From who'll win the coin toss, to the colour of Katy Perry's hair, we're spoiled for choice when it comes to betting on the Super Bowl. Luckily, our analyst Neil Harvey has done the heavy lifting for us and picked out five bets he thinks are too good to be missed. In last year's big game he hit four winners from five. Can he go one better this time?
"The team that forces the most turnovers is proven to have a greater than 90% chance of winning the Super Bowl. Personally I think that will be Seattle. And this data backs that up."
1) Largest Lead of the Game to be Over 13.5 Points @ [8/13](Sportsbook)
For me, the best way to approach this game is not to look at the tsunami of bets on offer and then pick the ones you fancy. That's how the bookies stay rich. Instead, decide exactly how you think the game will go. And then look for a bet to match that prediction. So for example, anyone who's read my article on the history of closely-matched Super Bowls will understand exactly why I'm making this first selection. In Super Bowls where the handicap between the teams was three points or less, the average lead at half time was more than 12 points. And the average margin of victory by full time leapt to more than 17 points. So this bet is one I simply 'must have'. And the kicker is, the lead doesn't even have to stay that big. It just has to happen at any one moment in the game.
2) LeGarrette Blount rushing yards to be Under 66.5 @ [10/11] (Sportsbook)
Blount joined the Patriots in the middle of this season, after being frozen out at Pittsburgh. Since then, his rushing yards have been: 78,58,66,17,0,62,1,148. That means he surpassed this week's 66 yard quote just two times in eight games. His average? Just 53.75 yards per game. And that figure would have been lower were it not for his performance against Indianapolis, which saw coach Belichick use him more often than a child with a new toy to expose Indy's truly woeful run defense. There's no way though Blount will be getting anywhere near the 30 carries he saw against the Colts this time round.
Blount's running style resembles that of a cave troll from Lord of the Rings, which might not be too effective against a Seahawks run defense that ranked third best in the NFL this season. This Sunday he'll be running into something akin to a brick wall, instead of the chocolate fireguard that was the Colts defensive line.
And then of course there's 'Belitricks'. A word created to describe Bill Belichick's habit of doing the exact opposite of what everyone's expecting, when it comes to using his running backs. Remember Jonas Gray running for 201 yards and four TDs in Week 11? Sports Illustrated put him on their front cover. Belichick put him on the bench. Gray, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden could all steal carries away from Blount. And if New England should fall behind, they could abandon the run altogether. Enough said.
3) Lay Tom Brady to be MVP @ 2.767/4
Say whaaaat??? Surely Tom Brady is a hot favourite to take the MVP award? Yes sir, indeed he is. But for me his price is too short. For one, the chances of the Patriots winning this game are only slightly smaller, at even money. And if the Patriots don't win - which I don't think they will - then neither does Brady. And then even if New England do win, there's the chance Brady still won't take the award. People assume that winning quarterbacks almost always get voted MVP. But it's just not true. In reality, 26 of the 49 MVPs to date have been quarterbacks. So that means almost half the QBs who lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, failed to scoop the individual prize.
Bear in mind also that Brady is up against what some consider to be the best defense the NFL's seen in decades. And the best element of that defense? The pass defense, which ranked number one in the league this season. That's what Brady will be up against.
4) Seattle HT/FT or New England HT/FT (back both) @ 1.654/6
"He's gone mad!", I hear you cry. Yes backing both teams might seem strange at first glance. But again, if you check out my study of previous Super Bowls that were closely priced you'll see I discovered that nine out of ten such games saw the team that was leading at the break, go on to win. So based on that, the price on it happening here should be around the 1.10 mark. Yet both teams are available at around 3.309/4. Personally I think Seattle are the call here. But do you know what? At that price you can afford to back both teams. Doing so gives you an overall price of roughly 1.654/6 and means you make a tidy profit no matter who wins. The odds are just too generous to ignore. So snap them up.
5) New England to commit Most Turnovers @ 2.35/4 or better
This is a juicy price. So why is it so big, especially when the Patriots are facing the league's number one defense? Well, the answer is because just a minimum of research reveals it's actually New England who have the better turnover differential. That means the number of times they force turnovers from their opponents compared to the number of times they lose the ball themselves. And the fact is, over the course of the regular season New England had a differential of +12, compared to Seattle's +9. Hence why New England are odds-against to concede the most possession.
So why back them? Well because I took the trouble to dig much deeper and examine the calibre of opponents each team had been facing. And what I discovered was that New England's 16 opponents had a turnover differential of -13 between them. So they were better at spilling the ball than at forcing mistakes themselves. But Seattle had clearly been facing much stiffer opposition, who had a combined differential of +7. That's a 20 turnover difference in terms of the sides they'd been facing, in favour of Seattle. And for me that changes everything. The team that forces the most turnovers is proven to have a greater than 90% chance of winning the Super Bowl. Personally I think that will be Seattle. And this data backs that up. Most people are too lazy to dig that hard for information, hence the big price. So be my guest, take advantage of my hard work, and seize the value.