I haven’t done a Super Bowl MVP preview story yet here at Doc’s, so let’s lead off my free Super Bowl player props picks with what is generally the most popular prop for the game. Naturally, quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco are the Bovada MVP favorites, currently at 8/5 and 11/4, respectively.
Perhaps the most surprising number is that Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is the third-favorite at 7/1 with 49ers running back Frank Gore. If Lewis has a big game, he could well become the first defensive player to win multiple Super Bowl MVP awards because voters will want to send him off into retirement in style. However, I just can’t recommend a defensive player because the voters rarely pick them. Since Lewis won his SB MVP award 12 years ago, the only other defensive player to win it was former Tampa Bay defensive back Dexter Jackson two years later. These days, a defensive player probably is going to have to score a touchdown to win it (Jackson didn’t score but had two picks; somehow the voters didn’t give it to fellow defensive back Dwight Smith, who returned two interceptions for scores). Lewis has three career touchdowns and hasn’t scored since 2010.
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The defensive player most likely to score in my opinion is Ravens safety Ed Reed, another future Hall of Famer. It’s possibly Reed’s final game with the Ravens as well as the team likely won’t want to give Reed the $8 million-$10 million salary it likely would take for next season with Reed set for free agency (the Patriots already have been linked to him). Reed has found the end zone eight times in his career, including once in the playoffs. He’s worth a long-shot roll of the dice at 33/1.
I think history will be made Sunday in that San Francisco’s Vernon Davis will win the award, becoming the first tight end to do so. Davis 18/1 at Bovada. The Ravens likely will blanket Michael Crabtree (14/1), leaving Davis as Kaepernick’s top security blanket. Davis’ numbers really tailed off once Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith, but Davis was a big factor in the NFC title game with five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Thus, I also would take the over on Davis’ totals -- 3.5 catches, 50.5 receiving yards – as well as “yes” he will score a touchdown at any point in the game at +125. Davis is also -4.5 receiving yards (-115) against Ravens counterpart Dennis Pitta, who scored the only touchdown when Baltimore and San Francisco played in the 2011 regular season, and a “pick’em” on receptions vs. Pitta.
You can even bet on who the Super Bowl MVP thanks first: Have to go with “God” at 5/2 there. If Lewis is interviewed after the game, and he certainly will be, there’s an “over/under” on how many times Lewis says either “God” or “Lord”: three times. I like the under there because I think the Ravens lose and that Lewis isn’t real talkative because of it.
Not sure if you heard, but Super Bowl XLVII pits 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh against Ravens coach and brother John. There are numerous props on the historic meeting. You can bet on how many times Jack Harbaugh, the father, is shown during the game. That total is set at “two,” which seems very low (over is a -150 favorite). The Harbaugh parents will be in attendance, although they haven’t revealed where they will be sitting. I guarantee you the CBS cameras will find them. How about the postgame handshake/hug between John and Jim? That’s given a duration of over/under seven seconds. I actually do like under there as it doesn’t seem like the brothers want to steal the spotlight any more than they have. They will have plenty of time after the game to reminisce. Which brother’s name will be mentioned more? Both are at -120 and I love Jim there as he’s clearly the more volatile and famous one being a former NFL QB.
BetOnline offers a prop on which coach is shown first after the “National Anthem”. Take Jim, the -125 favorite. Will both coaches be wearing hats? That’s a -1000 favorite with “no” at +600. They always do, so you have to lean “yes”.
It would be great to see the Super Bowl go into overtime, which amazingly has yet to happen. Thus, no is a -1200 favorite, and you have to lean there. Another rarity in the Super Bowl is a safety, with only five all time. No is thus a big -1400 favorite there. I do like that there will be a scoreless quarter, which is +200. I also like that there will be a special teams or defensive touchdown at +175. There never has been a punt return for a TD in the game, but there have been a handful of kick-return scores as well as interception and fumble returns for scores.
Which team will President Obama pick to win? He chose not to make a pick last season, perhaps so as not to alienate fans of the Patriots or Giants in an election year. It’s not clear if he will make a choice this year. Bovada lists the Ravens at -200 and Niners at +150. Both California and Maryland are blue states for what that’s worth. I like San Francisco because Obama is a big Bears fans, and he probably will reference that the Niners spanked Chicago earlier this year in Kaepernick’s starting debut. Baltimore didn’t play the Bears.
But perhaps the best prop I have seen is whether any active member of the Ravens or 49ers is arrested this week. That’s yes-only at +500. One famous example of this happening was when Falcons cornerback Eugene Robinson was arrested the night before XXXIII in Miami for soliciting a prostitute (who was an undercover female officer). Rather ironically, Robinson was awarded the Bart Starr Award earlier that day. Balloting for that honor is conducted among NFL players to select the person who displays "high moral character." Oops! Robinson did play but was beaten for an 80-yard TD pass and also broke a finger. The Falcons were dominated by Denver, and some players afterward admitted that the Robinson arrest was a distraction.
I’d like to recommend jumping on this prop, but I believe today’s players are far too smart for this to happen even with all the temptations that New Orleans has to offer. The NFL certainly would come down hard as well in terms of punishment. The league is much more sensitive to off-field issues than it was back when Robinson was busted.
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