TAMPA, Fla. (COVERS) — Super Bowl LV is the biggest “public” betting event on the calendar for sportsbooks, which means a wave of first-time and recreation bettors driving the action, rather than wiseguys and professional gamblers.
That influx of public money has many people looking to risk a little to win a lot with Super Bowl long-shot bets. That’s the reason a bet like a “safety being the first score” of the Big Game is now sitting around +3,000 odds compared to the +7,500 it used to have a decade ago.
You see, bookmakers took a bath on that specific prop not once but twice in recent years, with Super Bowl XLVI and Super Bowl XLVIII both having a safety as the opening score of the game. Those long-shot bets took a good chunk out of the books’ profits for those Super Bowls as public players gravitate to the high risk/high reward props.
If you can’t resist the urge again this year and want to take a swing at a couple get-rich-quick odds, here are a few of the biggest Super Bowl LV betting long shots.
Betting the Safety
While we’re on the subject of the safety, it remains one of the most popular long-shot props on the board each Super Sunday. Hell, betting the safety has become as much a Big Game tradition as making your top-secret chili recipe and calling in sick to work on Monday.
As mentioned above, taking a safety to be the first score of the game – AKA the “other” option in this particular prop – is paying out between +3,000 and +4,500 depending on where you play. That’s a far cry from the potential return books used to dangle in front of bettors before those infamous safeties in 2012 and 2014. Bookies know there’s going to be blind money coming in on this prop, so they pad it a bit with an implied probability of 3.23 percent, according to the odds.
As for a Super Bowl safety at any point in the game, that’s sitting at Yes +700/No -1,600. And much like those past safeties to open scoring, there was a rash of Big Game safeties overall in Super Bowls that also burned bookies with this long-shot market. A safety popped up in four of six Super Bowls from XLIII to XLVIII with a string of three straight years (2012-2014).
The 2020 NFL season had 24 total safeties scored (Tampa and Kansas City each had one) – just two behind the NFL record of 26 in 1988 – and saw a significant uptick from the past three seasons (17, 10, 15) and the most since 20 safeties in 2016.
That rate means that just over 9 percent of games recorded a safety in the box score. However, that +700 price tag on the Super Bowl LV safety prop boasts an implied probability of 12.5 percent. This bet should be offering odds on the “Yes” in the +1,000 range, so if you’re sprinkling some action on the safety be sure to shop around.
Opening Kickoff Returned for a Touchdown
Football bettors all remember Devin Hester breaking off a 92-yard kick return touchdown to open Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts. Hester, regarded as the greatest kick returner in NFL history, is the only player to take the Super Bowl opening kickoff to the house (a 1-in-54 happening so far).
That’s why this long-shot bet is sitting at +5,500 odds for Super Bowl LV.
Since implementing new kickoff rules to protect special teams players, we’ve seen more touchbacks and less opportunities for return touchdowns. The 2020 season averaged only 3.6 kick return attempts per game—tied for second-lowest in league history.
There were 922 total return attempts on the season and just seven of those went for touchdowns (Kansas City’s Byron Pringle has one), which means there was a 0.76 percent shot of a returner going all the way.
Plug that into the probability machine and you should see odds of +13,000 just on a kick return TD at anytime during the Super Bowl. Limit that to only one kickoff to start the game and the +5,500 return hardly seems worth the squeeze.
Picking the exact score of the Super Bowl is tricky business, which is why most of the possible results come with a hefty ROI. According to oddsmakers’ prices, the most likely final outcomes are Kansas City 24-17, Kansas City 27-16, and Kansas City 34-23—all listed as +6,500 front runners.
If you went by the current spread and total (Chiefs -3, 56 O/U), you’d be looking at a final around Kansas City 30, Tampa Bay 27 which is paying out at +13,000. According to nflscorigami.com, only 88 NFL games have finished with that exact score, including four this season.
For myself, I tossed out the final score prediction of Tampa Bay 33, Kansas City 31, which is a rare final tally, having only occurred 13 times in NFL history (and not even listed among the possible final score props). Funny enough, the most recent 33-31 finish was this season when the Chiefs edged the Panthers 33-31 in Week 9, thanks to a Harrison Butker missed PAT.
Last year’s Super Bowl between the Chiefs and 49ers finished with a 31-20 Kansas City win, a final that has popped up only 45 times in league history.
Super Bowl Overtime
Depending on where you bet, the prop on overtime occurring in Super Bowl LV is between +800 and +1,000. The Westgate Superbook, for example, opened OT at +900 and has already been bet down to +800 with money coming in on this long-shot wager.
Of course, for history buffs, you already know that Super Bowl LI – the infamous 28-3 game – between New England and Atlanta was the only Big Game to need an extra frame.
The 2020 NFL season had only 10 games go into overtime, panning out to just 3.9 percent of contests being tied after regulation. However, the postseason is a different beast as the level of parity between qualifying teams is much closer. That means the chances for OT are greater.
If you look at just recent postseason matchups, 22 of the past 132 NFL playoff games have gone to OT—16.7 percent. That translates to about +500 odds. And considering the slim 3-point spread for Super Bowl LV, this could be one of the rare long-shot bets that are actually worth a wager.