Super Bowl LVIII betting for beginners: Odds, lines, props


There are 60 seconds in a minute, and 24 hours in a day; that adds up to 86,400 seconds in a day. That means there are 31,536,000 seconds in a year and 3.1 billion seconds in a century.

According to a survey by the American Gaming Association, the United States is going to wager $23.1 billion on the Super Bowl this year.

You want to know how big a number 23.1 billion actually is? 23.1 billion seconds ago was August 1291. That month, the nation of Switzerland was founded — it’s considered to be the oldest remaining republic in the world.

So, yeah, people like to bet on the Super Bowl.

And if you’re reading this right now, you’re either an experienced bettor looking for picks, or newer to the world of sports betting and trying not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you can bet on.

There are more betting markets for the Super Bowl than there are ways to eat green eggs and ham.

Would you bet Mahomes to pass?
Or maybe running on the grass?

Would you bet Purdy to score?
Or throwing touchdowns, 2 or more?

Who will score first, CMC? Or will it be Travis Kelce?
Which will be the highest scoring quarter?
The second and fourth odds are shorter.

Bet on the color of Gatorade, or whether a fourth-down conversion will be made.

Try the coin flip, heads or tails…
Or at the half, bet which team trails…

Make a parlay with Taylor Swift!
So many props, through which you must sift.

There are easily 300-plus different options available on ESPN BET and that’s before counting any alternate lines. Let me be your guide through this massive props smorgasbord so that when you get to your Super Bowl party on Sunday, the only thing you’ll get lost in is the appetizer smorgasbord. We’ll get to the picks in a minute, but here’s a quick summary of what’s available, along with some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

The markets

Game lines

The classic bets. Moneyline, spread and total. Pick a winner, go over or under on the final score (currently SF -1.5 and O/U: 47.5). Move the line if you’re feeling confident. Think the 49ers win the game in a high-scoring blowout? Try SF -9.5 at +260 or over 54.5 points (+190).

TD scorers

Sounds simple enough, but there are still a lot of new options. The traditional Anytime TD, First TD and Last TD are a perennial favorite among casual bettors, but if you want to get in the weeds, you can even bet the over/under on the jersey number of the first touchdown scorer (currently 19.5)

Player props

Yards, completions, catches, rushes, interceptions, tackles, field goals — you name it, you can bet on it. Will Isiah Pacheco have a run of 16-plus yards? Will Jake Moody go over 2.5 extra points? Which player will have the most receiving yards (Kelce is favored at +275)?

Game props

Probably the biggest increase in props for the Super Bowl falls under this umbrella. Here’s examples of how granular you can bet this game.

First drive — Will the team score? Cross midfield? Reach the red zone? Have a 20-yard pass play? There are 23 first-drive props listed.

Half/quarter — Spread/Total/ML bets, number of touchdowns in each half, which quarter will see the most points.

Game flow questions — Will the team that scores last win the game? Will the score be tied after 0-0? Will there be a score in the last 2 minutes of either half?

Miscellaneous — 2-point conversions, win margin, total number of scores in the game.

Novelty — Coin toss! Color of Gatorade dumped on the winning head coach!

And a few tips when looking at the Cheesecake Factory menu of bets:

DO make sure to comb through all the options. Sportsbooks are elite on sides and totals because they’ve had practice for years, with lots of data to back things up. When they branch out and offer this many props, you can find some lines that are just purely off from what they should be.

DON’T make a same-game parlay with too many overs (you might think all the Chiefs pass-catchers are in great spots, but they won’t ALL go over in the same game; the 49ers often have one pass-catcher go off while at least one is limited in the box score)

DO make a same-game parlay with correlated legs (Mahomes pass yards over and Kelce receiving yards over likely happen together | Purdy going over his completions and attempts props likely happens in a game where the 49ers lose or are trailing most of the game)

DON’T bet your normal amount on some of these props, especially if you’re planning on betting a lot of these markets (I might legitimately bet just $1 on each bet so I can bet as many props as possible)

DO have fun with it! That’s another reason I’m considering $1 bets, so I can fire at a bunch of stuff and see how my predictions do, without risking more money than I would on a typical weekend. It’s the last meaningful NFL action we have for seven months, so make the most of it while remembering to wager responsibly.

The bets

If you’re tailing all of these, consider using one-fifth of your normal unit size, because I’m going to run through some of my favorite props for the game from every angle. If you’re picking and choosing your favorites, normal bet sizing is fine. Some you might have seen in our roundtables this week, others you might not even know were offered.

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Kansas City Chiefs ML (+108)

I don’t often like going against analytics models and FPI has the San Francisco 49ers as a 3-point favorite. But Kansas City has adapted its offensive game plan — giving the ball only to its three best players — and it’s sticking with it. The Chiefs have played three of FPI’s six toughest teams in the playoffs and dispatched all of them. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ defense has looked beatable in the playoffs, surrendering 24 first-half points and 442 yards to the Lions (182 on the ground) and letting the Packers reach the red zone on each of their first five offensive drives. The Chiefs’ losses are more fluky than problematic, and I’d prefer to ride with one of the great quarterbacks of this generation when all the chips are down.

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Under 47.5 Points (-115)

Going back to the well here with a Chiefs under. I’ve used this note countless times, but it’s still true — no Chiefs game topped 51 points this season. Only two games went above 48 and five of the past eight stayed under 40. Kansas City hasn’t allowed 30 points all season and hasn’t scored 30 points in over two months. Unders are also 4-1 in the past five Super Bowls and 11-8 in the Super Bowl since 2004, as teams tend to play slower and tentative in title games.

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Patrick Mahomes over 4.5 rushing attempts (-125)

play

0:35

Why Fulghum likes Mahomes’ INT line for the Super Bowl

Tyler Fulghum explains why he likes Patrick Mahomes to not throw a pick as a prop bet for the Super Bowl.

If the Chiefs win, there’s about a 50-50 chance we see some Mahomes kneel downs, which is the cherry on top considering he already runs more often in the playoffs. He has averaged 5.6 carries/game in his past five games.

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Brock Purdy under 31.5 pass attempts (-115)

If I can find a prop that works regardless of game script, I’m all-in. The Chiefs have been easier to run against this season, and both teams like to play a style of ball control offense that limits opponent plays. I expect the game to start slowly, and while I don’t expect Purdy to struggle mightily, I do think Kyle Shanahan will look to call a balanced game. In 18 games, Purdy only hit the over on this line three times (and one was only 32 attempts). When they win, they’re uber-efficient. But even in the four 49ers losses, Purdy hit only 27, 30, 31 and 32 attempts (an average of 30).

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Travis Kelce Anytime Touchdown Scorer and K.C. Chiefs to win (+280)

Kelce’s TD prop is +100 and a Chiefs win is +104. Parlaying them would normally be +308 (a 25% implied chance of happening), and we’re getting this at +280 (a 26% implied chance of happening). If these events weren’t correlated, it would make sense that they’re this close. But I think Kelce scoring is greatly correlated with a Chiefs win, much more than a 1% increase in implied odds. If you like Kelce to score or the Chiefs to win, you should take this parlay with significantly better value.

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Isiah Pacheco First TD (+600)

I dropped some data in our TD roundtable, but if I’m already betting on a Chiefs quick start and victory, it makes sense to stick with Kansas City for my first touchdown bet. A Chiefs running back has cashed this prop five times this season and I expect Pacheco to see the large majority of running back snaps in an offense that has struggled to find big plays.

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Brandon Aiyuk No TD (-190)

I realize the juice is heavy here, but this is one of the worst possible matchups for Aiyuk. L’Jarius Sneed was elite against top wide receivers and certainly won’t be following Samuel around. The Chiefs allowed only 14 touchdowns to wide receivers, and Aiyuk’s touchdowns this season came against Detroit, Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh — secondaries that had struggled all season. He had nine red zone targets this season, good for 69th in the NFL, behind Donald Parham Jr., Robert Woods, K.J. Osborn and eight fewer than Samuel (despite Samuel’s +160 TD odds to Aiyuk’s +150).

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Christian McCaffrey longest rush under 17.5 (-110)

He has hit over this number in only 6-of-18 games. Enough said.

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Noah Gray over 1.5 Rec (-120) and over 12.5 Rec yds (-115)

The Chiefs have been running more two-TE sets in the playoffs and dating to the end of the regular season, and Gray has had 11 multicatch games and 12 games over this yardage prop. Check and see if you can parlay them, too — it might be only +120 but these should hit together.

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Jake Moody under 7.5 kicking points (-140)

To go over this number, Moody needs three FGs (he hasn’t done that since Week 3), five PAT and a FG (I’m not betting on SF scoring 38 points) or two FG and 2-plus PATs. Kansas City has allowed eight kicking points just five times in 20 games, and I already like the game to go under.

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Chiefs to win First Quarter by shutout (+320)

Super Bowls have historically started very slowly, with a 1Q pregame total listed at 10 or 10.5. I’d have taken the under there, but this time it’s 9.5, so I need to pivot. In the four Chiefs/Niners divisional and conference playoff games, there have been two, two, three and three total possessions in the opening quarter. It’s very possible that the 49ers only see the ball once in this span, so give me the chalky squares picks of 3-0, 7-0 or 10-0.

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49ers First Drive No Score (-125)

San Francisco has struggled early in games in the playoffs, the Chiefs’ defense is one of the toughest matchups they’ll face all season, and Shanahan’s opening-drive playcalling is likely going to focus on getting Brock Purdy comfortable in the Super Bowl rather than maximizing scoring opportunities.

Largest lead of game under 14.5 points (-125)

The Chiefs have had one lead of more than 14 points in their past six games and it came on the final score of the wild-card round vs. Miami. Going back further, they had only one other lead that big since their Week 10 bye: against the Patriots (for only 7 minutes). I don’t expect either team to run away with this game and I like the under overall. Getting the 14 here is key and I wouldn’t take it at 13.5.

Coin flip

Tails never fails (+100).

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Final score of Chiefs 27, 49ers 19 (+20000)

I’m not normally one for final score props but I like this one. If my game script holds, the Chiefs should be winning late. If they’re up 27-13 and the 49ers score a late TD, they’ll go for a 2-point conversion rather than kick. It’s a relatively common setup that just has one tweak to jump from chalky 80-1 odds to a much more valuable 200-1 payout.



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