Super Bowl Betting: Total Trends Point To 'Over'
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 01/28/2009
Unlike the domination favorites have enjoyed in the Super Bowl there has been no clear-cut advantage when it comes to betting on the total in the NFL's biggest game of the season.
Since Super Bowl II when oddsmakers first set a total for the league's championship game, the under has a slight advantage of the over, hitting 21 times compared to the 20 Super Bowls that have gone over the total.
Compare that to the 31 times the favorite has covered the point spread in the Super Bowl and you can see oddsmakers have done a better job in terms of balancing the total out from Super Bowl to Super Bowl.
Things were not always that way though. After the Packers and Raiders combined for 47 total points in Super Bowl II to go over the total, seven consecutive Super Bowls all stayed under the total from Super Bowl III to Super Bowl IX. Another similar streak has been developing over the past four Super Bowls. From Super Bowl XXXIX to Super Bowl XLII, the last four Super Bowls have stayed under the total.
Ironically enough, three of those four recent Super Bowls had totals of 46.5 or 47. The current total for Super Bowl XLIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals has fluctuated between 46.5 and 47. In Super Bowl history, nine Super Bowls have been played with a total between 46.5 and 48 and seven of those nine stayed under the total.
Even with the No. 1 defense the Steelers have maintained over the years, their games have continued to go over the total. When the Steelers have been favored, as they are Sunday, the Steelers are 11-5 in their last 16 games. In the postseason, 12 of the last 14 Steelers games have played over the total. And when the Steelers have played in the post-season as favorites, they have gone over seven of the last eight games.
The over trends continue for the Cardinals too. Over the last 51 games when Arizona was an underdog, like it has been through three playoff games, 38 of the 51 games have played over the total. Playing on the Raymond James Stadium grass tilts the odds even further in favor of the over. The over is 23-8 in Arizona's last 31 games played on grass.
Tampa, Fla. has played host to three Super Bowls. The city hosted the closest Super Bowl ever played with Scott Norwood's potential game winning field sailing wide right and allowing the New York Giants to escape with a 21-20 win over the Buffalo Bills. Norwood's field goal would have sent backers of the over to the pay window. Instead it was the second of the three Tampa Super Bowls to play under the total. The other two Super Bowls in Tampa were two of the most lopsided Super Bowls ever played. The Baltimore Ravens blew past the Giants, 34-7, eight years ago and the underdog Raiders blew out the Washington Redskins, 38-9.
In setting a total for this Super Bowl in looks like the Las Vegas bookmakers adjusted according to what Arizona's Kurt Warner-led offense has been doing rather than what the Steelers defense has accomplished this season. The Cardinals have played over the total 13 out of 19 games this season and its three post-season games had totals of 47, 49.5 and 51.5. The only game that did not go over was the 33-13 blowout at Carolina and that was more Carolina's fault than anything the potent Cardinals offense did.
In comparison Vegas seems to be shrugging off what the Steelers have done all season. The highest total set all season for a Steelers game was 44.5. Thirteen of the 18 Steeler games this season have had totals set in the 30s. The two Steeler playoff games had totals of 35 and 37.5.
Rather than siding with the No. 1 defense in the NFL, Las Vegas has put the total right around the area where Arizona likes to see games go. The posted total may be a bigger indication of what may occur in terms of the side rather than the over/under.