The NFL season concludes with Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a sporting showdown accompanied by a musical extravaganza. Read on for insights into this year’s Super Bowl prop bets.
What prop bets are available?
Just as the league finale is an intensified version of what has gone before, the number of betting opportunities for the Super Bowl will also expand greatly compared to any other game, particularly in the proposition markets and for the half-time interval.
Most of Demi Lovato's public performances of the national anthem came in at under two minutes.
Super Bowl prop bets range from individual player or team-based over or under bets to outcomes and events that are largely peripheral to the actual match.
These include game-based events, such as the number of pass attempts made by either of the quarterbacks exceeding or falling under a benchmark figure, and catches or carries attempted by the receivers or running backs.
Some focus on relatively rare events, such as whether a safety will be scored or if a side will attempt an onside kick off.
There are also plenty of novelty bets to cater for the musical side of the spectacle. You can attempt to predict the set list for the half-time entertainment and even how long it will take for the national anthem to be sung.
This year that honour goes to Demi Lovato, who has previously performed the anthem at other sporting events. The first three of her four public performances came in at comfortably under two minutes, but her most recent in 2017 was a prolonged two minutes and 11 seconds.
Over the last decade, the anthem has a median of one minute and 53.5 seconds from the start to the designated finish.
Other betting options can be considered pure novelty, most notably the outcome of the coin toss, where there is never any value to be had.
How to analyse the stats
The previous form of the participants isn’t restricted to the musical performances. The NFL is a data-rich competition and information for both the current season and the statistical performances of the players is readily available online.
The quarterbacks invariably attract the most attention, particularly with the involvement of young talents such as Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, although there are a few common pitfalls that can help to spot a potential mispricing.
It may be profitable to look at the overs for Mahomes' rushing yardage or total rushing attempts.
Averages are the most obvious route to predicting the number of times a player will attempt to pass the ball. However, a single outlier may skew a simple mean value, whereas if the median value is used, the influence of potentially rogue outcomes will be diminished.
Similarly, injuries suffered during a regular season game, or stats for a player returning from a layoff may impact on seasonal averages.
For instance, Mahomes left the seventh game of the season against Denver with a dislocated kneecap, at which point his median number of rushing attempts was two. He remained a pure passer on his return after missing just two games, but then gradually improved his rushing attempts to a median of 6.5 in his final four regular and two postseason games.
He ran for 53 yards in both postseason games and was an active runner in his injury-free rookie season.
Many mobile quarterbacks, such as Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, have used their legs to profitable effect as a foil against San Francisco’s elite pass defence.
With Mahomes appearing to be at reliable fitness, it may be profitable to look at the overs on the niche market for his rushing yardage or total rushing attempts.
Passing prop bets
The more traditional quarterback passing props bets can also be influenced by the likely game winner and the strength of the opposition.
The losing Super Bowl team had more passing attempts than the winner in 13 out of the last 18 contests, and Mahomes follows the pattern of trailing quarterbacks by going aerial more frequently compared to when his side is protecting a lead by running the ball more often and throwing less.
The current line for Mahomes’ total passing attempts lies very close to both his median passing attempts and San Francisco’s pass attempts faced at 35.
If you expect Kansas City to win, going under for Mahomes’ passing attempts is the likely value play, whereas opting for the over is more viable if you think the Chiefs will be forced to chase the game.
Mahomes’ median gross passing yardage is 315 in completed games, which would make quotes in the low 300s appealing. However, the 49ers have only allowed 300 or more gross yards in three of their 18 matches this season and their median yards allowed is an impressive 184.
MVP and touchdown considerations
The game’s MVP award has recently been monopolised by players from the winning team and dominated by the offence. In the last 18 seasons, 11 quarterbacks and four wide receivers have taken the accolade, compared to just two linebackers and a single safety for the defence.
Every Super Bowl has had at least one tochdown.
Unsurprisingly, Mahomes is the short priced favourite, ahead of San Francisco’s passer Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49er was underused in the postseason, but has thrown frequently and with precision and length in the regular season against sides who also made the playoffs.
Despite taking a backseat in the postseason, Garoppolo shouldn’t be dismissed as a likely winner, particularly if you are confident San Francisco will lift the trophy.
Finally, the first touchdown scorer is a hugely popular market, but if you want your bet to potentially run until the final moments of the game, last touchdown scorer is also available.
Every Super Bowl has had at least one touchdown, and one way to keep players from both sides in a variety of positions on your side could be to take the over or under shirt number of the first or last six-point scorer, currently pitched at 26.5.