2014 Super Bowl Props: Matchups Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 1/29/2014
It’s Super Bowl season, so that means that it’s prop betting season. Some of my favorite kinds of prop bets each year are the player matchup props — as much because of the handicapping puzzle as for the potential value that can be found. Here are five of the 2014 Super Bowl matchup props that stand out as among the most interesting:
Who will throw the first TD pass?: Peyton Manning is heavily-favored here at -215. That obviously means I want to see if Russell Wilson, at the fat +175 price, can be justified. Wilson has thrown five touchdowns in his last six games and has not thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game over that time. Over that same stretch Manning has 18 touchdowns, and he has thrown four in a game three times. Now, Manning is up against the top passing defense in the league, while Wilson faces one that is mid-pack. That needs to be factored in, and so does the uncertainty of the coin toss and which player will have the first opportunity as a result. I’m reasonably optimistic about Wilson overall in the game, but when all things are factored in the best I can suggest is that this is a fair price, and there is no value on either side.
Who will have the most rushing attempts in the game?: Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch is at a 5.5 attempt disadvantage here over Denver’s Knowshon Moreno. Both guys are dealing with nagging injuries that have limited them in practice in the first week of Super Bowl preparations — a knee for Lynch, and ribs for Moreno. It seems unlikely that either problem will be a big factor here, though. In the playoffs Lynch has averaged 25 carries per game, while Moreno has averaged 18.5. Moreno carried 23 times against San Diego, though, and that was his third-heaviest workload of the year. Lynch is obviously more likely to be a key factor. Given the potential for rough weather, though, and the fact that Seattle’s rush defense is somewhat less daunting than their pass defense is, Moreno could see a heavier load than he has at times. I would lean towards taking Moreno and the 5.5 rush advantage.
Who will have more receiving yards — Golden Tate or Demaryius Thomas?: Thomas is understandably favored here, so Tate gets a 25.5 yard head start. Thomas has had 113 or more yards receiving in three of the last four games, and he amassed 134 yards and a nice 19.1 yards per catch last time out against New England. This is obviously a better secondary he will be facing, though. That being said, Thomas presents a big matchup issue, and I expect him to be a key to this game. Tate, meanwhile, has 129 yards in the final game of the regular season against the Rams but has exceeded 65 yards in his last eight games outside of that and has managed just 31 and 13 yards in his last two games. The total of 25.5 yards is a lot to give up, but Thomas is still an attractive play.
Who will have more receiving yards — Demaryius Thomas or Julius Thomas?: Given the significantly different approaches to the passing game between the two teams, it is really more interesting to compare Denver’s receivers than comparing the two teams. Demaryius Thomas is favored with a 12.5-yard spread, and even still he sits at -125 while Julius Thomas is at -105. In the playoffs the two have actually split their head-to-head battles. Julius outgained Demaryius by 22 yards in the San Diego game, but then Demaryius had the 134-85 yard edge against the Patriots. I expect both players to be key here. I could see the Broncos looking to establish Julius early to open things up and keep Seattle guessing. Given the odds, that makes me lean towards taking a shot with the tight end.
Who will have more receptions — Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker?: Decker gets the 12.5-yard advantage here, and the public likes it a lot — he is at -125 compared to -105 for Thomas. Decker has just 132 total yards in his last three games, and more than half of that — 73 yards — came last week. Decker is also more likely to see more of Richard Sherman than Thomas is. I really like Thomas in this one — probably more than any other on this list.
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