This is part 2.5 in our week-long Super Bowl deep dive on the betting aspects of the game. In PA and can’t bet online yet? That’s cool, find out when you can here, or just read the piece for an insightful, numbers-based preview of the game. Yesterday, we covered prop bets. Today, the Super Bowl over-under.
Line Movement and Betting Action on the Total
Super Bowl 53 hasn’t drawn even action in the early going. The money has steadily poured in on the Patriots with 80% of the total handle backing New England at most sportsbooks. While the disparity isn’t quite as drastic in terms of the over-under, bettors are still strongly favoring the under with the game just a few days away. The total opened at a strong 58.5, but has since plunged to 56.5 at most houses as of Tuesday morning. Even with a notable downward surge, 57% of the reported handle across various books remains on the under. In fact, DraftKings Sportsbook reported on Monday afternoon that 64% of the total bets and 76% of the handle (money) were on the over at 56.5, but the line actually dropped to all the way to 56 by the next day.
Still, I would be shocked if money on the over doesn’t come in as we inch closer to kickoff. Keep in mind that the general public typically wants to bet the over and there exists some value created by the sizable downward line movement.
Where to Bet the Total in New Jersey
If you haven’t already done so, I strongly advise that prospective bettors take advantage of the different promotions and free bet offers at the various legal New Jersey sportsbooks. Always compare the different offerings before locking in your plays. Lines and prices often vary across the board, and just like with any purchase, it’s important to get the best deal possible. For those looking to hit the over, DraftKings, FanDuel, and 888sport currently offer it at 56 (-110), while those on the under can grab it at 56.5 (-110) with BetStarsNJ.
Why You Should Bet the Over
Oddsmakers came out hot by setting the opening total at 58.5, thus making it the highest opening total in Super Bowl history. Even with the line sitting at 56.5, it still has a chance to match or surpass the previous high closing number of 57 we saw in Super Bowl 51 between the Patriots and Falcons. There’s a reason for this. The Patriots come in averaging 39.5 points and 511 yards per game in their two playoff wins, while the Rams have averaged 28 points and 419 yards per contest this postseason. Furthermore, the high opening total has usually foreshadowed big-time offense. Since the 2003 season, the over is 33-25-1 in games when the total opens between 55-59 points.
Both units have also been excellent on third down in recent weeks. The Patriots have converted 56.82% of their third down opportunities over the last three games, while the Rams are converting 48.84% during the same stretch. Certainly, both of these offenses are among the game’s elite, but both teams also feature generous defensive units. New England has allowed a 75% red zone touchdown rate over the last three weeks. That’s brutal. The Rams, meanwhile, have allowed 30 or more points a staggering seven times this season. Consider that 138 total points have been scored in the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl appearances and that now they’re playing a Rams team averaging 32.4 points per game this season, and, well, that sounds like a recipe for points. And don’t forget about this:
Nickell Robey-Coleman: Age has taken a toll on Tom Brady https://t.co/BVYfJceOf5
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 28, 2019
Yes. Yes. Age has definitely taken a toll. For him to still be doing it, that’s a great compliment for him. But I think that he’s definitely not the same quarterback he was,” Robey-Coleman said. “Movement. Speed. Velocity. Arm strength. He still can sling it, but he’s not slinging it as much. Whatever he was doing—because of his age and all that—he’s not doing as much of that anymore. He’s still doing the same things; he’s just not doing as much of it. And sometimes, it’s not the sharpest. But it still gets done.
Brady thrives on shit like this. If there’s anything else like this coming from the Rams this week, heed this advice:
HAMMER. THE. OVER.
Anyway, what about that declining total? Should bettors be scared of the declining total? Not at all. Since 2004, the under is only 4-6 in Super Bowls in which the total decreases. In fact, since that same season, the direction in which the line has moved is only 6-8; thus, there has been no recent historical correlation between line movement on the total and the outcome.
One thing that I wanted to explore was how the tight game spread has impacted the total in recent Super Bowls. What I found was interesting. In the last seven Super Bowls with a spread of three points or less, the over is 6-1. Close games equal points scored. And so do NFC West teams. The last four Super Bowls featuring a team from that division have seen at least 50 total points scored with the over going a perfect 4-0.
Whether the roof of Mercedes Benz Stadium is open or closed may also impact the total. Current forecasts call for 60 degree temperatures, but there’s a considerable chance of precipitation, which may keep the roof closed. If that’s the case, you should know that since 2003 the over is 14-7 in games quarterbacked by Tom Brady in a dome, while its 3-3 in games quarterbacked by Jared Goff. In this case, I’m willing to put more stock into the substantial sample size of Brady’s track record in dome games.
You have probably heard a lot about the Patriots’ notorious Super Bowl slow starts. Amazingly, they have managed only a total of three points in the first quarter in the eight Brady/Belichick Super Bowls. In fact, Super Bowl 52 was the duo’s first appearance in which they managed to get on the board early. But don’t let the slow start narrative fool you– New England totaled 140 yards of offense in the first quarter against the Eagles last February, so don’t take it as a foregone conclusion that they will start slow this time around.
And finally, let’s talk about referee John Parry. Those backing the over in Parry games this season were generally profitable with the over cashing in 9 of his 15 games. This will be Parry’s 8th postseason game, with four of the first seven hitting the over.
Why You Should Bet the Under
Let’s start here:
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 28, 2019
You don’t show up with this type of swag and let an opponent drop 30+ on your defense. Facts.
If you’re not sold, let’s look a little closer. Despite the prolific offenses of both teams, the over is only 9-9 in Rams games this season and 7-11 in Patriots games. The over is only 6-11 when New England is favored, and only 1-3 in their non-conference games. Meanwhile, the over is 2-7 this season when the Rams play outside of Los Angeles. Yikes.
It’s worth noting that aggressive Super Bowl totals have historically led to successful under plays. In Super Bowls with the 10 highest closing totals, the over is only 3-6-1, so don’t make the mistake of saying “the high number tells me all I need to know.” There have only been three Super Bowls with a closing total of at least 54.5, and the under is 2-1 in those games. The only Super Bowl that surged over the total with a number that high was Super Bowl 51– and overtime was needed to get there.
The under has also been the better play in Brady quarterbacked games with a similar total. In contests with a closing total between 50-59.5 since 2003, the under is 31-26-2. When that range increases from 55-59.5 the under is 10-5. So historically speaking, Brady hasn’t been good at busting big totals. Meanwhile, the Rams under Sean McVay have been even worse. The under has hit in seven of the eight contests in which the spread opened between 52.5-59 with McVay at the helm.
One more miscellaneous trend to know. In the last 10 Super Bowls in which the AFC was favored, the under is 6-4. There is also this:
Tom Brady leads a "we're still here" chant and follows it up with a mic drop. Off to Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/j6w4Sv0Wfd
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 27, 2019
I respect Brady, and his “Still Here” trolling video with Rob Gonkrowski was worth at least five points on Super Bowl offense, but I thought this was kind of lame. Going to say it’s worth at least a seven-point deduction.
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