We have reached Super Bowl Sunday, the day of the most heavily bet single day event in North America. Not all the action will be on the side or total though, so here are our favorite props.
Super Bowl XLVI from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN takes place this Sunday, February 5, and with the side and total having had two full weeks to settle, the NFL odds on those straight markets are now as razor-sharp as can be. They have to be considering the insane amount of millions of dollars being bet on this game, which makes it the most heavily bet single day event in North America.
As usual, that makes selecting NFL picks on the major straight markets of such a high-profile marquee little more than coin flips for the most part. But also as usual, there are many more beatable NFL props around that can actually be exploited to save the day.
Remember that is was the Super Bowl that first made props popular several years ago as they looked to increase betting volume by adding more options on a day with just one single event. Props then became so popular that they soon became available on all NFL games, but to this day, the Super Bowl still offers more props than any other game all year.
Naturally, they present nice opportunities for bettors, as with so many props available, there are bound to be soft numbers which can be exploited, which is why many sharps make their profits by betting props in the Big Game, as they find many +EV opportunities in them while the straight game markets are virtually unbeatable in the long run.
Here are some of our favorite props from Bodog for Super Bowl XLVI, as we look to continue some of the nice success we have had playing props throughout the NFL Playoffs.
Super Bowl XLVI: New York Giants vs. New England Patriots – Sunday, February 5, 2012 (6:30 ET, NBC)
Total Passing Attempts – Eli Manning ‘over’ 39½ (-115): We realize that the Giants have always been a running football team and that their running game has improved over the past month after disappointing for much of the season. However, the New England rushing defense has done a more reasonable job of stopping the run lately after struggling in that area for much of the season, and the biggest mismatch for the Giants here looks to be their wide receivers vs. the 31st ranked Patriots’ pass defense that at times has used wide receiver Julian Edelman as a safety in nickel and dime coverages in recent weeks! Manning has been fantastic in the playoffs while having more pass attempts than any other quarterback this post-season with 123. Therefore, the Giants should have no worries about putting this game in his hands and asking him to throw the ball at least 40 times. The fact that this figures to be a close game in the fourth quarter increases the chance of this ticket cashing, as when the Giants were involved in a tight battle with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, Manning ended up throwing the ball 58 times.
Total TD Passes – Eli Manning ‘over’ 2½ (+145): This play is directly correlated to our previous prop as many passes in the air means more opportunities for scores. It also helps that the Giants are actually better equipped than the Patriots to score from anywhere on the field as they have the faster wide receivers in this game, particularly Victor Cruz and his world class speed. New York also has more options once they reach the red zone as besides the three wide-outs Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, Manning has utilized all of his tight ends more during the playoffs and even bulky running back Brandon Jacobs has caught some passes on wheel routes. All of this adds up to the Giants’ passing attack being hard to defend for a shaky pass defense, and these juicy +145 odds certainly make this prop worthwhile.
Will Eli Manning throw a 4th Quarter TD Pass? Yes (-135): There are three main reasons why we feel that this is a very nice play even with the -135 price tag attached to it. First of all, we expect this to be a close game in the fourth quarter, so we do not expect the Giants to go into a shell. Secondly, Eli Manning led the NFL in both fourth quarter passer rating and in fourth quarter touchdown passes this season. Thirdly, wide receiver Victor Cruz led the NFL in fourth quarter receiving yards this season, and many of his long touchdown receptions came in the crucial late stages.
Total Rushing Yards – Ahmad Bradshaw ‘under’ 62½ (-115): Now don’t get us wrong, Bradshaw is a very good running back and he has been a major key to New York’s improvement over the past month. However, this play has a lot more to do with the Giants’ expected game plan, and as we mentioned, we are looking for quarterback Eli Manning to throw at least 40 passes. We do not expect the Giants to vary from that passing attack as long as this game is close, and we do indeed expect that to be the case throughout. Unfortunately for Bradshaw and the rest of the running backs, all of that passing will come at the expense of everyone’s rushing totals.
Longest Rush - Brandon Jacobs ‘under’ 10½ (-130): We still think that Ahmad Bradshaw will get most of the carries on the few occasions when the Giants do elect to run the ball, and that the more bruising Jacobs will be used more as a change of pace or as the goal line back. The latter will obviously make it impossible to bust a double-digit run and the former will limit his touches and therefore give him fewer chances for long runs away from the goal line. Besides, New England has really stiffened its run defense lately, allowing only 3.6 yards per rush in the playoffs.
Total Receptions – Hakeem Nicks ‘over’ 5½ (-130): We have mentioned the biggest mismatch from the Giants’ perspective in this game appears to be their great wide receivers vs. New England’s 31st ranked pass defense. One thing we have not mentioned yet is that while the Patriots give up a lot of passing yards, many of them are by design as New England does not mind allowing completions on underneath routes, preferring instead to protect against the deep ball. Thus, if the Pats choose to double team one of the Giants’ receivers the more likely choice would be Cruz because of his blazing speed. That means that Nicks should see more man-to-man coverages, and remember that he is starting to re-establish himself as Manning’s primary go-to guy that he was considered to be entering this season before Cruz came on the scene. Nicks has 23 receptions in the last four games, and with Manning expected to throw a ton of passes this game, we could easily see Nicks being on the receiving end at least six times.
Longest Reception – Victor Cruz ‘over’ 27½ (-125): Cruz has been the Giants’ biggest home run threat this season, and as much as the Patriots will try to contain him, one must assume that he will break through for at least one long gainer, just like he seems to do every game.
Total Completions - Tom Brady ‘over’ 25½ (-130): We expect Brady will be under a lot of pressure in this game from a Giants’ defensive line that is one of the best in the NFL. However, remember that Coach Bill Belichick has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and we think one measure that the Patriots will take to counteract that pressure will be to call more quick throws on shorter, safer routes. Sure, that will limit New England’s quick-strike ability, but by the same token, all of those quick tosses will allow Brady to pile up the completions. Another boon to this prop should be the fact that New England should be in a hurry-up offense for most of the game, and as mentioned several times, a close game in the fourth quarter lessens the chances of Brady taking his foot off the gas. Remember that Brady completed 22 passes while having one of his worst playoff games ever vs. the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, so we think that you can easily add four completions to that total here.
Longest Completion - Tom Brady ‘under’ 42½ (-115): We do feel that the combination of the New York defense and the New England game plan will result in Brady not throwing as many deeps balls and that he will have more check down throws and/or dump-offs to he running backs. Thus, we think that the biggest threat to this prop would be if a receiver breaks a tackle and gets a lot of yards after the catch. The problem there is tat New England does not have the speediest receivers in the league and the Giants’ defense has not missed many tackles during the post-season.
Will Tom Brady throw a 4th Quarter TD Pass? Yes (-115): This game could shape up as a Super Bowl Epic, and simply having to throw late touchdown passes to keep pace with an opponent is usually all that en elite quarterback like Bray needs to actually get it done. These odds look rather cheap too.
Total Receiving Yards – Wes Welker ‘over’ 82½ (-125): Now we get that Welker has been missing in action lately, as he has had only 53, 55 and 51 receiving yards respectively in his last three weeks. However, with Welker being the slot receiver, we feel that he will be the biggest beneficiary of the Patriots calling more quick routes, so a break-out game for a receiver that averaged 98.3 receiving yards per game during the regular season seems inevitable in the Big Game. Welker should also receive some of the passes that are normally targeted toward the hobbled tight end Rob Gronkowski too.
Longest Reception - Aaron Hernandez ‘over’ 18½ (-125): Speaking of Gronkowski, he has the same high ankle sprain injury that made Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger so immobile at the end of the year, so while we fully expect him to play, we expect him to be extremely limited. Well, Hernandez should be the biggest beneficiary, as Brady throws to his tight ends a lot out of the no-huddle, and Hernandez put up some nice numbers this season in his own right. As long as Gronkowski is on the field, the Giants will have to respect him and that should allow Hernandez to get open at times and have a potential career game. With Hernandez having an expected role in the receiving game, we love his chances of having at least one 20-yard reception.
Player to score first New England touchdown in game - Aaron Hernandez (+400): Did we just mention the expansion of Hernandez’s role in the passing game? We think +400 is a great price on this play as Hernandez may now be the go-to guy in the red zone that his fellow tight end Gronkowski usually is.