Each day leading up to the Super Bowl, we’ll look into one of the many available prop bets, providing as much detail and analysis as possible. First up: Which team will commit the first turnover?
Prop: Team to commit first turnover (fumble or intereception)?
Implied probabilities (converting betting line to percentage):
Seattle – 53.92%
Denver – 50.00%
*note: these numbers don’t add up to 100% because of vigorish, the amount charged by the bookmaker for their services
There are two completely different ways of thinking about this prop. On one hand, Seattle clearly has the better defense, which would likely make them more apt to force a turnover. On the other hand, Peyton Manning rarely finds himself under duress, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be pressured into making a costly mistake. Luckily, we have the luxury of digging deeper into 18 games worth of numbers for each of these teams to determine if there’s value with either team.
First, let’s take a look at fumbles.
Denver fumbled the ball 28 times this season, losing 17 of those fumbles in the process (60.7% fumbles lost).
Seattle fumbled the ball 29 times this season, losing just 11 of those fumbles (37.9% fumbles lost).
There were 655 total fumbles in the NFL this season, with 312 of those fumbles resulting in turnovers. That’s a 47.6% fumble lost rate. Since fumbles lost can be largely attributed to being lucky or unlucky, we’ll use the league average rate to determine how many fumbles both the Broncos and Seahawks should havebeen expected to lose this season.
Denver = 28 fumbles x 0.476 league fumble lost rate = 13.3 fumbles lost
Seattle = 29 fumbles x 0.476 league fumble lost rate = 13.8 fumbles lost
That gives a slight edge to Denver, but it’s the smallest of edges.
Defensively is where the Seahawks shine though. Seattle has forced 6 more fumbles than Denver this season (31-25), and has recovered four more of those fumbles (13-9). Again, fumble recoveries are often attributed to luck, so let’s use the league average once more to remove the luck attribute.
Denver = 25 fumbles x 0.476 league fumble lost rate = 11.9 fumbles recovered
Seattle = 31 fumbles x 0.476 league fumble lost rate = 14.8 fumbles recovered
Based on the defensive metrics, Seattle’s defense is much more likely to force and recover a fumble than Denver’s defense is.
But fumbles aren’t the only type of turnover—we have to look at interceptions as well.
Both the Seahawks and Broncos have staggeringly low interception numbers on offense. The Broncos have tossed just 11 interceptions in 18 games, while the Seahawks are even better, tossing a measly 9 interceptions.
The big discrepancy comes on the defensive side of the ball, where the Seahawks have forced a whopping 30 interceptions, while the Broncos have only forced 17.
At the end of the day, the Broncos have only allowed 20 sacks all season, while the Seahawks have allowed 51, but that hasn’t led to an increased turnover rate on offense for Seattle.
Offensive fumbles = slight edge to the Broncos
Defensive fumbles = edge to the Seahawks
Offensive interceptions = slight edge to the Seahawks
Defensive interceptions = big edge to the Seahawks
When taking everything into account, this line doesn’t seem to make much sense at all. Denver’s implied probability of committing the first turnover is only 50%, and I would argue that the true probability is much closer to 60%, create some hefty value with my final selection.
Pick: Team to commit the first turnover – Denver +10