriots by 37-42 points (+4000)
Patriots by 43+ points (+5000)
Eagles by 1-6 points (+400)
Eagles by 7-12 points (+750)
Eagles by 13-18 points (+1400)
Eagles by 19-24 points (+2500)
Eagles by 25-30 points (+4000)
Eagles by 31-36 points (+6600)
Eagles by 37-42 points (+10000)
Eagles by 43+ points (+10000)
Bryan: I'm going to be boring here, and go with Patriots by 1-6 points. That always seems to be how these things go, doesn't it? Every single Patriots Super Bowl win has come in that margin -- and both of their most recent losses, to boot. Why go against history?
Andrew: Exactly right. Only this time, the tight game will go the other way. Eagles by 1-6 points.
Which Will be the Highest Scoring Quarter?
1st Quarter (+450)
2nd Quarter (+160)
3rd Quarter (+450)
4th Quarter (+175)
Bryan: Aha, these odds are missing the very real possibility of a scoreless game, followed by a team winning in overtime. Not so smart now, betting experts!
Andrew: You wish.
(No really, he does. This would be a dream come true for him.)
Bryan: Yeah, because if there's one thing I like, it's people not scoring points. That sure is what I watch football for.
The second-quarter odds are shortest, because the second quarter is nearly always the highest scoring -- neither team is out of contention, typically, so they're trying to score before the half; they have the two-minute warning to play with; et cetera, et cetera. That being said, both of these teams have impressed me with their opening scripts in the playoffs, and I think this game is going to start with a bang. Give me First Quarter; the odds are long enough that it's worth taking the gamble.
Andrew: The Eagles will start out trying to control the pace of the game. Things will not really get going until the halftime adjustments come into play. I like the long odds theory, but for the third quarter rather than the first.
TOUCHDOWNS AND FIELD GOALS
First Touchdown Scorer
Rob Gronkowski (+750)
Brandin Cooks (+900)
Danny Amendola (+1000)
Dion Lewis (+1000)
Zach Ertz (+1000)
Alshon Jeffery (+1200)
Jay Ajayi (+1200)
Chris Hogan (+1400)
James White (+1400)
Rex Burkhead (+1400)
LeGarrette Blount (+1400)
Nelson Agholor (+1600)
Corey Clement (+1800)
Torrey Smith (+1800)
Tom Brady (+2500)
Nick Foles (+3300)
No Touchdown Scorer (+7500)
Any Other Touchdown Scorer (+400)
Bryan: The only Eagle I'd touch here is LeGarrette Blount; he only had three touchdowns during the regular season, but he has scored in each of Philadelphia's last two games -- and has been the first offensive score in each of those contests. Still, no, I think I'm sticking with New England here. I'm avoiding wide receivers -- really, Brandin Cooks has the second-shortest odds? You're kidding me -- but that means I'm either taking Gronk or having to play Running Back Roulette. Early in the season, the answer was clear -- Rex Burkhead was the touchdown guy; he opened up the scoring in six of New England's 18 games this season. He has been nursing a sore knee throughout the playoffs, however, and had just three snaps against Jacksonville, making him very, very difficult to trust going forward -- too bad for my Staff Playoff Team. So, instead, I'll take the guy who has taken most of the carries this postseason and go with Dion Lewis. And then I'll get frustrated when James White scores instead.
Andrew: I actually think the Patriots will score the first touchdown of the game, just not the first points. It's impossible to project who that player might be, though. Three backs, a certain tight end, and two receivers are all between five and nine total touchdowns scored, as Bill Belichick chops and changes personnel from matchup to matchup and one game situation to another. Dion Lewis leads that group with six on the ground and three through the air, barely edging ahead of Gronk and Rex Burkhead (eight) then Brandin Cooks (seven). How the Patriots offense will look against the Eagles defense is anybody's guess.
For the Eagles, that picture is clearer: their season leader in rushing touchdowns is Corey Clement with a paltry total of four, whereas three receivers are basically tied with eight or nine: Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Nelson Agholor. Jeffery will probably draw Stephon Gilmore. Ertz will be the focus of the rest of the pass defense game plan. Meanwhile, Agholor should get opportunities from the slot against Eric Rowe. In the latest instalment of "sentences I did not expect to write before the season," I therefore like Nelson Agholor to score the first touchdown of the Super Bowl.
Longest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 44.5 (-110)
Under 44.5 (-110)
Bryan: The Eagles have seen just one touchdown of 45 yards or longer since Nick Foles came into play -- an Alshon Jeffery bomb against the Vikings last week, on a third-and-10 play in no-man's land. It's just not something their offense does. Their defense is just about as stingy, with long scores happening in only five of their 18 games, and usually as a result of a short play finding paydirt rather than a long bomb challenging their secondary. New England also does not give up long touchdown plays; they allowed two 70-plus-yard touchdowns in Week 1 against the Chiefs, an 87-yard rush to Melvin Gordon in October, and then bupkis. Nor does New England often score from far out; they have only three touchdowns of 45 yards or more this season, two of those coming in September. These are offenses that put together efficient drives, with short plays adding up to big results, rather than trying to eat everything up in one gulp. So basically, this question is "will there by a special teams touchdown." And no. No there will not. Under.
Andrew: Do 80-yard pick-sixes count? Because there won't be another one of those, either. I could envisage a big play by Brandin Cooks or Torrey Smith, but a play that big would certainly be exceptional. I'll join you with a wary under.
Shortest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 1.5 (+120)
Under 1.5 (-140)
Andrew: The reverse question: will Tom Brady score a quarterback sneak, or will the Eagles take the plunge on fourth-and-goal from the 1? If either of these teams gets to that situation, they're going for it unless there is very good reason not to. The question, therefore, is "will they?" The 1-yard line is a very specific patch of real estate, and the favorable odds for the over push me in that direction. I will not resist. Over.
Bryan: The one situation where I could see it happening is if there's pass interference in the end zone; that's the easiest and most consistent way to get the ball to exactly the 1-yard line. Philadelphia was flagged seven times for pass interference this season, New England six, and of course, not all of those were in the end zone. I'll go Over as well.
Longest Successful Field Goal in the Game
Over 45.5 yards (-120)
Under 45.5 yards (+100)
Bryan: Jake Elliott is 9-for-10 on 46-plus-yard field goals this season, so his accuracy isn't in question from this distance. He's even nailed a 61-yarder, so if the opportunity arises, he's got a great shot in a dome to do this. Stephen Gostkowski is 7-for-8 and has hit a 56-yarder. It's not a question of can these kickers make these kicks.
Andrew: That is only 10 opportunities though; eight kickers attempted more field goals from that distance or longer, including seven of the 12 playoff kickers. Forty-six yards is right on the near edge of the zone in which the Eagles are most likely to go for it on fourth down, and the Eagles attempted more fourth-down conversions from that sort of field goal range (12 fourth-down conversion attempts between the opposing 28- and 43-yard lines, range for a 46-yard to 61-yard field goal) than they attempted field goals (10).
Bryan: Whether or not they go for it on fourth down, though, depends on a lot of factors. Fourth-and-1 is a lot more tempting than fourth-and-5. It could be the end of the half. It could be the end of the game, needing a field goal to win. There's a lot of reasons to settle for a 50-yard attempt, and while these teams are more aggressive than most, I'll still take the over.
Andrew: There is a fairly specific range at play here, but yes, the over is the more tempting pick. These kickers attempted an average of roughly one field goal per game from 46 yards or longer. Their coaches will be comfortable with long kicks, because these kickers have proven able to make them. Over.
Shortest Successful Field Goal in the Game
Over 27.5 yards (-105)
Under 27.5 yards (-115)
Bryan: The Eagles have attempted three of these short-range gimme attempts, all on the road in December. The Patriots, on the other hand? Eleven attempts in eight separate games. I guess the theory, there, is that when you get down into the red zone so frequently, you don't necessarily need to maximize your scoring chances in each opportunity. So while I think the Eagles will correctly go for David strategies and gamble around the goal line -- it's the Super Bowl against the Patriots! -- I could easily see the Pats kicking a short field goal, just pushing that line forwards and trusting their offense to get back into scoring range soon enough. Under.
Andrew: Again, these are forward-thinking coaches who are not afraid to trade a field goal for a chance at a touchdown and the consolation prize of pinning the opponent deep. A field goal in this range likely means quite a long fourth down, and a long fourth down increases the odds that the field goal will be over the 28-yard threshold. I'll take the over on this one, too.
OTHER GAME EVENTS
The Player to Rush for the Most Yards will be…
Bryan: I really don't like the odds on Ajayi here; that's way too low in a backfield that has three running backs who could conceivably have big days. Yes, Ajayi's the most likely to lead Philadelphia in rushing yards, but to also beat Lewis? I'm not so sure about that. Blount's odds are low enough that it's worth considering, but I'll take Lewis.
Andrew: I took Dion Lewis to go over his 55.5-yard money line, and Jay Ajayi to fall under his 62.5-yard line. That's a pretty tight margin unless I think Lewis will also lead the game in rushing. As it happens, barring injury, that is exactly what I think will happen. Dion Lewis will lead the game in rushing.
The Player with the Most Receiving Yards will be…
Brandin Cooks (+400)
Rob Gronkowski (+500)
Zach Ertz (+700)
Danny Amendola (+900)
Nelson Agholor (+900)
Alshon Jeffery (+1200)
James White (+1400)
Chris Hogan (+1900)
Torrey Smith (+1900)
Dion Lewis (+3300)
Bryan: Forget about all the Patriots with quadruple digits. If anyone on New England leads this category, it's going to be Cooks, Gronkowski; or Amendola; no need worrying about running backs and third receivers and the like. The one long shot that's worth scratching your chin over is Torrey Smith; he's capable of having a 100-yard day, as he did the one time this season he received double-digit targets. That was the shootout against the Rams with Carson Wentz at quarterback, two things unlikely to happen in the Super Bowl, but if you're looking for a long shot with a chance to come in, there's your man.
The Amendola/Jeffery bets seem fair enough, and Brandin Cooks is a decent price, even as a favorite, but I'm going to have a bit of a flyer on Zach Ertz. Imagine he has a day like eight catches and 85 yards -- nothing groundbreaking, but a very solid day for a tight end. He's gone over 80 yards in seven of his 16 games this season, so that's fairly easy to imagine. There's a good chance that might actually hold up as your leader! The Patriots had 11 games topping that (five from Cooks, four from Gronk and two from Amendola), while the non-Ertz Eagles had just five (three from Agholor and one each from Smith and Jeffery). At +700, that's a small enough group that I'll take the odds.
Andrew: Favorites are usually favorites for good reason. As long as he plays, Rob Gronkowski is so much of a mismatch that it is difficult to see how the Eagles deal with him. Really, how any team deals with him. I do like Nelson Agholor's chances, as I've mentioned before, while I think Jeffery and Ertz will be the focus (focii?) of the Patriots pass defense. Still, short of a huge game out of the backfield for one of the backs against these linebackers, Gronkowski is the closest thing to uncoverable of any player in this game.
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The First Turnover of the Game will be?
No Turnover in Game (+650)
Bryan: The Patriots have played in four games this season with no turnovers whatsoever, which feels really high to me. Brady and the offense is very efficient, and the defense has not been stellar, and that leads to some games (like the Titans game from the divisional round) where no one puts the ball on the ground. If you gave me +800 odds or something, I might just be tempted ... but no. No no no. Interception it is.
Andrew: The problem with picking fumbles for this category is that there is no guarantee that a fumble will result in a turnover. I still like the chance of a fumble more than an interception, though. The Eagles have either fumbled or forced a fumble in each of their playoff games, and put the ball on the ground 19 times during the regular season (14 by their quarterbacks, three by running backs, and two on receptions) while forcing 16 by their opponents. Given that fumbles have the bigger payout, I'll take fumble for 125 Nuyen.
Will the game go to Overtime?
Bryan: No. No no no no. No. Not again.
Andrew: There is not a potential payout high enough for me to even consider the prospect of consecutive Super Bowl overtimes. No, it will not.
Will there be a Successful 2-Point Conversion Attempt in the Game?
Bryan: New England has gone for and made a two-point conversion twice this year, both times to turn one-point leads into three-point leads with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter. It's really not their thing. The Eagles have technically attempted five, but the final one was a kneeldown as time expired, and all four "real" attempts came with Carson Wentz at quarterback. That being said, I'd argue the reason Foles hasn't attempted one is a lack of opportunities, rather than a fear of his two-point ability or something. Doug Pederson has shown a willingness to go for two even in the third quarter, including in such non-obvious situations like turning a four-point lead into a six-point lead. If this was "will there be a two-point attempt," then I think I'd say yes -- but that "successful" qualifier really, really hurts.
... Ah, heck with it. Yes.
Andrew: I do not like the potential loss if I am wrong, and I feel like the chances are higher in this game than they usually would be. Even though I do not think there will be, I hate the odds enough that I'm taking yes. I justified it last year with the idea that somebody would miss an extra point and need to make up for it, and I am content to use the same reasoning here.
Will there be a missed point after touchdown?
Andrew: ... which means I should really take "yes" on this prop, too. The odds, if I read them correctly, suggest very roughly that a better than 1-in-5 chance of a miss means I should take yes, and that is good enough for me. Yes, somebody will miss an extra point.
Bryan: Jake Elliot has actually missed four extra points this season, which is surprising for someone who has generally been solid at field goals this year. Two of them were against the 49ers, so maybe he just had a weird case of the yips one day. Stephen Gostkowski has missed two of his own. This game being indoors does reduce the chance of a miss, however, so I'm going to be boring and say no.
Will there be an onside kick attempt in the game?
Bryan: It's not something either team has done much this year, but then, they've both won a lot so they haven't been in desperation territory at the end of games. I think we can pretty much rule out a surprise onside kick, Sean Payton style, but I could see the Eagles scoring late to make it a one-score game and needing an onside kick to win. But I could also see that not happening, and the odds are better for no.
Andrew: I don't see either team falling behind far enough to need a play that is usually reserved almost exclusively for dire circumstances. A seven-point game in the fourth quarter is not dire circumstances, and that is about as wide as I expect this game to get. No.
Will a Special Teams or Defensive TD be scored?
Bryan: The Eagles have six defensive scores this season, most recently Patrick Robinson's interception return against the Vikings. The Patriots have none, though Dion Lewis did return a kickoff for a touchdown against Denver. It's rare enough that I'll go with no.
Andrew: Both of these teams are disciplined enough on both offense and special teams to minimize the chance of this happening. A Robert Alford-level shock, of course, could occur, but I do not see it unless one team is down bigger than I expect and pressing on offense as a result. There will be at least one turnover, but it will not go back for a touchdown. No.
Will either team convert a fourth down?
Andrew: This is the Doug Pederson Eagles. Of course they will! Leading or trailing, it doesn't matter. The only question is "how many?" Yes, the Eagles will convert at least one fourth down.
Bryan: Normally I'd agree with you -- and, in fact, I do -- but Vegas is wise to both Pederson and Belichick being willing and able to go for it on fourth. I'll take the money line and go no.
PATRIOTS PLAYER PROP STATS
Total Passing Yards -- Tom Brady
Over 285.5 (-125)
Under 285.5 (-105)
Andrew: Outside the AFC East, Tom Brady has eclipsed this total in nine of his 12 games this year, including the playoffs. The only times he did not were opening night against Kansas City, and in blowout wins over Atlanta and Denver. Tom Brady's arm might be about to fall off, but this is the last game of the year; they are not likely to feel the urge to save anything for the offseason. After 290 yards last week against Jacksonville's outstanding pass defense, I feel reasonably comfortable taking the over for the season finale.
Bryan: On the other hand, Philadelphia has been fairly stingy about allowing opposing passers to put up big yardage totals. Outside of the NFC East, they have only let Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer top 285, bottling up Case Keenum and Matt Ryan in the playoffs. Brady is better than either, but I'm going to go ahead and take the under here.
Total Rushing Yards -- Dion Lewis
Over 55.5 (-125)
Under 55.5 (-105)
Bryan: To me, this prop is less about Lewis and more about "what is New England going to do with their eight million running backs?" If Rex Burkhead comes back and gets any significant action at all, that's going to eat into Lewis' totals. Philly also had the third-best run defense DVOA; they're just not that easy to run against. Give me the under again.
Andrew: Burkhead is, however, a big "if." Lewis has been the lead back on the Patriots since the end of October, and has failed to reach 55 yards exactly twice: last weekend against the Jaguars, and the weird Week 13 game in Miami. This is not last year's situation, in which LeGarrette Blount was the heavy lifter and Lewis was the change of pace. Lewis is the clear lead back on a team that does not usually have a clear lead back, and 55 yards is not a particularly tight money line. I quite like the over on this one.
Total Receiving Yards -- Rob Gronkowski
Over 75.5 (-115)
Under 75.5 (-115)
Bryan: It needs to be noted that this bet will not count if Gronkoswki does not play due to his concussion; this isn't a "gamble on whether or not Gronk will be healthy" prop, which would be in very poor taste. If Gronk does play, he is going to get his; you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him. Over.
Andrew: Dannell Ellerbe gets regular playing time in the Eagles' injury-hit linebacker corps. I love Malcolm Jenkins, but Gronkowski is both New England's No. 1 receiver and a mismatch in every possible way. Over.
Total QB Sacks by the New England Patriots
Over 2.5 (+105)
Under 2.5 (-135)
Bryan: Nick Foles doesn't really take a lot of sacks! He was sacked three times against Dallas in the New Year's Eve Snoozefest, but other than that, it has been one or two sacks each and every week. Carson Wentz took many more sacks, with six games of three or more. Do we have a quarterback controversy brewing for 2018? (No.) Under.
Andrew: We covered some of this last year, because the Patriots are still the Patriots and there are only so many possible propositions. The Eagles have a great line. The Patriots do not have a great pass rush. Even the pass rush they do have will focus heavily on assignments and gap responsibility rather than pinning their ears back. Two sacks sounds about right. Under.
EAGLES PLAYER PROP STATS
Total Passing Yards -- Nick Foles
Over 235.5 (-125)
Under 235.5 (-105)
Andrew: Only 236 yards? Against this pass defense? I like those odds. Foles has started four meaningful games for the Eagles this year, and eclipsed this figure three times. This looks like the easiest over I've ever seen, unless Foles completely falls apart or the running game is so dominant that he doesn't have to pass. I don't think either will happen to quite that extent, which means the over is almost the mandatory pick.
Bryan: Foles actually failed to hit 236 twice in the regular season -- 163 against Oakland in the game which had everyone write off the Eagles, and then just 39 against Dallas in a game he started but didn't finish because it's Week 17 and nobody cared. Still. No. If he fails to hit 235, this is going to be a laugher, and I don't think it will be. Over.
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Total Rushing Yards -- Jay Ajayi
Over 62.5 (-125)
Under 62.5 (-105)
Bryan: I think this will come down to game flow. If the Eagles are ahead and are trying to milk the clock, then Ajayi goes over 62 easily. If they're behind, however, and Foles has to start airing it out, then Ajayi is going to find that hard to hit. Even a small lead might hurt Ajayi's chances -- he failed to hit 63 against Atlanta, and the Eagles had a lead for the entire fourth quarter, opting to use LeGarrette Blount in that situation instead. With Blount a threat to take away yardage, I'm going with the under.
Andrew: Ajayi is the most versatile back for Philadelphia, but I can see a situation in which Corey Clement becomes almost the lead back because of his passing game and shotgun fits. The Patriots linebackers match up to Ajayi better than Clement, and the first priority for their front seven is likely to be run fits when Ajayi is on the field. This is a tough line, but I lean with you just slightly toward the under.
Total Receiving Yards -- Zach Ertz
Over 57.5 (-125)
Under 57.5 (-105)
Bryan: Look, if I'm picking Ajayi to go under and Foles to go over, I need someone to catch a bunch of passes. New England is good at keeping tight ends in check, so maybe it's wiser to think about Torrey Smith or Alshon Jeffery having a big day, but Ertz has been far and away Foles' favorite target this year. Let's go with the over.
Andrew: Agreed. Ertz is the glue that holds the Eagles offense together. He is not Rob Gronkowski, of course, but he leads the Eagles in receptions and receiving yards despite having missed two games -- and if he had played those two games at his usual rate, he would have led the team in targets too. Fifty-eight yards per game is just below his season average, and I am more confident than usual in taking the over here.
Total QB Sacks by the Philadelphia Eagles
Over 2.5 (-105)
Under 2.5 (-125)
Bryan: Under. The Eagles have had only one three-sack day since Week 11 (against Atlanta in the divisional round), and while the Jaguars were able to get to Brady three times last week, that too was the only three-sack day the Patriots have suffered since Week 11. Three's a lot of sacks, guys!
Andrew: It is quite telling that, for all the Eagles physically dominated the Vikings offensive line this past weekend, they only actually registered a single sack by situational rusher Derek Barnett. The Eagles will compress the pocket, disrupt lanes and timing, and stuff the run game. If they get a lot of sacks, it means dire trouble for the Patriots. Under.
How many times will Carson Wentz be mentioned during broadcast?
Over 3.5 (-150)
Under 3.5 (+110)
Andrew: Way, way over. Every time a pass falls incomplete. Every time there is a sack, or a turnover. The opening play of the game on offense. If the Eagles win. If the Eagles lose. It doesn't matter. Wentz will be mentioned, and mentioned plenty. Over.
Bryan: See, I'm going to disagree here. There's one gimme ("Here comes Nick Foles, replacing the injured Carson Wentz"), but in a close game, I don't think Wentz's name gets dropped. Maybe Cris Collinsworth goes on a long, rambling sentence early on and says Wentz three or four times before the first drive's over, but I think they're going to try to keep the focus on the players on the field. Under.
How long will it take for Pink to sing the U.S. National Anthem?
Over 2 minutes (-140)
Under 2 minutes (Even)
Bryan: I can not find a single instance of Pink singing the national anthem on tape. That severely limits my ability to overanalyze this prop. Now, we know that this is being held indoors, so any flyby will not be easily visible to the crowd in attendance, which might lead me to take the over; to make it "special," there might be extraneous vocalizations and vocal flourishes to make an already poor song that much more aggravating to listen to. The average over the last ten years has been 118 seconds, but it has been trending longer and longer, and Pink's a singer (as opposed to an instrumentalist). I'm going with the over.
Andrew: She is a performer. She will perform. This is not a song that performers, on the big stage, tend to race through like Me First & the Gimme Gimmes blasting out Over the Rainbow. She will milk the moment, as she has every right to do. Over, and I hope she has a blast.
Will Pink say "Eagles" before, during, or after she sings the National Anthem?
Andrew: She is from Philadelphia, and her favorite team is in the Super Bowl. Of course she will shout their name! Wouldn't you? Yes.
Bryan: See, no, that's why I included this prop. There are other props about whether or not she'll wear Eagles paraphernalia, which seems to be a bit of a faux pas. But saying something? That's well within the realm of possibility. "Before, during, or after" is a very vague time period, but I assume they mean while she's on field during the anthem and not, like, next Tuesday. I see her going nuts when she's interviewed in pregame, and shots of her jumping up and down during the game, but around the anthem itself? I'm going with no.
Halftime Show -- Which song will Justin Timberlake sing first?
Can't Stop the Feeling! (+150)
Rock Your Body (+400)
Cry Me a River (+500)
True Colors (+800)
Love Never Felt So Good (+900)
What Goes Around...Comes Around (+1000)
Suit and Tie (+1500)
Any Other Song (+200)
Andrew: Can't Stop the Feeling! was made for occasions like this. While I could see Rock Your Body as an alternative, that is more likely to appear mid-set. I do not expect Cry Me A River to feature at all. I recognize nothing else on the list. That will probably remain true for most of the next few halftime shows, at least until the league finally wears down enough to invite Taylor Swift.
Bryan: My gut went to "Only When I Walk Away," but I suppose that might not quite work for a Super Bowl. He is on record saying he's trying to get Al Michaels and, by extension, the rest of America, "shaking his booty," so what's his top booty-shaker? Yeah, it's Can't Stop The Feeling!, though SexyBack would not be a shocker at all. Still, it seems safe to pick his most recent #1 single, yeah? And one that's already been vetted for a large audience thanks to its presence in Trolls.
Will there be a wardrobe malfunction?
Andrew: No, and the question is silly. The league will be at great pains to ensure that it does not. Unless the definition of "wardrobe malfunction" includes deliberate spoofing, it is absolutely not going to happen. No.
Bryan: Boy, it's interesting that Justin Timberlake bounced back from the wardrobe malfunction with no flack to his career, but Janet Jackson ended up blacklisted for years? That sure is an interesting fact, and I wonder why that might be. Hrm. No.
Odds to make a guest appearance during the halftime show
Jimmy Fallon (+600)
Nelly Furtado (+800)
Britney Spears (+2200)
Snoop Dogg (+2500)
Janet Jackson (+20000)
Andrew: How are the odds on Britney "only" +2200? Is there a serious notion that this might happen? Timbaland, I could see. *NSYNC would be very cool for us '90s kids, and they are the most appealing of the options, but it does not exactly look likely from those odds. Granted, I don't even recognize the name of the clubhouse favorite here. I prefer to say "none of the above," but that is not exactly in the spirit of the piece. I'll take Timbaland.
Bryan: Jay-Z didn't show up for Beyonce's appearances, so while Suit and Tie and Holy Grail are very popular, I can't see him bothering to show up for this. TI's the leader in the clubhouse for a duet on My Love, but picking the favorite here is boring. Joey Fatone has sworn that *NSYNC is not performing, and I suppose he would know. I'm sure the NFL would murder Timberlake if he brought Janet Jackson to the stage. I'm going to go with annoying corporate synergy, then. The game's on NBC. Jimmy Fallon is on NBC, is good friends with Timberlake and is hosting a live Tonight Show from the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis immediately postgame. I could see him introducing Timberlake with some kind of combination of video/live appearance, which I think will count.
Andrew: You just gave me the quite wonderful mental image of Roger Goodell hiring a crack squad of snipers in case Janet Jackson appeared at the halftime show, and one of them sniping Goodell instead of Jackson when she does appear because Goodell's internal memo instructions were less than entirely clear.
Bryan: Hopefully, they would Miss You Much and Jackson would be able to Runaway.
What color will the liquid be that is poured on the head coach of the winning team?
Bryan: Again, enough with the "liquid" references. It's going to be a sport drink, but "liquid" opens up the possibility of, like, battery acid or something. Just say a brand name! It's really OK!
Andrew: Is it even still Gatorade that these guys force-feed to their athletes, or have they graduated on to substances fit for human consumption?
Bryan: I have no idea. It's probably TB12-branded over on the New England sideline.
And if it's TB12-branded, that means it's expensive, which might explain why the Patriots didn't bother with a Gatorade shower last year. Winning has become so blase for them that there's no need for a huge celebration, apparently.
Andrew: Oh, so the Patriots winning means the next liquid poured on Belichick's head is probably water from the shower he takes before starting work again at 4.30 a.m. on Monday?
Bryan: The Eagles, on the other hand, love Gatorade showers. They gave Doug Pederson a Gatorade shower after Week 1. They'll have to top that if they win the Super Bowl.
Andrew: I am so pleased, in this specific context, that you used the phrase "top that" instead of … well, you know.
Bryan: Yeah, there were about a dozen prop bets about you know that we're staying far away from here. Anyhoo. If the Patriots win, this is a total shrug and who knows what they'll do, but if the Eagles win? It's green all the way.
Andrew: The Eagles will, indeed, win, meaning it will be some shade of green.
Who will the Super Bowl MVP mention first after he is presented the trophy?
Does not mention any of the above (+250)
Bryan: Well, if Tom Brady wins, surely it will be Alex Guerrero, right?
Andrew: Does he count under God in that particular cult?
Bryan: I was thinking Coach, but you might be closer to the mark. Once again, if a Patriot wins, this could go any which way, but if an Eagle wins? If the first words aren't something along the lines of "Philadelphia! This is for you!" I will eat a proverbial hat. Give me the city.
Andrew: The Eagles literally baptized a teammate -- Marcus Johnson -- in October. A lot of their players are very, very evangelical -- in the outspoken, declarative sense rather than the denominational, Bible Belt sense -- so I think God is a likely choice. First, though? That depends. I'll take God as my option, assuming an Eagles MVP.
Odds to Win USA Today's Super Bowl AdMeter
Avocados from Mexico (+1100)
Bryan The commercials are as big as the game to some people, and USA Today's Ad Meter is about as definitive as you can get for the immediate reaction, stretching back to 1989. While Budweiser might be the all-time king, winning ten in a row from 1999-2008 and four more in the 2010s so far, they haven't actually won for two years. Last year, it went to Kia for Melissa McCarthy 's "Hero's Journey" bit, which hit the perfect combination of celebrity, gag, and pop song all working together. The year before, it was Kevin Hart and Queen in a Hyundai commercial that got over the top. So, that's a combination we're looking for here. Expect another "Dilly Dilly" ad from Bud Light, Cindy Crawford is coming back to give Pepsi a boost, and M&Ms will have Danny DeVito slathering himself in chocolate. Enjoy that image. I'm taking the Field here -- there's a Bill Hader Pringles ad which might hit that comedian/gag/pop song trinity that seems to be the in thing at the moment.
Andrew: I have no idea what any of that stuff is, but I'm hoping for something new and fresh and exciting to emerge from the field.
Combined Dilly Dilly's in all Bud Light Super Bowl Commercials
Over 15.5 (-110)
Under 15.5 (-110)
Bryan: Hrm. They could go for something subtle and understated, or ... Over.
Andrew: I still haven't figured out whether "Dilly Dilly" is more or less annoying than the old "WASSUP?!?" adverts from way back when. By the end of Super Bowl Sunday, I'm pretty sure that issue will be settled. Over.
Odds on Most Likely Weather in Minneapolis at Game Time
Sunny Skies (+400)
Bryan: Yes, you can bet on locusts swarming the stadium and potentially win a ton of money here. I mean, you shouldn't, for obvious reasons, but you could.
The problem with having these games in cold weather cities is, well, the possibility of cold weather. From reading the wording on the prop, "sunny skies" seems to include anything that doesn't have precipitation, so ironically, it could include an overcast, cloudy day. It will almost certainly be cold enough to snow, so take rain out of the equation, but I think we'll avoid any actual precipitation. Yes, we're actually gambling on the weather here. Sunny skies, and a great day for football.
Andrew: The odds on snow, versus anything else at all, are prohibitive, so let's go with sunny skies as the most realistic answer with the best return.
Tallest player to score a touchdown
Over 6-foot-3.5 (-110)
Under 6-foot-3.5 (-110)
Bryan The over will get you Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery -- and that's about it, barring some odd fumble recoveries. The under includes such players as Nelson Agholor, Corey Clement, Trey Burton, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and so on and so forth. Neither quarterback is much of a scrambler, so this is pretty much "will a tight end score a touchdown?" plus a few extra random chances. As we said earlier, I expect the tight ends to do a ton, so I'll take the over.
Andrew: So you're saying for the over, I can have five of the six most likely players to score for either team, including both quarterbacks and both starting tight ends? Why would I take the under, exactly? Over.
Will anyone except Brady or Foles take a snap in the game?
Bryan: They have clarified this to not include kickers or punters, so we're talking backup quarterbacks or some trickeration here. I doubt either Brian Hoyer or Nate Sudfeld will get into this game barring injury, and neither team looks likely to line up in the Wildcat ... but remember, the Patriots ran a direct snap to James White for a two-point conversion in last year's Super Bowl. Why not! Yes.
Andrew: The Eagles might run some kind of dual running-back tomfoolery if Foles struggles to get the offense going, but neither team should need to dig too deep into the bag of tricks. A double pass or a flea flicker is more likely than a direct snap. No, barring some unforeseen circumstance like an injury to one of the quarterbacks, nobody else will take a snap in the game.
Bryan: This is just a fraction of the 400-plus props that will be released tonight, as there's almost no combination of things you can't find some way to waste money on. Here's hoping we do better than last year!
Andrew: It will be very difficult for the game itself to top last year, but the Patriots Super Bowls have seldom been dull regardless of the outcome. There will be a crazy catch somewhere, an unexpected big play, and high drama in the fourth quarter. May the game be free from refereeing controversy, and may the best team win!