Bales’ Favorite Super Bowl 53 Prop Bets: Touchback, Safety, National Anthem, More

Jan 30, 2019 10:45 AM EST

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lombardi Trophy

  • Jonathan Bales offers his favorite Super Bowl 53 prop bets, including whether there will be a safety.
  • See his picks for more game and player props in Los Angeles Rams-New England Patriots.

Props are typically juiced like crazy, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad bets.

Like I explained last year, you can’t just label both sides of a bet “bad” because the juice is crazy. The vig doesn’t change whether a bet is good or bad; it just decreases the odds of one side of a prop being +EV.

And if you think about it, why would the odds on one side of a bet affect whether the other side is sharp? Yes, the vig can be a lot higher on props, but the lines can also be off enough that you can still find +EV sides. If I’m betting on whether there will be a safety in the Super Bowl, I’m snap-firing “no” at -900 regardless of whether “yes” is +600 or +200.

With that said, let’s get into my favorite prop bets for Super Bowl 53.

Stephen Gostkowski Touchback on First Kick +180

If the Pats kick off to start the game, I don’t see any reason why Gostkowski can’t kick that football well into the upper level seats. But for real, this is my favorite bet for Super Bowl 53.

The league median for touchback rate this season was 62%, with Gostkowski getting no return on 53.8% of his kickoffs (with a slightly better rate on the road). His average kick distance of 62.2 yards was the lowest of his career, which is certainly meaningful information.

But check out this stat: Falcons punter Matt Bosher, who kicks off for Atlanta, converted 70.6% of his home kickoffs into touchbacks in 2018 (seventh-best for any team) compared to only 39.5% on the road (third-worst) — i.e. there’s really good evidence that kicks carry in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

With an implied breakeven probability of 37.5%, I think Gostkowski’s much higher true touchback odds make this the highest ROI bet in Super Bowl 53.

No Missed XP (-310)

I was on the opposite side of this bet a year ago, but two key things have changed: First, Greg Zuerlein is replacing Jake Elliott as one of the kickers. Second, the line has moved 50 points in favor of “no missed XP.”