Prop bets are an excellent way to make Super Bowl viewing even more fun. Some are dumb luck propositions, like betting heads or tails on the coin flip, or over/under on the length of the national anthem. Others have room for a little strategy. For example, Vegas is giving even odds that the jersey number of the player who scores the first touchdown in Sunday's game will be over/under 79.5, according to USA Today's For The Win. That's a bet ripe for over-analysis.
At a basic level, this bet boils down to whether you believe the first touchdown will be scored on the ground or through the air. On both offenses, the primary potential touchdown scorers wearing No. 80 or higher are pass catchers. Players wearing No. 79 or below include running backs and quarterbacks, who are more likely to end up in the end zone on running plays. For the purposes of the bet, touchdown passes are not considered, otherwise the under would be the clear play.
Considering Peyton Manning's prolific passing stats, a bet of OVER would seem like the better play at even odds. Indeed, based on season numbers, it bears out that a player wearing the No. 80 or higher is most likely to score first in this game. However, because the Seahawks are so powerful on the ground and opportunistic on defense, the odds against UNDER are not as bad as one might think.
Let's look at some charts!
Total touchdowns by Broncos players wearing No. 80 or higher
|Total TDs: 49|
Total touchdowns by Broncos players wearing No. 79 or lower
|Total TDs: 27|
Total touchdowns by Seahawks players wearing No. 80 or higher
|Total TDs: 17|
Total touchdowns by Seahawks players wearing No. 79 or lower
|Total TDs: 28|
Total touchdowns scored by players wearing No. 80 or higher: 66
Total touchdowns scored by players wearing No. 79 or lower: 55
So there's a 54.5 percent chance that the OVER will win based on season numbers. Those are pretty good odds at even money. Bettors looking to get in on the action may want to be wary of the return of Percy Harvin, however. The multi-dimensional, uber-athletic wideout wears No. 11 and should be fully healthy after appearing in just two games this season. He may be the best pure athlete playing in this year's Super Bowl, and could be a big part of the Seahawks' gameplan as a kick returner, pass catcher and ball carrier.