## The prop bet countdown #4: How will the first touchdown of the game be scored?

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. Next up: How will the first touchdown of the game be scored?

Prop: First touchdown scored is a…

Receiving touchdown -175

Any other touchdown +149

Implied probabilities (converting betting line to percentage):

Receiving touchdown – 63.64%

Any other touchdown – 40.16%

*note: these numbers don’t add up to 100% because of vigorish, the amount charged by the bookmaker for their services

At first glance, you’d probably be inclined to believe that this prop is dependent on which team scores first in the game. Most people would assume that Seattle’s first touchdown is likely to be on a run, while Denver’s first touchdown is likely to be on a pass. Well, only one of those cases is true.

Both teams have given us a large sample size of 18 games this season, which is plenty enough to formulate an educated guess on what the most likely outcome is here. Many people tend to rely on past Super Bowl trends when wagering on props, but I really could care less about what’s happened in past Super Bowls—this matchup is completely independent of those matchups.

In Denver’s 18 games this season, the first touchdown scored in the game has been a receiving touchdown 15 times. That’s right, you would have had an 83.3% success rate had you bet that prop in every single one of the Broncos’ games this season.

On the other side of things, Seattle’s splits have not been so drastic. In fact, exactly half of their games have had a receiving touchdown as the first touchdown of the game, while the other half have not. In this case, it would appear as though “any other touchdown” would be a strong value play at +149.

But I’m not interested in looking at all of their games this season. Both of these teams are playing this game in a road environment, so I’m much more interested in each team’s results away from home.

When you only take road games into account, Seattle’s statistics present a much different narrative. In the Seahawks’ eight games away from CenturyLink Field this season, the opening touchdown of the game has come on a passing play six times. That’s a huge difference from the even split that you’d arrive at if you took all of Seattle’s games into account. Denver has the exact same split, with the opening touchdown coming via pass in six of their eight road games.

In summation:

Denver’s road games = 6/8 opening touchdowns via pass

Seattle’s road games = 6/8 opening touchdowns via pass

Combined road games = 12/16 opening touchdowns via pass, 75% success rate

I’m normally not a fan of laying juice, but the 75% success rate illustrated above is much higher than the implied probability of 63.64%. Even if you want to take all games (not just road games) into account, you’d arrive at a probability of 66.67%, which is still higher than the given implied probability. I bet value when I see it, and I think the oddsmakers have missed the mark here.

Pick: First touchdown scored is a receiving touchdown -175