When the Packers and Chiefs met in the 1967 NFL-AFL Championship, the emphasis and the attention was on the game itself.  That's no longer the case for Super Bowls as the action on the field has become secondary to the media event. Prop bets have naturally followed the same flow with side wagers this year including the Gatorade flavor to be showered on the winning coach.

This is the kind of expansion NFL fans can support. The list of Super Bowl props for Sunday’s big game has mushroomed to biblical proportions.

You can bet on just about anything even remotely related to the matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The props market is a microcosm of the Super Bowl broadcast itself: the entertainment and the commercials are just as important as the football.

The standard prop bets are still available, thankfully. You can wager on things like the total number of pass interceptions by both teams (under 2½ is drawing big chalk at –250) or whether there will be a successful 2-point conversion (No is priced at –800). Some of these bets have more value than others, enough that many sharp handicappers who normally avoid exotic bets will take a look at the props list.

Sometimes the bets will contradict themselves from an odds standpoint. Here’s a Super Bowl prop that merits some attention:

What will the surname initial of the first touchdown scorer be?

  • I – M  +110
  • A – H  +150
  • N – Z  +175

The first grouping includes three of the top five favorites in the prop bet for which individual will score the first TD: Randy Moss (+400), Laurence Maroney (+600) and Brandon Jacobs (+800). Those three players alone add up to +156. But the only other player on the board in that category is Eli Manning at +2200. Getting everyone named I through M at +110 isn’t much of a bargain in comparison.

A little bit of math (made more simple if you have an odds calculator handy – online tools link) and some other rudimentary skills can help you safely navigate these football-based props. The non-football bets are more of an exercise in surfing the pop culture zeitgeist, making the occasional smart choice but keeping the emphasis on having fun.

What song will Tom Petty open with?
Petty is this year’s halftime entertainment in Glendale; FOX advertised this fact during previous NFL games using “Runnin' Down a Dream” off the 1989 album Full Moon Fever. That’s a strong indicator the song will at least be part of what will be a short set, although a medley like the one Prince performed last year is certainly possible.

“Runnin' Down a Dream” is the favorite at +110, followed by the 1977 classic “American Girl” at +175.

Color of liquid winning head coach is doused in?
Football lore has it that Bill Parcells got the first Gatorade shower in 1985, courtesy of Jim Burt and Harry Carson, when the Giants beat the Washington Redskins 17-3 during a midseason game. The Gatorade was orange (+200), as it was when Parcells took a bath after winning Super Bowl XXI. But Bill Belichick was doused in a clear liquid (+300) after winning Super Bowl XXXIX over the Eagles.

Halftime commercial to have highest rating
Budweiser is the big favorite at –180, followed by godaddy.com at +275. Last year’s winner was a commercial by Hewlett-Packard; the Bud Light ads didn’t even crack the Top 3. So Anheuser-Busch has reportedly taken out nine (!) Super Bowl ads this year; Bud should be the value pick here by sheer volume alone.

Length of National Anthem
American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will sing the Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XLII, presumably because FOX is the television host for both programs. The over/under for this prop is 103.5 seconds. Sparks took about 102 seconds to complete the anthem at Game 1 of the 2007 NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers.