Yes, I do remember Super Bowl I, Jan. 15, 1967.
I watched the Green Bay Packers (Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi) clobber the Kansas City Chiefs (nee the AFL’s Dallas Texans) 35-10 sitting at the bar during my sister’s sweet 16. What I remember most is that the Packers were such an overwhelming favorite no gambler in his right mind would put money on the game. Would fans line up to bet whether Green Bay’s Max McGee would play the game sober? Not sure sports gaming was up to that challenge 48 years ago.
For Super Bowl XLIX, the sky (not to mention imagination) is the limit when it comes to what’s known as proposition betting. Prop betting can range from the minutia of on-the-field action—who will score the first touchdown—to the more obscure, odd, and unrelated events that surround the big game. Prop bets can include outside tie-ins, such as scores from other sporting events matched against Super Bowl stats, or anything non-sporting that happens from the singing of the national anthem through halftime and even post-game.
While online betting is for the most part illegal in the United States, many of the online gambling sites are located offshore in such places as Panama to circumvent the long arm of the law. The folks that run these businesses clearly have a lot of time on their hands given the creativity they put into some of these prop wagers. Consider these:
1) How long will it take Idina Menzel to sing the national anthem?
Over/Under: 2 minutes, 1 second
This one is easy. Menzel is a Broadway star who also starred in the TV series Glee. Singers who are keen to take to the stage like to milk their performances for what they are worth. Under two minutes? I think we’ll be lucky if she is done warbling by the end of Q1.
2) What color will Bill Belichick‘s hoodie be?
Clearly this is one of those “who cares” kind of wagers. One way of predicting is to find out where he is staying in Phoenix and see how much the hotel charges for laundry. If it’s more than $2, he’ll wear whatever he did on Media Day.
3) Who will be shown more on TV during the game?
Robert Kraft -200; Paul Allen +150.
Another fairly easy one, but difficult for those not at the game or without access to multiple camera angles. Whichever of these two billionaires has more A-list celeb in their suite is the winner. Based on that, Kraft is the favorite; Allen will more than likely have a lot of dull fellow tech geeks with him. If he has his buddy Bill Gates with him, I’d lean in his direction.
4) The amount of points scored by Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat against the rushing attempts by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch
For this one, we have math on our side. Bosch is averaging 21.3 points per game. On Feb. 1, the Heat play the Boston Celtics, who are 25th out of 30 NBA teams in team defense. We can add a few points to Bosh’s totals and make it 25. Beast Mode averaged just under 18 rushing attempts per game through his previous 18 games, and the New England Patriots were seventh in team rushing defense for the past season. Since we are talking attempts, and not yards, the edge goes to Bosh.
However… if the Seahawks fall behind, they are more likely to pass, which could limit the number of times Russell Wilson hands Lynch the ball.
5) Color of Gatorade thrown on the winning coach?
Orange is the favorite at 3/2, followed by yellow (5/2), clear/water (3/1), blue (13/2), red (15/2), and green (12/1).
If I’m a betting man, I’d go with red, given the prominence of red at University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals). I’d rather bet on who delivers the Gatorade shower—if the Pats win, that’s easy… it will be Gronk. If the Seahawks win, my money is on Lynch. For the ‘Hawks running back, anything to get him out of doing a postgame interview.
6) Will we see cleavage from Katy Perry at halftime?
Perry showing cleavage is -500. Full coverage is +350.
It’s likely, but the rest of the wardrobe gets tricky: Pants are at +300, shorts at +225, and a dress/skirt combination is -175. She’ll probably wind up in pants after a few wardrobe changes during the performance, so I think a dress is a comfortable guess.
7) The Groundhog Day Parlay
Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow + Patriots win the Super Bowl: 5/2
Punxsutawney Phil does not see shadow + Patriots win the Super Bowl: 11/5
Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow + Seahawks win the Super Bowl: 11/4
Punxsutawney Phil does not see shadow + Seahawks win the Super Bowl: 12/5
I like the Seahawks to win this game for a number of reasons, so immediately I’m looking at the bottom chunk of this parlay. For his part, Punxsutawney Phil has predicted a long winter five of the last seven years by seeing his shadow and returning to his hole. I’m riding those trends.
8) How many viewers will the game have?
Over/Under: 113 million
The Seahawks and Denver Broncos drew 111 million people last year. The hype leading up to the game involved Peyton Manning‘s star power and how both teams would react to playing in the comparatively chilly Northeast. This year’s actual game opened with slightly cheaper seats, but the #DeflateGate hype is a reverberating narrative that makes it universal must-see TV—plus the game should be far closer than the 43-8 snoozefest of last year. Go over.
9) How many times will “deflated balls” be referred to during the game?
Over/Under: 3 mentions
The networks will want to move the narrative past this story, and I don’t see air pressure affecting the on-the-field game script. America loves betting the over, but here’s a good place to go against the grain. Under.
10) Will Marshawn Lynch grab his crotch after scoring a TD in the game?
It’s unlikely that he does this. Even if Lynch scores—hardly a guarantee—he’s under the gun for all sorts of fines should he grab his package on such a global stage. But I believe in magic.
Photo via Artlee/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)