Along with the commercials and the Puppy Bowl, wacky prop bets are the true backbone of Super Bowl festivities. This year, golf will hold a great deal of Vegas influence when it comes to side bets.
First, the golf: the Omega Dubai Desert Classic featuring Tiger Woods and the Waste Management Phoenix Open highlighted by Justin Thomas and Phil Mickelson will take center stage.
And then, the football: the Atlanta Falcons will take on the New England Patriots this Sunday evening in Houston. New England is a slight favorite to win its fifth league championship since 2001.
With the convergence of golf and football, a handful of juicy prop bets for Westgate Las Vegas Resort’s Race & Sports Book have emerged. You can view the entire listing of prop bets here.
Our analysis of the golf-related ones:
Woods’ first-round score (-24.5) vs. gross yardage of Atlanta punter Matt Bosher’s first punt
This should be a fairly close contest. The Dubai Desert Classic traditionally yields a boatload of birdies — no winner has been worse than 16-under par in the past five years — and Tiger has never finished worse than 41st in seven appearances at Emirates Golf Club. Woods should, at the very least, be somewhere around par (72). This would leave Woods at 47.5 for the bet.
On the other hand, Atlanta’s Matt Bosher averages right around 47 yards per punt and that doesn’t account for situations where he may be trying to pin the opposition down deep.
With Super Bowl adrenaline, bet on Bosher here.
Woods’ fourth-round birdies (Pk) vs. total field goals made by both teams
This is a rare bet with no point spread, so the math is straight to the point. Will Tiger have more fourth-round birdies than the total amount of field goals made by both the Falcons and Patriots?
Neither team likes to settle for field goals: the Falcons only made 23 field goals during the regular season while the Patriots made only 21. Going by their averages per game, we figure there should be somewhere around four field goals made between the two of them.
If Tiger makes the weekend, which is far from a guarantee, he will need a solid day to surpass four birdies. Take the field goals.
Woods’ fourth-round bogeys (-1.5) vs. Matt Ryan touchdown passes
The Patriots have only given up 23 passing touchdowns through the regular season and two playoff games, although Matt Ryan has thrown for 45 touchdowns in 18 games this year. It would be generous to give Ryan two passing touchdowns.
Given the struggles Woods has had in the final rounds of tournaments over the past several years, it’s fair to say he will be somewhere around four bogeys. Take Woods (-1.5) on this one.
Woods’ 72-hole score in Dubai (+27.5) vs. Tom Brady gross passing yards
Not only will Brady have perfect weather conditions in Houston against a poor Falcons pass defense (28th in the NFL), but the future Hall of Famer is coming off of massive games against Pittsburgh and Houston (671 combined passing yards).
Even if Woods is worse than even par (288), Brady should still throw for well over 300 yards. Take the quarterback.
Henrik Stenson’s fourth-round score in Dubai (-18.5) vs. Devonta Freeman rushing yards
Freeman isn’t the key cog to the Falcons pass-happy offense, which has afforded only 60 rushing yards per game for Freeman in 18 games. To boot, the Patriots boast the third-ranked rush defense in the NFL.
Still, Stenson is likely to shoot in the 60s during the final round in Dubai, leaving quite the dilemma given the spread. We’ll take the Swede based more so on Freeman not being able to muster up enough rush yards.
Hideki Matsuyama’s fourth-round score in Phoenix (-19.5) vs. yardage of longest touchdown scored by either team
Matsuyama, defending champion at the Phoenix Open, will likely be several under par at the birdie haven that is TPC Scottsdale. That leaves the question to be whether one team will have a touchdown of around 50 yards or more.
The Patriots have six such plays this year. The Falcons have eight.
We’re thinking that someone will pick up a long score in the Super Bowl.
Justin Thomas’ fourth-round score in Phoenix (+21.5) vs. Julian Edelman receiving yards
Assuming Justin Thomas plays reasonably well in Phoenix, Edelman will need somewhere north of 90 yards to eclipse Thomas.
Edelman has been well over 100 yards in the past three games. Coupled with the poor passing defense of the Falcons, it looks like he will have the edge over Thomas here.
Phil Mickelson’s fourth-round score in Phoenix (+44.5) vs. Patriots’ total rushing yards
The Patriots aren’t much of a rushing team, averaging just north of 100 yards per game. An average round from Phil would leave his total around 110, giving him the slight nod here.