NFL betting: This plus-money prop has hit in 18 of last 21 Super Bowls
The beauty of the Super Bowl is that you can bet on almost anything. Sure, most NFL games have plenty of markets and props posted, but the Super Bowl is famous for the massive quantity of betting options available. With two weeks in between games, there's plenty of time to pare through all of the options and try to find some kind of edge. There's one prop available at BetMGM that has hit in 18 of the last 21 Super Bowls. The best part? It's available at plus-money.
Will the opening kickoff be a touchback?
The kickoff return used to be one of the most exciting plays football had to offer. However, concussion concerns forced some rule changes to decrease the likelihood of a return. Additionally, kickers' legs got stronger. Teams were more hesitant to return kicks as returns would often lead to penalties that would back the offense up. This past season, about 61% of kickoffs across the NFL resulted in a touchback.
Currently at BetMGM, you can bet on whether the opening kickoff will result in a touchback. Yes is a sizable favorite at -165 odds. If you think the kickoff will be returned, you can bet no touchback at +130 odds. Those odds are pretty spot-on when it comes to normal kickoffs, as -165 odds implies a 62.3% chance of something happening.
However, the Super Bowl is a different story. Last season, Evan McPherson booted the opening kickoff through the end zone for a touchback. However, that was just the third time in 21 years that the opening kick wasn't returned. Eighteen times in the last 21 years, "no touchback" was the winning side of this bet.
Harrison Butker kicked off in the Super Bowl two years ago. His opening kick was returned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Butker produces touchbacks on 64.6% of his kickoffs, but he couldn't do it in his only Super Bowl kickoff. Philadelphia's Jake Elliott has produced touchbacks on 65.5% of his kickoffs this season.
What's the reason for the discrepancy?
So kickers are booting the ball through the end zone all season, but once the Super Bowl comes around, they struggle to do so on the opening kickoff. That seems weird. It's not like they're using a different ball or something right? Well, actually, they kind of are.
Pat McAfee is now one of the biggest names in sports media, but before becoming a standout on-air talent, he was one of the most talented punters in the NFL. He punted and kicked for West Virginia in college. In the NFL, he punted and was a kickoff specialist for the Indianapolis Colts. He kicked in one Super Bowl.
Two years ago on his show, McAfee addressed this very situation.
“There isn’t normally a touchback on the opening kickoff because the ball is a brand-new ball, it’s basically just plastic. Most balls that you kick have been rubbed down for 30 minutes by your equipment manager and the other team’s equipment manager in the presence of an NFL official and it’s beat up a little bit ... the Super Bowl kickoff ball, that ball goes immediately to the Hall of Fame right after the kick, so it is not beat to hell and back for 30 minutes by an equipment manager. It’s very difficult to kick a touchback," McAfee said.
It certainly makes sense. The data backs up the idea that kicking a touchback is a lot harder to do on the Super Bowl's opening kick than it is any other time. McAfee has experience on this stage and there are few qualified to offer better insight. It makes sense to me. At +130 odds, I'm going to take another shot on "no touchback" on this year's opening kickoff.