Jaywalking: Bowl props

In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, I thought we would at least be treated to another good game in which I had no real rooting interest, aside from a small wager with a buddy that had me rooting for Seattle and the under. Looking at the America’s Line that we print in the paper on a near daily-basis, I got an idea for a column that would also keep us interested the entire game. It’s called the wonderful world of prop bets.

I sat down Sunday morning with brother Todd and former Recorder scribe Jeff Lajoie to scour the hundreds of props (I heard there were about 400) that were being offered for the big game. For those who don’t know what prop bets are, oddsmakers essentially set lines on pretty much everything. For the sake of the column, we decided to take a fake $50 and drop it on any number of props we liked, then kept a journal to track the outcome.

Our first two bets actually took place prior to the opening kickoff, throwing down $3 on the coin toss. While the past four years had seen the coin flip heads, we went with the adage that “tails never fails.” Joe Willie Namath did the honors, coming out in a sweet fur coat, and giving us a laugh when he flipped the coin prematurely, but on the second toss, the coin came up tails and we opened the day 1-for-1.

“You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one,” Lajoie chimed in as we cheered.

A second wager came on the length of the National Anthem, which was being sung by opera singer Renee Fleming. The line was set at 2 minutes, 19.5 seconds. That’s an awful long time, and we found out that she would be performing with a live band, which we figured would move it along. Threw $3 on the under. Fleming did a fantastic job with the anthem, and she did so in 2:01, giving us the easy cover.

One of the props that was paying better than even money was total rushes by Peyton Manning at 1.5. We took the over, threw in $3 and got off to a fast start when Manning was credited with a rush on the opening-play safety. Unfortunately, that was the only rush for Manning. Mark that down as a loss.

Our next plays were the following: Marshawn Lynch first rush of the game over 3.5 yards, Demaryius Thomas first catch of the game over 10.5 yards, and Russell Wilson first run of the game over 5.5 yards. We threw $4 on each of these and it proved costly. Lynch’s first run was for 3 yards, while Thomas’ first catch went for a measly 2. As for Wilson, his first run came on a second-and-12 on which he scrambled out of bounds. The announcers called it a 6-yard gain, and the scoreboard on the television called it third-and-6. We cheered, but a check of the box score showed Wilson credited with only a 5-yard run. Our cheers turned to disbelief. The count Current sat at two wins, four losses.

We put $4 on over 5.5 total third-down conversions for Seattle in the game, and at the end of the first quarter, the Seahawks already had four. The Seahawks finished with seven, giving us the easy win.

We also threw $4 down on over 3.5 for number of different players to score a point for both teams. Seattle finished with six different players scoring one point to easily cover. Denver, which I thought was free money, had just the two, so that was a loss.

We threw down on a couple other interesting bets, and found ourselves torn at one point in the first half. We had $4 on over 1.5 yards for the shortest touchdown of the game, and another $4 on Seattle scoring a rushing touchdown in the first half. Shortly into the second quarter, the Broncos were flagged for pass interference in the end zone, setting Seattle up with a first-and-goal from the 1. A rushing touchdown would ghave given us a loss for shortest touchdown, but a win on the rushing touchdown in the first half. A passing touchdown would have been disastrous. Lynch would up running the ball in on second down, pushing the bets. We now sit at five wins, six losses.

Our final bets were total touchdown passes for Manning (over 2.5), Thomas’ longest reception of the game (over 24.5 yards) and total yardage of all touchdowns scored (over 77.5). Of course Manning did not sniff the total touchdown passes, and Thomas’ longest catch was about 20 yards and came on the play that he fumbled on in the third quarter. Both of those went as losses. The interception return and Percy Harvin’s kickoff return to start the third quarter helped push the touchdown yardage for the game to 204, giving us the easy cover there.

We also took some of our winnings at halftime and threw down on four more plays. Seahawks’ second half points (over 9.5), Thomas second-half receptions (over 3.5), Wilson second-half passing yardage (over 89.5), and Lynch second-half rushing yards (over 52.5). We wound up hitting three of four — missing the Lynch over because he was removed from the game in the fourth quarter.

Of the 18 prop bets we made, we hit exactly half, going 9-9. After paying the vig (the commission paid to the book for placing a bet), we would have lost about $5. A small price, considering the fact that the game was out of hand early and would have been a snoozefest in the second half.

One other reason to watch the Super Bowl is, of course, the commercials. Overall, not a bad year. More companies tried to be funny, which I liked, and even though some didn’t hit, many worked.

Funniest commercials were the following: Audi’s “Doberhuahua,” Doritos’ “Time Machine,” Turbo Tax’s “Love Hurts,” and NFL Network’s “Leon Sandcastle-Jerry Ricecake.” Gotta love the Budweiser spots, “Puppy Love” and “Hero’s Welcome,” and I thought the Bob Dylan commercial for Chrysler was pretty cool. There were some others that were enjoyable (I didn’t hate the Tebow commercials, the Radio Shack one or the Pistachio commercial), but there were some that were downright brutal.

The Kia commercial featuring the Matrix was confusing. Why rehash a 14-year-old movie? I didn’t love the M&M commercial either. The Soda Stream commercial was pretty dumb, the U2 commercial was not very good, and the hype about the John Stamos commercial did not live up. And Arnold saved the Bud Light spot.

Truth be told, the best commercial was one that did not air. The Doritos “Time Machine” commercial was a fan-created spot. One of the commercials that didn’t win, the Doritos contest was called the “Finger cleaner.” Check it out online. I got a good laugh. Newcastle beer also had a pretty good idea that was done online called “If we made it.”

Bruno Mars knocked it out of the park with the halftime show. He has a great voice (that sounds the same live), and has some sweet dance moves that could have him staring in a new “Step Up” movie. I thought the Red Hot Chili Peppers were going to add to the show, but it got a little weird in my opinion. Still, better than some from recent memory (I’m talking to you, Black Eyed Peas).

It’s possible that Marisa Dalmaso-Rode was on to something when she emailed me last week.

“I will obviously be rooting for the Seahawks,” she wrote. “Any team that sports a player name Malcolm Smith is aces in my book.”

Like many of the people I’ve talked to in the past two weeks from this area, the mother of Turners Falls High School quarterback Malcolm Smith did not have a true dog in the fight during Sunday night’s Super Bowl. She was rooting for the Seahawks because of the linebacker that shares a namesake with her son, and as fate turned out, it was Seahawk linebacker Malcolm Smith who became only the third ever linebacker to win the Most Valuable Player award.

It capped off a good year for Malcolm Smiths, as the Turners Falls version won the Intercounty League MVP as well as the Cannon Novak Award, and now the Seattle linebacker is a well-known commodity after finishing with 10 tackles, an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery as the Seahawks steamrolled the Broncos en route to a 43-8 thrashing in the Super.

It continues to show that in the biggest games, a good defense trumps a good offense.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com.

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