Throwing Darts: Handicapping the Big Game prop sheet

Get out your scouting tape and your clipboard, it’s time to bet on Pink’s National Anthem (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Get out your scouting tape and your clipboard, it’s time to bet on Pink’s National Anthem (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

The Super Bowl isn’t just a National Holiday, it’s a National Gambling Holiday. With that in mind, we gathered up our three resident handicappers (Brad Evans, Dalton Del Don, Scott Pianowski) and asked them to sort through the sharp money — and the silly money — that’s going down Sunday. We also picked up a couple of quick answers from Andy Behrens, before he headed to the alligator pits. (All lines from Bovada, unless otherwise indicated.)

First thing’s first. Who’s winning this game? (And yes, our winner prediction will shade the props to come)

Brad — Philadelphia 27 New England 24 (OVER 48)

Dalton — New England 27, Philadelphia 20

Scott — New England 27, Philadelphia 20. An edge at quarterback and head coach is a huge advantage, and the extra rest comes at a perfect time for New England’s two critical players. (Yes, I have the same score as Dalton. No, I don’t know how to take that.)

Andy — Patriots, 24-18. I think Philadelphia has most of the defensive ingredients you need to challenge New England, but I still don’t believe the Eagles’ offense can get to 24 points. I have a weird feeling that Philly lands on a strange point total.

If someone likes the Patriots, or the Eagles, should they just bet the MVP odds instead?

Brad — It’s a justifiable strategy though the odds on Tom Brady (-110) and Nick Foles (+325) are rather unexciting, comparatively speaking. Personally, If I’m stabbing in the dark, Jay Ajayi at +1800 would be the move. As Sharp Football duly noted, the Patriots have struggled massively containing ground games operating out of 11 formations (6.6 ypc allowed), which the Eagles feature often.

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Dalton — It certainly makes sense to lower the vig and go with Tom Brady if you want to back New England, but with Philly, there are far too many wild cards who could win the award.

Scott — The odds on Brady have shifted significantly, but they’re still probably an overlay if you like New England winning. The MVP voters have QB myopia, and it’s very difficult for a star quarterback to not win the Super Bowl MVP trophy.

Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl MVP belongs to Troy Brown or Ty Law — Brady had less than 100 yards before the final field-goal drive, and three of the passes on that drive were dump-offs to J.R. Redmond. Eli Manning’s first Super Bowl MVP was a highway robbery, stolen from Justin Tuck’s mantle. Terry Bradshaw’s second award probably belongs to John Stallworth. We can play this game all day. Heck, James White would have been my pick a year ago, not that Brady was a poor selection.

What is your favorite prop for someone who just wants to win money?

Brad — Will Terrell Owens be mentioned during the broadcast (-140)?

Rob a bank. Extract plasma. Liquidate the kids’ college fund. This is happening. Why? Well, besides the obvious Super Bowl XXXIX connection, a little organization called the Pro Football Hall of Fame plans to announce this year’s class on Saturday. If T.O. doesn’t get in, it would be equivalent to leaving the Phillie Phanatic out of the Mascot Hall of Fame (Oh, it’s real). Multiple ways to win typically means easy money.

Dalton — It’s boring, but the best bet by far is Tom Brady to win MVP (-110). I like the Pats to win, and Brady likely plays well if they do. Remember, he was voted MVP in this game last year despite a teammate catching 14 balls while totaling 139 yards and scoring three touchdowns.

Scott — I’ll have some tickets on the Patriots money line, and Brady as MVP.

What is your favorite silly prop for someone who just wants to have fun?

Brad — From BetDSI.com: Will Cris Collinsworth say “Pro Football Focus” during the broadcast? (Yes -200; No +150). LOW. HANGING. FRUIT. Collinsworth owns PFF and has referenced it often on telecasts throughout the season using snazzy animations to feature the site’s advanced metrics. This is the biggest platform in the world. As a businessman, you know he’ll pump the brand. Hammer the living daylights out of this.

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Dalton — First player to score a touchdown: Rob Gronkowski +750. This bet will be decided relatively soon, won’t be ambiguous and will end when everyone’s attention is still in full. Moreover, +750 isn’t a bad payout for someone who’s the favorite.

Pink’s National Anthem, over 2 minutes (-165) or under 2 minutes (+125)

Brad — UNDER. According to Oddshark, the average anthem length from the past 12 Super Bowls was 1:56.2. Pink is a phenomenal singer and performer, but her style isn’t Whitney Houston. Her singing comp is more Kelly Clarkson who belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1:33. In the end, Pink clocks in just shy of the recent average.

Dalton — OVER. I feel like the juice knows something here. And I’m usually not big on trends, but four of the past five anthems have gone longer than two minutes. Also, Pink’s performance at the Grammy’s was good, but Kesha’s was better.

Scott — UNDER. Pink isn’t a stylist, she’s a puncher, a scrapper. She makes her point, leaves a mark. The divas tend to go long. Pink is a different kind of entertainer.

Andy — Give me the under on the anthem time, by a lot. I can’t see Pink giving us a marathon.

Al Michaels loves to slyly wink at the TV viewers (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Al Michaels loves to slyly wink at the TV viewers (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Will Al Michaels Refer to the point spread? (Yes +110, No -150)

Brad — YES. With potential legalized gambling a popular topic and understanding Michaels’ tendencies this is a fantastic wager to place, though Warden Goodell and his antiquated viewpoints on the subject may nix any attempt.

Dalton — NO, at least not directly. I always worry wagering on props like these, where the winner may be unclear.

Scott — I have to punch the YES ticket. Michaels loves to be an imp, it’s one of his most endearing qualities. We’ve enjoyed this for decades.

Times Giselle Bündchen is shown (over 1.5 -130, under 1.5 -110)

Brad — OVER. Clearly Giselle is a sight for sore eyes. Why on earth would any television producer want to cut away to unscripted reactions from a world famous supermodel? Sarcasm aside, this is another “back up the truck” bet.

Dalton — UNDER. I remember usually thinking over here yet later realizing how little the camera finds her. She’ll be busy talking trash texting Wes Welker.

Scott — I lean to the OVER here, but it’s mostly because I expect New England to win and that makes Giselle air-time more practical.

Greater total, Nick Foles completions (-130) or Kemba Walker points? (-110)

Dalton — FOLES. Walker has averaged around 22.1 points this year, which is right around the amount of completions New England surrendered per game. But give me Foles in a game that could see Philly forced to throw more than usual.

Scott — WALKER. Maybe I’m still scarred at the run Walker went on in 2011, the 11-game barrage that lifted an ordinary Connecticut team to a Big East Tournament title and the NCAA title. Plus he’ll be rested for Sunday, and he’s been a little more assertive as the trade deadline beckons.

Most rushing yards: Dion Lewis (NE)+150 James White (NE)+1200 Rex Burkhead (NE)+1200 Jay Ajayi (PHI)-140 LeGarrette Blount (PHI)+500

Brad — AJAYI. Again, due to New England’s well-documented problems defending the run in 11 formations, this is a no-brainer. If the Eagles remain competitive, which I obviously believe they will, the former ‘Phin coasts to 100-plus yards and scores the in-game rushing title.

Dalton — LEWIS. No workhorses here, so I’ll take the most talented back who’s also on the team favored to win.

Scott — It’s another case of you’re going to chase the team you think will win. LEWIS has been a workhorse for the last two months, and New England loves to wear down another team’s defensive front, then let its athletic OL go to work.

Who will have more Passing Yards in the game? Tom Brady (NE) -25½-155 Nick Foles (PHI) +25½+125

Brad — BRADY -25.5. This spread seems absurd. Foles was brilliant against Minnesota, but I suspect the ground game will be stressed from start to finish. Brady, meanwhile, seems like a shoo-in for 290-plus, a feat five passers accomplished against Philly this season.

Dalton — BRADY. The contrarian play.

Scott — BRADY. One team wants to hide its QB, one team does not.

Yo Soy Fiesta isn’t going to miss this one (AP)
Yo Soy Fiesta isn’t going to miss this one (AP)

Total Receiving Yards – Rob Gronkowski (NE) 75.5

Dalton — OVER.

Scott — Doesn’t this seem about six yards too high? With Gronk coming off a concussion but still the primary focus of the Patriots passing game, I have to assume Philly will devote all resources to contain him. I expect the receivers and backs to be Brady’s first choices Sunday. UNDER on the Patriots Glorified G.

Longest TD of the game, 43.5 yards

Dalton — UNDER.

Scott — UNDER seems like the play. The New England defense is all about bending-and-not-breaking, forcing you to string together long drives. They do not want you beating them with splash plays. And the Patriots aren’t really a team that scores in lightning bolts, either. Brandin Cooks is a good player, but he’s been a mild disappointment in his first Patriots season.

Alternative Point Spreads

Brad — Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 +275. This happens and I’ll triumphantly run the Philadelphia Museum of Art stairs until exhaustion, likely one flight.

Dalton — Patriots -17.5 +450.

Scott — One of the New England blowout lines makes sense, anything from -14.5 +350 and up. While I’m calling for a competitive game, no one would be shocked if the Patriots figured out Nick Foles over the last two weeks. And while Belichick downplays all the Super Bowl experience talk, I don’t buy it — the venue is different, the crowd is different, the pace of the game is different. Being around the block a few times has at least some value.

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