Here are the keys to strange world of Super Bowl wagering

john.mcgrath@thenewstribune.comJanuary 28, 2013 

Alicia Keys will forget or omit a word this Sunday during her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl.

Wanna bet?

Actually, you can. Bovada, an online gaming service, has posted 1-2 odds on Keys singing the national anthem correctly word-for-word. The over-under on the time Keys takes to sing is 2 minutes and 15 seconds.

I’m going to steer clear of wagers involving Keys’ interpretation of Francis Scott Key’s lyrics. How Keys adjusts to Key won’t be key at the Super Bowl, even if she’s off-key. While no odds are listed for that, Bovada has odds on just about everything else, including Beyonce’s predominant wardrobe color at halftime. (The favorite is black, at 9-4, with blue and green ranking as 15-1 long shots.)

For those who don’t care one way or the other about Beyonce’s wardrobe — that would be you and me and 99.999 percent of everybody else inhabiting the planet — there are the conventional prop bets.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, at 8-5, is the favorite to win MVP honors, and his teammate, running back Frank Gore, is the favorite to score the first touchdown. (Gore, at 13-2, ranks a slight edge over his Ravens’ counterpart Ray Rice, at 15-2.)

But it’s the exotic stuff that intrigues me. For instance, the over-under on times CBS cameras cut away to a close-up shot of Jack Harbaugh — father of 49ers head coach Jim and Ravens head coach John — has been established at 11/2.

Way too low. Directors of sports broadcasts can’t resist cut-away close-ups of loved ones. If the game is close, family members reflect tension. And if the game isn’t close, uh-oh.

Here’s looking at you, Jack, again and again. …

I suspect we’ll see Jack Harbaugh at least 10 times before Beyonce shows up on the halftime stage (in red).

Speaking of the Harbaughs — and who isn’t? — the over-under on the length of the postgame handshake between Jim and John is 71/2 seconds. This looks about right, but no, I’m not going there. I’d rather bet on the color of Jack Harbaugh’s eyes (I’d play the hazel) than on the mood of the son he named Jim.

Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, whose 17-year NFL career concludes Sunday, will submit to a postgame interview whether the Ravens win or lose. The prop bet on Lewis regards how often he refers to “God” or “the Lord” during the interview. The over-under is set at three.

This could get interesting if the game comes down to a fourth-and-goal sequence during the final seconds, with the Ravens winning on Joe Flacco’s quarterback sneak, behind a block from All-Pro offensive lineman Marshal Yanda, inside the 1-yard line.

I can envision Lewis now. He’s crying and quivering, saying: “The Lord was with us on that play. I want to give thanks and praise to our guard.”

That, my friends, has booth review written all over it.

The Super Bowl isn’t the only pro athletic contest scheduled for Sunday. It’s merely the only pro athletic contest inspiring proposition bets on the hairstyle of the halftime entertainer. (The odds of Beyonce wearing straight hair are 5-7, and even for curly/crimped.)

Basketball and hockey games also are on the docket, which brings us to such cross-sport propositions as the number of points Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul scores against the Boston Celtics versus the number of completions Kaepernick throws against the Ravens.

And this one: The number of blocked shots the Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard registers against the Detroit Pistons versus the number of touchdown passes Flacco throws against the 49ers.

In another kind of football game on a different side of the world Sunday, Manchester United will face Liverpool. Will the total goals of that match exceed the receptions of 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss?

Bovada has arranged almost 500 betting propositions, and I can think of more:

The number of times CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz refers to Phil Simms as “partner”? I’d put the over-under at four.

The number of explosions seen in Super Bowl commercials? I’m thinking 10, and it might be low.

The number of times Kaepernick’s baseball career — he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs as a high-school pitcher in the 43rd round — is mentioned: Two.

Then again, I’m just an amateur at oddsmaking. I’ll leave it up to the pros, who see Alicia Keys delivering the national anthem in 2 minutes and 15 seconds, and Beyonce wearing black at halftime, and Ray Lewis mentioning God three times.

As for the ultimate proposition — which team will win? I’m taking the 49ers, and taking them to cover the 31/2-point spread, but I’m not wagering a cent. Unless I’m in Las Vegas, I don’t bet on sports. Never have, never will.

If I did, though, I’d bet the house on the close-up television shots of Jack Harbaugh. An over-under line of 11/2?


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