Let’s talk about prop bets. The Super Bowl is the best day of the year for prop bettors. You can literally bet on everything from the coin toss, to the MVP, to the Gatorade color that will be dumped on the winning coach’s head.
That said, there are two different ways to bet on props, which I laid out on Tuesday’s Bets Against the Spread show:
We can categorize Super Bowl props into two categories: bets to make money and bets to have fun. If you’re just looking at props to increase your enjoyment during the game, that’s totally fine! Bet on whatever makes you happy. We could all use a little more happiness in our lives in 2021.
But if you’re looking to make some money during the Super Bowl, we need to approach prop betting a little more strategically. We might even — **gasps** — have to do some math.
Let’s dive in and take a look at some of my favorite prop bets for Super Bowl LV.
Will there be a safety?
Pick: No (Anything better than -1200)
Unfortunately, it seems like most of the value has already been bet out of this prop. This line opened with the “no” around -900, but it’s already up above -1200 at most locations. The best line I could find on the “no” was at William Hill, but that is listed at -1300.
Why is -1200 the magic number for this prop? Because that is what the true odds of a safety occurring in this contest should be. There has been a safety in nine of 54 Super Bowls (16.7%), but that is a very small sample size. If we look at all playoff games since 2001-02, there have been just 18 safeties in 221 contests (8.1%). I’m much more interested in the larger sample size trend.
If we take 8.1% and convert it to betting odds, we arrive at a number of -1136 (approximately). Anything better than that would be considered a value, while anything worse would be -EV. If you can find a better number elsewhere in the betting market, I suggest grabbing it. Betting on props where you have to lay that much juice isn’t fun, but the math confirms that it’s the correct decision in the long run.
Additionally, you can use this same logic on a variety of other props. Any prop where the payout is so split between the two options is almost certainly going to result in the side with the worse odds being the correct bet. People want to bet on the long shots because the odds of a big payday are sexy, but the true odds are almost never in their favor.
Pick: Scotty Miller under 20.5 receiving yards (-114) & under 1.5 receptions (-167)
Miller is someone that I am actively looking to fade vs. the Chiefs. Antonio Brown is expected to be back in the lineup — he practiced in full on Thursday — which means Miller should operate as the No. 4 WR at best for the Buccaneers. Miller has caught one pass or fewer in nine of 11 games since Brown made his team debut in Week 9, and one of them was last week with Brown out of the lineup.
The yardage total also feels aggressive Miller: He’s posted 20 receiving yards or fewer in eight of his past 11 games. The Bucs will probably throw the ball more than usual vs. the Chiefs, but Miller is simply too far down the pecking order for that to matter.
Pick: Cameron Brate under 3.5 catches (-114) and under 30.5 receiving yards (-114)
Brate is another member of the Bucs’ passing attack that I’m looking to fade. He’s emerged as a legitimate pass-catching threat during the postseason. He’s caught at least four passes in two of his past three games, and he’s finished with at least 50 receiving yards in both contests.
That said, Brate is still playing far fewer snaps than Rob Gronkowski — he’s been at 48% or less in each of the past three weeks — and he’s coming off his worst playoff performance last week vs. the Packers. With Brown likely back in the lineup, that doesn’t leave a ton of snaps and targets for Brate.
Additionally, Brate popped up on the injury report with a back injury. He was a full participant at practice on Wednesday, but he was downgraded to limited on Thursday. That means there’s a chance that Brate is playing at less than full strength vs. the Chiefs.
Pick: Darrel Williams under 12.5 receiving yards (+100)
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Chiefs’ backfield heading into the Super Bowl. Clyde Edwards-Helaire served as the lead back for most of the year, but he split the snaps virtually right down the middle with Williams last week. Williams had the edge as a rusher — he finished with 13 carries for 52 yards — but Edwards-Helaire was more involved in the passing game.
That is part of a larger trend with Williams. In his past three games with Edwards-Helaire active, he’s run a route on just 21% of pass plays when he’s been on the field. With CEH out of the lineup, that figure jumps to 60%. Williams finished with just one catch for nine yards in the AFC Championship game vs. the Bills, and I think he should be looking at a similar workload vs. the Bucs.
The fact that Le’Veon Bell is expected to suit up on further complicates things in the Chiefs’ backfield.
If you’re feeling frisky, you can also grab the under on 2.5 catches for Williams, but that prop has been juiced up across the industry.
Pick: Shaq Barrett will record a sack (+115)
What happens when one of the best pass-rushers in football plays a team with a banged up offensive line? I’m hoping for at least one sack.
Barrett has been an absolute monster for the Bucs since the start of last season. He logged 19.5 sacks in 2019, and he followed that up with 8.0 sacks this season. His production this season hasn’t been quite as impressive, but he still graded out as the Bucs’ top edge rusher this season according to Pro Football Focus. He made his presence felt in a big way last week vs. the Packers, finishing with three sacks and four quarterback hits.
Now, he gets to take on a Chiefs’ team that will likely be playing without both of their starting offensive tackles. Eric Fisher has been ruled out with an Achilles injury, while Mitchell Schwartz remains a long shot to be activated off IR. In other words, Barrett should have a massive advantage on the edge in the Super Bowl.
If you want to double down on the Bucs’ pass rush in this contest, you can grab the over on 4.5 combined sacks between both teams at +120. The Bucs got to Mahomes twice in their first meeting this season — including one sack from Barrett — and Tom Brady’s lack of mobility always makes him a threat to go down. Joe Holka laid this out as his favorite prop on the Line Movement Bets Against the Spread show.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs -7 (+170)
I’m bullish on the Chiefs heading into this contest — you can read my full betting breakdown here — and I think there’s a chance they can run away with this one. The Bucs’ best chance of winning this game is getting to Patrick Mahomes with their pass rush, but if they’re unable to do that, there’s a chance that this one could get ugly.
With that in mind, I’m interested in grabbing the Chiefs on an alternate spread of -7.0. That isn’t a crazy line by any stretch, but the +170 payout gives me some extra payout potential if the Chiefs win by more than a touchdown. I’m not looking to get much crazier than that.
Pick: Patrick Mahomes to throw for 3+ touchdowns in Chiefs win (+176)
This is one of my favorite props on the entire slate. I’m obviously picking the Chiefs to win, and as long as that happens, I don’t see how Mahomes throws for less than three touchdowns.
The Chiefs are currently implied for 29.5 points, and that might be a conservative estimate to be quite frank. They have been absolutely elite when Andy Reid and Mahomes have had an extra week to prepare, averaging over 35 points in eight contests. That number would likely be even higher if not for the fact that Mahomes got hurt vs. the Browns during their first playoff contests this season.
Three touchdown passes also not been that tough of a hurdle for Mahomes throughout his career. He’s tossed for at least three touchdowns in four of seven playoff games, and he’s also done it in 21 of 46 career regular season games.
The fact that the Bucs’ defense is so elite against the run should only lead to more passing for Mahomes, particularly around the goal line.
There is obviously a formula where the Bucs defense shuts down Mahomes, but that’s why I like the correlated parlay with the Chiefs winning the game. If Mahomes throws for less than three touchdown passes, the Chiefs are likely losing.
Pick: Patrick Mahomes to win MVP (-105), Shaq Barrett to win MVP (+5000)
Mahomes is the clear favorite to win the MVP at -105, but I still think he’s the best betting value for this award. The current moneyline odds give the Chiefs roughly a 62.3% chance of beating the Bucs, and the current MVP odds suggest that someone other than Mahomes will win this award roughly 20% of the time. I just don’t see that happening.
Mahomes won the MVP last year despite a relatively pedestrian performance — 286 yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, and two interceptions — and quarterbacks have won 14 of the past 22 MVPs. It’s possible that Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce could steal the award if one of them goes off, but Mahomes typically spreads the ball around a bit.
My one hedge with Tampa Bay is going to be Barrett to win the MVP at +5000. If Kansas City loses, I would imagine that the Bucs’ pass rush played a huge part. If Barrett can finish with something like three sacks and a forced fumble, that should be enough to put him in contention. It would also take a subpar game from Brady, but he’s only won the MVP in four of his six Super Bowl wins. That at least opens the door for someone else on the Bucs to take home the award if they can pull off the upset.