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September 2, 2014

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Vegas Super Bowl props: Picking the best bets for Broncos vs. Seahawks

Sportswriters face off in contest predicting what will happen in the big game

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Steve Marcus

A gambler displays his betting slips after Super Bowl XLVIII proposition bets were posted at the Las Vegas Hotel Superbook Thursday Jan. 23, 2014.

Super Bowl 48

What side do you like in Super Bowl 48?
Denver minus-2.5 — 53.7%
Seattle plus-2.5 — 46.3%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The Super Bowl is the one sporting event where a gambler can compile a stack of betting slips as thick as a textbook.

With almost every casino in town posting hundreds of ways to wager on Sunday’s showdown between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, the possibilities appear endless. The problem comes with figuring out where to start.

Sports books aren’t one to offer a foreword or a table of contents. The Sun’s sports staff decided to fill the void and give suggestions on how to dive into the daunting list of betting options.

Case Keefer, Ray Brewer and Taylor Bern each attacked the holy grail of Super Bowl prop bets, the offerings at the LVH Superbook, to find wagers of their liking. The only rules were that they had to pick six props apiece and spend an entire fictional bankroll of $1,000.

Read below for the props they’re recommending along with a reasoning for each of the 18 wagers.

 

Case Keefer

Will there be a safety? No at minus 800: $400 to win $50

While it’s not very adventurous to risk almost half of my bankroll on an 8-to-1 shot right away, this might be the best value on the board. The odds of no safety for the last several Super Bowls were minus 1300. Bettors notoriously pound the high-payout “yes” annually, which has done significant damage to the sports books the last two years when an unlikely safety has occurred. Oddsmakers tried to exercise caution this year, but adjusted way too drastically.

Will Richard Sherman intercept a pass? No at minus 250: $250 to win $100

Another prop where at least four out of every five tickets will come on the “yes.” That’s built into the line, which creates an opportunity to go the other way. If you believe Sherman has less than 29 percent to snag an interception — I absolutely do — then this is a profitable wager.

Number of completed full rounds of Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber at UFC 169 plus 0.5 (plus 110) over Julius Thomas receptions: $100 to win $110

Had to get in on the first UFC cross-sport prop, which looks like a juicy line. In 69 career fights, Barao and Faber have gotten stopped two times combined. Their bout is almost guaranteed to go five rounds, meaning Thomas will need six receptions. That’s difficult against the Seahawks, the NFL’s best defense against tight ends. Seattle didn’t allow that many receptions in two games combined versus the best tight end in the NFL, Jimmy Graham, who had four catches.

Russell Wilson rushing yards over 30.5: $110 to win $100

Wilson’s rushing ability is underrated, as he went over this number in half of Seattle’s regular season games. But most of those teams weren’t as vulnerable against rushing quarterbacks as Denver. In four games versus dual-threat quarterbacks this season, the Broncos allowed more than 30.5 rushing yards three times.

Doug Baldwin longest reception over 19.5 yards: $110 to win $100

I’m bullish on Baldwin, Seattle’s most underrated weapon. I trust him far more than Percy Harvin, who has higher totals on every prop bet. I considered over 39.5 receiving yards, over 3.5 receptions and plus 290 to score a touchdown but this looked like the best pro-Baldwin option. He eclipsed this number in 13 of 18 games this season.

Margin of Victory Seahawks 5-to-8 points at 13-to-2: $30 to win $195

Here’s where I try to make amends for two chalky picks earlier with a high-priced gamble. The rest of the props gave away my lean to Seattle. The range of possibilities is vast but, if forced to make a prediction, I’d pick the Seahawks by a touchdown. Might as well scoop a nice score if that comes in.

 

Ray Brewer

Peyton Manning passing yards plus 0.5 over Big Ten team (Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State) points: $330 to win $300

Indiana averages 76 points per game, but in its last three games prior to Jan. 30 against Nebraska, the Hoosiers scored just 56, 66, and 47 points. The lone way for them to beat Michigan will be slowing down the game. While the total in the Penn State-Purdue game will be in the 140s and those teams could easily cover the over, low-scoring Indiana will cash my ticket. I expect Manning to surpass 300 yards.

Jon Ryan shortest punt over 33.5 yards (plus 110): $200 to win $220

Ryan has had just five touchbacks in 74 punts this season in averaging 42.7 yards per kick. And with Denver’s defense being average at best, Ryan might not be called frequently into action. I do worry about potentially kicking in poor conditions, but still worth a play.

Will both teams make a 33-yard or longer field goal? Yes at plus 170: $100 to win $170

Denver’s Matt Prater and Seattle’s Steven Hauschka have been two of the NFL’s best kickers all season. The risk on this wager is whether they’ll get an opportunity to kick. With Seattle’s stingy defense, Denver will likely have a scoring drive stalled and be forced to kick. Good price here.

Total number of players to have a passing attempt over 2.5 at plus 290: $100 to win $290

I’ll be rooting for an injury to Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson, or a trick play. Probably not the best wager I’ve placed in my life, but definitely not the worst. Hopefully, I’ll get lucky — then get paid.

Total number of kick returns by both teams under 6 at plus 150: $150 to win $225

Denver’s Matt Prater kicks everything out of the end zone — and not just in high-altitude Denver. This ticket can also cash in a low-scoring game with few kickoffs, thus limiting the amount of potential returns.

Longest completion by Russell Wilson under 38.5: $120 to win $109

The only way Seattle wins the Super Bowl is by keeping Denver off the field. Seattle will attempt to control the pace through its run game, and not through the home run ball. In two playoff games, Wilson has passed for 103 and 210 yards — not exactly airing it out.

 

Taylor Bern

Alternate Pointspread Seattle minus 3.5 at plus 190: $100 to win $190

I would obviously love this even more if it was on the opposite side of three but as far as the different lines go there’s value in nearly 2-to-1 for a number that’s not far off the opening line.

First Touchdown of the game will not be a passing touchdown at plus 150: $100 to win $150

Again, all about the value. Most would agree a pass is more likely but both teams are capable of running the ball, and returns aren’t out of the question.

Total receptions by Marshawn Lynch under 1.5 at plus 120: $150 to win $180

Lynch has four receptions over his last four games. That’s enough for me to take a flyer on the under.

Peyton Manning will throw a touchdown pass in the first quarter at plus 160; Peyton Manning will throw a touchdown pass in the third quarter at plus 165: $200 to win $320 & $200 to win $330

I suggest playing these together. The Broncos will start with the ball in one of these quarters and figure to complete no less than three drives over that span.

Julius Thomas to score the first touchdown at 10-to-1: $150 to win $1,500

I also looked hard at Wes Welker and Eric Decker, who are both 10/1. Getting this one right can cover up a few losing tickets.

Kevin Durant points plus 7.5 over Peyton Manning passing attempts: $100 to win $90.90

The cross-sport props are the most fun. There are several on there this year and with the way Durant has been scoring this seems as good as any other.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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