LAS VEGAS | Chances are good if you're reading this that you've got some kind of financial interest in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday. It's OK - we won't blow the whistle on you.
Polls have shown that somewhere in the neighborhood of half of the adults in America bet on the Super Bowl one way or another, be it in a simple office squares pools, with offshore online sportsbooks or in the only place it's truly legal - Las Vegas.
But options for betting on Sunday's big game between the Patriots and Giants go way beyond the simple Patriots -3 or Giants +3. In Vegas, your options are in the hundreds.
One of Las Vegas' biggest weekends is here, and the sportsbooks will take in plenty of money on "prop" wagers. Proposition bets involve scenarios that often have nothing to do with who wins and who loses, or by how much. Bettors can put money on everything from the coin toss to the length of the national anthem, who will have more passing yards between Tom Brady and Eli Manning, who the game's MVP will be and back again.
You can even find bets for how many times Peyton Manning will be shown on TV watching a game his brother is playing in the stadium he calls home - the over/under is set at 3.5.
It is estimated that upwards of $8 billion could change hands on this year's game - most of it just on the outcome. But deciding which prop bets are worth your risk can be as much of a gamble as anything.
* The coin toss: The basest form of all gambling - it's literally a 50-50 proposition. Or is it? You can bet whether the toss will land on heads or tails. But you can also bet on who will win the toss. And while it's still completely random, know this: The NFC representative has won 14 straight coin tosses and 31 out of 45 overall. Betting on the Giants to win at least has fluky history on its side.
* Alternative point spreads: The Patriots are 3-point favorites. But if you believe Brady will go nuts and they'll cruise to a much larger margin of victory, there is money to be made taking adjusted point spreads. Taking the Patriots at -7.5 pays at +200 - so a $10 winning wager would pay out at $30 (including your original $10). Bet the Pats at -10.5, and you'll get even more value if it hits - +280. Think the Giants are going to not just pull the upset, but blow New England out of the water? The Giants at -14.5 pays out at +800. But the safest bet on the favorite if you want a little extra payout potential, is the Pats -4.5 (+140) - if they win by a touchdown, you're covered as opposed to the tricky -7.5.
* Brady vs. Manning: Both quarterbacks have had games with monster numbers this year. But Brady's are the ones we all seem to remember the most thanks to Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. With perfect indoor conditions, Brady is likely to stick with what got the Patriots there and use the two-tight end sets that will help keep the Giants' pass rush at bay. You can bet Brady will have more passing yards than Manning (by -4.5) and it'll pay out at -130 (bet $130 to win $100, plus your original $130).
* MVP: Quarterbacks have won 24 of the 45 MVP awards in the Super Bowl. So especially this year, if you think you can pick the winning team, picking that team's QB to win the MVP award can be a nice bonus bet. Brady pays out at 7/5 to win the award; Manning is 9/4. But QB isn't a lock, and with the kinds of games that Brady and Manning's receivers have had this year, there's good value risk going on with Victor Cruz (8/1), and Hakeem Nicks, Gronkowski and Wes Welker, all of which pay at 12/1 to win the MVP. Just stay away from the kickers - no kicker has ever won the MVP, so even at 100/1 for Lawrence Tynes and Stephen Gostkowski, you're just making a donation to the sportsbook.
* Long-distance dedications: Think Brady is gonna keep things safe and utilize those two tight ends early and often? His longest pass being under 42.5 yards can be yours for the taking at a payout of -115. Conversely, over 42.5 also pays at -115 - which means no matter what, the casino is making 15 juice no matter what side you bet on.
*And finally, the ridiculous: Kelly Clarkson sings this year's national anthem. And while you can find online books that will take action on what she will be wearing (a Giants jersey is the biggest longshot at +1500) or whether or not she'll botch a lyric (yes pays out at +250), a big bet happens before the game even starts with how long it will take her to sing. The over/under is set at 1:34. In the past, careful bettors hoping to beat the system sought out her rehearsal times, trying to win an easy one. But she's still singing live, and anything can happen. Still, with those wicked pipes and such a huge international stage, take the over.
But most importantly, remember this is all for entertainment purposes only. Your real gamble Sunday should be on whether that ranch dip is still good in the fourth quarter.
- Matt Erickson is an award-winning journalist whose NFL picks have appeared in The Times for nine seasons. He also covers mixed martial arts for The Times and HeavyMMA.com.