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October 16, 2018

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Prop culture: Take our cheat sheet with you to the sports book before betting on the Super Bowl

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Christopher DeVargas

Super Bowl prop bets are posted at the Westgate Superbook, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.

With hundreds of options available at local sports books, the volume of Super Bowl props can paralyze gamblers looking for action on the big game. That’s why a cheat sheet can be useful ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl 52 between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. Here are eight prop bets to consider (with Westgate’s opening lines), spanning different types of wagers.

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

This might look like a pricey side to bet, but it’s really a bargain. The line, where the “no” comes back at plus-150 (risking $1 to win $1.50), implies a 62 percent chance that it will occur, but it happens more often that, especially in the Super Bowl. One team has scored at least three straight times in the Super Bowl in seven of the past 10 years, and in 14 of the past 20 years

Alternate total Under 42.5 points plus-180

The Super Bowl over/under probably would have been closer to this number than its current price, 48, if the Eagles hadn’t exploded for 38 points in the NFC Championship Game. Getting nearly 2-to-1 off a one-game overreaction is terrific value. Both the Patriots’ and Eagles’ defenses stiffened as the season went on, helping cut down on the number of points in their games. Since the season’s midpoint, both teams have seen six of their 10 games fall under the total.

Tom Brady to win Super Bowl MVP minus-120

Barring something wild transpiring, Brady should claim the MVP award if the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl in 16 years. He has taken the honor four of the five times New England has won despite worthy performances from teammates in each instance. Banking on him to do it again, therefore, is a makeshift way to increase the payout if the Patriots win outright. New England is minus-180 on the money line, a far less attractive price than Brady’s relatively diminished MVP odds.

Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown? “Yes” at plus-130

“Gronk” is a nightmare matchup for any team, but especially for the Eagles. Philadelphia has no clear foil for the 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end. Gronkowski’s touchdown total this season is relatively low by his standards, but the Patriots were trying to limit his usage and maintain his health. There will be no such hesitation to get the ball to Gronkowski with the Lombardi Trophy on the line.

Jay Ajayi receiving yards: Over 17.5 minus-110

The Patriots aren’t without matchup issues of their own. They’ve had a recurring problem in recent years defending running backs in the passing game, and that shortcoming hasn’t been resolved this season. New England ranks 22nd in the NFL against route-running backs, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings. That could spell trouble against Ajayi, who isn’t known as a pass-catcher but has seemed more comfortable in that role lately. He’s had more than 17 receiving yards in three of four games he has played with Nick Foles at quarterback.

Devin MCCourty total tackles: Under 5.5

This number fits right with McCourty’s average of 5.4 tackles per game, but the veteran safety will likely be less responsible for run support during the Super Bowl. He has already emphasized that New England can’t over-commit to stopping the run, because of how much run-pass option Philadelphia has implemented during the playoffs.

Kristaps Porzingis total points and rebounds plus-28.5 vs. Zach Ertz total yards

Cross-sports props are among the toughest to handicap, even though they typically dominate the conversation. Here’s one where there might provide some value. Porzingis, the New York Knicks’ star, has averaged 35 combined points and rebounds in two games against the Hawks this year, and anything near that number would set a high bar for the Eagles’ tight end. New England figures to scheme heavily against Ertz, who has excelled as a security-blanket option for Foles in recent weeks.

More passing yards: Nick Foles plus-47.5 vs. Tom Brady at minus-110

This number is too astronomical, and there are too many ways for Foles to cover. If the Eagles upset the Patriots, it’s highly likely Foles will have continued his hot streak and succeeded toe-to-toe against Brady. If the Patriots are blowing out the Eagles, the Pats will stop throwing late in the game, which will result in plenty of garbage time for Foles to catch Brady.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.