Super Bowl Public Action Betting Report and Line Movement Analysis
by Trevor Whenham - 2/2/2016
There is a massive amount of public money bet on the Super Bowl. A lot of that money is bet by people who don't bet often and, frankly, don't really know what they are doing. There is also a heavy amount of action from sharp bettors looking to feast on those naive bettors. The more action there is on a game, the more alert the oddsmakers have to be when setting and moving their lines and the more chance there is that something interesting could happen that could provide an opportunity for value - or could at least help you in your betting decision making. As such, it is always worthwhile looking at how the public is betting on the Super Bowl and what it means.
Unfortunately, this year isn't nearly as interesting as other years. Just last year, for example, bettors couldn't really decide which team they liked better, and the line was small and the movement very interesting. This year, though, things have been more straightforward by far - and less compelling by far as a result. When things act exactly as you would expect, you aren't as likely to learn much from them.
The game opened with the Panthers favored by 3.5. Driven by respect for the Panthers, their dominant offense in the playoffs, Newton-mania, the collapse of Peyton Manning before our eyes, and so on, public sentiment was very strongly on the side of the NFC champs. The line opened briefly at 3.5 points, but no one thought that was enough. It jumped immediately and has kept rising - it can now be found as high as 6.5 at some books. That is remarkable movement in a game of this magnitude - a full field goal.
Line movement like that would be striking if it were somehow different than what was expected. It isn't. More than 80 percent of early bets came in on the Panthers, and still now - after the lines have been posted for 10 days - nearly three-quarters of all spread bets are on the Panthers. To put that in context, that is not only by far the most lopsided action we have ever seen in a Super Bowl, but it's the third most lopsided action we have ever seen in a playoff game. Barring a major development, it's not like this is likely to change before game time, either.
What could slow down the Carolina interest, of course, is if the line were to rise further. I, and others I have talked to, would have a very different view of this game if the Panthers had to give up more than a touchdown. Personally I wouldn't like the Broncos much, but the game would likely not become playable. At the sharper books, though, when the line has moved up to six points or so you can look at the line history for most big books and see that it has bounced right back down again. That suggests that sharp bettors have their number pegged at about 5.5. If that is the case then they won't let it rise above seven points, so the public action should remain tilted.
This is interesting - more interesting than the spread, anyway. The Broncos can be found in the neighborhood of +200 depending on the book on the moneyline. A small majority of bets, and a larger majority of money bet, has come in on the underdog. That means that instead of taking the points on the spread, people who are believers in the Broncos seem to be looking to the moneyline. So, while the books would score big time on the spread if the Broncos were to win outright, their profits would take a hit because they would suffer significant losses on the moneyline.
This is the dullest aspect of betting on this game that we have looked at yet - and that's saying something. The total was posted at 45 or 45.5 depending on the book. It has been as stable as a rock at the 45 level since. Books have tried to flirt with 44 at times but not with any conviction. This line isn't likely to move in any significant way barring a major development - like a second Denver bus crash that actually hurts players this time. The good news, I guess, is that it likely doesn't really matter when you time your totals bet - the price you see now will be close to the price you see at kickoff.
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