Super Bowl Bettors Flip the Favorite

The bookies like the Seahawks. The bettors like the Broncos.

Seattle opened as early favorites in numerous Las Vegas sports books Sunday night, only to have the early action transform the minus next to the Seahawks to a plus. Within hours of featuring the Seahawks as a 1.5- to 2-point favorite, casinos had shifted the favorite to the Broncos in response to a flood of wagers on Denver. Less than twenty-four hours after the settling of the Super Bowl matchup, Denver has settled in as the slight favorite. Footballlocks.com, for instance, currently shows Denver favored by 2 points, a margin reflected by numerous Las Vegas oddsmakers.

This means for a bet on the Broncos to win, Denver must win the game by more than 2 points and the Seahawks could still lose the game by 1 point and their backers would still collect on their bets. Pushes have occurred twice in Super Bowl history, in 1998 when Green Bay failed to cover in beating New England 35-21 and two years later when St. Louis held on to beat Tennessee, but not the spread, 23-17.

The over-under total for the game stands at 48, meaning a gambler taking the “over” wins if the total score exceeds that amount and a gambler taking the “under” wins if the total fails to exceed 48. The total, historically low for recent Super Bowls, reflects Seattle’s defensive prowess and the cold-climate venue. Though bettors tend to favor “over” bets, Super Bowl totals have split evenly between going “over” and “under.”

The good news for the millions of viewers who aren't degenerate gamblers is that Las Vegas, and gamblers in general, anticipate this Super Bowl to be a close, competitive game.

Historically, Super Bowl lines have ranged from lows of Miami -1 against Washington in Super Bowl VII and San Francisco -1 against Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI to a high of San Francisco -18.5 against San Diego in Super Bowl XXIX. The favorites covered in each of those games. Overall, Super Bowl favorites boast a 26-19-2 record against the spread. Underdogs, however, have had more recent success, taking five of the last six contests.


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