By Charles Jay
Looking at the history of the most-watched single-day event in the United States – the Super Bowl – one sees an interesting betting history, punctuated with the knowledge that no game attracts as much in the way of wagering action as it does.
There was a time when favorites dominated things as far as the pointspread was concerned. In fact, underdogs have had to cover eight of the last 12 Super Bowls just to get things back to “respectability.”
As things stood after Super Bowl 54, the tally is 27-24-2 ATS in favor of the teams that have been favored with one that was pick'em). And even though four of the five between SB's 50-to-54 had seen margins of eight points or more, the blowouts have not been happening nearly as frequently in recent years.
If you are old enough, you remember that almost on a yearly basis, the “Big Game” was non-competitive. And when you look at the numbers, you'll see that 14 Super Bowls out of the first 54 had been decided by fourteen points or more. That is a pretty high percentage (almost 26%), especially when compared to all games in general.
But only three of the 17 Super Bowls (from 38 to 54) were decided by two touchdowns or more. And even two of those were dramatic to an extent. Sometimes a late touchdown or something that was achieved as a result of a turnover can be the thing that makes a game look more “out of hand” than it really is. A case in point was Super Bowl 54, in which the San Francisco 49ers led 20-10 in the fourth quarter before the Kansas City Chiefs roared back with three touchdowns.
Such a thing can't necessarily be explained away by the fact that the line is “tighter” on this game now than it ever has been. From its early years, there has been a thirst for action, particularly after the Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, which established the “johnny-come-latelys” in the AFL as an entity that had the capacity to compete on equal ground. So there is naturally no lack of focus on the part of sportsbooks when it comes to the task at hand.
As for the propositions, that might be another story entirely. By now you are aware that Super Bowl games are famous for the bevy of props that come with them, and there is seemingly a price on just about everything. When there are more things to put a price on, there is more of an opportunity to get some value on at least one of them. So smart sports bettors are able to cherry pick some of their best proposition plays and do well with them. It's the bettors who want to play practically every prop on the board who get hurt and keep the books in business.
Favorites have won this game straight-up most of the time (with a record of 35-18 SU), but in 14 of these games the number was in double digits. Regardless, the oddsmakers have done more than a decent job of not allowing a bias on one side or the other. Yes, favorites of three points or less (like the Chiefs in SB 54) are 9-6 against the spread. But teams favored by more than that are 18-18-2 ATS.
As for the totals, interestingly enough, that became a situation that was fit to be tied, so to speak. Naturally you may see some discrepancies according to the lines you have followed at any given time, but from our data, as of Super Bowl 54 there had been 26 overs, 26 unders and a push (with no total listed for Super Bowl I). The Super Bowl LIV result (51 points with a posted total of 54) brought things even.
That's pretty amazing.