Super Bowl 50 is nearly here and we now that Peyton Manning and the Broncos will face off against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The early lines are up already and it’s clear that the sportsbooks favor the Panthers, as Manning and company start as the 3.5 point underdogs. This is not too surprising seeing as the Panthers had a 15-1 regular season as opposed to the 12-4 record of the Broncos, and the fact that the Panthers had a particularly straightforward 49-15 win in the NFC Championship game, while the Broncos edged a close 20-18 win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
In this article I look at the point spread over the years since the start of the Super Bowl. I pick out individual games where there have been particular surprises, while I also look at the overall record of how favorites and underdogs have performed in the season ending spectacular. I finish by putting it all together and making a call on Super Bowl 50!
Super Bowl Point Spread Surprises
The first big upset came as early as Super Bowl III, when the New York Jets of the then considered weaker AFC overturned the Baltimore Colts 16-7, despite being considered the incredible 18 point underdogs. The following year the AFC did it again, when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Vikings 23-7, another huge upset as the Vikings were considered the 12 point favorites.
Super Bowl XV saw the Philadelphia Eagles enter the game as 3 point favorites, but the Oakland Raiders overturned the odds, strolling to a surprisingly easy 27-10 victory, and then a couple of years later, the Washington Redskins overturned the Miami Dolphins 27-17, despite being 3 point underdogs. The Redskins were at it again 5 years later with a remarkable 42-10 victory over the Broncos, the Broncos favored by 3. In Super Bowl XXV, the Giants went into the game 7 point underdogs, but edged the Bills 20-19.
In recent years there have been four significant surprises. Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers were solid 11 point favorites heading into Super Bowl XXXII, but nobody told John Elway and the Broncos, as they ran out 31-24 winners, sealing an emotional first triumph for Elway. Super Bowl XXXVI saw a young Tom Brady lead the Patriots against the ‘greatest show on turf’ St. Louis Rams, who were considered certainties to win, favored by 14 points. Somehow Brady and the Patriots edged a close game 20-17, the first time the Patriots would lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Patriots were on the receiving end six years later, when they were considered 12 point favorites over the Giants, in a game that saw the Patriots looking for the first perfect season since the Dolphins achieved the feat in 1972. The Giants would be down 14-10 with just a couple of minutes left, but a brilliant 83 yard drive created one of the biggest upsets in the history of sport. Just two years ago, Peyton Manning and the Broncos were considered the 2.5 point favorites over the emerging Seahawks, but the Seahawks ran out resounding 43-8 victors in one of the most one-sided games ever.
Super Bowl Point Spread Facts and Figures
There have been 49 Super Bowls so far, but only 48 favorites as the 49th edition saw the sportsbooks unable to split the teams, making it a pick-em game. In those 48 games, there have been 2 pushes where the favored team won by exactly the right amount, 26 games where the favored team has beaten the spread and 20 occasions where backing the underdog against the spread would see you collecting.
Of those 20 games where the underdog beat the spread, 14 of those would actually see that team go on to win the Super Bowl, the other six games seeing the favorite edge the game by less than was thought.
Super Bowl 50 Verdict
The fact that the favored team in a Super Bowl beats the spread 54% of the time and pushes another 4% of the time might be a significant one. The Super Bowl is the one game of the year where everyone gets involved and many once a year bettors like to bet on the underdog. This could see a small shift in the line, making the line closer perhaps than it should be, meaning that the favored team has to win by less points than they should have.
This year the Panthers are 3.5 point favorites, although the initial line was set at 5.5 points which might be a truer representation of the difference between the two teams. As such, my recommendation would certainly be on the Panthers to break Peyton Manning and the Broncos hearts by beating the 3.5 point spread.
Best Betting Sites for Super Bowl 50
This depends on whether you are based in the US or outside, with clear top picks for both!
US Based Bettors:
Bovada are not only the biggest and most trusted of the offshore sportsbooks – they really go all-in on the Super Bowl. Sure, you get the sharpest lines on regular bets, but what really stands out is the props… all 500 of them. If you have not seen this list of entertaining and innovative markets yet then what are you waiting for – check out www.bovada.lv and see it right now! (note this is a US-only sportsbook)
Non-US Based Bettors:
With the European bookmakers collectively saying ‘meh’ to the Super Bowl – I’ll direct you to another big brand that serves the US (only this time they welcome players from around the world too). BetOnline has been a great source of bets for more than 10 years, and offer a lifetime bonus for every deposit their players make. They have an extra bonus for the Super Bowl, plus $25 live-play special (combining these could make this a very memorable night!). See www.betonline.ag for the latest lines.