Super Bowl props are among the most popular betting items of the year, but which ones can bettors trust to turn them a profit? Join us inside as we tell you which are the best Super Bowl picks.
The Carolina Panthers may be drawing most of the action on the Super Bowl 50 game line against the Denver Broncos, but many bettors will look to make some side money on the myriad super bowl prop bets available for the game. Most of these bets are scoring based; given that Carolina and Denver boasted two of the top six scoring defenses and were the two best defenses by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, you might expect to fade the over on most of these bets.
Of course, the money line balances out a lot of these props, making for several tricky dilemmas. Reviewing the list, here are the props with the best current potential to deliver a profit to bettors, as well as the ones you should avoid completely. All props below at Bovada.
Alternate Spread: Broncos -1 (+200)
At the current line of +5.5, the point spread implies that Denver has a roughly 31 percent chance of winning. If you lay the points here, you're essentially betting on an outright Broncos win, something that looks rather juicy with that +200 moneyline.
However, statistical models suggest the Broncos' chances of winning are much higher than the betting public gives them. For instance, FiveThirtyEight's Elo ratings give Denver a 41 percent chance of victory, a huge gap from the point spread odds. FiveThirtyEight's model suggests the Broncos should only be roughly 3 to 3.5-point dogs.
This alternate line leaves less room for a backdoor cover from Carolina. Given how heavily the action has come on the Panthers, it's about time for bettors to zig the other way and exploit one of the alternate spreads on the board.
Total Successful Field Goals: Over 4.5 (+300)
You can also bet on over 3.5 total made field goals at even odds, but just one more successful kick would earn you three times as much on the dollar. Brandon McManus and Graham Gano were both among the top-seven kickers in field goals attempted during the regular season, so there is a decent chance we see at least five attempts in this game.
Strangely, neither the Panthers nor the Broncos were elite red-zone defenses during the regular season. The former ranked 10th in opponent red-zone touchdown percentage, while the latter shockingly ranked 20th despite all its ostensible strengths. However, McManus and Gano each attempted over half their regular-season field goals from beyond 40 yards, suggesting that both should have multiple opportunities from outside the red zone.
Greg Olsen Scores a Touchdown (Even)
The Broncos defense has no fatal weakness, but defending tight ends is the closest thing to a crack in the Orange Crush. By DVOA, Denver was worse at defending opposing tight ends than any other receiver position, though it still ranked a very respectable eighth overall. However, as the Patriots illustrated last week, a star tight end can put up huge numbers against the Broncos when he serves as the primary target in the offense.
Greg Olsen fits that description to a tee, having received 27 more targets than any other Carolina receiver during the regular season. Olsen's consistency is more about yardage than scores, but given the strength of the Broncos on the perimeter, he should serve as the fulcrum of Carolina's offensive game plan and receive a healthy dose of looks from Cam Newton.
Any Non-Football Prop
Sorry, but if you're betting on the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach or the result of the coin flip, that's not done with any real logic. There's no problem with having a little fun and begging the national anthem singer to draw out those notes just a little longer, but don't place those bets with any expectations.
Cam Newton for MVP (-130)
It's hard to envision anyone besides Newton taking the Super Bowl MVP if Carolina wins. Perhaps the Panthers overwhelm Manning like Seattle did two years ago and pummel the Broncos into submission, thereby handing the award to someone like Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman or Kawann Short. But that outcome seems unlikely, especially considering that Manning has yet to throw an interception in either of his first two playoff games.
And yet, these odds are simply unpalatable to place any money on Newton. Manning, who has the positional and narrative advantage, sits far behind Newton as the second favorite at +275. The probable regular-season MVP is a deserved favorite, but bookmakers have set this prop up as a no-win scenario for bettors.
Demaryius Thomas Scores a Touchdown (+110)
Among Broncos players, Thomas is tied with C.J. Anderson and Emmanuel Sanders for the shortest odds to reach the end zone at any point in Super Bowl 50. And yet, Thomas scored just six touchdowns all season, his lowest total since becoming a starter in 2012.
Though Thomas' target total has remained extremely healthy -- he's had at least six in every game this season -- the possibility of playing the majority of his snaps across from Norman is a frightening possibility. Carolina allowed an average of just 1.3 passing touchdowns per game during the regular season, and with Denver transforming into a ground-bound offense, Thomas is a poor bet at those odds to score.