One of the best prop bets ahead of the 2023 Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs is also the most profitable in the history of the big game. And the oddsmakers are practically begging you to bet on it.
What seems too good to be true is my favorite plus money bet year after year in the Super Bowl season: Will the opening kickoff be a touchdown.
As of Tuesday, “No” was dealing at plus money at nearly every book in the country, including FanDuel (+124), Caesars (+125) and BetMGM (+130), while some books cost “No” more. . As +150.
So what’s so special about this prop? “No” has cashed in at a rate of nearly 90% over the past three decades – and there’s a great chance it will strike again this year.
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Super Bowl Opening Kickoff Date
We are in the era of touchbacks in the NFL. About 60% of all kickoffs in the 2022 regular season were touchbacks, a number that has been increasing over the years due to rules increasing player safety and reducing the number of kickoff returns overall.
Based on that rate alone, the odds to bet Touchback on Sunday should be around -160, which is right in line with his price on FanDuel as of Tuesday. When it comes to the Super Bowl’s opening kickoff, though? This is a completely different story.
Here’s a look at every Super Bowl since 1994 and whether the opening kickoff resulted in a touchdown:
|The year||Super Bowl matchup||Touchback?|
|2022||Rams vs Bengals||Y|
|2021||Buccaneers vs. Chiefs||N|
|2020||Chiefs vs. 49ers||N|
|2019||Patriots vs. Rams||N|
|2018||Eagles vs. Patriots||N|
|2017||Patriots vs. Falcons||Y|
|2016||Broncos vs. Panthers||N|
|2015||Patriots vs. Seahawks||N|
|2014||Seahawks vs. Broncos||N|
|2013||Ravens vs. 49ers||Y|
|2012||Giants vs. Patriots||N|
|2011||Packers vs. Steelers||N|
|2010||Saints vs. Colts||N|
|2009||Steelers vs. Cardinals||N|
|2008||Giants vs. Patriots||N|
|2007||Colts vs. Bears||N|
|2006||Steelers vs. Seahawks||N|
|2005||Patriots vs. Eagles||N|
|2004||Patriots vs. Panthers||N|
|2003||Buccaneers vs Raiders||N|
|2002||Patriots vs. Rams||N|
|2001||Ravens vs. Giants||N|
|2000||Rams vs. Titans||N|
|1999||Broncos vs. Falcons||N|
|1998||Broncos vs. Packers||N|
|1997||Packers vs. Patriots||N|
|1996||Cowboys vs. Steelers||N|
|1995||49ers vs. Chargers||N|
|1994||Cowboys vs. Bills||N|
Since 1994, 26 of 29 grand opening kickoffs have not resulted in a touchdown. That’s a ridiculous hit rate of 89.7%, which spells value that screams “no” on Plus-Money no matter how you slice it.
So what’s the secret? The ball itself.
Typically, the NFL allows kickers to break in a special “K-Ball” — a hard and fast ball introduced in 1999 — that makes it easier to boot some 70 yards down the field before each kickoff. Not so in the Super Bowl, according to former Colts punter Pete McAfee, who handled the opening kickoff in Super Bowl 41.
McAfee says, the ball is not made available until before kickoff to maintain its condition before it eventually reaches the Hall of Fame. Because kickers don’t get a chance to “break” a rock-filled football, it’s uniquely difficult to send it flying for the game’s opening kickoff.
And, as a result, almost every opening kickoff in Super Bowl history has been returned.
Will we see a touchdown to open Super Bowl 57?
McAfee’s kick was one of 49 kickoffs returned in the 56-year history of the Super Bowl (87.5%). Of those seven outliers alone, three have come since the NFL moved kickoffs to the 35-yard line in 2011 — and two of them in NFL history in Justin Tucker (2013) and Matt Bosher (2013). Two of the strongest legs came into a dome. 2017).
Then came last year’s Super Bowl, when Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson shattered our dreams with a mean boot that landed harmlessly – or harmfully, if you’re one to catch the ridiculous trend. Wise were among the bettors – in the end zone for a touchback.
Yet that’s a bit of a misnomer: Rams running back Brandon Powell let the ball go over his head on an easily returnable kickoff, something we’ve seen time and time again in the big game. And there’s little reason to expect that to happen this time.
Ready to start your Super Bowl 2023 betting.?
Both of this year’s kickers have big legs, but that won’t matter. We’ve already seen Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker barely reach the end zone with his opening boot in Super Bowl 55 – one of eight kickers to make an opening return since the rule change in 2011 (72.7%). Eagles kicker Jack Elliott was spared starting kickoff duties in Super Bowl 52, but his kicking profile is remarkably similar to Butker’s.
Whoever gets the nod on Sunday will have their work cut out for them in Arizona trying to prevent the opening of an open-air game — which makes it necessary for the bet to cost more than one dollar.
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