It's officially Super Bowl Weekend, as the Carolina Panthers prepare to face the Denver Broncos, while the rest of the country prepares to make wagers on the game.
There will be an estimated $4.2 billion worth of bets placed on Super Bowl 50, per the American Gaming Association via Darren Heitner of Forbes.com, and prop bets are becoming increasingly more popular.
Bettors at the Westgate SuperBook, which is the largest sports book in Las Vegas, will make more than 60 percent of their wagers on prop bets, per Heitner. The popularity of prop bets is growing, which could have to do with the fact they add a little extra to the game.
Let's take a look at three of the more popular prop bets, per Odds Shark.
1. Heads or Tails? (Heads minus-105; Tails minus-105)
You can get off to a good start, or begin in the hole, before opening kickoff by taking a chance on the coin toss. Betting on the flip doesn't take much skill, but it does make a mundane task more exciting—and allow those impatient bettors to get one out of the way quickly.
If you are looking for a little strategy, heads has come up 24 of the 49 previous Super Bowls, per DocSports.com, which means a heads result this year will even out the all-time series at 25 apiece. It's been tails the past two years, but don't shy away just because of that. The previous five flips were heads.
Pick: Heads. It's only fitting.
2. First Score of the Game (Touchdown minus-145; Field Goal or Safety plus-115)
This bet can get tricky. Sure, there is a better chance a touchdown will be scored first, but the payout is not a good one. In the four combined playoff games the two teams have played this postseason, the outcomes are split with each team scoring a touchdown and kicking a field goal once.
And about those better touchdown odds—while a touchdown first usually happens over 50 percent of the time in any given game, that hasn't been the case in the Super Bowl. Per Odds Shark, the first score in the previous 49 Super Bowls has been a touchdown 49 percent of the time, a field goal 45 percent and a safety 6 percent.
Believe it or not, there have been six Super Bowl safeties; three (Super Bowl 9, 46 and 48) have even opened the scoring. Although it's never good to rely on a safety, the numbers don't lie.
Because the payout is much better, and touchdowns don't have a huge advantage, become a huge fan of kickers and end-zone sacks early in the game.
Pick: Field goal or safety.
3. Who Will Win MVP? (Various Odds)
Also, it will take a big game from a wide receiver to win (only six in the past have), and a quarterback usually plays well if his receiver does. A running back can certainly have a good game when a quarterback does not, but only six ball-carriers have won as well.
Here's a look at a few marquee choices:
- Cam Newton, QB, Carolina (-130)
- Peyton Manning, QB, Denver (+275)
- Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina (+1400)
- Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina (+2200)
- Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver (+2000)
- Von Miller, LB, Denver (+2000)
- Aqib Talib, CB, Denver (+3300)
Newton is the clear favorite, but that also means your payoff won't be great if he wins. If you are looking for a sleeper, go with Kuechly. Manning has been a turnover machine, and Kuechly has been one of the best linebackers this postseason, although you'll likely have to rely on a pick-six. The good thing about taking him is you don't have to wager much to have a big payoff.
Pick: Newton. He's your best odds, and if he doesn't win, everything is up in the air.
Check out Odds Shark for a full list of prop bets.
Playing the Box Score Game
If you're not into placing bets but enjoy a good game, you can participate in the classic Box Score Game, aka Super Bowl Squares. It's fairly simple: just take a piece of paper (a big cardboard one works best) and draw an 11-by-11 grid, like this one on FootballSquares.net.
Place one team on the board horizontally and the other vertically and then randomly assign numbers zero through nine each direction on the board. Participants then purchase squares that align with two separate numbers.
Money from the pot is paid out at the end of each quarter to those owning the block that corresponds to the second number of each team's score. For instance, if Carolina leads 10-0 after the first 15 minutes, the participant who purchased the block that corresponds to 0-0 receives the first payout. There will be four payouts, and players can win multiple times.
Let's take a look at the odds for each number:
|Box Score Odds (past 49 Super Bowls)|
|Number||Percent of Time Appeared|
Here's a Super Bowl prediction quarter by quarter:
|Super Bowl 50 Prediction|
In this scenario, the winners will be those who have 0-0 after the first quarter, 3-7, 0-6 and 3-6. Obviously, numbers that follow touchdowns, field goals and no score are the most popular, but all it takes is a safety or back-to-back field goals by one team to throw the whole board off.
This game can enhance a Super Bowl party—partake at your own risk—as even the most casual fan can win since squares are assigned purely by chance.
Of course, that's part of what makes Super Bowl Sunday so entertaining. That, and the actual game.