Super Bowl Teaser Bets: Why You Shouldn’t Tease the Spread & Total in Bengals vs. Rams
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: A Super Bowl LVI logo outside of SoFi Stadium.
My wife is the definition of a casual bettor.
She wagers on sports for pure entertainment, as some of you probably do as well. You might relate to her approach for almost every single primetime game of teasing the side and total of her liking. While it may be fun, it’s generally a terrible bet.
So, while I hate to be a downer, I feel obliged to explain the math of why you shouldn’t tease the Super Bowl before you choose to heed my advice or not as the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals face off at SoFi Stadium.
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Let’s start off with the basics. In order to break even on a six-point teaser at -110, you need teams that have a greater than 72.4% chance of covering after being teased. At -130 odds, that hurdle rate increases to 75.2%.
If we look back in our Action Labs database, all NFL regular-season and postseason spreads since 2003 covered only 68.7% of the time if teased six points (6,876-3,123). That’s clearly well below the hurdle rates at both teaser price levels in a sample size of just under 10,000 games.
What About For the 2022 Super Bowl Spread?
In order to increase the sample size, let’s look at spreads between 3.5 and five points during both the regular season and playoffs since 2003.
Favorites in that range have covered a six-point close 67.8% of the time (702-333), while underdogs have at a 69.7% clip (387-168). That gives us a total of 1089-501 or 68.4%, which doesn’t even come close to the breakeven rate of 72.4% if you could even get a teaser at -110 odds.
Underdogs in this range have logically had more success since teasing a favorite between 3.5 and five points involves teasing across zero, which you should never do — especially in the playoffs. Since there is no possibility of a tie in the postseason, you are paying to tease across a margin of zero that has a 0% chance of hitting.
The lesser of two evils is teasing the Bengals up to over 10, but neither makes mathematical sense. Plus, with only one football game left, you’d have to pair one of these sides with the total of your preference, which makes even less sense.
Don’t Ever Tease Totals
NFL totals simply don’t fall on certain numbers or within a specific range enough to justify the math. There are key numbers to be aware of when betting over/unders, but they don’t hit frequently enough for a tease to make mathematical sense.
To put some numbers to this stance, let’s focus on historic totals (since 2003) between 47-49, which does include a key total number of 47 and also captures where this particular total currently sits.
Overs in this range when teased six points have covered 67.3% of the time (495-240), while unders have at a rate of 70.0% (518-221). Neither comes close to the required hurdle rate — although the under has been the better proposition.
The one possible exception when teasing a side and total in the same game is if you believe they are correlated — usually an underdog paired with an under and/or a favorite paired with an over — but that’s a conversation for another day since I just don’t think that’s applicable for this particular game.
When Do Teasers Make Sense?
The only time it ever really makes sense to tease in the NFL is by doing so with two sides when crossing both three and seven — the two biggest key numbers.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, you can give yourself an edge without taking anything else into account by simply crossing both three and seven (and in turn four and six) with both parts of a teaser at up to -130 odds. You may hear some bettors refer to doing this as the good ol’ Wong teaser (in reference to Stanford Wong).
NFL regular-season and postseason underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 covered a six-point teaser 75.9% of the time (391-124). And favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 have historically covered at a slightly higher clip of 76.4% (233-72). That gives us a total of 624-196 or 76.1%, which easily clears the 72.4% hurdle rate at -110 and barely edges the breakeven rate of 75.2% for -130 odds.
Those results capture the closing lines on all teams in those specific spread ranges. If you consider a few other factors (such as the total), you can increase your odds even more.
Don’t Tease the Super Bowl
That’s the conclusion here.
However, if you are just going to ignore everything I say and still want to tease the Super Bowl (like my wife inevitably will), the historical numbers suggest your best option is to tease the Bengals with the under.
It would still be a negative EV bet, so I’d strongly recommend allocating your money elsewhere, especially with such an extensive menu of wagering options. But at least you wouldn’t be committing the cardinal sin of teasing through zero by including the Rams.
Lastly, this game is destined to end with every possible teaser leg cashing since I wrote this piece.