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Super Bowl Week: Endless Props

   by Bryan Leonard - 01/29/2007

We are well into the two week Super Bowl media stretch, endless stories and angles on the big game. As a handicapper, I would urge everyone to pay less attention to the Super Bowl sidelights and more on the endless array of prop wagers bubbling up.

With only one game left in the football season, oddsmakers have done their homework with the side and total. They will get their biggest handle of the season on this one game, so there really isn't any wagering value available in the side or total.

What will we be asking ourselves after the Super Bowl? Either one of two questions will be answered. If Chicago covers: How come the Bears, the No. 1 seed in the NFC and one with a Top 5 defense, were getting so little respect from oddsmakers? Or, if the Colts cover, it was so obvious that the dominant AFC was going to crush the NFC again, didn't everyone see it coming?

There is endless data already to support either one of those, such as: The underdog is 4-1 against the spread the last five Super Bowls, and the AFC has won seven of the last nine, including an 11-point cover a year ago.

There is plenty of value, however, in proposition bets. This is where the fun comes in. Oddsmakers are throwing tons of balloons in the air on prop bets with the idea of simply getting more money in so they can keep their 10 percent handle. Of course, with more betting balloons in the sky, the odds increase on finding a weak number.

Picking who will score the first touchdown in the Super Bowl is difficult, but there are plenty of other prop wagers where the odds are in your favor.

One prop that caught my eye was Chicago RB Cedric Benson to have over/under 50.5 rushing yards. Benson shares time with RB Thomas Jones and Jones is the better back. Benson averaged 43 yards per game, playing in 15 regular season games. In the playoffs, Benson had 60 yards against the Saints, though just 2.5 yards per carry, and 45 yards against Seattle (just 3.8 ypc). In each game the Bears led at the half.

Those are two weak run defenses, too. While the Colts were the worst rushing defense in the regular season, they have been sensational in the postseason, largely because of the return of aggressive safety Bob Sanders. With Chicago a significant dog in the Super Bowl, the most likely scenario is the Colts getting out to a lead, so how many carries and yards will Benson get? It seems like a bit high of a number, so I would lean toward the under.

More importantly, that's the kind of analysis that you should do when looking to identify prop bets. Make your own number, compare it with the actual, then do the research to see if you made the better number. Oddsmakers do make mistakes, which is what winning handicapping on Super Sunday (and every other day of the sports betting calendar) is all about!

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