Breaking down Super Bowl prop bets

Forget about the actual game Sunday — well kind of. Even forget about high-priced ads that millions will see during the game. For gamblers, only one thing matters Sunday: money, and tons of it.

In the Super Bowl, the art of gambling is magnified with hundreds of side bets, maybe even into the thousands. Some are as stupid as they sound, while others take careful thinking on the part of the odds makers. Bets can range from hundreds of dollars to — more appropriate for college students — the tab for the night or even a case of beer. Getting creative, some of these can even be turned into drinking games for the night.

Before I preview the big game through silly side bets, let’s set up some general guidelines. I pulled these lines from Bovada, formerly bodog.com. All of these revolve around a basic $100 bet. So if you are betting on 300 odds, you would be putting down $100 to receive $300 profit. On the other hand, odds of -500 would mean putting down $500 to receive a $100 profit.

The second bet, denoted by the negative sign, is the more likely of the two. Vegas sets the lines, which are as of Wednesday night, so that they will make money regardless of the result. With that being said, here are my picks for the five wagers on everyone’s minds:

*Who will win the coin toss? (New York Giants/-110 — New England Patriots/-110)*

News flash: Vegas is out to get your money. This one is the simplest bet and probably the stupidest one, too. Yet people still feel enticed to wager on it year after year. Since it is the most even-sided bet, there is really no winner except Vegas. I’ll take the Patriots to win the toss — with it landing on tails. Don’t ask how I came to that conclusion.

*Will it go to overtime? (Yes/ 650 — No/-1200)*

Conventional wisdom says no and for good reason. Historically, this game hasn’t been close. But in the last decade or so, fans have seen some of the greatest Super Bowls that have been played, including the 2008 Giants’ upset of the Patriots. Yet a Super Bowl has never reached overtime. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of playoff games have gone to the extra quarter. I expect this game to be close, exactly opposite of what I predicted the last time these two teams met.

However, saying yes to overtime is like saying yes to a Chicago baseball team’s playoff chances. Being that it is one of the most risky prop bets each year, I would steer clear of it, if possible. But if I had to put my money down, I’ll say the game won’t go into overtime, even though I think it’s going to be close. But it is never a good feeling in your stomach when you could lose more than a grand if the two teams somehow find themselves tied after the fourth quarter.

*How many total points will be scored? (Over 55/-110 – Under 55/-110)*

If we make the assumption that the point total will be evenly split between the two teams, each will be expected to score more than 27 points, just to match what the bar is set at. In the Giants’ 19 regular season and postseason games, they have scored 27 points or more nine times. It occurred twice against Green Bay’s defense, which is dead last in passing yards allowed. On the other hand, the Patriots have scored that number 14 times in one fewer game. These two defenses are bad — at least according to the numbers. The Patriots are ranked 31st in the league while the Giants aren’t too far ahead, coming in at 29th. However, in their regular season matchup, both teams failed to cross the 27 mark.

But these two teams have shown signs of a stronger defense when it counts the most. The Patriots handled the Ravens and the Broncos to a combined 30 points. On the other hand, the Giants stifled top offenses by allowing fewer than 40 points in their three playoff games against the Falcons, the Packers and the 49ers. With the recent surge of defensive play, I’m compelled to take the under.

*Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown? (Yes/-160 – No/ 140)*

Gronkowski ditched his boot Tuesday but the high ankle sprain does not seem to be going away. He said at media day that he is uncertain he will practice this week and trusted the team to do what is best. A high ankle sprain usually requires more healing time than just a normal sprain, sometimes even taking up to six weeks to heal.

It is clear that Gronkowski’s effectiveness running down the field will be hampered. In addition, no one really knows to what extent the ankle will hold up, even during the limited minutes he might see. In the end, his reliability does not bode well for the Super Bowl.

Gronkowski was arguably the most reliable weapon for a quarterback this year, catching a single-season record 17 touchdowns for a tight end. His outlook does not look good, and thus he won’t reach the end zone.

*How many times will David Tyree’s catch from the 2008 Super Bowl be shown on NBC’s broadcast? (Over 1.5/even – Under 1.5/-140)*

Rules: The pregame and halftime shows don’t count. Unless the Giants are down by three late in the game, NBC will probably stay away from pouring salt on the Patriots’ wounds. Where we will see highlights of Tyree’s catch is during the extended five-hour pregame show on NBC. In fact, I expect the network to devote at least a segment to that. The Super Bowl just wouldn’t feel complete without it. I’d go with the under on this one.

_Darshan is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @drshnpatel._