Super Bowl 50
Big sporting events generate equally big public interest. One thing for example that attracts so many people into having a flutter on the Grand National, is the feeling of being part of something that´s so huge and grabs the imagination of millions. Being even just a small part of that can feel good. And it´s very much the same when it comes to the Super Bowl.
Last year´s finale between New England and Seattle became the most-watched individual programme in American TV history, with well over a hundred million viewers. And this year´s spectacle could be even bigger.
For those wanting to bet on the game, and there´ll be millions who do, there are dozens of markets available. They range from the obvious, such as choosing the winning team, through to what colour Lady Gaga´s dress will be during the halftime show. But for those who prefer to keep their stakes small, and the odds big, here are my three picks from what´s on offer...
1) Denver or Carolina Defense/Special Team to score the opening touchdown @ 10.009/1
This match has been billed as a showdown between two teams with fantastic defenses. Which it is! On offense, Denver have struggled both on the ground and through the air, while Carolina have yet to face a defense anywhere near as good as they will this weekend.
Denver´s crack defensive unit has weighed in with five touchdowns this season. Carolina´s has scored four. That´s nine TDs altogether, which suggests a roughly 50 percent chance that between them they´ll produce a defensive score on Sunday. So if you fancy defenses to dominate early on, then why not back the defence/special team of BOTH sides to nab the opening score, at odds of 20.019/1? Your overall price - a healthy 10.09/1.
2) Back Overtime to be played at 9.08/1
The handicap of just 4.5 points between the teams suggests this is going to be close. Our NFL analyst Neil Monnery has already plumped for Denver to win. And I completely agree with him. General consensus among Denver backers though is that if they do win, it will be close. So if you are among them, the odds of 9.008/1 on there being overtime offer not only some temptation but also a small element of protection.
In addition, it offers you a bet that, barring a blowout, will be in with a shout right until the very end. I tipped overtime in Denver´s last game - and was foiled only by a failed New England two point conversion, which occurred with just two seconds left on the clock. Yes it lost. But it should have won. And boy what excitement!
3) Back Von Miller @ 25.024/1 and Luke Kuechly @ 20.019/1 to be MVP
Cam Newton is the hot favourite, at odds on, to be the game´s Most Valuable Player. But that seems poor value to me. There have been 27 quarterbacks named MVP in 49 Super Bowl outings, which makes his odds look skinny. And that´s without taking into account the two extremely strong defenses on display
Again, if you fancy defenses to dominate, then that limits the chances of an offensive player taking the prize. In Super Bowl history there´ve been three linebackers named MVP, which suggests a general price of around 17.016/1 on it happening again. So the odds of 20.019/1 on Luke Kuechly and 25.024/1 on Von Miller look generous in the circumstances.
Arguably the top defensive players from either side, Kuechly produced a pick six last time out against Arizona, while Miller also grabbed an interception against the Patriots. A repeat of that from either on Sunday would make them contenders to be MVP. And you can back both players for combined odds of at least 10.009/1.