Super Bowl XLVIII: Prop Betting Our Way to the Pick Against the Spread

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2014

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:   Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos calls a play against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's Super Bowl XLVIII. It's the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, the best teams in their respective conferences all season. Do you really need an intro to an article about player prop bets and the spread?

You do? Too bad. 

Consider this a life lesson: You don't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes—I'm getting dangerously close to a copyright infringement. Let's just get on with it.


Marshawn Lynch UNDER 90.5 Rushing Yards: +105

Sit down, Seattle fans. I get it. You're loud. But all that damn noise is unnecessary here and even downright rude.

Yes, Marshawn Lynch is a beast. However, maybe his best trait is his silence.

Take a lesson from your running back.

Then try this stat on for size: The Broncos and the Seahawks allowed the same number of rushing yards during the regular season. It's true. Both defenses only allowed 1,626 yards rushing, or 101.6 per game.

Surprisingly, Denver's success isn't born from teams throwing to keep pace with Manning. The Seattle defense only saw two more carries on the entire year. 

JERSEY CITY, NJ - JANUARY 29:    Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks sits in front of the media during an availability January 29, 2014 in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will meet at Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife St
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Also, the Seahawks know they can't rely entirely on their defense to bring home this title. Peyton Manning is operating at too high of a level to be completely shut down, which means the offense will be creative to find ways to move the ball and score points. 

Lynch will still get a nice workload, but all the factors in play here point to a slightly below-average-for-BeastMode day. Plus, it's one of the few non-outlandish wagers that pay in the positive (meaning you can win more money than you wager).


Peyton Manning OVER 0.5 Passing Touchdowns in First Quarter: +120

There shouldn't be any need to hit you over the head with Manning's stats this year. He's on a tear the likes of which haven't been seen since Lil Jon in the early 2000s.

(For those too young for that reference, Lil Jon happened and he was huge. I don't really have an explanation. We're all young once.)

Anyway, Manning has knocked down every challenge that has been thrown at him this season. He had two weeks to daydream and scheme with approaching-guru-status offensive coordinator Adam Gase. They're going to come up with something slightly funky but particularly effective and hit the Seahawks with it early to knock the defense on its heels. 

So I'm taking a wobbly touchdown pass in the first quarter. It'll be the perfect blend of gamesmanship and opportunity with Peyton showing Richard Sherman and Pete Carroll exactly how many people the Seahawks will have to cover on every play. 

Don't be scared to take Jacob Tamme as the first person to score a touchdown at 18-1. Stranger things have happened.


Russell Wilson Throws First Touchdown Pass: +175

The principles above apply here but have to be twisted a bit to fit the point. 

First, Lynch is going to have a tough time against that Denver defense, especially in the beginning when it's all jacked up and everyone will be expecting Seattle to establish the run.

Second, Russell Wilson will also have two weeks to prepare. He and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will take some chances with Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. You know Pete Carroll won't shy away from a gamble. 

If you believe, as I do, that both coaching staffs and quarterbacks are smart enough to put on a show with a scripted drive out of the gates, then you're basically just betting the coin toss with better odds on this bet.


Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos -3

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:  Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos completes a fourth quarter reception against  Alfonzo Dennard #37 of the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When I suffered through the first 10 weeks of the regular season with my predictions (like many), they laughed and ridiculed. Now? I've posted a 54-46-4 record against the spread over the last 10 weeks, including a 6-3-1 postseason record.

I'm feeling it. 

These two teams are neck and neck in so many ways. As covered above, the rushing defenses are stout, and Seattle's superiority in the secondary is offset by Denver's advantage in the passing game. 

So how do you handle the best defense in the league? With Peyton Manning. 

And three points in the playoffs isn't enough to take the points. With that small of a margin, you have to roll with your straight-up winner and hope for the best.

The Broncos have Peyton Manning. That's why I have to lay the points.

Pick: Denver -3


All odds were provided by All advanced metrics, grades, rankings and stats were courtesy of Pro Football Focus and require a subscription.