Tuley’s Takes on betting Super Bowl props

By Dave Tuley  (Point Spread Weekly) 

Well, the NFC & AFC Championship Games didn’t go exactly as expected (and we’re all aware of the controversies and “what ifs” with the referees calls and non-calls in critical situations), but it somehow worked out for us here in the Tuley’s Take home office as we swept 2-0 ATS with the Rams and Patriots as well as our leans on the Under in the NFC title game and Over in the AFC title game.

Either game could have gone either way, but we’re certainly happy the Rams and Patriots prevailed. And while it’s easy to say I got lucky with the Over 55.5 in the Patriots-Chiefs game as it was 17-7 before we benefited from 38 points being scored in the fourth quarter, that’s how I expected the whole game to be played. Anyway, our record improved to 3-2-1 ATS (60%) in the playoffs with our best bets on the sides (58-55-6 ATS overall for the season); since I only listed the over/unders as leans, I’ll stick with my posted records of 2-2 on playoff totals and 29-20-1 (59.2%) on the season though hopefully our followers were on those as well.

I’ll hold my official prediction of the Rams-Eagles matchup for next week’s Super Bowl edition of Point Spread Weekly, but I’ll admit to being in a personal quandary (though it’s a great position to be in). Listeners to “The Opening Lines Show” on Sunday night may recall that I mentioned twice about taking the AFC +3.5 back in October. The Rams were undefeated and the Westgate (and other books) had the NFC favored by 3 for a few weeks. I wasn’t totally sold on the Rams and figured that by Super Bowl time that they wouldn’t be favored by more than a field goal over the Chiefs or Patriots (or Steelers or Chargers for that matter), so I grabbed it when it went to 3.5.

I was happy to see last week when the advance lines were around pick ‘em or -1 either way for any of the remaining matchups – and even more thrilled with the Patriots having been bet to 2.5-point favorites as we sit here Tuesday. (Note: The South Point went to -3 just before noon Tuesday and it lasted for 17 minutes before being bet back to 2.5.) So I have a shot at a juicy middle and just have to decide how much I’m looking to bet back on the Rams. Now, I know a lot of readers are assuming “Tuley always takes the underdog” but I really do feel the Patriots are the right side in the Super Bowl (well, especially as the dog of +3.5!!!).

Anyway, my focus has mostly turned to the props that are popping up all over as we await the SuperBook at Westgate’s big reveal at 7 p.m. PT Thursday.

So, let me offer you sort of a “primer” (for those old-timers who remember when that word was more in use) on the elemental things I look for in Super Bowl props.

TRY TO BE PROFESSIONAL

The first lesson is that, while Super Bowl props are meant to be fun (and I admit my own degenerate streak for sometimes taking a stab or two), we really need to treat these seriously and like an investment. It’s easier said than done, but let’s try to limit our bets to ones that have a better chance to happen than the odds we’re being offered. Unless you’re a true professional sports bettor and believe your research can outdo the oddsmakers and find edges, I believe you should trust that the bookies have already done the homework in setting the lines based on what teams or individuals average and shading for any other factors. In that case, our job is to figure out what game scenarios might happen on Super Sunday that make the results more likely on one side than the others. For instance, did you see how the Patriots shut down the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce last week? If you had decided that Bill Belichick – who has a great reputation for taking away a team’s top weapon – was going to double-cover one or both of those guys, that’s the way you should have bet in the AFC title game props. Who will Belichick try to take away on Super Sunday? What will the Rams do different that might affect their props (or Patriots’ props as well).

TRUST YOUR HANDICAPPING

I really believe you should tailor your props bets to how you handicap the game overall. Last year, I nearly swept my props because I predicted the Eagles to keep the game close and ultimately beat the Patriots outright. I cashed on the Eagles’ LeGarrette Blount to have over 7.5 carries against his former team, Blount over 27.5 rushing yards, Blount over 9.5 yards for his longest rush and Blount +180 to score a TD. I also nailed the game to be tied after 0-0 (that cashed early as it was 3-3 in the first quarter) and largest lead of the game to be under 14.5 points. I also truly believed the coaches would have some trick plays up their sleeves, so I went with Over 2.5 players (+180) to throw a pass, cashing when Danny Amendola threw his incomplete pass to Tom Brady and piled on with Trey Burton’s “Philadelphia Special” TD pass to Nick Foles. That could be in play this year, especially if you believe Rams coach Sean McVay will let punter Johnny Hekker throw another pass. Now, I should add a caveat: while I say to have your prop wagers fit your narrative of how the game will be played, you shouldn’t ignore value bets on the other team if, again, they make sense. Again, last year, I didn’t see the Eagles having an answer for Rob Gronkowski and bet him to have Over 5 receptions. Not all props are going to win (or go Over) on the winning team nor lose (or stay Under) on the losing team, so approach each with a search for value.

LOOK UNDER RATHER THAN OVER

This is a general guideline (and certainly there are exceptions like the ones stated above), but most bettors love to cheer for something to happen, as opposed to cheering for players to not pad their stats, so the vast majority of the individual player props are shaded higher than they should be. So, the value is usually on the Under (again, unless you can find reasons why a certain player will be used more than usual). In addition to just falling short of a season average that many of those player props are set at, you also have to factor in the chance of injury in keeping a player Under (not that anyone would or should cheer for an injury just because it helps them cash a bet).

BET AS EARLY AS YOU CAN (UNLESS…)

There’s a reason the professional bettors will be lined up at the Westgate on Thursday night, and that’s because they want first crack at the openers to get the best numbers. Now, they don’t always bat a thousand, but if you think there’s an edge to be found, probably others see the same things and the best numbers won’t last. While we’re mostly talking about “sharp” bets here, this can also go for popular bets that end up getting bet down. For instance, I should tell you that professional bettors usually bet on “no safety” and “no overtime” because the odds are set lower than the true odds on the “yes” because books know the public loves to bet those and cheer for those unlikely occurrences (of course, the sharps have been burned several times in recent years with a bunch of safeties and then the first and only overtime in Super Bowl history two years ago with the Patriots-Falcons). Still, if you insist that you really believe we’ll have overtime (heck, why not, as both conference championship games went to extra time, right?), then bet it early to get the best price before books lower it to limit their exposure. But – and this is a big BUT – if you’re able to monitor the lines on the props you like and can see which way they’re headed, that should tell you if you’re better off waiting. The more you follow the betting markets, the more you’ll make those right decisions.

Good luck with early shopping and see you next week.

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