Scramble for the Ball: 18th Annual Prop Bet Extravaganza!

Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Bryan: Welcome back one and all to the annual Scramble feature that is now old enough to vote.

That's right, it's time for the 18th annual Prop Bets Extravaganza! Once again, we have compiled and collected prop bets that help us have a great insight into what will happen during the Super Bowl. Important, thought-provoking questions abound. Will Andy Reid call another one of his weird spinny formations? Will Kenny G make a live appearance at halftime? And where can we get our own pair of Peyton Manning's pajamas?

Andrew: One of these franchises hasn't made the Super Bowl since 2002. Each of these franchises has only one Super Bowl appearance since 1970. Yet despite that, the game has a very familiar feel. For the first time ever, the winning quarterbacks of each of the past two Super Bowls will meet in this year's title game, a best-of-three winner-take-all decider for the ages. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are megastars at opposite ends of their careers: the current Greatest of All Time veteran versus the prospective future Greatest of All Time, if Mahomes' success from the early part of his career is even remotely sustained.

Mahomes and Brady have met in the postseason before, two years ago, a 37-31 overtime thriller in the AFC Championship Game that may have had the Chiefs a literal coin flip (or defensive offside penalty) away from playing in their third straight Super Bowl this year. Then, as now, Mahomes' team was the offensive juggernaut with the suspect defense, whereas Brady's was the more rounded squad. Then, Mahomes and the Chiefs were at home, as is traditional for the team with the higher seed in the AFC Championship Game. Now, as a triumphant wild-card entry, Brady's Buccaneers are the first team ever to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The uniform may have changed, but the quarterback continues to rewrite history. Ring No. 7 as quarterback of the first-ever literal Super Bowl home team, in his first year in a new uniform? We wouldn't bet against him.

Or would we? That's what we're here to find out!

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 people.

Most of these bets are whether a proposition is over or under the "line," usually a total. For example:

Number of brain cells lost due to reading this column (9.5)
Over -115
Under +105

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 $110 on Bryan, you will receive only an extra $100, because that's the price you pay for backing someone with a clear Lock of the Week win this year. However, if you believe that Andrew'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 Latverian Francs on any of these "pick from a crowd" bets. For over/unders we're wagering 100 on any overs where we're receiving positive odds (e.g., anything above +101) or whatever it takes to win 100 on any overs where we're receiving negative odds (e.g., anything below -101).

Confused? Don't worry; we're keeping track of all that. All that matters are the results of the bets. So let's bet on the Super Bowl and everything else we can think of!


General Super Bowl Bets

Game Odds
Kansas City Chiefs -3.5 (-105)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 (-115)

Bryan: Our odds, and the general consensus of the people, have the Chiefs winning this game. While they looked lackadaisical at points this season, they came out in the postseason and put up two of their best four performances of the whole year. Were they playing rope-a-dope during the regular season, to an extent we have never seen in the NFL before? Were the near-losses towards the end of the regular season something they focused on during the bye week, reawakening the sleeping giants? Or was this random fluctuation, a flexing of muscles that we're putting more weight on because it just happened the last two weeks rather than back-to-back weeks in October? I have no idea!

There are a lot of little weird things about this particular game, up and above the weirdness that 2020 brought. It's the first time a team is playing in their home stadium in the Super Bowl. Normally, I wouldn't be too concerned about that, but because of the ongoing pandemic, the Chiefs won't be arriving in Tampa Bay until a day before the game. Will that help the Chiefs, because they'll be able to practice away from the hoopla surrounding the game? Will it help the Buccaneers, because they'll be better acclimated to the environment? Will the possible effects of home-field advantage be diminished by the smaller, less-partisan crowd? Will the effects of a late arrival not affect the Chiefs as much as another team because they went to the Super Bowl last year? These are not concerns in most years!

And then you have the biggest potential Achilles' heel for the Chiefs -- their offensive line against the Tampa Bay pass rush. Erik Fisher is out with a literal Achilles' heel, a torn Achilles, and the Chiefs' already-thin offensive line got that much thinner. The Buccaneers' defense took over the second half against Green Bay, their formidable front seven getting pressure both with and without blitzes. Patrick Mahomes is one of the best in the league at handling pressure, but there will be lots to handle.

Seeing Kansas City's offense rolling on all cylinders is nothing new, and I fully buy that their postseason improvement is real. Seeing their defense send Josh Allen back down a time distortion to 2018 and Baker Mayfield back to the world of commercials, on the other hand, has been a revelation, and not one I fully trust. I suspect their performance the last two weeks to be more of a mirage, and to go back to season-long trends during the Super Bowl. In which case, we're due for a shootout, and I'm all the way here for it.

That's a long, wordy way of saying I don't know what's going to happen. I could see the Chiefs jumping out to a huge lead, Tom Brady looking like he did in the second half against the Packers, and for this thing to be over before The Weeknd kicks into gear. But I suspect the Buccaneers are better than the general public is giving them credit for, and in that case, I will take the points, please. Tampa Bay.

Andrew: I mentioned above that Brady and Mahomes have met in the postseason before, but of course they've already played each other in their current uniforms too, in this same stadium back in Week 14. The playoff game went to overtime; the regular-season game was an eventual three-point victory for the Chiefs after they jumped out to a big lead and fought off a late Buccaneers rally. That was the game that led Tony Romo to declare, with his usual prescience, that these two teams would meet again in the Super Bowl, and here we are.

The key, for me, is that these games have been close. Super Bowls have usually, for whatever reason, been tighter and lower-scoring than regular-season games this century. In the regular-season meeting, the Chiefs jumped out to a huge lead: 17-0 after the first quarter. In the postseason, for whatever reason, they're traditionally slow starters. If defensive backs are allowed to play the way they were in the earlier rounds, that favors the Buccaneers: they are the team with the big, physical receivers, the superior offensive line to allow for the extra time it takes to get open, and the superior defensive line to take advantage of that on the other side. I'm not sure that tips the scales enough for them to win, but I don't think the game will be a blowout. Tampa Bay.

Money Line
Kansas City Chiefs (-170)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+150)

Bryan: A +150 line implies the Buccaneers win 40% of the time. Our playoff odds give the Chiefs a 53.2% chance of winning the Super Bowl, and while I think that's a little soft, I don't think it's a 60/40 split. The value pick is to take Tampa Bay here, and so that is what I will do! I'll take plenty of Chiefs-heavy props elsewhere to make up for it, I'm sure.

Andrew: I don't have a strong feeling about this game either way, and you've covered the odds report already. In a game that's not quite a coin flip, but could easily go either way, I'd rather risk 100 to gain 150 than risk 170 to gain 100. Tampa Bay is indeed the value pick.

Over/Under
Over 56.0 (-115)
Under 56.0 (-105)

Bryan: With the Chiefs offense and, uh, also the Chiefs defense, I'm expecting lots of scoring -- and Tampa Bay isn't exactly too shabby at highlight-reel worthy plays either. But 56 is a huge number. It's the third-highest Super Bowl over/under ever, behind Saints-Colts in XLIV (which went under 56.5) and Patriots-Falcons in LI (which went over 57.0). We have seen some high over/unders this year as scoring has gone up and up, but only five games this season have had a higher over/under than this. Chiefs/Bucs back in Week 12 had a 56-point over/under as well. It went under then; it's hard for two teams to combine to score this many points! I will note that eight Chiefs games went over 56 points (seven if you exclude the Week 17 rest game), all of which saw them score at least 32 points of their own. Seven Buccaneers games went over 56 points as well. In both cases, that's slightly less than half. No, as boring as it is to root for points to not be scored, I'm taking the Under here.

Andrew: Again, Super Bowls tend to be cagier than their regular-season counterparts. When these teams met earlier in the year, the Chiefs tore the Buccaneers apart in the first half then staved off a big comeback in the second -- and the total was still only 51 points. I expect a focus on ball control from Tampa Bay, on both offense and defense. Lengthen drives, shorten the game, try to contain the scoring as much as possible. With the relaxation of pass interference rules in the postseason, that could push us under 50 points, never mind 56. Under.

MVP
Patrick Mahomes (-105)
Tom Brady (+225)
Travis Kelce (+1100)
Tyreek Hill (+1200)
Leonard Fournette (+2500)
Chris Godwin (+2500)
Tyrann Mathieu (+2500)
Devin White (+2500)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+3000)
Darrel Williams (+3000)
Mecole Hardman (+3000)
Mike Evans (+3300)
Sammy Watkins (+3500)
Ronald Jones (+5000)
Chris Jones (+5000)
Frank Clark (+5000)
Cameron Brate (+5000)
Shaquil Barrett (+5000)
Scotty Miller (+5000)
Willie Gay (+5000)
Antonio Brown (+6600)
Rob Gronkowski (+6600)
Levonte David (+6600)
Jordan Whitehead (+6600)
Antoine Winfield Jr (+6600)
Demarcus Robinson (+8000)
Vita Vea (+8000)
Le'Veon Bell (+10000)
Jason Pierre-Paul (+10000)
Sean Murphy-Bunting (+10000)
Deone Bucannon (+10000)
Jamel Dean (+10000)
Tyler Johnson (+12500)
Ryan Succop (+12500)
Ndamukong Suh (+12500)
Harrison Butker (+12500)
Rashad Fenton (+12500)
Anthony Hitchens (+12500)
Daniel Sorenson (+15000)
Alex Okafor (+15000)
Byron Pringle (+15000)
LeSean McCoy (+15000)
Ricky Seals-Jones (+15000)

Andrew: The odds on Patrick Mahomes are ridiculously terrible. He's the favorite for a reason, but there's no way I'm betting to break even on a bet with this many possibilities. Tom Brady is a slightly better bet, but 3-1 isn't exactly inspiring either. Instead, I'm going to bet on Travis Kelce doing something no mortal tight end has ever done. The Buccaneers will look to stop Tyreek Hill first, leaving Kelce to feast over the middle of the field. If the Chiefs win, and Mahomes is not the MVP, Kelce is the next-most likely option.

Bryan: Quarterbacks have won eight of the 11 previous Super Bowl MVPs. It's an award where other players have to do something phenomenal to wrench it away from the default option. A huge receiving day (like Julian Edelman's double-digit receptions and 140-plus yards, on a day when Tom Brady failed to hit 300 passing yards) might be enough. A defensive touchdown (like Malcolm Smith) or multiple sacks (like Von Miller's 2.5) might get you the nod on a day when your defense shuts down your opponent's offense. Other than that, it'll be Mahomes or Brady.

And that's why the odds on Mahomes and Brady are terrible. Mahomes' odds imply about a 52.4% chance of winning -- which means, if for the moment you accept both the betting odds and our Super Bowl odds as being gospel, you'd need Mahomes to win the award more than 98% of the time the Chiefs win for this to be valuable. Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't, but Mahomes wouldn't have won this award when the Buccaneers and Chiefs played earlier this season! Andrew points out that the Bucs will look to stop Tyreek Hill first, which they absolutely could not do in their Week 12 matchup. Hill had 13 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns, which almost certainly would win him the award, even if Mahomes is at 400-plus yards again. The Buccaneers have done well for most of the year against top receiving threats, but I'd argue that Hill isn't your normal top receiving threat. And, anyway, at +1200, he has a slightly better return than Kelce, so I'm going with Hill. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were enticing as well at their long odds, and Leonard Fournette has been a fantasy machine in the postseason, but I'm happiest on top of this Hill.


Team/Game Props

Coin Toss
Heads (-105)
Tails (-105)

Andrew: Tails, tails, never fails.

Bryan: This will be Tom Brady's 10th Super Bowl. In six of his first nine, the flip was indeed tails. This will be Patrick Mahomes' second Super Bowl. Last year, it was indeed tails. I mean, that's just analytics at that point. Tails.

Team to Score First
Kansas City (-140)
Tampa Bay (+110)

Bryan: Excluding their Week 17 game, the Chiefs have let their opponent score first in 11 of their 17 competitive matchups this season, including six of their last nine games. They heavily prefer to defer when they win the coin toss, and their defense isn't always the stingiest. That adds up to Tampa Bay getting on the board first.

Andrew: The Chiefs have a tendency to fall behind early while they sniff around the creature they're about to dismember. It's the second quarter and beyond where the feast begins. That tendency is particularly exaggerated in the playoffs. Tampa Bay will score first.

First Scoring Play
Field Goal (+160)
Touchdown (-230)
Any Other (+4000)

Bryan: So, if Tampa Bay scores first, their explosive offense will get them into the end zone, right? Well, not so fast. Bruce Arians has not been a particularly gutsy coach this year, especially early in games. This is backed up both statistically and anecdotally -- remember Arians kicking the field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 8 against the Saints in the divisional round? Or twice on fourth-and-short inside the red zone against Washington the week before? The Buccaneers have kicked six field goals on fourth-and-short inside the red zone this season, and only one of them (the go-ahead field goal against Chicago) has been really justifiable. Arians chickens out, and Ryan Succop opens the scoring with a field goal.

Andrew: I'm mainly preoccupied with trying to figure out the "any other" prop, here. That can only be a safety, right? Does a drop kick count as "other," or as a field goal? What other options are there? There are other ways to score points, but not the first points of a game.

Anyway, the opening points will be a field goal, because the odds are better, the Buccaneers are scoring first, and the Buccaneers coach likes making conservative decisions.

Will the Team that Scores First Win the Game?
Yes (-170)
No (+130)

Bryan: And here's where we start to hedge. If I bet on the Bucs winning the game and opening the score, the answer here is yes. But part of the reason I picked the Bucs was their better odds against the money line, not because I'm confident they'll pull out a victory. "Yes" gets the favored odds here because there are plenty of scenarios where the team that doesn't score first ... doesn't score much at all. But in what I expect to be a high-scoring, back-and-forth game, the benefits of scoring first are somewhat less than usual. I'll take No, and hope we actually get some sort of comeback in this game.

Andrew: As we have already discussed, going by recent history, the Chiefs are the most likely to win, but the Buccaneers are most likely to score first. That's a no from me.

Team to Score Last Touchdown
Kansas City (-120)
Tampa Bay (-110)

Bryan: I'll take Tampa Bay here again. During the regular season, the Chiefs' defense let up significantly when defending leads late in the game, their DVOA jumping from 4.9% to 23.6% when defending a multi-score lead in the fourth quarter. That hasn't been the case in the postseason so far, but I already said I trust the Chiefs' offensive improvement more than their defensive one. When you add in the possibilities of a late Bucs score as they try to catch up, a Buccaneers blowout, and a clutch touchdown drive from arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, I like how the Buccaneers line up here.

Andrew: I'm once again beginning to be concerned about the amount we're agreeing here. The most likely scenario, to me, involves the Buccaneers trailing late, scoring a touchdown to get back into it, then allowing a field goal to seal out the win. I suspect the Buccaneers will score the last touchdown, but that touchdown will not necessarily be the last points.

Will Either Team Score Three Straight Times?
Yes (-220)
No (+155)

Bryan: Yes. I hate betting on such low odds, but I find it hard to believe that the scoring in this one will be evenly distributed -- one or two bad series from either side, a missed field goal, or an inopportune turnover; and this prop hits. Now, four straight times; there's a wager...

Andrew: Disagreement! No, the teams are even enough that scoring will come in pairs -- perhaps either side of halftime -- but not bunches. If it does come in bunches, somebody is in deep trouble.

Margin of Victory
Chiefs by 1-6 Points (+350)
Chiefs by 7-12 Points (+500)
Chiefs by 13-18 Points (+650)
Chiefs by 19-24 Points (+900)
Chiefs by 25-30 Points (+1600)
Chiefs by 31-36 Points (+2200)
Chiefs by 37-42 Points (+4000)
Chiefs by 43+ Points (+4000)
Buccaneers by 1-6 Points (+400)
Buccaneers by 7-12 Points (+700)
Buccaneers by 13-18 Points (+1000)
Buccaneers by 19-24 Points (+1800)
Buccaneers by 25-30 Points (+3000)
Buccaneers by 31-36 Points (+4000)
Buccaneers by 37-42 Points (+6600)
Buccaneers by 43+ Points (+10000)

Bryan: My overarching thesis for these pics is "the Buccaneers have a better chance at winning than the general public believes, so their odds are better." With that in mind, I'm narrowing in on the Buccaneers between by one to 18 points; it feels like that's where the odds are solid without requiring highly unlikely scenarios like runaway Tampa Bay wins. I don't think the Bucs will win by multiple scores, but +700 for a seven-point win? That seems more than plausible. I'll take Buccaneers by 7-12 Points as the value play.

These are really weird point splits, by the by.

Andrew: The narrowest winning margins are understandably the lowest odds, and neither is alluring enough for me. If any team wins by more than one score, it's likely to be the Chiefs. If they do, they'll likely allow the Buccaneers to get relatively close in the end even if it's a blowout throughout the second half. Give me the Chiefs by 7-12 as the most likely outcome with odds that make the winnings worth it.

What Will Be The First Offensive Play?
Rush Play (-150)
Pass Play (+110)

Bryan: Did you know the Chiefs started each of their first nine games this season with a running play? And 13 of their 17 competitive games overall? This isn't necessarily a fait accompli -- they opened up against the Buccaneers with a pass, and opened up against the Bills with a pass -- but Andy Reid's offense likes jabbing with a handoff before unleashing Mahomes' haymakers. The Buccaneers don't have nearly the same kind of split, but the odds of a Bucs Defer → Chiefs handoff are just too high to go anywhere else. Rush play.

Andrew: I wonder where a botched snap fits in, asking for a Pennsylvanian friend. I agree with your logic, because the Chiefs have a tendency to open with a run and the Buccaneers have a bad habit of burning early downs with failed rush attempts. However, I think of this as basically a 50/50 proposition and the odds are so much healthier on the pass option. I'm going pass against my own better judgement.

Which Will Be The Highest Scoring Quarter?
First Quarter (+500)
Second Quarter (+170)
Third Quarter (+500)
Fourth Quarter (+240)
2 or More Quarters (+900)

Bryan: Oh, give me the fourth quarter for sure. In part because of their propensity for relaxing late in games, 10 of Kansas City's 17 games have seen the fourth quarter produce the most points. Again, that hasn't been the case this postseason -- quarter No. 2 provided the shock and awe against Buffalo and Cleveland, though the Mahomes concussion obviously puts a bit of an asterisk in the Browns game. Still, if I'm expecting the Chiefs to revert somewhat to form, the fourth quarter's longer odds are just too good to pass up.

Andrew: May as well play for the longshot option here, given how much better the odds are. Two or more quarters will feature the same number of points scored (either 14 or 17), and no individual quarter will be the highest-scoring.


Touchdowns and Field Goals

First Touchdown Scorer
Tyreek Hill (+650)
Travis Kelce (+650)
Mike Evans (+1000)
Leonard Fournette (+1100)
Chris Godwin (+1300)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+1300)
Darrel Williams (+1300)
Patrick Mahomes (+1300)
Mecole Hardman (+1600)
Rob Gronkowski (+1600)
Sammy Watkins (+1800)
Le'Veon Bell (+1800)
Antonio Brown (+1900)
Ronald Jones (+1900)
Demarcus Robinson (+2200)
Cameron Brate (+2400)
Scotty Miller (+2500)
Tom Brady (+2500)
Any Other Chief (+2500)
Byron Pringle (+2900)
Any Other Buccaneer (+3000)
Tyler Johnson (+4000)
Darwin Thompson (+5000)
LeSean McCoy (+8000)
KeShawn Vaughn (+8000)
No Touchdown Scored (+10000)

Bryan: Lots of interesting value to be found here. The Buccaneers aren't strong against secondary or tertiary receivers, so Mecole Hardman at +1600 isn't a bad bet. Clyde Edwards-Helaire didn't get a ton of work in his return to the lineup last week, but an extra two weeks of health might make him a larger part of the offense in the Super Bowl. Of the top three, Mike Evans has the most enticing odds. But I'm going to take Rob Gronkowski for old times' sake. The Chiefs rank 14th in DVOA against tight ends, lower than against any wide receiver position. Gronk only has seven touchdowns this season and mustered just one reception against Green Bay, but I don't know -- I just see Brady trying to hook up with Gronk one last time on the biggest stage there is.

Andrew: Gronkowski did have his only 100-yard game of the season against the Chiefs, and my playoff fantasy team loves your optimism, but my hunch is the first touchdown will be a run play by a now-healthy Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I didn't think he'd make it back last week, and the fact he did makes me much more optimistic for his health in the season finale. The Buccaneers will play the pass first, which means I'm looking at runs or checkdown options. CEH fits into both categories.

Longest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 44.5 Yards (-120)
Under 44.5 Yards (-120)

Bryan: The Chiefs' big-threat offense scores a ton of long touchdowns, right? Wrong. They have three 45-plus-yard touchdowns this season, all deep shots on the right side of the field; one to Mecole Hardman and two to Tyreek Hill. They're much more likely to gain yards in chunks rather than heave it up and get it all in one go. They've also only allowed three -- two to the Raiders in that upset, and then one in the meaningless Week 17 game. Tampa Bay only has four of their own, though they have given up one in each of the last two weeks, and saw Hill rumble for 75 yards against them back in the Week 12 matchup. I'm taking the under here, and I'm very happy with it.

Andrew: I'm assuming Hill's two long scores against the Buccaneers in the previous meeting have influenced this over/under, as he went for 75 and 44 yards in the first quarter back then. The Bucs will be absolutely focused on making sure that doesn't happen this time out. The wild card is a special teams touchdown -- the Buccaneers did everything in their power to allow a punt return score against the Saints, and Mecole Hardman has a fumble to make amends for -- but I'm not making a big-game prediction based on that. Under.

Shortest Touchdown Yardage in the Game
Over 1.5 Yards (-110)
Under 1.5 Yards (-130)

Bryan: With the Master of the Quarterback Sneak in the game, plus the chances that a penalty in the end zone brings the ball to the goal line, betting the under here makes a lot of sense. Still, I don't know -- the refs have been swallowing their whistles lately, and both of these teams are efficient enough that I could easily see them simply never being caught. What I do know for sure is that these money lines are terrible, and I would never bet on them if I had a choice. I'll take the over because the odds are slightly less terrible, but yeesh.

Andrew: Like you, I'm taking the over purely because the odds are less unfavorable. I don't see us getting many short-yardage plays on the goal line here, given the relative strengths of each offense.

Longest Successful Field Goal in the Game
Over 46.5 Yards (-120)
Under 46.5 Yards (-120)

Bryan: Harrison Butker has six 47-plus-yard field goals this season, and two of them came in the same game back in September, before the Chiefs offense had really warmed up. Ryan Succop only has three. These offenses rarely stall out in long field goal territory, and rarely decide trusting their kicker there to be the right play. Give me the under.

Andrew: This may be a Super Bowl, but it is still a Buccaneers game in Raymond James Stadium. Nobody is trying a long field goal unless they absolutely have to. Under.


Other Game Events

The First Turnover of the Game Will Be…
Fumble (+140)
Interception (-175)
No Turnover (+900)

Bryan: The interception odds are way too high. Mahomes has only thrown an interception in five games this season, never mind doing it first. I find it equally likely that we see some kind of fluke play such as Mecole Hardman muffing the punt against the Bills, or Jordan Whitehead hitting Aaron Jones and seeing the ball pop out against Green Bay. And, as always, when given two roughly equally likely results, take the one with the better odds. Fumble.

Andrew: It's interesting that your quarterback analysis focused solely on Mahomes. I suspect Tom Brady will throw at least one interception. I suspect that one of those will be the first turnover of the game. I do not consider that twice as likely as a fumble, which it would need to be to justify these odds. I'm hedging, and I know I am. Fumble.

Will the Game Go to Overtime?
Yes (+800)
No (-2500)

Bryan: I don't think it will, but taking no and being wrong kills you in this game. Way too high of odds. Yes.

Andrew: The possibility is remote. It is not so remote that I'm willing to write it off completely at a cost of 2,500 if I'm wrong. Yes.

Will There Be a Missed PAT Conversion?
Yes (+205)
No (-310)

Andrew: I'm not sure these odds really reflect the fact that, although this is a Super Bowl, it is still a Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium. Yes, of course there will be a missed extra point.

Bryan: I'm with you here. We have seen both of these kickers miss this postseason, too. Succop has missed six extra points this year, and Butker has missed seven. Your "of course" is tongue in cheek, but I'd guess there's about a one-in-three chance that someone honks one, probably in a crucial moment. Yes!

First Team to Punt
Chiefs (-120)
Buccaneers (-120)

Bryan: Buccaneers. Bruce Arians does not make good fourth-down decisions.

Andrew: The Chiefs have a bad habit of starting slowly.

How Many Players Will Have a Passing Attempt?
Over 2.5 (-115)
Under 2.5 (-125)

Andrew: Of the five different Chiefs players who threw passes this season, only two were designated as quarterbacks. And that was with them allegedly saving their best tricks for the postseason. Over. All the way over.

Bryan: This season alone, we have seen Travis Kelce, Tommy Townsend, and Sammy Watkins all throw passes for the Chiefs. We have also seen both backup quarterbacks get into games for one reason or another. Mecole Hardman was an option quarterback in high school. Tampa Bay doesn't quite have the same depth of options, but it only takes one. Over.

Will Any Touchdown Be Overturned By Replay?
Yes (+165)
No (-240)

Andrew: Probably not, but I'm not prepared to lose money on it. Yes.

Bryan: Probably not, and I am prepared to lose money on it. No.

Will Both Teams Combined Score 76 Or More Points To Break The Super Bowl Record?
Yes (+400)
No (-700)

Andrew: Absolutely, certainly, and unequivocally no. Tampa Bay will be doing everything in their power to avoid a shootout. If their offense is efficient enough to threaten this sort of points total, it will thereby shorten the game too much to allow it.

Bryan: Less absolutely, certainly, and unequivocally, but still no.

Will There Be a Successful Two-Point Conversion Attempt?
Yes (+200)
No (-300)

Andrew: Yes, recovering the point lost to the missed extra point.

Bryan: The Chiefs have only attempted three two-point conversions this year, all in the fourth quarter, all in fairly obvious situations: down 10 to make it a one-score game, down two to tie, and up 12 to make it a two-score game. Andy Reid isn't the type to "chase points" all willy-nilly, whether he should or not. Tampa Bay also only has three, all of which failed. The odds on no aren't great, but it seems the most likely outcome.

Will there be an onside kick attempt in the game?
Yes (+200)
No (-300)

Andrew: Yes, one team will be trailing by enough late to feel the need for an onside kick.

Bryan: You took the words right out of my mouth. Yes.

Will a special teams or defensive TD be scored?
Yes (+200)
No (-300)

Andrew: No, but this game does feature the Buccaneers special teams and I'm not prepared to lose 300 Francs if I'm wrong. So I'm picking yes.

Bryan: I see the Chiefs taking a Tom Brady interception to the house. Yes.

Total Accepted Penalties
Over 11 (-120)
Under 11 (-120)

Andrew: These playoffs have been officiated like they're being played under the ruleset of No Holds Barred -- the WWE (formerly WWF) match format, that is, not the Hulk Hogan movie. Please, let this game be better than a Hulk Hogan movie. Please let it feature less wrestling footage. Under.

Bryan: I don't know, if we get more wrestling footage, we have an excuse to show Hacksaw Jim Duggan's fantastic German suplexes!

... yes, sometimes I write jokes just for my editors. Under.


Chiefs Player Props

Patrick Mahomes: Which Will Be Higher?
Patrick Mahomes Passing Yards in Super Bowl LV (-125)
Patrick Mahomes Passing Yards in Super Bowl LIV [286 yards] (-115)

Andrew: He'll pass for more yards this year, mainly because his current offensive line is a shipwreck and the Buccaneers run defense is very good. He had almost 500 yards in the regular-season game!

Bryan: He'll have to go to the air more frequently if the Chiefs are going to win, and I've been told, by experts I trust, that the Chiefs are trying to win. This year.

Travis Kelce: Which Will Be Higher
Travis Kelce First-Half Receiving Yards in Super Bowl LV (-120)
Travis Kelce Receiving Yards in Super Bowl LIV [43 yards] (-120)

Andrew: Also this year, because the Buccaneers will focus so heavily on containing Tyreek Hill that Kelce will get open over and over and over in front of their safeties.

Bryan: "First half" makes this very interesting. I have no doubt Kelce will be over 43 yards this year; the Bucs aren't nearly as good at defending tight ends as the 49ers were last year (11.6% vs -33.4%, DVOA-wise). I'm going to take last year for the first half, figuring that Kelce's big breakout will happen after the break.

Tyreek Hill: Receiving Yards
Over 91.5 (-115)
Under 91.5 (-115)

Bryan: I don't think Hill's going to top 200 yards like he did last time, but I don't think the Buccaneers are going to be able to slow him down either. You think it'll be Travis Kelce having the big day; I'm still siding with Hill. Over.

Andrew: The Buccaneers' game plan will be geared toward stopping Hill at all costs. Somebody else will have to beat them, and somebody else will. Under.

Cross-Sport: Which Will Be Higher
Patrick Mahomes Interceptions (-120)
Penalties Awarded in Wolverhampton vs Leicester (-120)

Andrew: Do I get a push option, to say none of either? No? Fine. Mahomes will throw more interceptions than the nonexistent penalty in the Premier League.

Bryan: Ah, but Leicester City leads the Premier League with 10 penalties taken this year, while Wolverhampton is tied for the league having surrendered seven of their own. It's the footy equivalent of Mike Evans lining up against Janoris Jenkins; you're just asking for disaster at some point. Give me PKs!


Buccaneers Player Props

Tom Brady: Which Will Be Higher
Tom Brady Passing Yards in Super Bowl LV (-225)
Tom Brady Passing Yards in Super Bowl LIII [262 yards] (+160)

Andrew: The Chiefs had the second-worst run defense DVOA during the regular season. Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones will see a lot of action early as the Buccaneers try to shorten the game. That will continue as long as it is competitive. Tom Brady will not outstrip his yardage from Super Bowl LIII.

Bryan: Brady threw for 345 yards when these two teams played back in Week 12. He has only been held under 262 eight times this season. I think I'll go this year, even though those odds are terrible.

Rob Gronkowski: Receiving Yards
Over 30.5 (-115)
Under 30.5 (-115)

Bryan: Gronk is clearly not the Gronk of old anymore, as the ex-24/7 Champion hasn't been the same game-changer since coming out of retirement. Really, he has only had one day that reminds us of who he used to be ... against Kansas City back in Week 12, where he had six receptions for 106 yards! Give me the over for old-time's sake!

Andrew: He has really had two, because his fantasy total was better in the regular-season game against the Packers, when he had 78 yards and a touchdown. Last week, in the rematch of that game, he put up ... one catch, on one target, albeit for 29 yards. The Buccaneers don't use Gronk as a pass target enough for him to have any more huge days. However, he went over this total in half of the team's regular-season games. On a long rest week, in a must-win game, against physical coverage, they'll use every size advantage they can get. Over.

Leonard Fournette: Rushing Yards
Over 51.5 (-115)
Under 51.5 (-115)

Bryan: We were all idiots for not picking Fournette in the Staff Fantasy draft -- he has four touchdowns in the playoffs and at least 55 yards in each of Tampa Bay's three wins to this point. That being said, I disagree with my esteemed colleague who says that the Bucs are going to try to take the air out of the ball and pound the rock. Fournette has been good, but he has been on a downward trend in yardage over the course of the postseason, and I think that finally takes him under this week.

Andrew: The Chiefs have the No. 31 run defense in DVOA, and Fournette has been excellent in the postseason. For me, the only threat to Fournette is the health of Ronald Jones. How big a threat is that? With Jones relatively healthy during the regular season, Fournette went over 51 rushing yards twice: Week 2 against the then-awful Panthers run defense, and the narrow Monday night win against the Giants in Week 8. With Jones injured during the postseason, Fournette has done so every week. Two weeks of rest will mean the return of a healthy Jones, and Fournette will be under 51.5 yards.

Cross-Sport: Which Will Be Higher
Tom Brady Rushing Yards (+120)
Total Goals in Liverpool vs Manchester City (-160)

Andrew: Soccer is so low-scoring that this is basically asking if Tom Brady will have a rushing attempt for positive yardage. Yes, the ultra-competitive Brady will rush for more yards in a Super Bowl than the total number of goals in Liverpool-Man City.

Bryan: Liverpool is averaging 1.9 goals per game, and giving up 1.2. Man City is at 1.9 and 0.7, respectively. I think the fact that has me side with Brady is Liverpool's shocking run of form recently. They lost, at home, to Burnley. Burnley! Like, trying-to-avoid-relegation Burnley. Liverpool hasn't scored at all in a league game since a 1-1 draw with West Brom back in December, and their 7-0 pasting of Crystal Palace seems like eons ago. See, the thing about Liverpool is, they always try to walk it in!


Exotic Props

Length of the US National Anthem
Under 2 Minutes (-130)
Over 2 Minutes (-110)

Andrew: My inclination is always to take the over on these bets. This is that singer's moment, man. Milk it for all it's worth. We have a duo singing the anthem this year, which to me only increases the odds of it going over two minutes.

Bryan: It's Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan, for the record, which is actually a pretty strong duo -- not sure how well they'll blend together, but it should be interesting, at least. They've never performed together, but each has some cross-genre moves in their playbook. I doubt they'll beat Lady Gaga's rendition from the presidential inauguration, but I'm for this pair.

No clue about Church's experience, but Sullivan is an experienced anthem singer. She clocked in at a brisk 1:37 at the NHL Stadium Series back in 2016, and has routinely clocked in under 2:00 at other appearances. I'll take the under.

Will a Scoring Drive Take Less Time Than the National Anthem?
Yes (-270)
No (+180)

Andrew: A Chiefs one might. A Bucs one won't. Unless it's after a turnover, I guess. No.

Bryan: The Buccaneers have scoring drives of three seconds, four seconds, five seconds, seven seconds, nine seconds, 14 seconds, 16 seconds, 19 seconds, 21 seconds, 28 seconds, 29 seconds, 43 seconds, 48 seconds, 51 seconds, and 53 seconds this year. Yes.

Which Will Be Said First
Warren Sapp (-200)
Ronde Barber (+200)
Derrick Brooks (+300)

Bryan: With the Super Bowl both featuring and being featured in Tampa Bay, some flashbacks to the Buccaneers' last Super Bowl appearance seem very likely, especially if they end up with a big defensive play somewhere along the line. I'm going to take Ronde Barber -- he's a Hall of Fame finalist, and the inductees will be announced the day before the game. If he makes it in, he's a lock to be mentioned at some point during the broadcast.

Andrew: Barber's Hall of Fame candidacy does improve his odds, though I suspect a defensive lineman will draw a Sapp comparison before a cornerback draws one to Barber. However, that is reflected in the odds. Barber doesn't cost me nearly as much as Sapp does if I'm wrong. Given how often I'm wrong, that's an important consideration.

Which Will Be Mentioned First
Patrick Mahomes will be a father/daddy/having a kid (-200)
Patrick Mahomes is engaged/getting married (+150)

Bryan: Hell of a year for Mahomes, isn't it? Engaged, with a kid on the way; a massive new contract allowing him to buy a small island nation; the chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls. It's pretty clear that he has sucked up all the good fortune the rest of the world has been lacking. I think the logical order to mention these things is "engaged, with a kid on the way," so I'm going with marriage first. Mazel tov.

Andrew: We'll see pictures of him with Brittany, his fiancée, then they'll mention the baby. Brittany is visible. The baby is not, yet. Engagement/marriage will be mentioned first.

How Many Songs Will Be Played During the Halftime Show?
Over 8 (-175)
Under 8 (+135)

Andrew: Before I respond to this prop, I would like to protest the choice of artist for the halftime show. The Weeknd is forgettable background music suited to a shopping mall, scene transitions in a chic comedy, or perhaps to a small office with a smart-casual dress code and a Friday coffee/donut rota. It is not party music for a Super Bowl. I fell asleep three times while researching this part of the column. That does not bode well for a halftime show that typically occurs around 1 a.m. in these here parts. Fortunately, I'll be making food during the actual halftime show. But still, please do better in future, NFL.

Anyway, this is a 15-minute show by a guy whose average hit song lasts a very radio-friendly three-and-a-half minutes. That's five songs before we even allow for the prospect of a medley, which counts as multiple individual songs. I hate picking at negative odds, but this is going over eight songs, possibly by quite a distance.

Bryan: Credt to the NFL, howevr, for pickng someone at the peak of both their commercial and artistc succss. The Weeknd generally is not my cup of tea, but "After Hours" is probably his best album yet; I don't care at all for "In Your Eyes," but the retro 1980s feel of "Blinding Lights" works for me, and "Heartless" might actually be my favorite song off the album. At any rate, I like 'em better than "Can't Feel My Face" or something like that, but your mileage may vary. Heck, the last halftime show that felt like it was made for me involved freaking Coldplay; I am neither with it nor hip.

Anyway, we haven't seen a halftime show with fewer than eight songs since Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers back in Super Bowl XLVIII, and before that, you've got to go to The Who and Super Bowl XLIV. Both those groupings are more my speed, but that's neither here nor there. Over.

What Will Be The First Song Played?
In Your Eyes (+350)
Save Your Tears (+450)
Blinding Lights (+450)
Too Late (+800)
Heartless (+800)
Starboy (+450)
Can't Feel My Face (+500)
I Feel It Coming (+2500)
The Hills (+1400)
In the Night (+2500)

Andrew: I'm a little surprised the odds on "The Hills" are so long, because it should be the perfect opener. The intro is ideally suited to being drawn out longer than it is on the record while flashy lights unveil the stage and performers. It then bursts into life to get the party properly started. It's absolutely the song I would go with if I were planning the halftime show. So it won't be that, but it should be.

Bryan: The ongoing pandemic means I can't do my standard strategy of "look at what they've been doing in concert and steal that." The Weeknd had nine concerts in 2020 with enough songs to be recorded on Setlist.fm, which isn't exactly a juicy sample size. I'll pick "Blinding Lights"; I figure it will either be the first or last song going, and it doesn't really have the energy to be a closer in my book.

What Will Be The Last Song Played?
Blinding Lights (-300)
Save Your Tears (+650)
In Your Eyes (+800)
Heartless (+1600)
Too Late (+1600)
Starboy (+1600)
Can't Feel My Face (+2500)
The Hills (+2500)
I Feel It Coming (+3000)
In the Night (+5000)

Andrew: "Blinding Lights" is the song they have featured in the halftime show commercials, which will be why it's the favorite, but it really strikes me as something better suited for the middle of the set list than as a closer. Well, I guess it strikes me as a closer in the sense of something you stick on the end credits as the theater empties, but that's not really the idea of the Super Bowl halftime show. Give me "Heartless," which at least ends with a vocal the crowd can cheer for.

Bryan: I mentioned I don't care much for "In Your Eyes," which is exactly why I expect it'll be the closer. The lyrics don't work at all for a closer, but who listens to the lyrics here, anyway? It's the most "I want to be Bruno Mars, but I'm not" song The Weeknd has, so I'm picking it here.

Will Any of the Following Be On Stage During the Halftime Show?
Doja Cat (+500)
Drake (+500)
Kenny G (+500)
Ariana Grande (+700)
Bella Hadid (+700)
Michael Jackson Hologram (+1200)

Andrew: I'm going to say yes to all six and hope that at least two make an appearance so as to cover my losses.

Bryan: For the uninitiated: Doja Cat and Kenny G are on the remixes of "In Your Eyes"; Drake has had an off-and-on friendly relationship with The Weeknd for years, and they've appeared on dozens of tracks together; Ariana Grande was on "Love Me Harder" and featured The Weeknd on "Off the Table"; Bella Hadid is The Weeknd's off-and-on girlfriend and "After Hours" is in part a breakup album about her; Michael Jackson was very popular at one point in time.

I have to pick one, per the rules of our game, so I'll take Grande, but I'm guessing none appear live. Or in hologram form. Whatever.

What Color Will The First Liquid Be Poured on the Game Winning Coach?
Orange (+125)
Lime/Green/Yellow (+250)
Red (+425)
Clear/Water (+800)
Blue (+700)
Purple (+600)

Andrew: The linguist in me recoils at the horrible phrasing of this question. Lime/green/yellow is the safe, boring bet for good reason.

Bryan: Other than my yearly plea for us to stop calling it a "liquid" and be more specific, this is all much of a muchness. Orange has the lowest odds, and I'll take it!

Who Will the Super Bowl MVP Mention First in His Speech?
Teammates (EVEN)
God/Jesus (+170)
City (+700)
Coach (+950)
Owner (+2000)
Family (+550)
None of the Above (+750)

Andrew: Gah. This depends who wins. If it's Brady, it's absolutely his family. If it's Mahomes, it's probably his teammates and maybe his coach. Let's go with family, on the off chance Brady wins.

Bryan: It feels like long speeches are a thing of the past here -- I'm taking none of the above, especially with a limited crowd in attendance.


Bryan: This is just a small cross-section of the hundreds and hundreds of bets real people are losing real money on. If you ask me, this year's matchup is juicy enough that other diversions aren't required to make things interesting, but hey, if you really have a strong opinion about two-point conversions or national anthem length, you, too, have been catered for by the fine people of Las Vegas.

We'll be back next week with the Keep Choppin' Wood team, awards for the Conference Championships, and an update on the Playoff Fantasy contest. Until then, enjoy the virtual Pro Bowl and we'll see you soon!

Comments

21 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2021, 9:43pm

1 Game Odds Kansas City Chiefs…

Game Odds
Kansas City Chiefs -3.5 (-105)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 (-115)

Should that be +115 on the Bucs?

2 I'm mainly preoccupied with…

I'm mainly preoccupied with trying to figure out the "any other" prop, here. That can only be a safety, right? Does a drop kick count as "other," or as a field goal? What other options are there? There are other ways to score points, but not the first points of a game.

Forfeit, maybe? That goes down as a 2-0 score, but the NFL is squirrelly about whether or not those are scored points. In any event, I think Vegas would cancel would the bet in that circumstance anyway.

Hell of a year for Mahomes, isn't it? Engaged, with a kid on the way; a massive new contract allowing him to buy a small island nation; the chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls. It's pretty clear that he has sucked up all the good fortune the rest of the world has been lacking.

Between Mahomes and Brady's outlier good fortune and the world consequences, they seem like Ben Hawkins from Carnivale, where in order to heal something they have to suck life from something else.

Bet no one was expecting a Carnivale reference.

Who Will the Super Bowl MVP Mention First in His Speech?
Teammates (EVEN)
God/Jesus (+170)

This one made me look it up. No NFL player has had the name "Jesus". (57 in MLB)

11 Yes, but...

a defensive 2PC (which can also occur after a blocked PAT kick or a turnover on a PAT kicking play) can never be the first points scored in a game, because it's obviously preceded by a touchdown.

3 Will Any Touchdown Be…

Will Any Touchdown Be Overturned By Replay?

To confirm, this only covers a credited TD overturned on replay, right? It does not count a non-TD that's reversed on challenge (or less likely, a turnover ruled not a TD that's reversed on auto-replay)?

8 Halftime Show

How Many Songs Will Be Played During the Halftime Show?
Over 8 (-175)
Under 8 (+135)

FWIW, it was just announced that the halftime show will be 24 minutes, twice as long as usual (Pepsi's cutting down their in-game commercial load as an offset), so over's a really good bet here unless the line's changed.

15 Uh oh

In reply to by Travis

To paraphrase the great Bill James, this is like buying a brand of aspirin that makes the pain twice as bad.

17 This reminds me! Normally,…

In reply to by Travis

This reminds me!

Normally, we have a bunch of commercial props in these things.  We had a number ready to go...and then, over the 48 hours we were writing, every single prop got spoiled by ad companies revealing what they were doing ahead of time.

Arglebarglefargle.

16 "Andrew: I wonder where a…

"Andrew: I wonder where a botched snap fits in"

That depends. Is he tackled and is the tackle a sack or a tackle, or does he throw?

18 I was referring to the first…

I was referring to the first play from scrimmage of the Steelers-Browns wild card game, where the offense never had possession after the snap, so it was impossible to tell whether it was a run or pass. I'm guessing it would be scored as a run play.

19 http://www.nflgsis.com/gsis…

http://www.nflgsis.com/gsis/documentation/stadiumguides/guide_for_statisticians.pdf

Under the fumbles rule, this suggest it is officially a run.

Incidentally, it's a fumble charged to the center, although I think the QB gets credited with a 0 yard rush.

20 The official play-by-play…

The official play-by-play reads:

(14:54) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger Aborted. M.Pouncey FUMBLES at PIT 22, touched at PIT 2, RECOVERED by CLV-K.Joseph at PIT -2. TOUCHDOWN.

So officially Roethlisberger gets a run for zero yards and Pouncey gets a fumble. Yes, that's odd.