An absurd amount of hype surrounds the Super Bowl, and it started last week with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being caught on videotape in a walking boot while carrying a bouquet of flowers for his supermodel girlfriend.
Well, when it comes to the biggest game of the NFL season, everything matters.
More specifically, due to the expanding popularity of proposition wagering, every play matters.
The Patriots are 12-point favorites over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday. The total for points scored in the game is set at 54.
But that's just the beginning of the betting frenzy. For serious statistical analysts, the real action is found in the more than 300 prop bets available on the game.
"Try to think of a play in the Super Bowl that won't be deciding one of these props," Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. "Every single play is going to be affecting or determining at least one prop, and most likely more than that."
A proposition wager can be defined as forecasting a player or team's performance within a specific aspect of the game.
There are multiple prop bets relating to Brady's performance, and none of them include his girlfriend, Gisele Bundchen, and how many times the TV cameras will show her smiling in a luxury suite.
The line on Brady's total number of completions is 251/2, and the total for his passing yards is 2951/2. Will Brady complete his first pass? Betting "Yes" is minus-250, meaning a bettor must lay $250 to win $100.
The Hilton recently produced a 21-page book of props on Sunday's game. It took about a week to prepare them, Kornegay said, before his staff of five oddsmakers spent 15 hours one day creating the opening lines.
"We don't count our number of propositions," Kornegay said. "I've heard estimates from 325 to 350. I don't know exactly. It's somewhere just under 350."
After an unofficial audit by the Review-Journal, it was determined the Hilton posted 310 props. But the actual number is open to interpretation.
A more elaborate prop on Giants quarterback Eli Manning's total completions counts as one prop, but it includes 41 different wagers -- odds are offered on Manning's completions at every number from zero (75-1 odds) to 40 (30-1 odds).
In the mid-1990s, when Kornegay ran the Imperial Palace sports book, props were just a Super Bowl afterthought in Las Vegas.
"In general, every book had about 20 to 25 propositions," he said. "We realized the more you put up, the more interest people have in the game, and the more they're willing to bet."
Kornegay said he decided to significantly increase his amount of props in 1995, when the San Francisco 49ers were double-digit favorites over the San Diego Chargers. As expected, the result was a blowout, with the 49ers winning, 49-26.
"The game was so boring," he said. "We put up more props to keep everybody interested."
Some props are simple and others complex. Kornegay said he and his staff try to ensure there are "no loopholes and no gray areas" in the rules, and they always field countless questions from bettors who might be confused about what determines a winning wager.
There are no limits to the imagination, but is there a ceiling to the number of Super Bowl props that can be created?
"I don't see any limits in the near future," Kornegay said. "It's not that difficult to make these, but it's just very time consuming."
Here's a collection of prop tips from professional handicappers:
Buzz Daly, Buzzdaly.com
• Total rushing yards by Kevin Faulk: (Under 101/2)
If the Patriots' running game is working, Laurence Maroney will get the call. Short yardage attempts, if any, will be by Tom Brady on a sneak or by the fullback. Faulk will not be the answer. He will be in on third-down passing situations.
Joseph D'Amico, Allamericansports.info
• Longest made field goal by either team: (Over 421/2 yards)
In the biggest game of the year, teams will take whatever points they can get. We are looking at two of the NFL's stingiest defenses. There will be some fourth-down situations that force each team to play it safe and call on the field-goal unit.
Mark Franco, Vegasinsider.com
• Team with most rushing yards: (Giants +101/2)
The Giants' game plan will be to control the ball by running with the tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. They must try and keep the Patriots offense off the field. New England passes more than it runs, and the Giants should get more rushing yards.
Andy Iskoe, Thelogicalapproach .com
"My approach is to hit half of my props, and since they are all at plus prices, show a profit as a result. My goal and expectation is to do better than 50-50, of course, but since many of the props overall are just a coin flip as to occurring in a single isolated game, 50-50 is realistic -- and instead of laying the (vigorish), I am getting the vig."
• Tom Brady's first pass will be: (Incomplete, plus-240)
• Eli Manning's first pass will be: (Incomplete, plus-155)
I play this 'dual prop' every season, and I'm looking to hit at least one of them to guarantee a profit. I play that each quarterback's first pass will be incomplete. For Brady, the line opened with the incomplete priced at plus-210. For Manning, it opened at plus-140. Not surprisingly, the "complete" side of the wager already has been bet up.
• Will a Jeff Feagles punt result in a touchback? (Yes, plus-195)
I am banking on the Giants being conservative when they cross midfield. If they are at the 35- to 40-yard line or so, they will not risk a long field goal on fourth down or go for a first down, and (will) deny the Patriots possible good field position by punting.
• Dave Tuley, Viewfromvegas .com
"It's only natural that most people will look to bet props that correlate with the side or total they like. I'm on the Giants plus the points, so I'm also betting the Giants on a few props."
• Which team will score first? (Giants, plus-165)
With the game in a dome, the conditions will be ideal for both offenses to click. This prop might just come down to the coin flip, so I'll take the plus money. Besides, the underdog scored first in both conference championship games and five of the last six playoff games, including each of these two teams' last two games, so there's a better-than-average chance of it happening again.
• Will the game be tied after 0-0? (Yes, plus-140)
Since I think these teams will trade scores, this seems like a natural.
• Will Mike Vrabel score a touchdown? (Yes, plus-500)
The price is cheap for his career as a whole, but the Patriots linebacker has scored twice in three Super Bowl appearances.
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or (702) 387-2907.