Super Bowl Sunday is finally upon us. The San Francisco 49ers will battle the Baltimore Ravens this evening in New Orleans, and in case just watching the game isn't enough for fans, prop bets have become an excellent way over the years to stay engaged in the game action and perhaps line the pockets with some cash.
The Coin Toss: Yes, you can bet whether the pregame coin toss is "heads", or "tails". Currently, you can get the same odds on heads (-105) or tails (-105), which of course makes sense. It's a 50/50 shot. However, watch as the line on this prop actually shifts prior to the toss. People, what are you doing? Oh yeah, you can also bet which team will win the coin toss. So, double down if you will on perhaps the silliest bet of the evening.
The National Anthem: Alicia Keys will be singing the anthem this year. You can bet the over/under on length of the Anthem, which is two minutes and 10 seconds (Update: She hit the over). Wagering is also open on whether Ms. Keys will omit or forget a word during the anthem (money leaning heavily towards "no"). And, oddly enough, you can bet whether Keys will be booed during or after her rendition of the anthem (+500). Don't boo the lady, it's the national anthem.
Halftime show: Beyonce will be performing at halftime of Super Bowl XLVII, and much like with the Keys perform, there are prop bets for the length of her performance. Now, because she has a rather high-profile husband, you can also wager whether Jay-Z will join her during the halftime extravaganza.
Team to score first: Right now, the Ravens are even money, with San Francisco -130. Vegas already has made the 49ers favorites, so it makes sense they also expect San Francisco to jump on the scoreboard first. The corollary wager to this is whether the team that scores first will win the game. In that instance, Yes is -160 and No is +130. While you're betting on a team's first score, you have the additional ability to wager it is in the first seven minutes and 30 seconds of the contest (-170) or not (+140).
Who will score first touchdown: Always a fun prop bet, and if the stars align correctly, a chance to win some real dough. Obvious candidates include running backs Ray Rice (6/1) and Frank Gore (6/1), and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (17/2). Counterpart Joe Flacco might be a steal at 33/1. Media darling Ray Lewis comes in at 50/1, while his ball-hawking teammate Ed Reed is 40/1.
Super Bowl MVP: The two quarterbacks are the safest plays on the MVP prop bet, with Lewis currently garnering the fourth-best shot at MVP honors. Randy Moss at 33/1 for MVP might be fun, just 'cause Randy Moss.
Individual player statistics: Prop bets are available for everything from first completion of the game to number of rushing attempts in a given quarter to longest rush/reception of the afternoon to most combined tackles and assisted tackles. If Ravens or 49ers fans have a particular player who they root for religiously, today might be the day to put money down in hopes of buying that next game-worn jersey. Of note, Ray Rice looks like a guy who could make some Baltimore fans coin on Sunday night.
The kicking game: I broke this out from the skill position prop bets above because we're talking about kickers, man, kickers. And San Francisco kicker David Akers, whether he likes it or not, might end up being the story of this game. You can place on bet on the exact number of made field goals will occur, on the length of individual field goals, and you can even wager on how many punts will take place in the game. Prop betting on punts might be the first sign of a problem.
Penalties: Yes, you can bet on total number in the penalties in the game, by team even. You can also wager on what the first enforced penalty of the game will be. I'm partial to "delay of game" at 9/2.
Margin of victory: Not only can you gamble on what the score differential will be for the entire game, you can spruce it up and also bet on the halftime margin. The 49ers winning the game by one to six points is the safest bet on the board at 7/2.
Cross-sport matchups: Super Bowl Sunday allows you not only to wager on the final professional football game of the year, but to mix that gambling addiction with a love for other pro sports. Will Sidney Crosby score more goals in his game than passes Torrey Smith will catch in New Orleans? Will LeBron James tally more rebounds and assist combined than Ray Lewis tackles/assisted tackles? To be honest, these cross-sport prop bets can be some of the most entertaining of the evening, especially for the ADD-afflicted sports fan.
TV Ratings: Did you guys hear CBS is televising this game? Hard not to know with the incessant promos of the past two weeks. Keeping it simple, this prop bet is asking whether Super Bowl 47 will top a 47 Nielsen rating? (how clever) You can also gamble on which team will have the higher local TV ratings.
Tweets: What did we ever do without twitter to keep us plugged in to the world? The tweet machines influence on all of us is also reflected in the ability to place a prop bet on what the highest "tweet count per second" will be during Sunday's contest. I also would like to see a very simple "Will twitter break during the Super Bowl bet?", because that seems a virtual lock.