Super Bowl 54 Betting Tip: Should You Take the Moneyline on a 1-Point 49ers vs. Chiefs Spread?

Super Bowl 54 Betting Tip: Should You Take the Moneyline on a 1-Point 49ers vs. Chiefs Spread? article feature image
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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For the second straight year, the Super Bowl spread sits inside of a field goal. That means for the second straight year, the decision for bettors basically comes down to which team will win the game.

That’s especially the case this year, given the 1/1.5-point spread (last year’s closed between 2 and 2.5), but in any case, with such a short margin separating the teams many bettors are probably asking themselves whether they should be taking the spread or the moneyline.

And that’s a very smart question to ask.

If you’re betting the Chiefs, you’d hate to see Mahomes squeak out a 1-point win and be unable to partake in the celebration because you didn’t buy up just a few cents.

Niners backers, on the other hand, are basically banking on a San Francisco win anyway, so why not give up the point for an increased payout? I mean, what are the odds that point will actually matter?

Funny you (I) should ask.

Using Bet Labs, we’re able to track down how often 1/1.5-point spreads actually come into play, which should help you decide how to approach Sunday’s game.

Note: For this exercise, assume an average spread juice of -110, a moneyline split of -125/+105 for a 1.5-point spread and a moneyline split of -120/+100 for a 1-point spread.

If the spread is 1.5 …

And you like the Chiefs:

Since 2003, 78 regular and postseason games have closed with a 1.5-point spread, per Bet Labs. Favorites and underdogs have split the 78-game series straight up (SU), but on three instances the favorite has won by exactly a point.

That means the against-the-spread (ATS) record for favorites is slightly below .500: 36-42-0.

But while neither approach has been profitable, the question is which one has produced a smaller loss over the years.

Taking the favorite on the spread yields …

36 (.909) – 42 (1) = -9.28 units.

Taking the favorite on the moneyline yields …

39 (.8) – 39 (1) = -7.80 units.

History says: Take ’em moneyline.

And you like the 49ers:

On the plus-side of the line, we’ll find both the spread and moneyline to be profitable bets historically. Underdogs of 1.5 points have an ATS record of 42-36-0 and a SU record of 39-39 — the latter coming at a plus-money payout.

This time, the question is which one has been better for bettors.

Taking the underdog on the spread yields …

42 (.909) – 36 (1) = 2.18 units.

Taking the underdog on the moneyline yields …

39 (1.05) – 39 (1) = 1.95 units.

History says: Take the spread.

If the spread is 1 …

And you like the Chiefs:

The 1-point spread has been far more common, giving us a much bigger sample off which to base our decision.

Since 2003, there have been 421 games that closed with a 1-point spread. The favorite has covered in 221 of those, failed to cover in 192, and there have been eight pushes. That leads to a SU record of 229-192-0 (there’s yet to be a tie in one of these games).

Let’s find out which approach has been more profitable.

Taking the favorite on the spread yields …

221 (.909) – 192 (1) + 8 (0) = 8.89 units.

Taking the favorite on the moneyline yields …

229 (.833) – 192 (1) = -1.24 units.

History says: Take the spread.

And you like the 49ers:

The unit counts get a little ugly here, but remember, we’re just looking to compare spread and moneyline results against one another. In theory, we’re going to assume that favorites and underdogs will land around a .500 ATS split in the long term.

As for which 1-point underdog approach has been less bad:

Taking the underdog on the spread yields …

192 (.909) – 221 (1) +8 (0) = -46.47 units.

Taking the underdog on the moneyline yields …

192 (1) – 229 (1) = -37 units.

History says: Take ’em moneyline.

In conclusion …

Interestingly, the mere half-point difference in spread actually changes which bet type is more profitable for both favorites and underdogs … which is something I was not expecting.

However, I’m inclined to believe — given how much larger its sample is — that the results for the 1-point spread are more indicative of how either spread would play out over the long term. In other words: my two cents (if it’s even worth that) would be to take either the Niners moneyline or Chiefs spread this Sunday.

Another interesting note: had this experiment been done before Week 5 of this season (when the Seahawks beat the Rams, 30-29, as 1.5-point favorites), the spread would have come out as the more profitable approach in both of the favorite scenarios, and the moneyline would’ve been more profitable for both underdog cases.

Lastly, there’s a good chance that the Super Bowl 54 spread won’t have a perfect -110 attached to either side. For what it’s worth, this exercise would lead to the same conclusions — though the unit differences may not be as large or small — as long as the increase/decrease for a moneyline payout remained the same (10 cents per point).

Read more on short spreads in Super Bowl history here.

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