Makinen: Super Bowl Betting Trends and Systems

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This year’s Super Bowl will be the 57th in the series, and the game seemingly gets bigger every year, at least according to the size of the TV audience. Last year’s game topped the 100-million viewer mark for the first time, according to NBC. The Rams-Bengals contest drew 5 million more than the prior season’s game, one that had to be considered a far more compelling matchup between Tom Brady’s Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs. Any way you look at it, the numbers are astounding, and there’s no reason to suspect this year’s title tilt won’t continue that upward trend. Simply put, Super Bowl Sunday is both sports’ and TV’s biggest day, regardless of which teams are competing for the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Naturally, that makes it the sports betting world’s biggest day as well.

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This year’s matchup is a spectacular one, with two of the leading MVP candidate quarterbacks guiding their respective teams into the contest. Also, for the first time since 2018, it is two #1 seeds meeting to decide this year’s champion. Ironically, one of the teams, Philadelphia, led by QB Jalen Hurts, won the title that year. The other team, Kansas City, quarterbacked by Patrick Mahomes, won it just two years after. So we have star power, championship experience, and an intriguing matchup of a first-time Super Bowl head coach in Nick Sirianni going up against a veteran in Andy Reid, who happens to be taking on his former team, the franchise in which he leads the all-time win list. Clearly, the stage is set for a monumental title tilt. Of course, that doesn’t make the betting more important or bigger than any other game, so try to keep that in consideration throughout the process.

While the Super Bowl is only one game, the number of betting options available are beyond comprehension. They range anywhere from the simple point spread and total, to the most exotic of prop options. You can even bet on other sports happenings that day against the stats or results of the football game. If you’ve never taken the time to digest all of the betting opportunities available on game day, be sure to do so, because, at the very least, you will be amazed by the creativity of the odds makers. Trust me, I used to be one, and I contributed my fair share of market ideas to the pot.

With this year’s Super Bowl game being the 57th in the history of the National Football League, of course, a sample size of 56 previous games can lead us to a sizeable number of definitive trends and patterns that have formed. All of these can help us to project how the upcoming matchup might play out, as of course there are similarities between this and past games. Pearl S. Buck, a noted American Novelist of the 20th century was quoted as saying “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” As a data analyst by trade, I couldn’t agree more.

As always, the two weeks between the conference title games and Super Bowl 57 will be information overload regarding the teams, players, and matchups that top analysts feel will play a role in the game. You will be subjected to opinions from the usual suspects, plus celebrities, and even animals in some cases. Thus, I won’t be adding mine to the mix here. However, what I will be providing for you in this piece is a number of recent trends and patterns that have emerged from the Super Bowl over the years. Perhaps bits from this article will prove to be the ultimate decider of your final plays, or perhaps not. Regardless, I do feel the information you’ll pick up here will make you more knowledgeable, or at least seem that way, should you choose to share it at the parties in which you’ll be gathering.

Hopefully, with everything we’re offering over the next two weeks on our VSiN network, your gameday will be complete with Cashin’ Tickets, since as VSiN’s Brent Musburger says, that’s what it’s all about. So, read on as I look back at 56 years of Super Bowl action, uncovering the stats, trends, and systems you’ll need to be confident in your SB57 wagers. I’ve also uncovered some of the top trends and other data info pertaining specifically to the Eagles and Chiefs as they get ready for the contest.

Super Bowl Game Stat Angles

I like to remind people that over the two-week break, both teams will get to know the other’s tendencies inside and out, as their coaching staffs will pour over film and prepare a game plan so thoroughly that nothing will surprise them. Of course, extensive planning didn’t seem to help the Bengals slow down MVP WR Cooper Kupp of the Rams, as he beat them for two touchdowns after a season in which he caught 145 passes for 16 scores on a previously unheard of 191 targets. The teams that get to this point earn the spot, and since the NFC’s run of dominance ended in the late 90s, I can think of only two games in which there was anything close to a “physical mismatch” in the Super Bowl. One was Seattle’s blowout of Denver in 2014, and the other was the Buccaneers’ 2021 win. Of course, that may not have been as much a physical mismatch as a mindset issue, as Tampa Bay was the first team playing this championship contest on its home field. The Rams were the second, and second in a row for that matter, but the Bengals’ underdog mentality overcame that obstacle and made for a competitive game.

The point is that the game most often comes down to little more than preparation and execution. This execution can be measured by statistics. Rushing yards, passing yards per attempt, turnovers, and time of possession are four key statistical categories that I have found to have a great impact on who has won Super Bowl games. The following trends demonstrate the importance of these statistics.

* Teams that rush for more yards in the Super Bowl are 41-15 SU and 39-14-3 ATS (73.6%). The Bengals outrushed the Rams last February, 79-43.

* Teams that average more passing yards per attempt in the NFL title game are 44-12 SU and 37-16-3 ATS (69.8%). The Rams and QB Matt Stafford outdueled Joe Burrow and the Bengals in this category 6.3-5.5.

* In the 44 previous Super Bowls in which there was a turnover advantage for either team, the team that had fewer turnovers has lost just seven times, going 35-8-1 ATS (81.3%). One of those outright losses was last year, although the Bengals did cover the point spread after being on the favorable end of a 2-0 turnover decision.

* Teams that win the time of possession battle are 41-15 SU and 39-14-3 ATS (73.6%) in the history of the Super Bowl, and the Rams were the latest to win on that edge, holding the ball for about 1-1/2 minutes longer than Cincinnati.

* Teams that hold an edge in at least three of these four key statistical categories are 40-5 SU and 36-8-1 ATS (81.8%). Amazingly, three of those outright losses were in the last eight games.

* Teams that win all four categories are 26-0 SU and 24-1-1 ATS (96%). The only ATS loss occurred in Super Bowl XXXIX in Philadelphia’s ATS win versus the Patriots.

The Buccaneers were the last team to sweep the four categories in SB55 and won handily. In last year’s game, the four categories were split 2/2, and naturally, the game was very competitive, going down to the final seconds. Turnovers can be hard to project, although the amount of pressure each team’s defense puts on an opposing quarterback can prove to be a good indicator. The other stats should be relatively predictable for any advanced handicapper or service regularly using sophisticated statistical models for simulation. Forecasting these numbers accurately can certainly be worth the effort, assuming the game plays out close to the norms.

In-Game Scoring Trends

* In terms of scoring, the average winning score is 30.0 PPG, with the average losing score being 16.1 PPG, with an average winning margin of 13.9 PPG. However, interestingly, 17 of the last 19 games have been decided by 14 points or less, a sign of a much more competitive era in the NFL. One of those two blowouts was of course in 2021. This year’s game and its minuscule point spread again point to a competitive game.

* The 2008 Giants were the first team in 33 years to win the Super Bowl without hitting the 20-point mark. The Patriots did it again in 2019 with the lowest winning point total ever, 13 points.

* Since the epic 35-31 duel between Pittsburgh and Dallas in Super Bowl XIII in 1979, there have been 26 teams to hit the 30-point mark in this game, their record: 24-2 SU and 23-3 ATS. Only New England, a 32-29 winner over Carolina in ’04, San Francisco in 2013, and New England in ‘18 failed to cover their point spreads.

* There have been 22 previous Super Bowl teams that have failed to reach the 14-point mark. Their record…1-21 SU and ATS (4.5%). This is another trend illustrating just how improbable the Patriots’ 2019 win was.

* More on the recent competitiveness of the game, of the only 17 games to be decided by less than a touchdown, eight of them have been in the last 15 years.

 

Past Super Bowl Line and Total Patterns

Since the turn of the century, what it takes to reach Super Bowl success has come and gone in waves. In the first few years of the 2000s, it was top seeds or teams that achieved lofty won-lost marks in the regular season fulfilling expectations.

Then, something changed. From 2006-2013, seven teams that played on Wild Card weekend played in the Super Bowl game, and six of them won! The 2006 Super Bowl run by Pittsburgh was significant as I believe it dramatically changed the belief of teams in what it takes to become an NFL champion. The Steelers were the first #6 seed that emerged to win the Lombardi Trophy. The assumptions that winning in the regular season, earning a bye week, and capitalizing on home-field advantage were the recipe to postseason success were now in doubt.

Then, the seven-year span of the Super Bowl from 2014-20 seemed to bring about a return to “normalcy,” with all but two competing teams having won at home in their conference title games after enjoying byes in the Wild Card games. However, underdogs did win outright in four of those seven games presenting another wrinkle to deal with.

The last two seasons have thrown us for a new loop, with a fifth-seeded Tampa Bay team winning in upset fashion, and the Rams winning a matchup between two #4 seeds but not covering the Vegas number. That peculiar seed matchup marked the first Super Bowl in the modern seeding era where neither a #1 or #2 seed was in the contest. Of course, it was a short-lived trend in looking at this year’s matchup. However, despite all of the recent seed craziness, one thing is for sure lately, and you’ll see more details in a bit, we are in the midst of an underdog-dominated Super Bowl era.

All of this has made it difficult for handicappers who rely on such things as strength ratings and historical templates that have demonstrated the best teams excelling when it mattered most, the title game.

Whether or not what I’m about to present makes the foundational basis of a wager is arguable, but a single tidbit might just be the decisive factor in your wagering consideration. I convinced myself about the motivational edge of being the lower-seeded team in these games several years ago, and it has performed remarkably since. Perhaps there’s something else you’ll like even better as we dig into ATS, money line, and total trends.

As you read this, I must remind you that the 2023 playoffs were far from predictable, although the teams in Super Bowl 57 are not unexpected by any measure.

ATS and Money Line Trends

* Favorites in the Super Bowl are 35-20 SU but own an ATS mark of 25-27-3 (48.1%), with the 1982 game having been a pick ’em point spread. However, over the past 21 years, underdogs own a 15-6 ATS (71.4%) edge, including 11-4 ATS in the last 15.  Cincinnati lost outright 23-20 in 2022 but did win ATS as a 4.5-point underdog. For this season, early line action finds Philadelphia as a small 2-point favorite over Kansas City.

* Favorites of a touchdown or more are 3-2 SU but 0-4-1 ATS (0%) since the millennium. Still, there hasn’t been a favorite of that magnitude since the Patriots in 2008.

* The straight-up winner is 46-7-3 ATS (86.7%) in the 56 previous Super Bowls. Interestingly, one of those ATS losses did occur last year as Cincinnati became the first underdog to cover a point spread without winning on a Super Bowl line of fewer than 6 points. The general thought is that champions typically leave little doubt in this game. Consider this if you have any concern about laying points with Philadelphia, or alternatively, taking a money line wager with the underdog Chiefs.

* The NFC has taken a 29-27 outright lead with back-to-back Super Bowl wins and maintains a 28-25-3 (52.8%) ATS edge all time. However, AFC teams are 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games. Philly represents the NFC, and Kansas City leads the AFC.

* The team that is the better playoff seed is just 2-15-2 ATS (11.8%) in the last 26 Super Bowl games! Note, in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, & 2022, equal seeds matched up. This year finds both #1’s reaching the title game.

* The team with the better record going into the Super Bowl game is 30-19 SU all-time, but has lost 11 of the last 13, and is on a 1-15 ATS skid since ’04, including the Rams (12-5) ATS loss to the Bengals (10-7) last season. New England’s epic comeback against Atlanta in the 2017 game was the only ATS win. Unfortunately, this premier trend will not be in play once again, as two 14-3 teams will be squaring off.

* Teams playing in their first Super Bowl against an experienced club are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9. However, this trend is becoming more and more scarce and won’t apply this year. If you’re wondering, Philadelphia is 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS in three prior SB appearances, while Kansas City is 2-2 SU and ATS in its prior four appearances in this game.

Over/Under Trends

* Overall, in the 55 Super Bowl games that have had totals, the results are split 27 OVERs, 27 UNDERs, and 1 push. The last four have gone UNDER, the first time there has been that much of an UNDER streak since the four straight in ’05-‘08. The 2019 game went UNDER in record fashion, falling short of the posted number by 39 points! This year’s total was 49.5 at press time.

* There have been 46.1 PPG scored in the Super Bowl, on posted totals averaging 44.9. However, the early years’ totals were often in the 30s, dragging that number down significantly. More recently, the last 18 years have seen an average posted total of 49.9, with 46.3 PPG scored. Eleven of the 18 games in that era went UNDER.

* Of note, on the 12 past Super Bowl games with totals in the 50s, UNDER is 9-3 (75%). With the total sitting at 49.5, there is a reasonable chance that this game ends up at 50 or higher.

* The ’22 Super Bowl was one of only 18 in history that saw both teams reach the 20-point mark. Fourteen of those were OVERs. Oddsmakers expect both teams to score in the 20s here, as evidenced by the line/total combination.

6-point Teaser Trends

* Looking back at the 55 past Super Bowls in terms of 6-point teaser trends, favorites are 36-19 (65.4%) while underdogs are 37-17-1 (68.5%), relatively close performance marks. Note that the ’82 game was a pick ’em point spread, so no favorite or underdog was measured. However, in the last 21 seasons, there has been a big separation as favorites are just 11-10 (52.4%) while underdogs are 18-3 (85.7%). An underdog 6-point teaser would put Kansas City at 7.5, likely a very attractive wager for most bettors.

* In terms of the two different conferences, AFC teams are 36-19-1 (65.4%) and NFC teams are 39-17 (69.6%) in the history of the Super Bowl game on 6-point teaser bets.

* Concerning Super Bowl totals, in the 55 games that had posted numbers, OVER is 37-18 (67.3%) and UNDER is 37-17-1 (68.5%) on 6-point teasers.

Teams’ Regular Season Offensive Statistics Trends

* Teams that scored more points per game during the regular season are only 6-13-1 ATS in the last 20 Super Bowl games. Ironically, the Rams and Bengals both scored 460 points in the regular season last year. Kansas City led the NFL in scoring this year at 29.2 PPG, while Philadelphia was third, 1.1 PPG worse.

* The ability to run the football has been much overrated when it comes to Super Bowl success. Teams who averaged more rushing yards per game are just 5-13 ATS (27.8%) since ’05. Those that averaged more yards per rush are 6-12 ATS (33.3%) in that span. Philadelphia holds better than a 30 RYPG edge here, but the Chiefs rushed for more yards per attempt in the regular season.

* Overall passing yardage has also meant little in terms of Super Bowl success, with teams owning an edge in total offensive passing yardage going only 8-13 ATS (38.1%) in the last 21 games. Kansas City holds a significant edge in overall passing yardage.

* Big play potential hasn’t proven to be a key ingredient to Super Bowl victories either, as teams gaining more passing yards per attempt are on a 7-9 ATS (43.8%) stumble. The Eagles hold the slightest of edges here, less than 0.1 PYA.

* Teams that generated more yardage overall offensively in the regular season also own no edge when it comes to Super Bowl success, going 1-10 SU and 0-11 ATS (0%) in the last 11! Those with yards per play edges are 2-9 SU and 1-10 ATS (9.1%) in that same span. Kansas City owns both of these so-called “edges” going into the SB57.

* Offensive yards per point has proven to be an effective statistical indicator for fading teams, as teams who have averaged fewer yards per point are just 7-13 ATS (35%) in the last 20 Super Bowls. Philly holds a slight edge here, 13.9 to 14.2.

* The offensive turnovers statistic has also been quite misleading in terms of Super Bowl handicapping, with teams owning an edge in this stat going just 7-12 ATS (36.8%) in the Super Bowl since ’03. The Eagles tied for fourth in the NFL in offensive turnovers, while the Chiefs were 17th.

* Teams that converted third down opportunities more efficiently in the regular season also have a poor trend mark, 7-14 ATS (33.3%) in the last 21 Super Bowls. These two teams made up half of the league’s top four in this category in the regular season, with the Chiefs owning a slight edge.

* It appears to be almost detrimental to have generated better offensive statistics in the regular season.

Teams’ Regular Season Defensive Statistics Trends

* Teams that allowed fewer points per game during the regular season have won the last seven Super Bowl games outright and are 6-1 ATS (85.7%)!  Philadelphia holds this edge by 1.5 PPG.

* Teams that allowed fewer rushing yards per game have gone 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS (85.7%) in the Super Bowl games of the last 7 seasons. Those that allow fewer yards per rush attempt are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS (71.4%) in that same span. Kansas City owns the better rushing defense, both in overall yardage and yards per attempt.

* Super Bowl playoff teams with an edge in defensive passing yardage allowed over their opponent are 11-9 ATS over the last 20 seasons but have lost four straight against the point spread. Philadelphia was #1 in the NFL in this category in 2022-23.

* Teams with the edge in defensive pass efficiency are 7-4 ATS (63.6%) over the last 11 years. The Eagles were again the league’s top team in this stat this season.

* Teams that allowed less yardage overall defensively are also just 6-10 ATS (37.5%) since ’07, but 6-5 ATS (54.5%) since ’12 in the Super Bowl.

Teams with an edge in yards per play are 7-9 ATS (43.8%) since ’07, but 7-4 ATS (63.6%) in the last 11. Chalk both of these edges up to the Eagles, and in fact, they were the league’s best team in yards per play defense.

* Defensive yards per point should only be given serious consideration for Super Bowl Sunday if you are fading the team with the edge, 6-11 ATS (35.3%) since ’06. Give Kansas City the edge here, 15.1 to 14.9.

* Teams that forced more turnovers in the regular season than their opponent are 10-11 ATS (47.6%) since ’02 in Super Bowl play, with no streaks greater than two either way.  Philadelphia forced seven more turnovers in the regular season than the Chiefs.

* Teams that stopped third-down opportunities more efficiently in the regular season are on a 7-6 ATS (53.9%) run in the last 13 Super Bowl games. Kansas City was 13th in the NFL, Philly 14th.

There has been increasing evidence of late that better defensive teams have the advantage in recent Super Bowl games, certainly when compared to the effectiveness of offensive statistical edges.

One final thing, for those of you that like to follow the line moves closely, hoping that sharp money may be the cause, consider that bettors are 8-7 ATS (53.3%) in the last 15 Super Bowl games in which they moved an opening line, but 10-6 (62.5%) in the last 16 games in which they moved totals. This includes a streak of five straight winners on total moves, so perhaps this could be an emerging strategy to follow for recreational bettors. The line move winning percentages were more significant in the earlier playoff rounds. Be sure to follow that action in the hours leading up to kickoff if you tend to believe in this type of analysis. For what it’s worth, the early action since the line/total opened seems to be favoring Philadelphia and UNDER.

Top Team Trends from VSiN database:

Favoring Kansas City:

* Kansas City is 17-8 ATS in its last 25 games versus decent passing defenses allowing less than 6.15 yards per pass attempt.

* Kansas City is on a 10-4-1 ATS run versus strong teams outscoring opponents by 6.0 PPG or more.

Favoring Philadelphia:

* Philadelphia has won its last 7 games ATS when playing as the NFC’s #1 seed in the playoffs.

* Philadelphia is on a 6-1 ATS surge when avenging a loss. The Chiefs beat the Eagles 42-30 in the 2021 regular season.

Favoring OVER the total

* In its last 54 tries, Kansas City is 36-16-2 OVER the total versus shutdown passing defenses allowing less than 5.75 yards per pass attempt.

* Philadelphia is on an 8-2 OVER the total surge in games versus AFC opponents.

Favoring UNDER the total

* Kansas City is 12-3 UNDER the total in its last 15 games versus good teams winning 70% or more of their games.

* Philadelphia is 8-2 UNDER the total in its last 10 games versus big-play passing teams gaining more than 7.50 yards per passing attempt.

Top Quarterback Trends:

Regarding Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City):

* Patrick Mahomes is 13-6 SU and 15-4 ATS in his career in games in which he has been an underdog or favorite of 2.5 points or less. His teams have scored 32.8 PPG in such opportunities.

* Patrick Mahomes is on a run of 17-1 SU and 10-5-2 ATS versus teams from the NFC, including runs of 10 straight wins and 5-0-1 ATS in the last 6.

* Patrick Mahomes has struggled to cover point spreads as a starter when his team has been off a straight-up win recently, as he is 12-4 SU but 4-11-1 ATS in the last 16 tries.

Regarding Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia):

* Philadelphia is 16-1 SU and 10-7 ATS in the 17 games Jalen Hurts has started at quarterback this season, scoring 29.5 PPG.

* Jalen Hurts is 22-3 SU and 14-10-1 ATS when favored as a starting quarterback in the NFL throughout his career.

* With his team coming off a straight-up win, Jalen Hurts is on a run of 16-2 SU and 11-6-1 ATS as a starting quarterback.

Good luck with your Super Bowl LVII wagering and enjoy the whole two weeks of festivities surrounding the game!

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As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.