There’s a full menu for Super Bowl Sunday, ready to satisfy even the most ravenous appetite. I’m talking, of course, about prop bets. Unless your team is playing in the Super Bowl, sitting down with the menu of props available to the public and picking your favorites is the best part of the big game. After looking over all the props offered by the Las Vegas Westgate, I’ve picked out five of my favorites:
James White to score first touchdown (+1000)
I’ve loved the first touchdown prop ever since hitting it with Pierre Garcon in the 2010 Super Bowl, when the Saints beat the Colts. Obviously you want to back someone with a big role in his team’s offense, but you don’t want to pay a premium for this wager. That rules out Sony Michel (+600), Todd Gurley (+700), C.J. Anderson (+800) and Robert Woods (+800). Certain players might match up well with the opposing defense, making them good bets to score a touchdown at some point during the game, but the player who scores the first touchdown is more or less random, so you want to be getting a nice payoff here. The Patriots looked great on opening drives against both the Chargers and Chiefs, which leans me in their direction as the team to score first. Once they get in close to the goal line, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them spread out the Rams defense to try to counteract the speed of its front four, most notably Aaron Donald. That plays to James White’s strengths, and we already know that he is more than comfortable under the bright lights of the Super Bowl.
Game total over 64.5 (+190)
Every book is going to offer alternate lines and totals for the Super Bowl, so if you think one team is going to win in a blowout, or that the game is going to be particularly high or low scoring, these types of bets are a good place to find value. I think we’re looking at a shootout in this one. Giving these two teams and coaching staffs two weeks to scheme under the modern rules framework clearly puts offense in the driver’s seat. Three of the last six Super Bowls went north of 60 combined points, and one of the three that didn’t reach that mark featured one of the most dominant defenses in league history, the 2015-16 Broncos. Both teams have playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but neither of these defenses are shutdown units. I’ll happily take close to 2-to-1 odds on my money to bet on getting a 35-31 game.
Sony Michel’s first rushing attempt over 3.5 yards(+110)
Have you watched the Patriots run the ball in the playoffs? They gashed the Chargers for 155 yards on 34 carries, and racked up 176 yards on 48 carries in the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs. Their line ranks third in Football Outsiders’s adjusted line yards and fourth in stuff rate. The Patriots avoid negative running plays as well as any team in the league, and that’s half the battle here. So long as Michel’s first rushing attempt doesn’t get blown up, I like his chances to get at least four yards. For what it’s worth, he, too, has been excellent in the playoffs, running for 242 yards and five touchdowns on 53 carries.
Brandin Cooks over 75.5 receiving yards (-110)
If this is going to be a high-scoring game, it stands to reason that the best playmakers for both teams are going to have strong individual performances. Cooks is the most likely Rams’ receiver to hit a big play, which always makes the over on receiving yards more enticing. He also may have the best matchup of the three primary receivers, likely to draw a healthy dose of J.C. Jackson. Stephon Gilmore is likely to match up with Josh Reynolds, while slot corner Jason McCourty will deal with Robert Woods. The Patriots don’t typically travel their corners, so Sean McVay can scheme to get Cooks a beneficial matchup for most of the game. And if you believe Cooks will be the key skill player for the Rams and want to make this even more fun, you can double down and throw something at Cooks to win the game’s MVP Award at 30/1 odds. Wide receivers have a tough road to travel to win the Super Bowl MVP, but it’s certainly possible here. Jared Goff hasn’t been great since the Rams lost Cooper Kupp, lessening the chances that he has a monster game. If Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson continue to get in one another’s way, the door is open to Cooks or Robert Woods to have the gaudiest stat line for the Rams on Sunday.
Ryan Cline three-point field goals made +1/2 over total field goals made in the Super Bowl (-130)
There’s no prop I love more than a cross-sport prop, and being that I’m part of SI.com’s college basketball department, I obviously have to go in that direction for my final prop bet. Ryan Cline of Purdue has found his stroke recently, making at least four threes in four of his last six games. What’s more, he’s attempted at least six shots from distance in 15 of Purdue’s 20 games this season, including four of the last six. Cline is averaging 33.7 minutes and 6.3 three-point attempts per game in Big Ten play. Minnesota, Purdue’s opponent on Sunday, ranks 240th in the country in three-point percentage allowed, with their opponents connecting on 35.5% of their shots from behind the arc. I like Cline in this one, especially with the hook on his side.