Looking at Super Bowl betting trends adds a layer of handicapping to a big-time game. Although each match presents standalone value, historical trends can provide insight when making predictions on current games. This week, I will focus on the winningest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady, and his potential future replacement in Patrick Mahomes as I dissect the NFL odds for Super Bowl LV. Make sure to keep up with all of PFN’s NFL betting plays throughout the week.
How do favorites and underdogs fair against the spread in the Super Bowl?
If the Kansas City Chiefs accomplish the rare back-to-back Super Bowl champion status, it will mean that the favorite has won the Super Bowl three years in a row. This is a rare feat, as favorites have not won three straight Super Bowls since 2001.
Favorites do lead the battle with a 28-24-2 against the spread edge and a 36-17 straight up advantage over underdogs historically. Still, most of those favorite wins came during eras in which the favorite had a significant advantage over the underdog.
Concerning the AFC versus the NFC advantage, both conferences are relatively close. The NFC currently holds a 27-26 advantage against the spread versus the AFC but have struggled as of late to maintain their previous dominance.
Before mainstream television success, the favorites dominated the Super Bowl. In the 1980s, favorites led the charge and notched a 6-4 advantage. During the 1990s, favorites continued to dominate and went 6-3-1 against the spread bringing their two-decade lead to 12-7-1.
In the 2000s, the tides changed as the underdogs went 7-3 during that decade. In the 2010s, the underdog trend continued as they took a 6-4 advantage and led the last 20 years by a record of 13-7.
The NFL rules have changed over the years, so paying attention to recent trends would provide better analysis. Over the last 13 years, favorites have won the Super Bowl a mere four times.
Should the expectation be that underdogs continue their recent dominance? Or is there a reasonable expectation for positive betting trend regression for the favorites?
Peculiar Super Bowl historical facts and betting trends
Can certain historical betting trends explain future occurrences? Is it mere coincidence, or something to evaluate when handicapping the big game?
Stadiums and jerseys
One example to discuss is teams wearing a colored jersey. Teams that wear their white home jersey win the Super Bowl 81% of the time over the last 16 years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both a home team literally and figuratively. The NFL rotates home and away teams between the AFC and NFC yearly, and this year it is coincidentally in Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers have announced that they are wearing their white jerseys this year. Will they improve the 81% recent win rate, or will the Chiefs win in their red away uniforms?
Another interesting stat is that 16 Super Bowls historically have been played in Florida, and the favorites dominated those games. All-time, favorites hold a 12-4 advantage over the underdog in the Sunshine State. Considering the Chiefs are 3-point favorites this year in Tampa Bay, will they continue the Florida dominance for favorites?
How about domed stadiums versus outdoor stadiums in the Super Bowl? It seems the AFC loves to play the Super Bowl outdoors as they have won seven of the last 11 Super Bowls that were played outdoors. Luckily for the Chiefs, Raymond James Stadium is outdoors.
AFC vs. NFC Super Bowl betting trends
Another interesting fact to discuss is the AFC dominance of the NFC in the Super Bowl. Only the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles can boast titles from the NFC in the last eight years. It does not help that a former New England Patriots QB led the AFC the previous 20 years.
Although NFC versus AFC matchups in the regular season are far and few, another interesting trend is evaluating rematches between Super Bowl contenders. There have been seven Super Bowl rematches from teams that have met during the current regular season. Of those seven rematches, the team who lost the first game won the Super Bowl rematch five times.
Finally, can the month of the Super Bowl affect the outcome? Apparently, for the AFC, playing in February is a decisive advantage. Of the 18 Super Bowls played in February, the AFC has won the championship 12 times.
Can totals provide the same historical Super Bowl analysis as the spread?
If the favorite versus underdog or AFC versus NFC comparisons were as equal as possible, the total betting trend presents the same result. The over versus under battle on the total is currently at an even 26-26-1 split, with the over controlling the recent dominance the last decade going 7-3. The 2000s leaned an under-dominant era with unders taking a 6-4 advantage.
Does the number matter?
One intriguing stat when it comes to totals is when the number is 50 or higher. There has been a total of 12 Super Bowls with a total of 50 or higher. In those 12 games, the under boasts an impressive 8-3-1 record. This year’s Super Bowl is currently sitting at 56 with two teams that can quickly put points on the board. Will the over 50 total balance out, or will the under continue to control the stats?
The balance becomes more equal as the number drops, however. When the total for the Super Bowl is set in the 40s, the over has a slight advantage with a 14-11 lead. The once expected 30-point total is extremely rare these days. There has not been a total in the 30s since 2004 and only two since 1987. However, when the total sits in the 30s, there is an even 8-8 split between overs and under.
If the modern game trend for Super Bowl totals is evaluated, consider taking the under. In the last decade, the average total between both teams is 49.9 points per game — the lowest of the previous three decades. This includes the 13-3 outlier between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
In the decade prior, during the 2000s, the average total was 51.5 points per game. In the 1990s, the average total was the highest of the three decades, averaging 57.5 points per Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LV betting trends pick: Chiefs -3 and under 56
The Chiefs should have positive regression with a 19% winning percentage wearing their red away jerseys. Add in the outdoor Florida stadium where the AFC has dominated both the outdoor and Florida variables, and they are the favorites to win. Super Bowl LV is also in February which bodes well for the defending champions.