Super Bowl LIV is finally upon us, and there are hundreds of ways to bet on the big game legally in the United States.
In this article, we’ll go over the more straightforward plays, like point spread and moneyline bets, along with the myriad unique betting options that come along with the Super Bowl each year.
From player props and parlays to the National Anthem and Gatorade color, there are plays that should interest every type of fan — football or otherwise.
Super Bowl 54 details
Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Date: Sunday, Feb. 2
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami
Kickoff Time: 6:30 pm EST
TV Network: FOX
Super Bowl 54 odds
The over/under opened at around 51.5 but has ticked up to 54.5 in some places after heavy early action came in on the over. The high-powered Chiefs offense is certainly contributing to this trend, but the 49ers have put up their fair share of high point totals this season as well.
One thing is for sure: This will be a more exciting Super Bowl than last season’s clunker in which the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, combining for the fewest points in Super Bowl history.
Best Super Bowl betting site(s)
How to bet the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl offers a massive collection of betting options. Let’s start with the more straightforward plays:
The choice is yours: Kansas City or San Francisco? Correctly pick the winning team, collect the corresponding payout.
The moneyline is currently Chiefs -125 and 49ers +105, meaning you’ll have to put up $125 to win $100 on the Chiefs; bettors can throw down $100 to win $105 on the underdog 49ers. In each case, winners also win back their original bet amount.
The Chiefs are currently 1.5-point favorites, so a bet for K.C. using the point spread means you’re betting that the Chiefs will win by at least 2 points. For a bet on San Francisco +1.5, the 49ers have to either win the game outright or lose by only 1 point for your bet to be a winner.
Payouts on point-spread bets are a straightforward 1:1, meaning a $20 pays $20, though there’s usually a 10% vig (-110 odds ) attached. (Typically, you have to put up $22 to win $20, $33 to win $30, etc.)
For those who feel like the game is destined to be a shootout — or the opposite, a low-scoring affair — the over/under is a fun play. An over/under bet doesn’t involve choosing either team; just a prediction of the total points scored.
The line started at 51.5 and has climbed upward to 54.5 in some places. Both teams enter Super Bowl LVI with great offenses, so oddsmakers are predicting a final score with each team finishing in the mid-20s.
With so many betting options, why not go for the glory and make two bets at once? Parlays allow bettors to choose multiple bets, say Chiefs -1.5 and the Over, meaning Kansas City would have to win by 2 or more points and the total points scored would have to total more than 53.
Parlays offer a bigger reward and increase with more teams or totals added to the bet.
“Proposition Bets” are one of the quirkier options in sports betting, and the Super Bowl might be the mecca of sports prop bets.
Hundreds of different options, including the most trivial one might imagine, will be options on various platforms.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, you can bet on whether or not Raheem Mostert scores the game’s first touchdown (a winning bet pays +600 or 6:1) or whether he scores at all (-139, meaning a $139 bet wins $100). These bets carry different odds for each player based on expected usage.
Other prop bets include over/unders on passing yards, completions, TD passes, and interceptions thrown for individual starting quarterbacks, or different rushing and receiving yard totals by any number of players.
Prop bets offer bettors a fun way of predicting how involved or successful any given player will be in the game.
Exotic Prop Bets
Millions of people watch the Super Bowl every year without watching a single down of NFL football during the season. Exotic prop bets can be fun for those who are more interested in the pageantry than game action.
Bettors can start with a bet as simple as “heads or tails” on the opening coin toss. In the past, over/under options on the length of the National Anthem have been offered, as well as the color of the Gatorade bath on the winning coach.
Can I bet on the Super Bowl legally in my state?
Legal sports gambling is now offered both online and in physical locations in the following states:
These states currently only offer retail sports betting options:
Game matchup: Chiefs vs. 49ers
The matchup between Kansas City and San Francisco is a dream scenario for football fans. The Chiefs are led by superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a barrage of lightning-fast skill players. The 49ers are the more well-rounded team employing a more old-school approach: defense and the running game.
Third-year head coach Kyle Shanahan led the 49ers to a 13-3 regular season record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC, while Andy Reid’s Chiefs earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a 12-4 record. Reid has accumulated the sixth-most coaching wins (221) all-time among coaches without a Super Bowl title — his Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.
Bettors will have one major question to ask themselves before deciding which side to take: Will Kansas City’s dynamic offense continue to fly around the field putting up points, or will the 49ers tough-nosed defense slow Mahomes & Co. enough for Jimmy Garoppolo and the run game to grind out the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl victory?
Early money is on the Chiefs offense, but bettors should keep in mind how talented this San Francisco squad truly is on both sides of the ball.
Mahomes vs. 49ers D
Mahomes stands out as the game’s — and perhaps the league’s — most exciting and game-changing player. Last year, the young gunslinger led the Chiefs to the AFC title game in just his second NFL season. But Kansas City lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, returning this season as one of the favorites to earn a spot in Super Bowl LIV.
Things might have gone differently in 2018 if that year’s Chiefs had this year’s defense. Mahomes had put up a monstrous sophomore season — 5,000 yards passing and 50 TDs — but the team’s porous defense ranked second worst in the NFL and was particularly burned by the passing game.
The Chiefs defense improved considerably in 2019 with additions like veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu, who earned first-team All Pro status this season. The resulting jump to eighth in pass defense has kept opposing offenses from going score-for-score with Mahomes’ high-powered unit.
In this year’s Divisional Round, Mahomes showed the world that he and the Chiefs offense can and will respond to adversity. After falling behind the Houston Texans 24-0 early in the second quarter, Mahomes put up 41 straight points en route to a 51-31 victory. The 24-year-old threw for 321 yards and five touchdowns — three to superstar tight end Travis Kelce — as Kansas City cruised to the win in the second half.
Jimmy G vs. Chiefs D
San Francisco presents the perfect foil for the Chiefs: a run-heavy offense opposite a talented and deep defense.
The 49ers acquired a pass-rushing star last spring in No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa, who joined an athletic defensive line rotation that also features edge rushers Arik Armstead and Dee Ford. Lineman DeForest Buckner, another former first-round pick, has been dominant on the interior, and veteran Richard Sherman returned to shut-down corner status this year. Both Buckner and Sherman earned All-Pro honors in 2019.
On the other side of the ball, San Francisco’s offense ranked second in the NFL in scoring at 29.9 points per game behind an exceptional run game that controlled the clock and wore out opposing defenses. The team ranked second in the league with 144.1 rushing yards per game and led the NFL with 23 rushing touchdowns.
While Jimmy G has made his share of plays with his arm, the passing game only checked in at 13th overall, largely because volume wasn’t necessary. Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He does have legitimate pass catchers in All-Pro tight end George Kittle, veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders and second-round rookie receiver Deebo Samuel.
San Francisco’s dominance on both sides of the ball was on full display in the team’s 34-20 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers ran up a 27-0 halftime lead, holding Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers run game in check while rushing all over a solid Green Bay defense.
Running back Raheem Mostert broke out for 220 yards on the ground and four touchdowns on 29 carries. Jimmy G was only asked to throw the ball eight times as the 49ers rushing attack pummeled the helpless Packers.
Super Bowl betting tips
Fade the public
The early betting action on Kansas City -1.5 suggests that most bettors view the Chiefs as the favorite to win this game and cover the spread. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t the view of any all-seeing bettor god — it’s just how the public is reacting to the matchup. If you think San Francisco is the better team, then take the free points or bet the moneyline.
Similarly, if the line starts changing — say it moves to Kansas City -2 or -2.5, that means more money is coming in on the Chiefs. If you’re only a slight lean toward KC and the money is flowing toward that side, it might be time to switch things up and take the extra half-point or point on San Fran. Buying the best number is always encouraged, especially when heavy money is coming in on one side.
The same thing happens with the over/under. Both teams have great offenses, but the 49ers defense could be the X-factor in Super Bowl LIV. Are bettors overestimating the Chiefs offense or underestimating the 49ers top-ranked defense? If so, betting the under — especially if the over/under continues to increase — could be a smart play. But you might want to wait until later in the week after the number reaches its peak.
Shop for lines
Sportsbooks will change their lines as the week progresses, and they will not all be the same. It’s crucial to shop around for that extra half-point when you can find it.
It’s also great value to lock down a line before it starts changing in the wrong direction. For instance, if you bet on San Francisco +1.5 but then more and more people start betting on the 49ers, the line could change to +1 or +.5, in which case you locked in a little extra breathing room — that’s called closing line value.
Sometimes more dramatic changes in point spreads, odds or totals allow a bettor to place a bet on both sides of a contest with a chance to win both bets.
For example, an early bet on Kansas City at +1.5 could potentially be “middled” if one locked that bet down before the line changed to, say, San Francisco +3.
If Kansas City won by 2 points, both the 49ers +3 ticket and Chiefs -1.5 tickets would be winners.
You typically need to get in on an early line with a dramatic swing in order to successfully employ a middling strategy.
There’s much more to football than the statistics in the box score. Advanced analytics can help to predict which players are likely to catch deep passes and which are likely to break tackles.
Bettors should consider things like average depth of target and average targets per game when making prop pets on wide receiver yardage totals. A receiver is more likely to go over a set yardage total if he’s commonly targeted with deep passes (assuming his QB has a strong arm) or if he’s likely to get many chances to make receptions and run after the catch.
Red zone usage can be helpful in identifying players to place prop bets on for outcomes like scoring plays or first touchdown of the game.
Super Bowl sports betting can be a unique experience for those who don’t typically wager on games. But the same caveats apply to the novice bettor as the experienced gambler.
- Never bet more than you can afford to lose. Watching the contest unfold should be fun with a little action, not an emotionally or financially draining experience.
- Don’t chase losses. If you lose a bet or two, it might be best to wait for next year’s game rather than digging a bigger hole.
- Don’t bet while impaired. Alcohol affects one’s judgment faster than most people realize. Don’t be the person throwing caution to the wind just because you’re having a couple extra drinks on a Sunday.
- Finally, betting with your heart isn’t worth it. Just watch the game and root with your heart. Save the betting for plays that make logical and mathematical sense.