Sportsbooks love Super Bowl Sunday because it’s their time to make some serious dough. It can also be your time to grow your sports betting bankroll. Millions of people around the world – not just in the United States – bet on the NFL’s championship game. And many of them turn a nice profit.
But before you can expect to win any money this coming Super Bowl weekend, you need to understand the game and how to bet on it. Let’s take a look.
History of the Super Bowl
In 1967, the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) sent their best teams to compete against each other in what became the Super Bowl. That year, the Green Bay Packers, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, defeated quarterback Len Dawson and the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
Ever since, the two best teams in football have squared off in what has become the biggest sporting event in the world. By 1970, the AFL and NFL merged, forming two conferences – American Football Conference and National Football Conference.
The Super Bowl isn’t just about crowning a champion. American football fans all over the globe consider it a holiday. Many host parties and wager on the game. Nevada, home to Las Vegas, takes in over $100 million in bets on this one game each year.
How Teams Qualify for the Big Game
The road to the Super Bowl begins in September when the NFL’s regular season kicks off. Each team plays 16 games and if their record is among the eight best in each conference, they make the playoffs. The top two teams in each conference receive a first round bye in the playoffs, meaning they get a week to rest up before the next game.
The NFL playoffs is a single-elimination tournament. Once you lose, you’re out. Teams must win one or two games, depending on if they received a first round bye, to get to the conference championship game. If you win that game, you’re in the Super Bowl playing for a league title.
Greatest Super Bowl Upsets in History
Like any football game, the outcome of the Super Bowl isn’t always predictable. While the perceived better team has won more often than not, there have been some epic upsets. When that happens, it’s usually a good sign for the sportsbooks because the public tends to lean towards the favorites. Let’s take a look at the biggest upsets ever in Super Bowl history.
|Super Bowl||Teams||Point Spread||Outcome|
|III||Baltimore-NY Jets||Baltimore -18||NY 16 Bal 7|
|XXXVI||New England-St. Louis||St. Louis -14||NE 20 Stl 17|
|XLII||New England-NY Giants||New England -12.5||NY 17 NE 14|
|IV||Minnesota-Kansas City||Minnesota -12||KC 23 Min 7|
|XXXII||Green Bay-Denver||Green Bay -11.5||Den 31 GB 24|
Previous Super Bowl Winners
Heading into the 2019 Super Bowl (2018 regular season), there are still 12 out of 32 NFL franchises that have never won football’s biggest game: Cincinnati, Buffalo, Arizona, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Detroit, Carolina, Houston, Tennessee, Cleveland, and Minnesota.
In 2016, Atlanta appeared to be moments away from crossing their name off that list. But they blew a 28-3 third quarter lead against New England to lose in overtime 34-28. Speaking of the Patriots, they are one of four teams – joining San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Dallas – to win the Super Bowl at least five times. Pittsburgh is the only team to have won it six times.
Philadelphia won its first Super Bowl to end the 2017 season. The Eagles were only a four-point underdog but surprised many by defeating arguably the greatest dynasty in football history – the New England Patriots.
Buffalo won a Super Bowl but they have the most infamous feat in big game history. The Bills lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1991-1994. Their best shot to win came in 1991 but Scott Norwood missed a short field goal wide right, just outside the goal post, to lose 20-19. The city of Buffalo still hasn’t forgiven him.
Types of Super Bowl Bets Available
Perhaps the best part about Super Bowl Sunday is all the bets. Virtually every online and land-based sportsbook offers some crazy prop bets for the big game. And, of course, you can place standard wagers such as the point spread and over/under.
Many recreational sports bettors save up for this weekend so they can place numerous bets on the game. The most common wagers, like any other game, is the point spread. With this type of bet, you are wagering on either the favorite to win by a certain number of points or the underdog to lose by fewer than a set amount of points. For example, if New England is a five-point favorite (listed as -5 at the sportsbooks), you need the Patriots to win by at least six points to win your bet or five to push, otherwise you lose.
This game is a bit different than other football games, however. Sportsbooks offer some whacky wagers that range from which team wins the coin toss to the color of the Gatorade splashed on the winning team’s head coach.
Other fun and unique bets include passing yard totals by the starting quarterbacks, rushing yards gained by the running backs, and the total points scored in the first half. And that’s just a starting point. Each sportsbook puts out pages worth of prop bets in hopes of enticing a ton of action on the game.
Which Super Bowl Bets Should You Avoid?
Some of these prop bets are purely sucker bets. You’re bound to lose, for example, the coin toss wager over the long-haul if you bet it every year. Why? Because the house charges juice on a 50/50 proposition. To win $100, you must wager $110 at most sportsbooks on this type of bet.
But, as you know, there are only two sides to a coin, meaning you have a 50-percent chance of winning and a 50-percent chance of losing. Sportsbooks love these type of wagers because they’re guaranteed to win long-term. If you win one time and lose one time, which you will do on average, the house wins $10 off you on $110 bets ($100 profit for the win, $110 loss the other time).
However, there are some Super Bowl prop bets that can be quite profitable. If you do some research getting to know the players and the matchups, you’ll have a great opportunity to beat the house on wagers such as rushing yards gained, passing yards, etc.
Super Bowl Betting Main Advice: Fade the Public
History suggests betting against the public (fade the public) is a profitable decision on Super Bowl Sunday. The reason for that is most recreational bettors really don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t put in exhaustive research in preparation for the game. Instead, they just trust the analysts on ESPN and other major sports media outlets.
That gives you a golden opportunity to crush the house simply by fading the public, in most years. What happens when the public is betting big on one side, the point spread increases, and the underdog becomes a more enticing bet. Check out these interesting Super Bowl betting stats.
- Underdog has won six of the past seven Super Bowls outright.
- In the past 17 years, the underdog is 13-4 against the spread (ATS).
- Underdog is 23-25-2 ATS all-time.
- The “over” has hit 26 times and “under” 25 times (no over/under available for Super Bowl I).
Now, before you say, “hey, wait, the underdogs have lost over time,” there’s a simple explanation. Since Super Bowl XXI, the dogs are 20-7-2 ATS on Super Bowl Sunday. Times have changed since the early days of the NFL’s annual championship game. Your best bet is, in most cases, to fade the public.
How to Read Super Bowl Odds
Before you log onto your favorite online sportsbook to get down on the big game, make sure you know what you’re doing. Understand the odds, types of bets available, and how much you can win with each bet.
Bookmakers give odds to even out the bets. So, for example, if the sportsbook offers a 50/50 proposition, they’re going to add some juice to guarantee the house wins. Remember, they’re in the business of making money just like you are.
The goal of any sportsbook is to get even action on both sides for each bet. When this happens, the house wins regardless of the outcome of the game. Let’s take a look at how this works with a hypothetical example.
|Wagers on Favorite||Wagers on Underdog||Total Wagers||Odds|
In this scenario, the sportsbook has taken in $22,000 in bets on the point spread. We’ll assume the favorite covers, so that’s $11,000 in revenue generated off those betting on the underdog. Now, because of the -110 odds ($110 to win $100), the casino will lose $10,000 on the players betting the favorite. That means the house turned a $1,000 profit ($11,000 – $10,000).
Not every wager, however, has -110 odds. Take the moneyline for example. Instead of betting on the point spread, you can bet on either of the teams to win the game outright. In this case, you will get exceptional odds on the underdog and lousy odds on the favorite. But if you have confidence in the underdog to win the game, you could win a lot of money.
Here’s how the moneyline works. Let’s say Kansas City is the moneyline favorite at -240 against the underdog New Orleans (+220). If you’re confident in New Orleans winning this hypothetical game, a $100 bet would pay $220 for a $120 profit. Whereas, should you wager on the Chiefs, you’d need to bet $240 just to turn a $100 profit.
So, you’ll win less with the same bet on the favorite as you would on the underdog. But, there’s a caveat. The underdog, over time, is going to win less often than the favorite straight up. Against the spread, that’s a different story, as we’ve discussed.