When it comes to sports betting, no single event garners more wagering action than the Super Bowl. The annual coronation of the National Football League’s champion is much more than just any old football game. Bettors have the opportunity to play an extensive list of proposition wagers that involve pregame festivities, the halftime entertainment, and of course the actual game itself. While the Super Bowl is known for prop bets, it is important not to lose sight of traditional football wagering options that are available for the Big Game as well. This includes over/under or points totals odds. This article examines Super Bowl Over/Under odds and intricacies such as how to read them, finding value among them, over/under trends from prior Super Bowls, and more.
Super Bowl Over/Under Odds 101
So just what are Super Bowl over/under odds? In sports betting, there are three primary ways to bet on a game. These include the moneyline (picking a team to win the game outright), point spread (picking a team to cover a points line set by the sportsbook), and over/unders. Over/under plays involve betting on whether or not the combined total score for the game will land over or under a set line. It is important to remember that this is not a single team’s total points for the game, but rather the combined total points scored by both teams.
Over/under bets are commonly referred to as totals bets thanks to the nature of the wager. Where totals wagers differ greatly from the moneyline and spread is that the outright winner of the game does not matter. A massive underdog can score an upset, or the market favorite can win convincingly. In either case, all an over/under wager is concerned with is the total amount of points scored in the game.
How to Read Super Bowl Over/Under Odds
For an example of Super Bowl over/under odds, let’s look at the lines for Super Bowl LIV which was played between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
The over/under odds for the game are found in the third column, to the right of the point spread odds. While it is necessary to look at the individual team lines to decipher the moneyline and point spread, notice that the over/under number remains the same on both lines. This makes sense given that it is a bet on the total combined points and not those of one individual team.
The set over/under line of 52.5 is the point total around which a wager is based. Like the point spread, standard over/under wagers carry a -110 price. As money comes in on one side or the other, sportsbooks might adjust the juice or even the over/under line itself to help maintain balance. For this reason, the number is listed twice, with the price for the over on top and the under on the bottom.
How Super Bowl Over/Under Odds Are Calculated
Given that the Super Bowl is the culmination of the entire NFL season, the two teams participating will already have played at least 18 games. While having a season’s worth of stats, data, and film can be helpful for bettors in deciphering where to fire on the Super Bowl, one must also remember that the oddsmakers also have access to those same resources. As a result, Super Bowl odds have the chance of being that much more accurate.
When calculating Super Bowl over/under odds, it is important to project how each team’s respective offense and defense will matchup up against the opponent’s. If a high-scoring offense finds itself facing off against the league’s top defense in the Super Bowl, there is a chance that points might not be as easy to come by. On the flip side, the offense could steal the show and the highly-rated defense may wind up surrendering far more points than was typical throughout the season sample size.
Looking back on each teams’ totals throughout the season can aid in calculating Super Bowl odds as well. While it’s impossible to project the future outcome ahead of time, tracking a team’s total points in games across a season, as well as how they fared against the over/under betting market all season can yield vital information.
Finally, the injury status of individual players can play a role. With the Super Bowl coming at the very end of the season, most teams are likely to have a full complement of players, minus those who suffered some sort of season-ending injury. The presence or absence of a few key stars in the lineup can alter the outlook on the number of points a team figures to score or allow.
Finding Value in Super Bowl Over/Under Odds
The process of searching for value amongst Super Bowl over/under odds should not look much different from that used throughout the NFL season. Staying the course, trusting your research, and carefully noting line movement are all key to over/under betting. Refer to the image below for a checklist of things to consider when attempting to find betting value. Each item on the list is discussed briefly in the subsections that follow.
Team Points Scored and Allowed
Familiarity with the average points scored and allowed statistics for the teams in question is a key piece to gaining an edge on a totals offering. One tip for weighing previous point outputs both for and against a team is to be on the lookout for outlying numbers. If a total is significantly higher or lower than the other numbers, it should be considered an outlier and not weighted heavily (or at all) when handicapping future over/under plays.
As is the case with point spread or moneyline handicapping, it is necessary to distinguish an expected game script when considering over/under wagers. Teams with high-flying offenses could be running up and down the field and scoring points at will over four quarters. On the contrary, a stifling defense has the potential to dictate the course of an entire game. Placing over/under bets blindly is not advised. Spend time watching the teams in question for any insight you might be able to glean on how their games tend to unfold.
Matchup Strengths and Weaknesses
Knowing how the teams in question matchup against one another is very important for over/under handicapping. Matchups should be considered at both the broad level of offense vs. defense and at the more specific level of individual player battles. For instance, a team might not be known for putting up a ton of points, but scoring could come easier in a game where their polished receivers and strong-armed quarterback will be going up against a banged-up and vulnerable secondary.
Believe it or not, studying the trends and decision-making of coaches is one of the most important parts of a sound over/under handicapping strategy. Oddsmakers know what they are doing when they create the lines on a game. With this in mind, it is fair to expect many games to finish right around the over/under. The decisions of coaches could be what ultimately sways the bet. An aggressive coach who isn’t afraid to go for it on fourth and short or take a shot at a 2-point conversion gives his team a greater chance of scoring more points than a passive coach who never considers going for 2 after a score and is content to settle for a field goal when a drive stalls. Being familiar with the tendencies of each coach in question has the potential to prove invaluable.
Fade the Public
Fading the pubic and betting with a contrarian attitude is not a bad strategy in general. When it comes to over/under wagering, especially in the Super Bowl, there’s a lot to be said for going against the grain. The public will almost always be on the over of a game total. Everyone likes to see points scored. Recreational bettors who aren’t wagering with an opinion are prone to betting with their hearts. Just as a public bettor might back his/her team to win because they want it to happen, so to will they back the over on a game total. Heavy traffic in one direction can lead to inflated lines and provide even better value for those who choose to fade the public market.
Super Bowl Over/Under Betting Trends
There is a long list of betting trends that have been recorded specifically for the Super Bowl. Among them are over/under trends. The only Super Bowl that is not a part of the data is Super Bowl I, as there was no total posted for the game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
General handicapping knowledge states to never bet solely on the back of any trend. For those who might be tempted to do so anyway, there is a silver lining in that neither the over nor the under has gained any substantial edge when it comes to the Super Bowl. After 53 editions of the Big Game for which an over/under line was created, the over has hit 27 times and the under 26, an equal success rate for both sides.
The past 20 seasons have been a microcosm of the overall equal success rate for both the over and under in the Super Bowl. Each has cashed 10 times apiece over that span. In the last ten Super Bowls, the over has hit 6 times, while the under has cashed in each of the last two seasons (2019, 2020) and three of the last five. Refer to the images below for a look at how the points total played out in each Super Bowl.
Super Bowl Over/Under Odds FAQ
Where can I find Super Bowl over/under odds?
Super Bowl over/under odds will be available at any sportsbook taking action on the NFL’s championship game. Once you decide on a book, the odds will be easy to find. Look for them to be listed right along with the moneyline and point spread odds for the game.
When is the best time to wager on the Super Bowl over/under?
While jumping on the opening line ensures that you get the purest form of the number, it may not yield the most value. With many people betting on the Super Bowl, there is a real chance that line movement could create a number with better value than the initial odds.
How do I determine whether to bet the Super Bowl over or under?
Remember that you should never bet just to bet. A wager on the Super Bowl game total should only be made after conducting thorough research on the game, teams, and other relevant factors. Try to visualize in your mind how the game will play out when taking a betting position.
Can a strong opinion on a Super Bowl over/under wager lead to more betting opportunities?
Yes! If you are confident in your over/under bet, there are bound to be other bets on the board to consider. The endless list of Super Bowl props allows a real opportunity to exploit a strong lean on the game in multiple ways.
How many times has the Super Bowl gone over?
In the 53 Super Bowls for which a points total line has been set, the game has gone over the total 27 times.
What side holds the longest consecutive winning streak for Super Bowl over/under betting?
The over holds a one-game lead in the overall standings, but the under holds the longest winning streak in the Super Bowl points total battles. From 1969-1975, Super Bowls III-IX all went under the total, a run of 7 straight.