It’s the Year of the Tiger, and many bettors are taking that as a sign to back the Bengals in the Super Bowl.
Professional sports bettor Cris Zeniuk didn’t incorporate the Lunar New Year into his handicapping on Sunday’s game. But the prolific Las Vegas football contest winner leans to Cincinnati to cover as a 4½-point underdog over the Los Angeles Rams.
Zeniuk, who split with friends the $150,000 prize for winning Station Casinos’ NFL Last Man Standing contest this season, noted two strong trends in favor of Cincinnati.
One is that the team with a lower win percentage is on a 14-1 cover streak in the Super Bowl. The other is that teams that were conference championship underdogs of three points or more have won 11 of the past 14 NFL titles.
Zeniuk also gives the quarterback edge to Joe Burrow over Matthew Stafford.
“My numbers just lean to Cincinnati. I probably will have a small bet on them,” said Zeniuk (@lasvegascris). “And Burrow is a true talent. Burrow is so confident, he elevates the players around him. He’s been in big games before. Stafford hasn’t.
“All the pressure is on the Rams.”
For a prop, Zeniuk likes Burrow (-½, -110) to finish with more pass attempts than Stafford.
“I think the Rams are going to try to get their running game going,” he said. “And if they’re winning, they’re supposed to want to run clock.”
Zeniuk also likes Cincinnati’s first scoring play to be a field goal (+120), partly because kicker Evan McPherson has scored 40 of the team’s 72 postseason points.
“They can move the ball,” he said. “But they get a lot of stalled drives.”
If you like the Bengals to win the game, Zeniuk suggests betting on Burrow to be named Super Bowl MVP, which pays +250, instead of taking Cincinnati on the money line, which pays +175.
“If Cincinnati wins, the likelihood of Burrow getting MVP is extremely high,” he said.
Professional sports bettors Erin Rynning and Jeff Whitelaw and pro handicapper Mark Franco also shared their best bets.
Rams -3, first half
Rynning likes the Rams in the first half after they built halftime leads of 21-0 over the Cardinals in their wild-card playoff game and 20-3 over the Buccaneers in the divisional round. Los Angeles also led the 49ers 7-0 midway through the second quarter of the NFC title game.
“They dominated the first half against Arizona and Tampa Bay and controlled the San Francisco game for the first quarter and a half,” said Rynning (@ersports1). “The Rams’ defensive pressure will be too much for the Bengals’ offensive line.
“However, I don’t feel like it’s best to give Burrow over a field goal right now for a full game, and I worry a bit about (Rams coach Sean) McVay. He gets conservative. The Bengals could win the in-game adjustments.”
Best prop bets
Cincinnati defeated the Titans in the divisional round despite allowing nine sacks.
Whitelaw is banking on the Rams to finish with over 2½ sacks (-220) and for the total combined sacks to go over 5 (-140).
“Cincinnati doesn’t have a great offensive line, and the Rams have a great defensive line,” he said.
Here are six other props Whitelaw played: Cooper Kupp over 105½ receiving yards; Tee Higgins over 68½ receiving yards; Cam Akers under 16½ carries and under 65½ rushing yards; longest field goal over 46½ yards; and shortest touchdown under 1½ yards (-140).
In a postseason featuring a plethora of walk-off wins, Franco (Vegasinsider.com) recommends a prop on the game being tied after 0-0. Yes pays +110.
“I see a close game throughout, and the yes hit in four straight Super Bowls before last year,” he said.
Franco also is betting against a score in the first 5½ minutes. No is -150.
“There hasn’t been a score in the first five-plus minutes of a Super Bowl since the 2015 season,” he said. “Nine of the past 12 Super Bowls have been scoreless 5½ minutes into the game.”