Super Bowl Odds & Spread Betting Strategy: Don’t Buy A Half Point Off 3
Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Andy Reid
- A 3-point spread might have you thinking about buying that extra half point for Super Bowl 55.
- Our analyst explains why it's not worth doing for the Chiefs vs. Buccaneers showdown.
If you’ve stumbled onto this article (thanks), you’re probably already aware that making a spread bet on Super Bowl 55 means giving a 3-point cushion to the Bucs.
In other words, Bucs bettors would cash in if Tampa either wins the game or loses by fewer than three, while Chiefs backers need KC to win by more than three to earn their winnings.
And if the game ends with a 3-point Kansas City win, well, everyone gets their money back.
That last one may seem like a very specific and unlikely scenario, but, at least relatively speaking, it’s not. Given that field goals are worth three points, a 3-point difference is the most common final-score margin in the NFL.
In fact, since 2003-04 (the start of our Action Labs database), 3-point NFL favorites have won by exactly three points 69 out of a possible 762 games — 9.05% of the time.
Of course, you could ensure that your Super Bowl 55 bet would still win in the case of a 3-point Chiefs victory by buying a half point on the spread. For Chiefs bettors, that means paying a bit more (if you want to return the same amount) to get the Chiefs at -2.5, and the same for Bucs bettors to push Tampa to +3.5.
This article will (hopefully) convince you that’s not a smart move.
Should You Buy a Half Point in Super Bowl 55?
We’ll start by using historical results to gauge the value of buying that half point.
Generally speaking, a half point costs 10 cents (ex. -110 to -120) in NFL betting. But buying off the number 3 is different.
Oddsmakers are well aware of the frequency of 3-point games, so they tend to charge 25 cents (-110 to -135) for a move off this key number. Here’s how that would have affected the 762-game sample on each side of the line.
|Play -3 (-110)||325-368-69||-72.6|
|Buy to -2.5 (-135)||394-368-0||-76.1|
|Play +3 (-110)||368-325-69||+9.5|
|Buy to +3.5 (-135)||437-325-0||-1.3|
In each case, while the record (obviously) improves by adding a half point to your cushion, the returned unit total decreases, as oddsmakers price that half point just high enough to squeeze a bit more out of their users.
Now, the juice in Super Bowl 55 — at least as of writing — isn’t sitting at an even -110 on each side. The Chiefs -3 spread comes with a consensus -115 price tag, while Bucs +3.5 is set at -105. But according to our NFL model, that doesn’t change the conclusion.
The model, used to determine the best available odds in a market where spreads aren’t always uniform, equates a -3 spread at -115 to a -2.5 spread at -133 — an 18-cent difference. On the other side, a +3 spread at -105 holds the same value as +3.5 at -121 — an even smaller, 16-cent difference.
In other words, neither option is worth the 25 cents of juice that you’ll have to pay sportsbooks to boost your spread this weekend. Unless you’ve got access to a book selling half points for 15 cents, your smartest option is to stick with the listed spread, and accept a 9% chance of a wash.