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Early Super Bowl Lines Are Available - And Beatable

T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Predictions

Just because we aren't even past the conference playoffs in the NFL yet doesn't mean that you can't be looking towards the Super Bowl. There are only four teams left, so there are only four different possible Super Bowl match-ups to consider and handicap. All of the sportsbooks are offering a wide range of bets for you to make for the big game. As you should do in every betting situation, the thing to do is to search the available bets to find any value that is out there.

The most common bet, and the easiest to consider, is a straight bet on which team will win the Super Bowl. To consider if those bets make sense you first have to understand what they are. They are essentially a parlay - you are betting on the outcome of two games because your team can't win the Super Bowl if they don't first win their conference game. The first check you need to make, then, is that the bets are paying at least what a two team parlay would - 2.6/1. At that price you are sacrificing a house edge of 10 percent, so you likely wouldn't want to accept odds that force you to give up even more of an edge. Both of the AFC teams, then, are pretty bad value at this time. The Colts are typically available at 8/5, or 1.6/1, while the Patriots are at 9/4, or 2.25/1, so both teams are fairly significant underlays. On the other hand, bettors who have faith in the NFC can find excellent value. The Bears are at 7/2, or 3.5/1, while the Saints are the longest shots on the board at 9/2, or 4.5/1. In both of those cases you would have a significant advantage over the house over the long term.

At some books, including Bodog, you can bet on which two teams will meet in the Super Bowl. This, again, is a parlay, only this time it is a parlay of the two Conference games. Like the earlier bet it is also a sucker bet in some cases. If Indianapolis wins the AFC, then the bet will be lousy regardless of the NFC winner. The Bears and the Colts would pay 8/5, while the Saints and the Colts pays 9/4. Not only are you sacrificing a good deal of your edge to the house, but you are also currently accepting a lower payout in both cases than you would if you were to play a moneyline parlay on the two games, even though that is exactly the same bet. In other words, the sportsbooks would love for you to make these bets all day.

By shopping around and looking at some of the more creative and bizarre Super Bowl prop bets you can sometimes find circumstances where you can find a bit more value for your preferred bet. Say, for example, that you were confident that the Super Bowl winner was going to be either Indianapolis or Chicago. The Colts are at 8/5 in futures betting, and the Bears are at 7/2. If you don't have a particular preference between those two teams, then the smartest move would be to dutch those two teams so that you make the same profit regardless of which one of those two teams win. Dutching those two teams with a total bet of $100 would provide a profit of almost $65 if one of them hoists the trophy. BetCRIS has a prop bet that allows you to bet on whether an African American coach will win the Super Bowl. The two teams with African American coaches are, of course, the Colts and the Bears. The current odds on this happening are -140. That means that a $100 bet in this case returns more than $71 in profit. The prop bet pays almost seven percent more than the futures bets would with identical risk.

BetCRIS will let you not only bet that any of the four teams will win the Super Bowl, but you can also bet that any of the four teams will not win it. The potential payoffs are very low - the Colts offer the highest payoff at -165, while the Bears are the lowest at -640 - but the bets could offer another way for you to squeeze out more profit if you are very confident in your opinion. If you are sure that Tom Brady will win his fourth ring, for example, then you could grab a few extra bucks by betting that Indianapolis won't win. The bet probably wouldn't make sense in most situations, but it's another option for action.

If you aren't interested in shopping around and looking for value, then maybe you just want to gamble. There are several prop bets out there already that will scratch your gambling itch, and many more will come along before kick off. Do you feel like you have a good sense of the coin toss? You can bet on whether the toss will come out heads or tails. Both sides are at -105, so you would be better off to bet with the buddies you are watching the game with. You can also bet on which team will win the coin toss, and whether the winning team will choose to kick or receive. That all means that an unlucky degenerate could be down three units before the game even begins.

Questions or comments? E-mail them to twhenham@docsports.com.

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