NFL Picks: Early Super Bowl Odds and How to Bet Props

The Super Bowl is set as the Patriots and Eagles won on Championship Sunday. Before the conference championship games were played I had the Patriots seven points better than the Eagles on neutral field. While the Eagles were putting the finishing touches on their rout of the Vikings, point spreads started to emerge for the Super Bowl. I first saw lines of Patriots -6.5 on Twitter but then the -6, -5.5 and -5 started to pop up. Less than 24 hours after the dust settled, it looks like Patriots -5 is the number for now with a total of 48 or 48.5.

The question is if the line move towards the Eagles is justified after Sunday’s results. I think you can argue that it is warranted because of how comfortable Nick Foles looked on Sunday. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty for Foles in my opinion. How will he respond to the two-week layoff after playing the game of his life? How much did playing both playoff games at home factor into his success?

Because this game would’ve been Patriots -7 a week ago, the only way I could look at this game is to take the Patriots. Since I’m not sure I would want to lay five points, the money line comes into play here. Usually you can find value taking a favorite on the money line in the Super Bowl because so many casual bettors take the underdog on the money line for a bigger payout. Right now I’m seeing one online site that has the Patriots as a -210 favorite on the money line and the Eagles are +177. Usually a five-point favorite in the NFL is in the -240 to -250 range, while the underdog is around +200. So if you like the Patriots then taking the discounted money line might be the way to go. If you like the Eagles then grabbing the points is better than betting a low money line.

Tips for betting props

Of course the side and total isn’t the only way to get involved in the Super Bowl. The prop betting options are vast and they pay out the same as picking the spread or over/under. This is usually the way to find the best value. 

Props will be released starting at the end of this week and could be overwhelming because of the amount of bets that are available. There are a few steps I like to take to help me pick out the best prop bets.

First I would try to make a prediction for the game and determine if it will be a higher or lower scoring. Just like when playing daily fantasy football or making start/sit decisions in season-long leagues, it’s important to handicap a likely game script. From there you can figure out the players that will see the most opportunity. If you think the Patriots will be leading most of the game, then taking Dion Lewis props to go over would make sense because he’s the running back used in obvious rushing situations. If you think the Eagles will be trailing for most of the game and forced to throw, then fading LeGarrette Blount would be the move since he doesn’t play much on passing downs. If you can determine how the game will play out, then sorting through props becomes a lot easier.

The other thing I like to do is fade players coming off strong performances in conference championship games. Last season, Chris Hogan had 180 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC Championship. Because of all the hype he got going into the Super Bowl, the numbers for his prop bets were inflated. I took advantage in a receiving yards matchup against Taylor Gabriel and was able to win that easily.

I tweeted out late Sunday night that I will likely be fading Alshon Jeffery in the prop betting market for the Super Bowl. Jeffery had 85 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings, with most of the yards coming on a play with busted coverage. Everyone saw Jeffery look good with Foles on Sunday but the chemistry hasn’t been there between the two. In the final three games of the regular season Jeffery only had five receptions for 57 yards, and he was completely shut out against a really weak Raiders pass defense. I also mentioned in the tweet that Jeffery will likely be covered by former college team Stephon Gilmore, who has been fantastic this season.

The Patriots star on Sunday that I will be looking to fade in props is Danny Amendola. He had seven receptions on nine targets, 84 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars. A really strong stat line but part of that was because Rob Gronkowski missed the entire second half with a concussion. If Gronkowski is healthy, then the opportunity for Amendola will decrease.

Here are a few general prop bets for the Super Bowl I like to make every year:

First quarter under – Usually teams like to start the Super Bowl off conservatively. With so much time to prepare, it’s common for teams to run the ball early and not make a mistake. This Super Bowl sets up well for a first quarter under. The Eagles will want to run the ball early and keep the Patriots offense off the field. They also won’t want Foles to put the team in a bad position with a turnover. The other way the first quarter under sets up well is the Patriots Super Bowl history. Amazingly, the Patriots haven’t scored a first quarter point in the seven Super Bowls that Tom Brady has started. Four of those games had scoreless first quarters, including the last two.

Second half + overtime is higher scoring than first half- Because of the slow starts in Super Bowls, the scoring is usually higher later in the game. The prime example from Super Bowl history is when the Patriots and Panthers played a 37-point fourth quarter. If you agree with the logic for first quarter under then this makes a lot sense.

No defensive or special teams touchdown- This backfired the last two seasons but if you think the teams will have conservative approaches to the Super Bowl then it’s worth laying the price. The casual bettor will take “yes” so I would wait until kickoff before firing.

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