2015 Super Bowl Handicapping: Making the Best Betting Decisions
by Trevor Whenham - 1/19/2015
We've made it. After a long, twisty NFL season that seemed to be as much about what happened off the field as on it, we are finally ready for the biggest game there is. The Super Bowl in the end of the season, but it in so many ways it is a completely unique best to bet on. Super Bowl handicapping requires a different mindset than normal games, and an awareness of what makes this game so different.
So, what is the biggest key to success when handicapping the Super Bowl? It can be summed up in just six words:
This is not just another game
If you treat it like one you could be in trouble. At the very least, you aren't giving yourself the best chance for success. So, what makes it so different? Here are six big factors:
Public bettors are out of control: The public (by that I mean people who have more enthusiasm for betting than insight, don't bet often, and can't be relied on to make good decisions when they do so) love to bet on the NFL more than anything. And they love to bet on the Super Bowl far more than any other game. It seems like everyone bets on the game in one way or the other. The more the public bets, the more of an impact they have on how lines are set and how they move. They may not be rational, but they are enthusiastic - and that means that you have to be aware of what the public is mostly thinking and what that could mean to your search for value.
Media 'experts' are everywhere: The sports media covers the NFL more than any other sport - perhaps even more than all the other sports combined. In the two weeks leading up to this game, though, the sports media attention intensifies, and media members who don't cover football the rest of the year suddenly become experts. Everyone has an opinion, but unfortunately a lot of those opinions are loud but mostly worthless. With so much noise around you it can be very easy to get distracted by storylines that sound more important than they are and to fail to focus on what really matters.
Two weeks of time to fill: During the regular season there is no more than a few days between games, and there are many games each week. The media and handicappers don't have the time to look into any one game in too much detail. They only focus on the more important things. With the Super Bowl, though, there are two whole weeks between games and only one game to focus on. That means that people are likely to go into far more detail in their analysis than they need to, chase ideas and stories that sound good but don't matter, and generally find ways to outsmart themselves. It can be way too easy to go away from what was working in your handicapping during the regular season. If you are a winner, though, then don't let the extra time lead you astray.
Game is longer: The actual game itself can be just endless. Pre-game festivities are longer. Commercials are longer so that broadcast partners can sell more commercials to pay for their broadcast rights. The halftime show is longer. The game can just go on forever. That all means that momentum is less meaningful than most games and that the teams that can remain focused and mentally tough are going to be more successful. Psychological factors are always important for bettors to consider, but that's especially true in the Super Bowl.
Prop bet madness: Prop betting on the Super Bowl has always been a big thing, but in recent years it has grown exponentially - and has gotten crazier and crazier as a result. There are some good prop bets - pretty much every year the best value available can be found on props. For every prop bet that is worth a look, though, there are at least a dozen that are just an excuse to throw your money away. Most people likely wouldn't bet on the outcome of a coin flip if they had to pay -120 to take a side, yet they will regularly make prop bets that are considerably less attractive than that. If you don't understand what is going on with a prop bet, and whether it makes sense, then you are not making a good bet.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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