2015 Super Bowl Props Picks with Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 1/23/2015
Unless you were a Seattle Seahawks fan, I'm presuming you probably didn't even know who linebacker Malcolm Smith was entering Super Bowl XLVIII last year at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Perhaps some 49ers fans knew him as the guy who corralled the interception -- off a Richard Sherman tip -- of a Colin Kaepernick pass in the end zone to clinch last season's NFC Championship Game against San Francisco.
So if you bet on Smith to win the Super Bowl MVP Award, then kudos. Obviously the relatively unknown Smith wasn't an individual betting option but part of the field. Smith certainly deserved the award, returning an interception of Peyton Manning 69 yards for a touchdown near the end of the first half for a 22-0 lead that all but ended the game. He also recovered a fumble in the second half and finished with 10 tackles and a pass defensed. A Seattle defensive player deserved the MVP with how dominant that unit was against Manning's record-setting offense in the 43-8 win.
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Smith was the most unlikely MVP since Tampa Bay defensive back Dexter Jackson won the award in Super Bowl XXXVIII 10 years previous. That was the last time a defender won it. Smith was only the third linebacker to win the award. Only two guys, Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr and Pittsburgh QB Terry Bradshaw, have won back-to-back Super Bowl MVP Awards, and I'd bet the house that Smith doesn't become the third. Bovada lists him at 100/1, and the only reason Smith is listed individually is because he's the defending MVP. He's not even a starter on that terrific defense, playing on just 28.5 percent of snaps during the regular season. Smith has three total tackles in two playoff games in limited action.
Predictably, the two quarterbacks are the two betting favorites for MVP, with Tom Brady at 7/4 and Russell Wilson at 7/2. Brady won the MVP Award of Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII and I'm pretty sure the balls were inflated correctly in those games. Brady faces the NFL's No. 1 overall and No. 1 pass defense, which made Manning look very mortal last year. Wilson was second to Smith in voting last year, completing 18 of 25 for 206 yards, two touchdown, 26 rushing yards and no turnovers. I have a feeling Wilson will play well after his four-interception NFC title game nearly cost Seattle a shot to repeat.
I don't think a quarterback wins it -- I believe it's either Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch (4/1) or Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (9/1). A tailback hasn't won the award since Denver's Terrell Davis gave John Elway his first Super Bowl title in XXXII. Lynch, not Wilson, is the focal point of that offense. Lynch, not Wilson, was largely responsible for that crazy comeback last week. "Beast Mode" has the added motivation of ensuring he's back next season and perhaps with a raise as there are rumors the Seahawks will cut him loose because Lynch will be 29 with a lot of tread on his tires. The team is going to have some salary decisions to make because Wilson is going to get his $20 million-a-year extension.
Meanwhile, a tight end has never won Super Bowl MVP. Gronk is clearly the second-most important Patriot behind Brady. I don't see New England being able to run much or throw deep, so that should mean plenty of targets for Gronkowski in the middle of the field. He wasn't a huge factor vs. the Colts in the AFC title game, although he did catch a TD. Gronkowski was targeted 13 times against Baltimore in the divisional round and had seven catches for 108 yards and a TD. I could see similar numbers. But I lean Lynch for now because I think Seattle wins.
As always, I love some of the unique novelty props the sites release for the big game. Who will the Super Bowl MVP thank first? At Bovada, teammates are 3/2, followed by God at 5/1 and the fans/city at 15/2. Obviously it might depend on how religious the winner is. I tend to lead the man upstairs on that one.
How about Wilson at -15.5 passing yards against the US national average gas price (in cents) on Feb. 2, with both at -120. As of this writing, the national average price is $2.04, so obviously 204 cents. Do you think Wilson throws for 220 yards to take him on this prop? I do think gas will rise by then -- oil prices did rise a bit with the death of Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Friday. Yes, Saudi Arabia has a bit of an effect on oil prices. So let's say the price is $2.15 in a week. Can Wilson throw for 231? Now I'm not sure. I have gas!
I also enjoy the Super Bowl ratings stuff. The "over/under" viewers for this game is 113 million. Last year's drew 111.5 million, but that was a blowout early. This one will absolutely top that because of Brady's allure and this "deflate-gate" stuff only will draw more casual viewers who might not normally watch. Go over. Will Boston (+110) or Seattle (-150) have the highest rating? Seattle had a 51.9 rating for the NFC title game, No. 2 in the nation behind Milwaukee (53.9). Boston had a 51.1 for the AFC title game, No. 1 nationally. Remember, the size of the city doesn't matter. The one benefit Boston has, however, is the game is in prime-time there as opposed to a mid-afternoon start out West. For that reason, I'll take Boston. Do look at the weather reports for this bet. If it's really crappy in Boston (i.e. snowing), that only will add viewers. The weather in Seattle is usually the same this time of year.
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