Super Bowl Sunday is the end of the betting year for most gamblers like me. After the Super Bowl, most gamblers go cold turkey and give up betting on sports for a very long month, until March Madness begins.
Last year's Super Bowl drew a record viewership of 112.2 million viewers. Expect another record this year in terms of viewers and money wagered on the Super Bowl.
The storyline of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady deflating footballs to their advantage sounds like something concocted by WWE's Vince McMahon. This controversy will only inflate interest in this Super Bowl.
So what are the prop bets I will be playing?
I won't be betting on a resolution from the NFL on Deflate-gate before the Super Bowl. There is a zero chance that the NFL disqualifies the Patriots from the Super Bowl even if they find wrongdoing.
Football-data analyst Warren Sharp found that Patriots players have fumbled at a statistically impossible low rate since 2010. Since 2007, the NFL changed the rules and now requires teams to provide their own balls when playing offense. NFL Players fumble less frequently with under-inflated balls but once again, NFL commissioner Vince McMahon … ahem, Roger Goodell has fumbled away his chance to protect the integrity of the game.
Having said that, here are my prop bets.
Bet: Over 113 million
I like the over for a few reasons. As I said earlier, 112.2 million viewers watched last year's contest between Denver and Seattle. Four of the last five Super Bowls have set records for all-time viewers. As they say on Wall Street, the trend is your friend.
Denver had Peyton Manning but New England has Mr. and Mrs. Gisele Bundchen. The addition of the unpredictable and glamorous Gisele starting a fashion trend or going into a profanity laced tirade about Tom Brady's teammates as she did last Super Bowl are equally likely. Either way it makes for great TV and should get more "Real Housewives" tuning in to the game.
And let's not forget the Seattle Seahawks. Last year, they came into the game with few fans outside the Pacific Northwest. In 2014, the city of Seattle has seen an increase of over 20 percent in tourism. The increase in tourism probably has to do more with legalized marijuana than Richard Sherman's dreadlocks. However, since they are the defending champions they have picked up bandwagon fans that will be tuning in.
The combination of DeflateGate, Victoria's Secret, and legalized weed (assuming Seattle fans wake up in time but thankfully they also have Starbucks) should push the viewership of this Super Bowl well over 113 million.
Bet: Under 122.5 seconds
Broadway star Idina Menzel will be singing the national anthem. She also was the voice for Elsa in Frozen, so we know she has ice flowing through her veins. She won't freeze up and drag out the national anthem.
Let's look at her history of singing "The Star Spangled Banner." She completed the national anthem in 94 seconds on December 29, 2007 when the Patriots defeated the Giants. Ironically, not only was that the game the Patriots won to complete their perfect 16-0 regular season, but also the season when the Patriots were last caught cheating.
She sang that National Anthem at the 2014 MLB All-Star Game and took 118 seconds. She took 21 seconds between "land of the free and the home of the brave." It's doubtful she stretches it out much more than 21 seconds this time. Six of the last eight Super Bowl national anthems have totaled less than 114 seconds so I like this bet a lot.
Also, if you can get a wager of, "Will this be the longest Super Bowl National Anthem ever?," put every dollar you have on "No." The record is 156 seconds by Alicia Keys.
Katy Perry has already named Lenny Kravitz as one of her guests. Lenny Kravitz is amazing but I also doubt Katy Perry is done with surprise guests.
She has amazing collaborations with huge stars such as Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Missy Elliott. Recently, her big hit "Dark Horse" was a collaboration with Juicy J. It would be a shock to me, if Perry didn't bring along at least one more friend to the world's largest karaoke party. After all, what male singer wouldn't want to "Roar" with Katy Perry?
The NFL is very image conscious these days. If I had to bet on the surprise performer, my money would Snoop Dogg or Coldplay and would bet heavily against John Mayer and Chris Brown.
I don't see this bet offered anywhere but maybe you can get your bookmaker to offer you this bet. Remember, the bet is not what teams wins the coin toss but who goes on offense first. It seems like a 50/50 coin flip but it's not. Let me explain.
When you win the coin toss, you can choose to either receive the ball or defer and receive the ball in the second half. I don't know Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's preference, but I know Patriots coach Bill Belichick always defers till the second half. He has done so 50 of the last 52 times.
Give Bill Belichick credit for consistency. Whether it be that his Patriots have won an impressive 12 of the last 14 AFC East Titles, always deferring on the coin toss, or him knowingly breaking rules and then denying all knowledge, he is a model of consistency.
These teams are very even and the teams have a lot of similarities. Let's start with the coaches.
Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick both have had tons of success. Ironically, Pete Carroll coached the Patriots from 1997-1999 and was replaced by Bill Belichick. Since taking over the Patriots, Belichick has won three championships, been caught cheating (Spygate, which led to the Patriots vacating draft picks), accused of deflating footballs and turned the press conference into science class.
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Since leaving the Patriots, Carroll has had great success at USC and Seattle. He has won three championships (two at USC and 1 with Seattle), been caught cheating (at USC, which led to a two year bowl ban and vacating a National Championship), and then accused of deflating the USC football program because his players didn't attend science class.
There are also a lot of similarities in the QBs. Tom Brady was a late round draft pick, won the Super Bowl in two of his first three seasons, and maintains a choir boy image with his fans, despite the fact that he dumped pregnant girlfriend Bridget Moynahan under suspicious circumstances in 2006.
Russell Wilson was a mid-round draft pick, appeared in the Super Bowl in two of his first three seasons, and maintains a choir boy image with his fans, despite the fact that he dumped his ex-wife Ashley after last year's Super Bowl under suspicious circumstances.
Both teams have strong special teams and excellent defenses. Seattle's defense is a little better but they have injuries to two of their best players, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Both are expected to play.
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The point spread has New England as a slight favorite. While that's not significant, Seattle started out as a favorite and all the money is going on New England. The same thing happened last year on Denver.
This is tough one to call but when in doubt, go with the house. Two-thirds of the bets right now are on New England. The public has inflated the line the wrong way.
Prediction: Seattle 24, New England 23
Commentary by Raj Malhotra (Raj Mahal is his stage name), a former Wall Street trader-turned-stand-up-comedian. He has worked at Wall Street firms covering three continents, including at Bank of America, BNP Paribas and Nomura. He draws from his unique ethnic background and Wall Street career to entertain audiences nightly, highlighting the struggles of the 1 percent. He can be seen at Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, NY Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, and the Tribeca Comedy Lounge. Follow him on Twitter @RajMahalTweets.