Super Bowl Prop Bets (and, okay, pick)

superbowlSo there’s this football game on Sunday, you may have heard of it.

Picking the game is the boring part- there are only two options. At least when you’re picking games throughout the year you can have up to 16 to pick in a give week. So to make things more fun– and to celebrate the best reason to watch the Super Bowl anyway– we’ll be taking a look at some of the best ridiculous prop bets.

There are three reasons to watch the Super Bowl. (Sidenote: and a great number not to, many of which will be espoused in obnoxious ways on twitter by people parading their faux-obliviousness. Shut up, you know the game is on, you know what a big deal it is, and you are no cooler for feigning ignorance). You either watch for the game, the commercials and/or the halftime show, or the spectacle of the thing. There is little to no reason to watch for the game. If you like football, watch any other week in the rest of the season to see the game. The Super Bowl is a fifteen-ring circus interrupted every three minutes by some guys and a ball. This is the time of the year when the rest of the world lazily opens one eye, casts it toward the sport, picks it up like a giant baby rattle and beats it on a rock until it bleeds. What I’m saying is, it’s not worth watching the Super Bowl for the football.

If you watch it for the commercials, I cannot help you. Have you heard of this website, it’s called You can watch all the commercials you want there and you don’t have to spread it over four hours.

However, if you watch it for the spectacle, or go to a friend’s party because you enjoy it, or just want something else to make it interesting, we have: PROP BETS. Prop bets are the greatest thing ever because they allow you to wager actual US dollars on things as ridiculous as the color of Gatorade that will get dumped on the winning coach’s head and the numerical relationship between the points scored in tonight’s game and the number of gold medals scored in the Olympics by not one, but two countries. Prop bets are the greatest.

One last thing to get out of the way before we get to the good stuff- there are pages and pages and pages of individual player bets that are very boring and only for the real gamblers to pore over. They follow the formulas: “Will player x have more or less than y yards (rushing/receiving/throwing)” or “Will player x or player y have more (points/yards/receptions).” I will leave you to your own devices on those ones.

Okay, sorry, one more last thing- I’m not including the actual odds here because I don’t care. I’m just fascinated that we have such random and fantastic gambling options and the audience for this blog isn’t going to put money on these anyway.

Pre-Game Props

Going chronologically, the first props you have a chance to lose money on are the ones related to the national anthem. There are five:

  • How long will it take Renee Fleming to sing it? (over/under: 2 minutes 30 seconds)
  • Will she forget or omit at least one word?
  • Will she be wearing gloves when she starts singing?
  • What color will the gloves be, if she’s wearing them? (red, white, black, or any other color)
  • Will Knowshon Moreno cry during it?

The relevant facts here are that Renee Fleming is a opera singer and the Super Bowl is being played in New Jersey (current temperature at the time of this post: 52 degrees, which is notably much higher than predicted for a game played in New Jersey in February). The first fact answers the first two props for me: she’s a professional. She’s not a pop star born of American Idol who’s going to feel compelled to stretch out every last syllable to cover all the octaves in her range. Take the under on the time prop and NO on whether she’ll miss a word.

The gloves are a toss up. This is the kind of thing you’d have to do real research on, if that’s the kind of thing you would do.

The Knowshon Moreno bet is a really interesting one. I didn’t know he was likely to cry, but if it’s a significant enough phenomenon to merit its own bet, it must happen fairly often. And considering this is the biggest stage in the world for this sport, the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication… the fact that this prop is even on the board means you have to bet YES.

The very best (worst) bet on the entire board, which is available every year for the real, true degenerates, is that you can actually bet on the coin toss. Literally, you can bet hundreds of dollars on the thing gave rise to the metaphor you use when two outcomes are totally even. And they say America isn’t great.

In-Game Props

There’s a whole category of prop bets devoted to playing out your own elaborate fan fiction. There are bets for every conceivable scoring combination (“Will the team that scores first win? What will the longest touchdown be? How many field goals?”) that basically boil down to you playing with puppets of each teams and scripting the game yourself. “Well, I think the Seahawks will go up big in the first half, so the Broncos will have to sling it to catch up. That means a long bomb to Demaryius Thomas, so I’m definitely taking the over on his receiving yards, and longest touchdown and then the under on number of field goals.” Break out the craft supplies, fire up your LiveJournal, and dig in.

There’s a prop on whether the halftime show will break the record for most-watched ever, and the answer is no. Bruno Mars? Really? That’s going to beat Madonna? That one is easy.

There are many bets you can make on what the announcers will and won’t say and what they will and won’t show (Archie Manning? Eli Manning? Which coach will we see first?), but the best one is betting whether or not the announcers will say the word “marijuana” during the broadcast. As everyone and their mom knows at this point, the two teams competing are from the two states in the union that have legalized marijuana. Not a chance it gets mentioned during the broadcast, though. Too much risk of the announcers actually saying something interesting.

Post-Game Props

My favorite prop bet, year after year, for its sheer arbitrariness and variety of options, is what color gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach’s head. Someday when I’ve really given up on life I will go back and figure out what won this bet every year since Super Bowl I and make a killing the next year. Until then, I’ll just dream.

Here are the odds this year:

  • Clear/Water 2/1
  • Orange 3/1
  • Yellow 3/1
  • Red 5/1
  • Blue 7/1
  • Green 10/1

I’m shocked that purple is not an option this year. Clear/water is lame, but probably rightfully the safest bet because sidelines are probably more likely to have more coolers full of plain water than Gatorade anyway. Given that the team colors are blue/orange and silver/green, I’ll take green as the outside choice. I could totally see whoever does the logistics for getting Gatorade onto the sidelines putting thematically-appropriate colors on each side to be festive. (I also have a soft spot for blue, because if you can’t be irrational when it comes to arbitrary, illogical betting on the miscellany around a sporting event, what can you be irrational about?)

The other big post-game prop every year is who the MVP will thank first. Your options are: Teammates, god, fans, other team or player of other team, coach, family, owner, or does not mention any of the above. This all comes down to who you think the Super Bowl MVP will be, which is related to but not totally locked in with who you think will win the game. If the Broncos win, it’s Peyton Manning. If the Seahawks win, it’ll depend on how they played; your two big options are Russell Wilson (quarterback) or Richard Sherman (star defender). If it’s Peyton, it’s almost got to be his teammates. He’s the very definition of a Team Player and a Good Guy. If it’s Sherman or Wilson, I don’t know. Neither one of them is painted as being super religious, so I’d go teammates or None of the Above.

My favorite category this year, where it seems like the oddsmakers have really outdone themselves, is the crossover sports categories. You can bet which will be higher:

  • Gold medals by the USA in the 2014 Olympics, or first half total points by the Broncos?
  • …or the Seahawks?
  • Peyton Manning TD passes, or total goals scored in West Brom vs. Liverpool?
  • Henrik Zetterberg points vs. Washington or total interceptions in the Super Bowl?
  • Total goals scored by the Canadiens vs. Winnipeg or Knowshon Moreno receptions?
  • Jimmie Johnson’s freaking finishing position in the Daytona 500 or the total number of yards on Peyton Manning’s first completion?

The degree of the ridiculousness here cannot be overstated. It’s not just ridiculous cross-sport comparisons, it’s ridiculous cross-sport comparisons comparing individual tiny meaningless stats and people I’ve never heard of. Truly, it is Christmas for meaningless wagers to lose hundreds of dollars on.

The Actual Game

One prop I didn’t mention above allows you to weigh in on whether the Bronco’s #1-ranked offense or the Seahawks #1-ranked defense will be mentioned more often. That’s about all the analysis you need, plus the fact that neither of these teams got here by accident.

There is no one great flaw that either team will need to exploit, which means it comes down to, weirdly enough, actual talent. I hate to jump on the most bandwagony of bandwagons, but if Peyton doesn’t win, I will be sad. So as much as I don’t dislike the Seahawks and don’t wish ill upon any one of them, I’m officially picking the Broncos.

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