The Complete Betting History of the Super Bowl
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images. Pictured: Lombardi Trophy
The complete betting history of the Super Bowl! All in one neat file: from Vince Lombardi and the Packers covering the lofty 14-point spread in Super Bowl I to Tom Brady winning his record sixth ring in Super Bowl LIII.
We bring you everything you need to know about the history of the big game through the prism of betting, such as…
- What was the largest point spread upset?
- How old was the youngest quarterback to cover in a Super Bowl?
- What about the biggest line move?
Let’s get started.
Big Picture: Faves vs. Dogs, Overs vs. Unders
Favorites: 34-19 SU and 26-25-2 ATS
Over: 26-25-1 (there was no O/U in Super Bowl 1)
Favorites have accumulated a 34-19 (64.2%) straight up record in Super Bowl history, but that number dips down to 51% when we pay attention to the number that matters … the spread. Totals in Super Bowl history have been almost a complete wash, with the over having a slight edge.
Biggest Line Move (Opening to Closing Line)
Super Bowl 49: Patriots-Seahawks
Record: 3.5 points
This point spread opened with the Seahawks laying 2.5 points, but eventually closed with the Patriots as 1-point favorites. New England won, 28-24, after Russell Wilson was intercepted at the goal line by Malcolm Butler.
Super Bowl: 7, 8, 9 and 35
Imagine the amazing newspaper headlines in 1975 after the third consecutive Super Bowl had a total of exactly 33. In all three games the total stayed under, with the underdog and losing team not scoring more than a single touchdown.
The total of 33 was duplicated again in Super Bowl 35 between the Ravens and Giants, where Baltimore covered the over all by themselves in a 34-7 victory.
Largest Point Spread Differential
Super Bowl 48: Seahawks-Broncos
Record: 36.5 points
Seattle opened as the favorite and then people remembered Peyton Manning was the quarterback of the other team. Denver ended up closing as 1.5-point favorites but lost the game, 43-8. In Super Bowl history, there have been five games with a spread differential of 30 or more and three were against the Broncos.
Largest Point Spread Upset
Super Bowl 3: Jets-Colts
Record: 18 points
Pretty fitting. The first game to actually be called the “Super Bowl” produces the biggest upset in the game’s history.
Three days before kickoff, Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed victory as an 18-point underdog over the Colts. The Jets won 16-7, and completed the biggest upset in Super Bowl history.
Largest Over/Under Differential
Super Bowl 53: Patriots-Rams
Record: 39.5 points
Tom Brady’s sixth Super Bowl ring was a low scoring affair. Super Bowl 53 between the Patriots and Rams closed at 55.5, the third-highest Over/Under in Super Bowl history. Six total points were scored through the first three quarters and the Patriots ended up winning the game, 13-3, the lowest scoring Super Bowl in the history of the game.
Point Spread Push
Super Bowl 31 and 34: Packers-Patriots and Rams-Titans
In Super Bowl 31, the Packers were 14-point favorites against the Patriots. They defeated New England 35-21, becoming the first Super Bowl in history to push the closing point spread. Green Bay backers had a chance late, but Chris Jacke missed a 47-yard field goal with about four minutes left.
Three years later it happened again. The Rams were 7-point favorites against the Titans when Tennessee got to the goal-line before McNair-to-Dyson fell just short. Rams won 23-16, pushing the spread for the second time in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl 33: Broncos-Falcons
Broncos-Falcons in Super Bowl 33 was the only game in history to push the total. Denver beat Atlanta 34-19, scoring 53 total points without either team scoring a single point in the third quarter. Both teams erupted for 30 points in the fourth quarter, including 17 points from John Elway and Co., burning the souls of under bettors everywhere.
Largest Point Spread
Super Bowl 3 and 29: Jets-Colts and 49ers-Chargers
Record: 18 points
The two quarterbacks on both favorites that induced these high point spreads — Johnny Unitas (Colts) and Steve Young (49ers) — were probably more interesting than the teams themselves.
In Super Bowl 3, the Colts ended up on the wrong end of the biggest upset in history. In Super Bowl 29, Steve Young threw for six touchdowns, including four in the first half en route to a trouncing of the Chargers.
Smallest Point Spread
Super Bowl 16 and 49: 49ers-Bengals and Patriots-Seahawks
Record: 1 point
Only twice in Super Bowl history has a point spread closed at just a single point. In Super Bowl 16, the Bengals were 1-point favorites over the 49ers and San Francisco dominated the majority of the game despite the close final score (26-21). Just six years ago, the Pats closed as 1-point favorites after opening as 2.5-point underdogs (see, Malcolm Butler).
Most Wins Against The Spread
Dallas Cowboys (5): Super Bowl 6, 10, 12, 27, 28
Pittsburgh Steelers (5): Super Bowl 9, 13, 14, 30, 40
Both the Cowboys and Steelers had very different journeys on the way to five ATS Super Bowl wins.
Pittsburgh covered their five Super Bowls by a total of 19.5 points, while the Cowboys stomped on their opponents, covering the spread by 63.5 points in their five Super Bowl covers (12.7 PPG).
Because I know everyone is wondering, the Patriots have four Super Bowl covers, as they are 4-6-1 against the spread in eleven appearances, and tied with the Giants and 49ers in that tier.
Most Against The Spread Losses
New England Patriots (6): Super Bowl 20, 38, 39, 42, 46, 52
Runner-up… Denver Broncos (5): Super Bowl 12, 21, 22, 24, 48
When you’ve made 11 Super Bowl appearances, there is a chance you are going to end up on this list. The Patriots are 4-6-1 against the spread in the Super Bowl, the most losses against the spread of any team.
When the question “Who has the worst ATS Super Bowl history?” is asked, the answer is pretty simple. The Denver Broncos.
Denver has been on the wrong side of the three worst ATS losses in Super Bowl history (Super Bowls 22, 24, 48), which also happens to be their last three losses in the game. The Broncos have failed to cover the spread by a whopping 125.5 points in their five Super Bowl losses (25.1 PPG), none coming by a touchdown or less.
Against The Spread Margin Within One Score
21 games with less than 7-point ATS differential
In 21 of 53 Super Bowls, the final against the spread margin has been less than seven points (39.6%), meaning the team who covered could have theoretically lost near the end of the game.
Crossing Through a “Key Number”
Two games have crossed through a key number (3, 7, 10, 14 and 17) and two have crossed through zero, where both teams have been favorites.
Key number represents the most common margins of defeat, and is used frequently in football where many games end with one team winning by a multiple of three or seven.
Super Bowl 13: Steelers-Cowboys
Line move: opened Steelers -2.5 | closed Steelers -3.5
Super Bowl 28: Cowboys-Bills
Line move: opened Cowboys -9 | closed Cowboys -10.5
Super Bowl 48: Seahawks-Broncos
Line move: opened Seahawks -1 | closed Broncos -1.5
Super Bowl 49: Patriots-Seahawks
Line move: opened Seahawks -2.5 | closed Patriots -1
Four times in Super Bowl history, the spread crossed over the key numbers of 3, 7, 10, 14 or 17 between the opening and closing point spreads, or crossed through zero.
Three of the four times the line movement has predicted the SU and ATS winner, with the exception being Super Bowl 48, when the Broncos closed as favorites and lost 43-8.
(Note: this does not include line movement, just the opening and closing spreads themselves)
Youngest QB to Cover the Spread
Super Bowl 40: Ben Roethlisberger
Age: 23 years old
In his second year in the league, 23-year-old Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory and a cover, despite a lackluster performance with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Roethlisberger went on to win the Super Bowl again at the age of 26, despite not covering the spread against the Cardinals in that game.
Oldest QB to Cover the Spread
Super Bowl 50: Peyton Manning
Age: 39 years old
The oldest quarterback to cover a Super Bowl was Peyton Manning four years ago in Super Bowl 50 against the Panthers. Three quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl at the age of 38 or older and they are 3-1 SU and ATS.
Brady in Super Bowl 51, Manning in Super Bowl 50 and John Elway in Super Bowl 33 got the wins, while Brady in Super Bowl 52 was the first to lose in this spot.
Teams to Win Super Bowl, But Not Cover the Spread
Steelers: Super Bowl 10, 43
49ers: Super Bowl 23
Cowboys: Super Bowl 30
Patriots: Super Bowl 38, 39
Six times in Super Bowl history has a team won the game SU, but failed to cover the point spread. It first occurred in Super Bowl 10, when Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers beat the Cowboys 21-17, but failed to cover the 6.5-point spread.
Bradshaw hit Lynn Swann for a touchdown with just under four minutes left in the game to put Pittsburgh up 21-10. But in just over a minute, Dallas drove down the field in five plays and four pass completions to cut the lead to 21-17, the final score.
(Note: In Super Bowls 31 and 34, the teams that won pushed the spread)
Most Games Covered By a QB
Tom Brady (4): Super Bowl 36, 49, 51, 53
Joe Montana (3): Super Bowl 16, 19, 24
Roger Staubach (3): Super Bowl 6, 10, 12
Terry Bradshaw (3): Super Bowl 9, 13, 14
Between Brady’s miraculous 25-point comeback in the Super Bowl three years ago against the Falcons to his cover against the Rams last year, Brady has the most covers in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl MVP Whose Team Did Not Cover the Spread
Santonio Holmes: Super Bowl 43
Deion Branch: Super Bowl 39
Tom Brady: Super Bowl 38
Larry Brown: Super Bowl 30
Jerry Rice: Super Bowl 23
Lynn Swann: Super Bowl 10
Chuck Howley: Super Bowl 5
The Super Bowl MVP has not been on the team that covered the spread seven times in the history of the game. The last one to be a part of this unfortunate group was Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl 43, where the Steelers wideout made this catch against Arizona:
(Note: In Super Bowls 31 and 34, Desmond Howard and Kurt Warner’s teams pushed the spread.)
Lowest Seed To Cover the Spread
Super Bowl 40 and 45: Packers and Steelers
Record: 6 seed
Seeding as we know it today began in 1975 with Super Bowl 10 between the Steelers and Cowboys. Since then two No. 6-seeds have covered in the big game.
The Steelers were the first to do it in Super Bowl 40, beating the No. 1-seeded Seahawks and Matt Hasselbeck. Five years later Aaron Rodgers and the Packers repeated the feat, also against the Steelers.
Most Consecutive Super Bowl Games Covered (Team and QB):
Broncos, John Elway: Super Bowls 32 and 33
Cowboys, Troy Aikman: Super Bowls 27 and 28
Steelers, Terry Bradshaw: Super Bowls 13 and 14
Dolphins, Bob Griese: Super Bowls 7 and 8
Packers, Bart Starr: Super Bowls 1 and 2
Brady may have six Super Bowl wins, but one thing he’s never done is cover the point spread in consecutive Super Bowls. Brady and the Patriots had the opportunity to pull off the feat two years against the Eagles, but lost as 4.5-point favorites in Super Bowl 52.
(All spreads are the closing numbers unless specifically listed)