The spread rarely matters in the Super Bowl
Last season, the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl but failed to cover as 4.5-point favorites in a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. When you look at the recent history of the NFL and the Super Bowl, this result was quite aberrant.
Earlier this NFL season, I wrote about how the spread rarely comes into play when betting on the NFL. In other words, the underdog usually wins or the favorite covers the number. It’s rare for a favorite to win the game but fail to cover the spread. In these playoffs, we’ve seen six favorites win and cover, three underdogs win, and three favorites win but not cover.
When you look at recent Super Bowl history, these results are even more pronounced. If you like Kansas City winning the Super Bowl, I’d consider passing on the 1.5 points the bettors give you.
Spread rarely matters
Last season, Cooper Kupp scored a touchdown with 1:25 left to give the Los Angeles Rams a 23-20 lead over the Cincinnati Bengals. In the Bengals’ ensuing practice, a fourth save from Aaron Donald and the Rams defense ensured that was the final score. Los Angeles won the Super Bowl but failed to cover the spread as a 4.5-point betting favorite.
It was the first time since 2009 that the betting favorite had won the match but failed to cover the spread. The most recent example before last season was the Pittsburgh Steelers who won 27-23 over the Arizona Cardinals but failed to cover as a 7-point favorite. This match featured Santonio Holmes’ incredible catch in the end zone late. Kurt Warner’s strip-sack by LaMarr Woodley in the final seconds secured the victory in Pittsburgh.
Here’s a list of every Super Bowl in between:
Super Bowl LV: Buccaneers win 31-9 over Chiefs, win outright as 3-point underdogs
Super Bowl LIV: Chiefs win 31-20 over 49ers, cover as 1.5-point favorites
Super Bowl LIII: Patriots win 13-3 over Rams, covered as 2.5-point favorites
Super Bowl LII: Eagles win 41-33 over Patriots, win outright as 4-point underdogs
Super Bowl LI: Patriots win 34-28 over Falcons, covered as 3-point favorites
Super Bowl L: Broncos win 24-10 over Panthers, win outright as 5-point underdogs
Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots win 28-24 over Seahawks, game was a pick’em
Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks win 43-8 over Broncos, win outright as 2.5-point underdogs
Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens win 34-31 over 49ers, win outright as 4.5-point underdogs
Super Bowl XLVI: Giants win 21-17 over Patriots, win outright as 2.5-point underdogs
Super Bowl XLV: Packers win 31-25 over Steelers, cover as 3-point favorites
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints win 31-17 over Colts, win outright as 5-point underdogs
The story continues
If you like Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, place the dots rather than taking the moneyline based on NFL history. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) The trend goes back even further
Recent history shows that the gap has only counted in one of the last 13 Super Bowls. If you go back to the start of the Super Bowl era, the results are not much different.
Through 56 Super Bowls, the favorite has won and covered in 29 of them. Eighteen other times, the outsider won. Twice the end result landed exactly on the spread, leading to a push. Overall, only seven times in 56 years has the favorite won the match but failed to cover the gap. In other words, the spread only counted 12.5% of the time. It’s not much different from what we’ve seen in recent regular seasons in the NFL.
Last year, the spread came into play. This could lead to recency bias or fear. However, the long term results speak for themselves. If you like the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, you’re probably better off taking them on the moneyline at +105 instead of taking the 1.5 points and putting down -110. If you like the Eagles, place the point and a half at -110 and don’t pay the extra juice on the moneyline at -125.