NFL Odds: First Touchdown Super Bowl Props and Predictions
by Dave Schwab - 1/26/2012
One of the greatest things about the Super Bowl, besides the game itself is the hundreds of proposition bets that sportsbooks offer in conjunction with the games. There are prop bets for just about any aspect of this game both on and off the field, but one of the most popular one is betting on which player scores the first touchdown of the game.
Bovada has posted Super Bowl props odds for 20 different players on both the New England Patriots and New York Giants’ roster that are considered the ones to most likely score the first touchdown. The odds for someone scoring a touchdown from the rest of the field are 15/2. If you are feeling really bold and believe this will be a game filled with field goals and safeties then jump on the 150/1 odds that no touchdowns will be scored.
Of the 20 players listed, 12 are receivers, six are running backs, and the final two are starting quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning. It is little wonder that receivers dominate this list considering the passing trends for both of these teams.
New England finished the regular season ranked second in the NFL in passing yards per game and 20th in rushing yards. It tallied a total of 61 touchdowns on offense this year with 39 coming through the air and 18 on the ground. The Patriots went on to score eight touchdowns in their two playoffs games and six of them were on passes.
New York ended the regular season ranked fifth in the league in passing yards and dead last in rushing yards per game. It posted a total of 47 touchdowns on offense in its 16 regular season games with 29 coming through the air and the other 17 on the ground. In the Giants’ three playoffs games, eight of the nine touchdowns scored were on passes.
When you add in the fact that New England’s defense was ranked 31st against the pass and 17th against the run to go along with New York’s 29th ranked pass defense and 19th-ranked rushing defense, it is a fair assumption that both teams will be looking to get the ball into the end zone primarily through the air.
The slight favorite to score the first touchdown is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski at 11/2. He brings a strong resume of scoring this season into this game with a team-high 18 touchdowns in the regular season (which was the second-highest total in the NFL) and three in the postseason. The value in his odds has been dampened a bit my an ankle injury he sustained in the AFC Championship Game even though he is expected to be ready to go by next Sunday.
There are four players listed as the second-favorites at 15/2. The three Patriots in this group are wide receiver Wes Welker, tight end Aaron Hernandez, and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The lone Giant in this group is wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Welker was and clearly still is Tom Brady’s favorite target in the passing game with 122 receptions and nine touchdowns in the regular season and another 12 catches for one score in the playoffs.
Hernandez hauled-in 79 balls verses Gronkowski’s 90 catches, but he found the end zone only seven times this year.
Green-Ellis goes against the passing trends as a running back, but he did rush for 11 touchdowns, which was the second-most on the team.
Cruz started the season as a relative unknown entity in the Giants’ offensive scheme, but emerged has Eli Manning’s favorite target down the stretch. He led the team in receptions with 82 and receiving touchdowns with nine. He caught 17 passes in the playoffs but remained scoreless in the three games.
The value in the odds for this group has to be with Wes Welker. You know that Brady is looking for him almost every time he goes back to pass and this game will be no different.
The Best of the Rest
New York running back Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks are both listed at 17/2, but despite the fact that Bradshaw led the team in total touchdowns with 11 (nine rushing and two receiving) the value heading into this game is with Nicks. He ended the regular season with 76 receptions and seven scores, but became Manning’s go-to-guy in the postseason with 18 catches, including four for touchdowns.
If you are looking for value in a longshot, then take a hard look at the 14/1 NFL odds on New York wide receiver Mario Manningham. He became bit of a third-wheel in the regular season with Cruz and Nicks grabbing the majority of the headlines and only had eight catches in the playoffs, but three of them were for scores.
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