Super Bowl Betting Trends
by Trevor Whenham - 01/26/2007
For bettors that really like to handicap, this week is the greatest time of the year. There's only one football game to look at, and you have two full weeks to analyze it, so you can cover every possible angle you could want to. You can fire up your spreadsheets, devise every variety of power ratings, and look at every possible match-up in a hundred different ways. If you're a trend junkie then you'll also have time to figure out every possible reason to back one team or the other, and you'll also have the time to discount and ignore the trends that don't help to justify your opinions. To help you out on that front, here are nine Super Bowl trends to get you started in your analysis:
1) Bears and the over. Chicago is perceived to be a defensive team -- and they are -- but bettors have clearly overcompensated for that fact all year, and they aren't learning from their mistakes. Chicago went over the total in 11 of their 16 regular season games, and hit the number in another. The trend is still solid in the playoffs, too - they have gone over in both games. In a lot of games it hasn't even been close - 65 points with a total of 35 against Tampa Bay, 69 points against St. Louis when the total was a season-high 41.5, 51 points with a 37 total against Seattle in the playoffs. Indy's presence will mean a reasonably high total, but there still is a fairly good chance, given history, that Chicago will go over.
2) The historical over. Over the course of the last 31 Super Bowls, the over has been a very good default pick. In that time, the total has been exceeded 19 times. That's more than 61 percent - certainly a solid winning rate.
3) Bouncing back from the last game. You generally shouldn't have to bounce back from a win, but there is some reason to believe that both teams might struggle to do that. Indianapolis put up 474 total yards of offense against the Patriots in the conference final. The last five times that they have put up more than 350 yards they are just 1-4 ATS in the following game. The Bears have their problems, too - they are just 2-5 ATS the last seven times they have played after allowing at least 250 yards passing, and 2-5 ATS in their last seven in the game after they have won against the spread. One team might have an edge, though - the Colts are 12-5-1 ATS in games following games in which they have covered.
4) Going on the road. The Super Bowl is the only game of the year, outside of the preseason, in which both teams are playing on the road. That seems to favor the Bears. Indianapolis was 3-5 ATS on the road during the regular season, and they failed to cover the last four times they left the cozy RCA Dome. Not surprisingly, given their previous playoff woes, they are also just 2-5 ATS in their last seven playoff road games. They've also failed to cover the last four times that they have been favorites on the road. Chicago was only 4-4 ATS on the road this year, but they were a more impressive 3-2 in their last five trips.
5) Dealing with poor passing games. Critics everywhere are using Rex Grossman and his often questionable performances as a good reason to pick against the Bears. The Bears are used to playing after sub-par passing performances, though. Grossman put up 144 yards against the Saints. The last eight times the Bears have put up less than 150 yards of passing they have come back in the following game and covered all but once.
6) Bears defense rebounding. Though the scoreboard didn't show it last week, there was some reason to be concerned about the Bears' defense. They were fairly successful at keeping the Saints out of the end zone, but they weren't nearly as good at defending the pass - Drew Brees threw for 354 yards. Indy obviously can pass fairly well, too, so the Colts could do some damage if they can exploit the same holes that Brees found. Bears backers don't need to worry too much, though - the team is 14-6-1 ATS in games after they have allowed more than 350 yards passing.
7) Playing on grass. Given that the Bears play all of their home games on grass, while the Colts play on their rocket carpet, the natural assumption would be that the Bears would have the advantage on the grass in Miami. Though Chicago should certainly be more comfortable and familiar with the surface, the Colts have shown that they can hold their own on the real stuff - they are 9-4-1 ATS over their last 14 on grass.
8) The Bears' running game. Though it remains to be seen if the Colts defense can hold up one more time and stop the run, the Bears will benefit from their ability to run easily against the Saints. They ran for almost 200 yards. After they have rushed for 150 yards in a game the Bears must feel unbeatable, because they come back very well the next game - they are 20-7-1 ATS in the following game the last 28 times that that has happened.
9) The 30-point barrier. The Bears scored more than 30 points last game. The last five times they have done that they have been just 1-4 ATS in the following games. The Colts scored 30 points, too, but they also allowed more than 30. You might think that they should be concerned, but it's actually a good thing - they are 4-0 ATS in games after they have allowed at least 30 points.