2012 Super Bowl Rematch: Betting Trends and Comparison
by Trevor Whenham - 1/24/2012
We’re early in the build up to the Super Bowl, but the biggest storyline so far has been that this game, Super Bowl XLVI, is a rematch of the Super Bowl XLII, which was won by the Giants 17-14 thanks to one of the least likely catches we have seen in years. The fact that these teams met in the same game just four years ago ultimately won’t be the biggest controlling factor in the outcome of the game, but it’s an interesting factor to look at. Let’s dissect the Super Bowl rematch from four different angles:
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The way people are talking about this game you’d think that this has never happened before. In reality, though, this is the fifth time that teams have met more than once in the Super Bowl.
Miami and Washington
The Dolphins and Redskins met in 1973, with Miami winning and covering as two-point underdogs. A decade later they met in 1983. This time it was Washington that won and covered as two-point underdogs.
Pittsburgh and Dallas
The Steelers beat the Cowboys, 21-17, in 1976, but they failed to cover the seven-point spread. Three years later the Steelers won again, but as four-point favorites the game wound up as a push. Another generation of players for both teams met a third time in 1996. Dallas won by 10 but was favored by 13.5, so they didn’t cover the Super Bowl odds.
Dallas and Buffalo
This was a case of deja vu — the Cowboys and Bills played in 1993, and did it again in 1994. The result was the same both times — Dallas was solidly favored and won easily to handily cover the spread both times.
San Francisco and Cincinnati
The Bengals took their incredibly ugly helmets into matchups with the 49ers in 1982 and 1989. The first time San Francisco was favored by two and won by five to cover the spread. The Niners won again in 1989, but they won by only four and were favored by seven, so the Bengals covered.
The last meeting
If you do a Google search for Super Bowl XLII previews the most common factor that comes up is that the game was a massive mismatch. New England was favored by 12.5 — a line that climbed to as high as 14, and few people gave the Giants much of a chance.
New England was riding an 18-game winning streak, and their ascent into history seemed all but certain. The total was set at 54.5. That was the second highest total the team had faced all year, but the Pats had done very well all year — the ‘over’ was 11-6-1 on the season. Tom Brady had been spectacular all year — his 50 touchdown passes were enough to earn him 49 of 50 MVP votes.
Given the lopsided action and the massive line the game did not turn out as expected. The Giants scored four minutes into the fourth quarter to open up a 10-7 lead. New England responded and went up 14-10 with 2:42 left on the clock. Eli Manning captured the Super Bowl MVP and the hearts of Giants’ fans by leading a final TD drive that culminated with a TD catch by Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left that sealed the win. The Giants won outright as heavy underdogs, and the 31 points scored fell far under the Super Bowl total.
What has captured the imagination of people this time around is the similar path the Giants have traveled. In both runs to the Super Bowl the team has started by beating a team from the NFC South before knocking off the top two seeds in the NFC on the road. In both cases the regular season was far from dominating — 10-6 in 2007, and 9-7 this year. Both seasons had seen Tom Coughlin on a very hot seat before he got his team on track.
Even though the first game was only four years ago there has been an incredible amount of turnover on both teams. The quarterbacks and the head coaches are obviously the same, but much of the other personnel is different.
The Giants still have the same running backs, but none of the receivers that caught a pass in the Super Bowl are with the team today. On defense, only two of the Top 10 players in terms of tackles in the Super Bowl are still there — Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. The Giants don’t have a whole lot of Super Bowl experience to draw on — or at least they have a lot of players who weren’t around last time.
Compared to the Patriots, though, the Giants are grizzled veterans. Aside from Brady New England has just three players who showed up on the box score for the Super Bowl in 2008 and the AFC Championship Game this year. Wes Welker was the leading receiver in both games, Vince Wilfork remains a monster at nose tackle, and Stephen Gostokowski is still kicking field goals. Every other key contributor this year is new to his role.
While the rematch factor will play well in the press, and it could be a big deal for Brady and Belichick, it is not going to be a major motivating factor for most players because it just doesn’t affect them personally.
More interesting to me than the fact that these teams met in the Super Bowl four years ago is that they played each other on Nov. 6 this season. New York won that game, 24-20, to hand the Patriots their only home loss of the year. The Patriots were favored by nine, and the total was 51.
In the previous 10 Super Bowls the teams have met during the season just twice before. Coincidentally, the Patriots were involved both times. In 2001 New England lost at home to St. Louis, 24-17, on Nov. 18, but bounced back to win the Super Bowl, 20-17, as two touchdown underdogs. In 2007 the Patriots beat the Giants, 38-35, at New York to cap the undefeated season. The Patriots had been favored by 13.
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