By: Little Italy (Publisher)
Follow on Twitter: @LILITALY853
After months of analysis, projections, research, and everything in between we have reached the final stop of the 2021 NFL season. This year brought many things; challenges to overcome, fantasy wins, fantasy losses, betting wins, and betting losses. However much like last year it is time to close the season out with a bang, and what better way than to send you into the off season with a fat wallet. To reach that goal I am prepared to offer up over thirty of my favorite bets to target for the big game. Let's start by looking at the first thing we will see on Sunday, The National Anthem.
The current lines I have been seeing in different sportsbooks out there have this set around 95 seconds (1 minute 35 seconds). Mickey Guyton has been selected as this year’s National Anthem performer for Super Bowl 56. This marks Guyton’s first appearance on this stage, but she has performed the Anthem before. In fact, Guyton has performed the National Anthem twice, each time coming in under this total (1:25 and 1:30). Over the past 15 years the under is coming in 40% of the time, while the over has hit eight times (53.3%). The average length of the National Anthem being sung over this time is 2:01 or 121 seconds. The median comes in at around 1:59 (119 seconds). Despite Guyton coming in under in both her previous performances, the fact that she has not performed on this stage has me leaning towards the recent trend of the Anthem going over two minutes in seven of the last nine. I would actually project this closer to 1:55 (115 seconds).
The Bet: OVER 1:35 (95 Seconds) *Up to 1:55/115 seconds*
The Coin Toss
One prop that does not require any knowledge of the game that has sports bettors frothing prior to kick off is the coin toss. Many like to place a wager on this because they have a fifty-fifty chance of cashing a winning ticket. The thing is does each side of the coin really have the same 50% chance of hitting? I argue No it does not. Lets dive in and see what the history tells us in terms of which side of the coin lands face up towards the stars more times than the other.
In the fifty-five year history of the big game, tails has won 29 times, while heads has won only 26 times. In last year’s Super Bowl it was Heads that prevailed, which was only the second time in eight years that was the case, as Tails dominated six of the previous seven years (2014-2020). This Tails domination came after Heads dominated five straight Super Bowls (2009-2013). Therefore, our math tells us that Heads holds the slight edge over the past thirteen Super Bowls hitting 53.8% of the time.
Well there it is then Heads is the bet to place correct? Not so fast, I want to dive in a bit deeper. Now as I mentioned above, last year saw Heads win the big event, so I wanted to see how often a repeat victory followed the next year. Looking back twelve years, we find that those who would have placed a wager on the same call as the year prior had a 67% chance of winning (8-4). If we expand that period to forty years we find that chance of winning diminish quite a bit, as betting on the same result would only cash 52.5% of the time (21-19). In fact, when we look to the last twenty-eight Super Bowls, those who bet the opposite of the year prior would have hit correctly fourteen times, which is, ding-ding, 50% of the time.
However, I am still not ready to place my bet yet because I need more answers, so I went all the way back to SBI and SBVII, the only times the Big Game has been played in this year’s host city of LA. What did the coin toss result reveal? Well, Heads landed face up in both contests, meaning that it is undefeated (2-0) in LA. Still, that isn’t enough to ease this complicated Italian mind, so I went even further charting every coin toss in every Super Bowl ever played in the great state of California, which revealed something very telling. Since SBXI (1977), Tails has dominated the California based Super Bowls winning 70% of the time going (7-3). Tails has actually won the past three straight Super Bowls played in California. However, no side has ever won more than 3 consecutive times in the state.Therefore, dating back to the first coin toss in a Super Bowl played in California Tails has emerged victorious 58.3% of the time (7-5).
So taking all of these trends and history into account this is what we are told:
Despite each side having the same advantage of hitting from the info above (4 each) they are not equal. Heads has a 68.2% chance of hitting, while Tails has only a 57.8% chance of hitting. Meaning we are betting one way this Sunday.
The Bet: HEADS
Winner of the Coin Toss
I have zero interest in betting which team wins the coin toss outright, my interest lies in what the winner decides to do with the ball. Will winner want the ball or will they want to defer to the second half. Well when shopping around we find that many books are leaning in one direction as the avg (-500) odds tells us how to bet. That (-500) is alongside the word Defer. The Rams and Bengals both were heavy defer to the second half teams this season. How heavy did they lean? Well the Rams won the toss ten times this season deferring to the second half all ten times. On the other side the Bengals won the coin toss eleven times this past season, deferring to the second half eleven times. Therefore, despite this not being very appealing, as the odds suggest there is an 83% chance of this hitting, it is to me because there is value in it at this number, as I have it closer to a 96% chance of hitting.
The Bet: Will Defer to the Second Half
Result of Bengals First Drive
Cincy hasn’t been very good to start games, in fact in first half offensive DVOA Cincy is ranked 29th. In addition too that stat, the Rams top five ranked defensive DVOA presents a big challenge/step up in competition to anything this Bengals offense has faced this season. It is going to take them a few series to get it figured out, despite the two week lead up prior to this contest. With that said, I love the first drive to end in a punt for Cincy. You can shop this around, but the best odds I have found were at (-115).
The Bet: Punt
First Play of the Game
Normally these types of bets are ones I like to shy away from, but for the Super Bowl I enjoy these quick hitters that are over within the first few seconds of the big game, such as the coin toss and National Anthem. When we look at the numbers from this season, we discover that the Rams have passed on the first play in eight of twenty games played (40%), while the Bengals have passed on the first play in sixteen of twenty games played (80%). Therefore, these teams together avg out to 60% leaning pass on the first play. Despite the fact that young coaches tend to play it safe early in these types of big games I am taking the pass ONLY if I can find that (+100) odds to make it worth taking a shot.
The Bet: PASS *Only if you can find (+100)*
First Quarter Bets
Historically Super Bowls tend to start very slow as each team completes the “feeling out” process. So with that said, it should be no surprise that the first quarter total has failed to reach double digits in fourteen of the last twenty-two Super Bowls. That is a very nice 63% hit rate toward the under 9.5 total first quarter points which I have found in various books. Another trend working in our favor is the fact that both teams this season have combined for a (27-12-1) (67.5%) rate toward the first quarter under this season.
The Bet: UNDER 9.5
Score in first Six Minutes
In a correlating move from above, I have found some nice value on this bet. Current odds are around (-140) where I have this projecting closer to (-170) offering us that all-important betting edge. When looking at the data from the season we find that there is a 20% chance for each team to score within the first six minutes. Cincy scored in the first six minutes this season in 20% of their games, as did the Rams. When looking at the defenses it bodes even better for the NO, as the Rams allowed a team to score in the first six in just 15% of games, while the Bengals came in allowing opponents to score in the first six in only 25% of their games.
The Bet: NO
Highest Scoring QT
Historically speaking this has been the third quarter (AVG 11.5 points). I see no reason to bet against this and the current (+500) odds right now, as Cincy has been more of a second half team. With that I like Burrow to be passing in the second half to play catch up, which gets started in quarter three. On the flip side if the Rams find themselves down at the half, the third quarter is when teams typically make up ground on this Bengals defense. Cincy ranks 15th in yards allowed in the third quarter which should lead to some points for LA. There is a ton of value here.
The Bet: THIRD QUARTER
Highest Scoring Half
From what I have covered to this point, it is pretty cut and dry as to what my lean is here.
The Bet: SECOND HALF
Third Quarter Spread
I just got done telling you that the Bengals are a second half team, which means they are that preverbal adjustment team. When looking at their twenty games played this season you see this very thing, as the Bengals are (16-4) ATS, covering in the third 80% of the time. That 80% cover rate by Cincy is way more appealing than the Rams 40% cover rate in third this season (8-12).
The Bet: BENGALS (+1)
First Half Total
Currently the best line I found is 24.5 points. With my projected slow start to the game with the help of both McVay and Taylor starting conservative I lean towards the under. I am betting this in place of my bet on the total for the entire game. I will however use the current 48.5 total for the game to help my decision here though, as games with a total of 48 have had the first half total go under in thirteen of the last eighteen Super Bowls (72.2% hit rate).
The Bet: UNDER 24.5
I will be attacking the live total in this one. If the game starts slow, I will hedge that the action picks up in the second half meaning I will be watching that total line very closely throughout, especially near halftime.
The Bet: OVER
Game Props to Target
Time of Possession
My money will be on projected game script in this one. I foresee a slow start where the defense of the Rams slows Cincy and leads to shorter drives. Couple that with the fact that the Rams could come out of the gate and use the ground attack more to extend drives, which will lead to more minutes for their offense. LA this season had 355 first downs converting 43.9% of third downs and 52.6% of fourth downs. The Bengals had 337 first downs converting just 39.6% of their third downs and 65% of their fourth downs.
The Bet: RAMS
Team to Call First Timeout
The best current odds I found for this is (-115) for the Rams. This makes this an attack for me, as I have it closer to (-130). McVay pretty much led the league in unnecessary time outs this season, averaging 2.9 a game, which bodes well as most first time outs taken are deemed unnecessary.
The Bet: RAMS
First Team to Record a Pass Interference Penalty
The Rams are very disciplined on the defensive side of the ball having only been flagged four times this season for PI, which was by far the fewest out of all teams. Cincy was a little more prone to this penalty having recorded nine, which was on par with the league average of 9.5. My money will back the more experienced team in this spot.
The Bet: BENGALS
Kicking Props to Target
Is there a hotter kicker than the rookie right now? He has had attempted four FG's, making all, in every post season game played. This is part of a seven game stretch where he’s had at least two FG's. Therefore, with that, here are the Bets I’m attacking for him:
OVER 1.5 Field Goals
OVER 2.5 FG’s
OVER .5 First Half Cincy FG’s
Like Mcpherson, Matt Gay has been one of the leagues best kickers throughout the 2021 season. Gay has been exceptionally good on his home turf, especially when it comes to hitting multiple FG’s a game. In fact, Gay has 2+ FG’s in nine of ten games in LA this season. In the five games in which he was held to one or fewer FG’s, all were on the road, and three of those were outdoors. Cincy has given up multiple FG’s to opposing kickers in 40% of their games played this season. My current game script projection leans in favor of Gay having another solid day with his leg.
The Bet: Matt Gay OVER 1.5 FG’s
Other Kicker Props
Shortest FG made OVER 27.5
Both Teams WILL have two FG’s each
Total Combined FG’s OVER 3.5
Oh you best believe I’m going off the rails from the normal bets I like to target during the Super Bowl, especially when the value is there. That includes betting on the Bengals punter who I like to boot a ball over this next prop. The current line is set at longest punt 52.5, which I project to be just a bit to short in this domed environment. Huber has actually been over this mark in thirteen of twenty games played this season, a very solid 65% rate. I would be comfortable betting this up to 53.5 yards, as I believe with Cincy being 4.5 point dogs suggests Huber should have multiple chances to best this total.
The Bet: Longest Punt OVER 52.5 Yards
Quarterback Props to Target
Matthew Stafford Rushing Yards
One strategy I like to deploy when betting is going against recency bias, and there is no greater prop to target this weekend then the former Lions rushing prop of 5.5 yards. The fact that he has gone over this in every post season game this season will help us out as many will see this yardage total and bet the over without second thought. THIS IS WRONG!!!! When looking at the season as a whole, Stafford has failed to reach this number in 65% of his games (13 of 20). Stafford’s median rush yards sits at a meager .5 yards, and the fact that Cincy has allowed only around 280 rush yards to the QB this season bodes well, because 50% of those yards came from two quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. Matthew Stafford is not that type of quarterback.
The Bet: UNDER 5.5 Rush Yards
Joe Burrow Passing Yards
Since week 14 the Bengals have ranked in the top four of early down passing rate in neutral situations. You couple that with the fact that Cincy is a play from behind team, which boosts the passing yards, I love betting on the over his current 271.5 passing yards line. Burrow has the talent and weapons to overcome this tough matchup just enough to get us to the pay window. I have Burrow projected closer to 285.5 passing yards this Sunday.
The Bet: OVER 271.5 Passing Yards
Joe Burrow Passing Yards Half vs Half
In a correlating move from the above, as well as projected game script, I love targeting this bet. Too me it seems like free money.
The Bet: Second Half More Passing Yards
Running Back Props to Target
Joe Mixon Receiving Yards
The current line on this prop is 27.5 yards, just as it was entering the AFC Title Game. Just like the AFC Title Game, I fully expect this to close at around 30.5, and if you didn’t lock in the early line you would have lost. Do not make that mistake again; get it locked in at this 27.5 total. Mixon will be used in the screen game as an extension to the run game, as this defensive front of LA will force Burrow to get the ball out of his hand quickly.
The Bet: OVER 27.5 Receiving Yards
Joe Mixon Rushing Attempts
I am still a bit bitter having lost this in the previous game, which has me attacking it again. This time instead of the line being set at 15.5 we are set at 16.5 rush attempts. Unlike the last game where I was convinced he would go Under I am instead targeting the over this week. I just think we see Mixon on the field more in this game than in any game he played this season. Why? Because it’s the fucking Super Bowl man and we need our best playmakers on the field. Not to mention Mixon has gone over this total in 12 of his 19 games played this season, which is a solid 63% hit rate. My projections have him right at 18.
The Bet: OVER 16.5 Rush Attempts
Joe Mixon Anytime TD
In a correlating move, I like Mixon to find the end zone in this one.
The Bet: Mixon Scores a TD
More Rush Yards Mixon or Akers
The fact that Mixon has the safer floor, coupled with the fact that Akers will likely share more backfield touches with Sony (and potentially Henderson) makes this a pretty easy bet to target.
The Bet: Joe Mixon More Rush Yards
Samaje Perine Total Yards
Here is another bet where I am going to be going against recency bias. Last time we saw Perine he was jump starting this Bengals offense running 41 yards to the house after catching a dump off from Burrow. That image is what will propel us to the pay window with a winning ticket. You see prior to this game, Perine was riding a five game streak where he came in under this total. The fact that I foresee more Mixon, coupled with the fact that Perine has seen his snap count drop, bodes well for taking down this prop. Perine has averaged four yards per carry and seven yards per reception meaning he would need at least three touches to get close to this line, which I don’t see. This also opens the door to his rush attempts prop.
The Bets: UNDER 15.5 Total Yards
UNDER 3 Rush Attempts
Wide Receiver Props to Target
Copper Kupp Longest Reception
The Football Nerd has been on a mission to take down every record and stat associated with the position this season. Matthew Stafford’s favorite target is his favorite target because he makes him look good after the catch. It doesn’t matter if he’s singled, doubled, or tripled; Kupp has proven to be unstoppable. This bodes well for this prop which is currently set at 28.5. Kupp has been over this total in 15 of his 20 games (75%) this season. Kupp will see volume, this we know, which offers multiple chances for this to hit the over.
The Bet: OVER 28.5 Yards
Cooper Kupp Receiving Yards
Despite not being that great of a value, I am still targeting this bet. As I mentioned above, Kupp has been unstoppable this season and with the projected volume I see coming, this number just feels a tad too low. I would bet the over up to 110.5 receiving yards.
The Bet: OVER 100.5 Receiving Yards
Tee Higgins Receiving Yards
One thing we have learned this season is that when facing zone coverage Tee Higgins, typically, shines for these Bengals. We have to keep tabs on the injury status of tight end CJ Uzomah, because if he is unable to go Higgins, Boyd, and Mixon all get a boost in the passing attack. With that said, this current line of 67.5 receiving yards just seems to low for Higgins, who has the eyes and trust of Burrow on critical plays. The median for Higgins comes in at 76 which is a pretty significant difference. Not to mention, I fully expect the Rams to try their best to stop Chase.
The Bet: OVER 67.5 Receiving Yards
Tyler Boyd Receiving Yards
Another heart breaker in the AFC Championship was the fact that Boyd failed to reach his yardage prop. He did hit the reception line, but his 1.8 ADOT just killed us. However, I am going back to the well and betting the over here on the current 39.5 receiving yards line. Some books have it set at 41.5, I like that less. Like I just mentioned above, If Uzomah is out that will allow opportunity for Boyd to exploit this Rams defensive weakness, which is defending the middle of the field. Shop around for his receptions prop as well, making sure you find the 3.5 line offered by a few books. If you can find that key 3.5 number hit the over, and be sure to lay off the books set at 4.5 receptions, as they are far less appealing.
The Bet: OVER 39.5 Receiving Yards
Another bet against recency bias incoming. OBJ has been on fire this post season compiling yards and catches, looking more like the rookie Beckham. With that said, I will not even sniff his yardage prop because it offers little value. I am rather attacking the reception line of 5.5. This is Kupp’s offense, which leaves little for any other pass catchers. My projected slow/conservative start from both teams plays well into this prop falling under.
The Bet: UNDER 5.5 Receptions
So who Wins and Covers
I do think the recent trends line up perfectly for how I see this game ending. The trends I am referring to look at the last twenty Super Bowls, and how the dogs have done vs the spread, as well as outright wins. Over the last twenty years favorites have gone (7-13) (35%) against the spread. This certainly falls right into the Bengals hands, who have just been covering machines as dogs this season. Cincy holds the edge when looking at victories against playoff teams (7-2) this season, the two losses coming in overtime to Green Bay and San Francisco, in which they lost by three in each. The Rams are just (5-5) versus playoff teams with an average margin of loss of 12.5. However, the second trend I wanted to mention bodes well for the Rams winning outright, as out of those 13 games in which the dog has covered, they have only won outright four time (30%). I believe this game is going to be won in the trenches, which is advantage Rams. I just have to give that defensive front of the Rams the slight edge over the middle of the pack Bengals O-Line. Last year’s Super Bowl told us that no matter how talented of a QB you are, if you don’t have time, you will have a tough time winning the game. This game likely comes down to a late score yet again, which will propel the Rams to a Super Bowl Title.
The Bets: Rams Money Line
Super Bowl MVP
The QB position has typically dominated this award since its inception, having won it 55% of the time. This is why we see Stafford as the favorite and Burrow as a close second in odds. Running backs have only won the award 12.5% of the time, while WR’s have won it four times in the last seventeen years. To round this out when looking defensively, we find that a player from that side of the ball has won the award 18% of the time. Below is DraftKings top five favorites to win the award:
My Top Five MVP Front Runners
Von Miller (+4500)
Now don’t get it twisted, rest assure I will have some Stafford bets sprinkled in, as well as some Burrow sprinkles (Just in case they complete the magical season). However the bulk of my money will be on a player tied to the favorite, and that player is Copper Kupp. Yes, a QB has won this seven of the past ten years (70%), but I just envision an Edelman/Brady scenario potentially playing out this Sunday. If Kupp dominates like he has all season and catches double digit passes for a buck fifty and a TD or two, and Stafford throws for 275 and 3 TD’s, the MVP has to go to Kupp, Right? RIGHT!!!
FAVORITE LONGSHOT TO WIN SB MVP
This brings me to my final betting suggestion of the 2021 season, but before I close, I just wanted to thank you for all the support this season. So for everyone here at Propbetfanbtasy.com I just wanted to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU!!
Anyway, my favorite long shot bet goes to Von Miller, hence why I have him ranked so highly inside my top five. Yes, Donald is a beast, but Cincy will look to double him and eliminate him as much as possible, which will open the door for Floyd (+15000) and Miller. Miller has already sacked stripped his way to this title for Denver when he beat Cam Newton’s ass back in 2015. In addition, prior to his previous game two weeks ago, Von was on a six game streak in which he recorded at least one sack. Out of any longshot player in this game on defense or offense, my money is on the heart, talent, and value of Von Miller. Good Luck everyone and see you next season.