A hot debate could be decided in this Super Bowl. Or the wait for the right answer, if there is one, could be several years down the road. Who’s the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes?
The stakes get no higher than Sunday in Super Bowl LV, where Brady and the Buccaneers face Mahomes and the Chiefs. If Brady wins his seventh championship, the debate is history. If Mahomes takes the head-to-head duel and wins his second title, the phenom could someday ascend to GOAT status.
Time will tell, and the debate might never be settled, but it would seem fitting for this game to be decided in overtime. You can bet on that. The Chiefs are 3-point favorites at most sportsbooks — the line is 3.5 at BetMGM and Station Casinos — yet there are hundreds of other ways to bet the Super Bowl.
It should be a close, entertaining game. Proposition bets guarantee it won’t be boring. Even if it’s a blowout, every play will matter due to the props.
At BetMGM and the Westgate SuperBook, the prop on the game going to overtime pays 9-1 odds, compared with 6-1 at some other books. Some will say that’s a sucker bet, considering only one of the previous 54 Super Bowls went to overtime, but it’s also a fun long-shot bet.
Brady was the winning QB in the only Super Bowl OT game on Feb. 5, 2017, the day VSiN debuted on the air. The Patriots pulled off the largest comeback in Super Bowl history by overcoming a 28-3 deficit in a 34-28 victory over the Falcons. It was a memorable day.
The only previous postseason meeting between Brady and Mahomes went to overtime. In the AFC title game two years ago, Brady and the Patriots won 37-31 in Kansas City.
Since Super Bowl props were introduced at Las Vegas books in the mid-1980s, a one-page menu with 20 to 30 options has exploded into a betting buffet with more than 500 types of wagers. Props have become a big part of the Super Bowl betting circus, offering pure amusement for Average Joes and serious money-making opportunities for sharp pros.
Prop betting accounts for about 50% of the game’s wagering handle at many books, and it starts with the coin toss. Believe it or not, betting on heads or tails is among the most popular props. The hundreds of remaining wagers require actual handicapping skill.
In Nevada, props are restricted to what is determined on the field of play, using the official box score, so the color of Gatorade dumped on the winning coach or which songs are performed at halftime are not offered. In any state, always shop for the best prop prices. The following are from the Circa, South Point, Westgate and William Hill books in Las Vegas.
First score of the game: Field goal/safety + 190
— A touchdown is the favorite to be the first score, but the South Point offers the top plus price on the other side, as most other books price this about + 160. In the Chiefs’ 27-24 regular-season win at Tampa Bay, Kansas City scored first on Harrison Butker’s 19-yard field goal.
More points scored in second half/OT -1.5 -110
— In nine Super Bowl appearances with the Patriots, Brady’s offenses produced a total of three points in the first quarter. Brady is a slow starter in title games, for some odd reason, and the Chiefs have had a habit of falling behind in playoff games the last two seasons. If those trends continue, expect more scoring after halftime and lay 1.5 points at William Hill. For what it’s worth, the 2019 game between Brady and Mahomes produced 14 first-half points and 54 after the half. Play this prop in connection with Over 3.5 second-half touchdowns at + 100. The total of 56.5 projects six or seven touchdowns to be scored. Envision how the game script could play out, and it’s easy to see Brady and Mahomes warming up before getting involved in another second-half shootout.
Roughing-the-passer penalty: Yes + 100
— NFL rules protect all quarterbacks to an absurd degree. A defensive player’s hand brushing a helmet is a penalty. These QBs demand superstar treatment from the officials, so this penalty should be better than a coin-flip proposition. With 80-plus passes projected, also consider betting Over 3.5 sacks at -160 at the Westgate.
Will Mahomes throw an interception? Yes + 155
— He rallied to win the game, so it’s easy to forget Mahomes was not very good in the first 3½ quarters of last year’s Super Bowl. He threw two interceptions, and the Chiefs trailed the 49ers 20-10 with seven minutes left. The Tampa Bay defense will blitz Mahomes often because that’s the only way to pressure him into mistakes and high-risk throws. In the playoffs, the Buccaneers intercepted the Saints’ Drew Brees three times and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers once.
Touchdown passes by Mahomes: Over 2 -200
— Chiefs coach Andy Reid is a gambler who will trust Mahomes and give him the freedom to let it fly. In the regular-season meeting, Mahomes went 37-for-49 for 462 yards and three touchdowns. Kansas City scored in each of the first three quarters and did not score in the fourth only because it was sitting on a 27-10 lead. Reid will not sit on a lead against Brady in the Super Bowl. The worst-case scenario for Mahomes seems to be two TD passes, which would mean a push on this total at the Westgate.
Brady touchdown pass in third quarter: Yes + 140
— This is a two-part bet in connection with a Brady TD pass in the fourth quarter at + 110. The Westgate offers plus prices on each quarter, so it takes only one Brady TD in the second half to turn at least a small profit. Brady had two fourth-quarter touchdown passes in the teams’ first meeting.
Antonio Brown receptions 4: Under -110
— Brady targeted Brown frequently late in the regular season, but Brown had a total of only three receptions in the Buccaneers’ first two playoff games. He missed the NFC title game with a knee injury and seems unlikely to be a major part of the game plan this week.
Tyreek Hill receiving yards 92.5: Over -110
— Hill torched Tampa Bay the first time around by totaling 13 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns. In the playoffs, Hill had 172 yards against Buffalo and 110 against Cleveland, so anything under 100 is a low number. Hill had nine catches for 105 yards in last year’s Super Bowl.
Will the game be decided by exactly 3 points? Yes + 425
— Even with a point spread of three, the math says this is not an advantage play, yet this game has the feel of one that’s going to the wire. Each of Brady’s first four Super Bowls were decided by three points and each of his next two were decided by four points.
Will the game be tied after 0-0? Yes -110
— Bet against a blowout. The most likely script is a tight contest that features Brady and Mahomes trading shots until a dramatic ending.