When it comes to Super Bowl prop betting , one of my favorite things to look at each year is the matchup props - the comparisons of two similar players and their expected performances in the game. This year there are some interesting comparisons to be had both for quarterbacks and running backs. The quarterbacks in particular are so fascinating because the two guys are in such different parts of their careers. Here's a look at five of this year's most interesting matchup props ( All odds are from BetOnline):
First interception (Newton +140, Manning -170): We start off with a fairly straightforward one. Manning has seven more interceptions than Newton, and he has had 164 fewer pass attempts. The Carolina defense had 10 more interceptions in the regular season than the Broncos did. So you have the more pick-prone QB against the better ball-hawking defense. Manning is a justified favorite here, and the price isn't out of line.
Most passing yards (Newton +2.5 yards, +100; Manning -2.5 yards, -130): This one depends on how you see the game playing out, but I see a real opportunity here. Both guys are facing similar defensive tests - the teams tied for the league lead by allowing 6.2 yards per attempt on the season. Manning has average 199 yards per game in the playoffs against lesser defenses. Newton is coming off a 335-yard performance against the Cardinals. In the playoffs Tom Brady passed for 310 yards against the Broncos defense, and Ben Roethlisberger had 339, so they can be passed against - and Carolina has the best offensive line to protect Newton that the Broncos have seen. The risk here is that the Panthers don't always choose to rely on Newton's arm to win - they are 6-1 this year when Newton has passed for less than 200 yards. Still, given the magnitude of the game, and given that a game tilted towards a need to pass would be a big advantage for the Panthers, I see real value in taking the underdog here.
Most TD passes (Newton -175, Manning +145): Manning is averaging one TD pass per start. Newton has averaged just over two. Both are facing similarly tough pass defenses. Manning has had one or fewer TD passes in seven of his 11 starts. Newton has had two or more TD passes in 11 of his 18 starts. All roads point to Newton being the right pick, though the price doesn't offer much value at all.
Most rushing yards (Stewart -7.5 yards, -110; Anderson +7.5 yards, +120): C.J. Anderson rushed for 72 yards last time out. It wasn't as impressive an effort as it might seem, though. He had a 30-yard run, but it was a farce of a defensive effort from the Patriots on the play. Beyond that, he carried 15 times for just 42 yards. The offensive line was doing him no favors. I don't have total confidence that Anderson can rebound. Jonathan Stewart has averaged 94.5 yards per game in the playoffs. He's in form, and the line in front of him is playing well. He would be a total lock here except for one consideration - he is listed as questionable with a bum ankle. Of course, he has been similarly beaten up through the playoffs and he has done well, and he has an extra week to rest before this one. You can make a reasonable argument for either side at the price, but I still lean towards Stewart.
Most rushing yards (Hillman -27.5 yards, -115; Tolbert +27.5 yards, -115): This is an intriguing matchup. Hillman actually led the Broncos in rushing this season, but aside from a big game in garbage time against the Chargers in the season finale he has been relegated to a supporting role lately. He has just 54 yards in two playoff games, and he has needed 27 carries to get them - a pathetic two-yard-per-carry average. He is not at all at the top of his game. Tolbert is a fullback - and being matched up against a fullback tells you how far Hillman has fallen from his peak this season. He's not an integral part of the offense, but he is averaging 10.5 yards per game in the playoffs, and he has a slightly better average per carry than Hillman does in the postseason. If the Broncos defense is on their game then the Panthers could find themselves in a lot of third-and-short and even fourth-and-short situations - spots that could be ideal for Tolbert. I feel reasonably confident that Tolbert will exceed 10 yards. That means Hillman would have to near 40 yards to be a comfortable pick. After his lousy performance against the Patriots -- 16 yards on 11 carries - I'm not confident he'll get the chances he needs to get yardage like that. Tolbert is probably the pick, but I don't love this prop.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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