LAS VEGAS — Rams receiver Cooper Kupp keeps getting open, keeps catching passes, keeps racking up reception yardage and touchdowns as if defenders have never heard of him.
He also keeps attracting money. Of the hundreds of Super Bowl LVI proposition wagers being offered on sportsbook menus around town, Kupp has received much attention.
A half-dozen high-priced wagers on him at BetMGM made that appetizer the property’s biggest early decision, says director of trading Jeff Stoneback.
It opened with Kupp’s projected receiving yards against the Bengals at 102.5, which waves of Over cash have bumped to 104.5.
“In the office, we keep saying, ‘How does that guy get open?’ I’m sure every team that they’ve played has tried to key on Cooper Kupp, but it doesn’t matter,” says Stoneback. “The guy is just so good.”
Kupp caught 145 passes during the season for 1,947 yards, both second on the NFL’s single-season record charts. And he tallied 846 yards after making catches, tops in the league, as were his 16 receiving touchdowns.
In his last two playoff games, Kupp has been targeted 25 times. He caught 20, for 325 yards and three touchdowns. In 20 total games, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw fewer than 10 passes to Kupp on only four occasions.
Long Island handicapper Tom Barton points to receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s presence as one reason why foes can’t clamp down on Kupp.
“The NFL is so designed for offensive production that it leads to dominating wide receiver performances,” says Barton. “There’s little a good cornerback can do to stop Kupp. If they double him, the Rams just play him in the slot. Also, his yards after the catch are impactful.”
Kupp’s props runneth over, but he represents just a fraction of what the behemoth Super Bowl proposition industry has become.
When the American Gaming Association noted that “around 3.4 million Americans” will wager an estimated “$7.61 billion” on Super Bowl LVI, BetMGM’s data and public relations guru John Ewing weighed in.
He tweeted, “I’ll take the Overs.”
At the Westgate SuperBook, Kupp’s yardage total opened at 107.5 and was bet down to 105.5 after five days. Anyone tapping Over 102.5 at BetMGM and Under 107.5 at the SuperBook built a five-yard range for a potential middle.
Circa Sports issues its own version of the popular “squares” grid. Typical at Super Bowl parties, squares are sold for a few bucks, maybe $5. When all 100 are filled, numbers 0-9 are randomly filled beside and atop the sheet.
At the end of each quarter, the last digit of each score determines the winner of a portion of the pot.
Circa patrons can pick specific squares, with corresponding odds. Bengals 13, Rams 7 (Bengals 3-Rams 7) after one quarter? Pays 8-to-1. If it’s 5-5 after 15 minutes, the payoff is 10,000-to-1 odds, the longest on the sheet’s four quarters.
Moreover, Circa has earned recognition for its yes/no props. Think Kupp will not earn MVP honors? That’s -730, or risk $730 to win $100.
Never shortchange yourself. Think the game’s final margin will be three points? That pays +350 at one shop, +400 at another, and +425 at a third property (risk $100 to win $425) — it pays to shop.
Think Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will have a reception? Westgate customers are bullish on that prop, having bet Yes down from +1500 to +1200.
A parallel play is Over 2.5, at +130, on the number of different players to have a passing attempt. That’s insurance for, say, Bengals tailback Joe Mixon attempting a pass to anyone other than Burrow.
Mike A. had shopped, and liked what he found, on Rams punter Johnny Hekker when the Westgate unveiled its massive prop selections Feb. 3.
The short, rotund and salt-and-pepper-bearded Mike declined to reveal his last name, but the professional bettor did allow me to take a photo of his ticket — risking $9,000 to win $2,000, on Hekker to NOT record a touchback.
During the season and playoffs, only two of his 61 punts went for a touchback. Mike had found it at -1200 elsewhere, so when he saw -450 on No (Yes was +375) he zipped to the back of the SuperBook line.
He prayed nobody would make that bet, to affect its odds. Nobody did. After his wager, those figures were increased to -550 on No, +425 on Yes.
In its never-ending quest for novel options, the Westgate added a new wrinkle this year with eight props tied to how certain hoops programs, including Purdue and Indiana, might fare in next month’s NCAA Tournament.
Villanova’s tourney wins -.5, at +110, versus Rams first-half touchdowns -130. Or Kentucky’s tourney triumphs -.5, against Burrow’s combined touchdown passes and interceptions, -110 either way.
Those gems were concocted by vice president of risk management Ed Salmons, and SuperBook executive vice president Jay Kornegay expected them to be popular.
Those and hundreds of others are in the SuperBook’s 32-page props booklet. BetMGM’s outside source printed nearly half a million sheets, which comprise the 10-page beauties that it sent to all of its properties.
At DraftKings, legal in Illinois and 16 other states, plus Washington, sportsbook director Johnny Avello forecasts record national Super Bowl business. Nevada registered a record $158.6-million handle in 2018.
“Monster handles,” says Avello. “I’m looking for a big one.”