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October 23, 2019

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Picking the props: 10 winning wagers to make on the Super Bowl

Can Russell Wilson beat the Patriots running the ball?

Super Bowl football

Rick Osentoski / AP

An official game ball for the NFL football Super Bowl XLIX is photographed Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at the Wilson Sporting Goods football factory in Ada, Ohio. The company, which has made the official Super Bowl football since the first Super Bowl in 1966, began making this year’s game balls last Sunday night, Jan. 18, immediately after the conclusion of the NFC and AFC championship games. The New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL championship on Sunday, Feb. 1, in Glendale, Ariz.

Super Bowl 49

What's the bet in Super Bowl 49?
Seahawks plus-1 — 53.9%
Patriots minus-1 — 46.1%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The question of how betting action on proposition wagers stacks up to traditional methods, the point spread and over/under total, courses through town every Super Bowl.

The answer depends on who’s asked. Some sports book directors say their shops’ breakdown is 60 percent to 40 percent one way while conflicting reports indicate the inverse. Others shoot straight to the middle at 50 percent both ways.

Most have suspected that props would one day surpass the side and total for the last several years, but it’s never indisputably occurred. By my completely unscientific and wholly personal measure, however, it’s happened in 2015.

For the first time, “who do you like the game,” is out as the most frequent query and replaced by “what props do you like?” Finally, I’ve got my answer.

After scouring the prop books at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook and William Hill, I’ve selected my 10 favorite bets for Super Bowl 49 between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. Find them below.

Alternate point spread: Seattle minus-4.5 at plus-170 (risking $1 to win $1.70)

Ten days ago, most oddsmakers in town projected the line on this Super Bowl matchup as Seattle minus-3. Adding 1.5 points wouldn’t have come close to resulting in a near 2-to-1 payout. For anyone who still likes Seattle — count me among that group — there’s a smidge of value in laying the points.

Will either team score three straight times: Yes at minus-180 (risking $1.80 to win $1)

Sports books rake cash off of bettors looking for a decent payout by taking the plus-price on the “no” almost every year. Anticipation builds a perception that the game is so evenly matched it will be a nonstop back-and-forth battle. It rarely plays out that way. One team has scored three straight times in the Super Bowl for three consecutive years, and in five of the past six.

Total fumbles by both teams: Over 1.5 at plus-155

This is the closest bettors can get to prolonging the tiresome “Deflate Gate” narrative in wager form. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the whole ordeal is much ado about nothing, but football analyst Warren Sharp has some compelling evidence to the contrary. With regularly inflated balls, it’s reasonable to expect a better probability of fumbles from the Patriots. It’s complete luck which team recovers any given fumble, but the high payout makes it worth the risk.

Total receiving yards by Rob Gronkowski: Under 84.5 at minus-110

Seattle might not be the strongest at stopping tight ends, but that might be because it hasn’t put a heavy emphasis on defending them in most games. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will have a different approach against Gronkowski, the Patriots’ best weapon. The Seahawks have the size and physicality to frustrate Gronkowski, especially if Kam Chancellor spends as much time covering him as reported.

Click to enlarge photo

The Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 28-22 in overtime. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is pictured here.

Total rushing yards by Russell Wilson: Under 45.5 at minus-110

The Patriots’ unofficial mantra on defense is taking away what the opponent does best. For the Seahawks, that’s run the ball. Wilson led the NFL in the regular season with 7.2 yards per carry. New England, which doesn’t have a history of getting burned by mobile quarterbacks, will assign a spy on Wilson and prevent him from getting too far into the open field.

Will Russell Wilson throw an interception: No at plus-110

Now for the good news on Seattle’s quarterback: He’s not very turnover prone. Wilson has not thrown an interception in 22 of his 37 games over the last two seasons. Wilson’s four-interception blowout against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game was out of character and shouldn’t over-influence a much larger sample size.

Total receptions by Luke Willson: Over 2 at minus-110

The Patriots are the third-worst team in the league against tight ends, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Willson happens to have emerged as a useful threat for the Seahawks in the second half of the season. He’s caught 71 percent of his targets and rides a streak of four straight games with at least two receptions into the Super Bowl.

Total tackles by Richard Sherman: Under 3.5 at plus-110

It’s an annual strategy to consider taking the highest profile defensive player to go under his tackles total. The number is often inflated, anticipating a flood of “over” bets, which looks like the case again this year. Sherman has beaten 3.5 tackles in just one of the Seahawks’ last 12 games, and he only had four in the contest. The Patriots have publicly suggested they won’t throw in the shutdown cornerback’s direction much, giving him even less chances to rack up tackles.

Click to enlarge photo

Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman answers a question at a news conference for NFL Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Phoenix. The Seahawks play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015.

Player to score first Patriots touchdown: Shane Vereen at 8-to-1

Have to take a flier on one long shot, right? New England might find success by avoiding Seattle’s defensive backfield all together and throwing to receivers out of the backfield. Vereen specializes in such routes, establishing himself as a potential target in the props. One of the more attractive cross-sport wagers slots Vereen’s receiving yards as a pick’em against points made by Houston Rockets guard James Harden in his team’s game at Detroit Sunday.

Which will be greater: Patriots and Seahawks made field goals minus-0.5 over Number of completed rounds in Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz at UFC 183 at minus-150

Silva hasn’t fought in more than a year. It’s been closer to two years for Diaz. There’s no telling how either will perform Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The most likely path to victory for both of them is taking advantage of the other’s rustiness and scoring an early stoppage. Meanwhile, both defenses are stingy in the Super Bowl. They’re not going to surrender the end zone easily, meaning both teams are bound to settle for field goals once or twice at minimum.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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