Expert Guide to Super Bowl Betting Sites
The Super Bowl is the best and biggest event in pro sports for a reason. It's no surprise that it gets more betting action than any other single sporting event. That's just one reason it's extremely important to only bet at the most legit and reputable Super Bowl betting sites.
It takes the top two teams in arguably the most entertaining sport (pro football), produces an ultimate world champion, celebrates the event before and during with Super Bowl commercials and the halftime show, and offers a litany of bets.
We love the Super Bowl for all those reasons or at least for one specific reason, but possibly the most thrilling could be all the Super Bowl betting that can be done.
Perhaps it's because it's the last NFL game of the year. Maybe we have some kind of personal stake in the game. Whatever the case, "betting" and "Super Bowl" go hand in hand with each other and regardless of how we want the game to play out, we always want that one last shot to win big.
Of course, just like any sports betting, you always want to be sure of the best place to conduct your Super Bowl betting, as well as how to best maximize your bets. To help you out, let's take a look at some of our favorite Super Bowl betting sites, and also try to gauge how to properly place some of the more popular bets:
Our List of the Most Legit Super Bowl Betting Sites for 2017
|Rank||US Betting Site||Sign Up Bonus||Get Started|
|#1||Bovada||50% up to $250||Visit Site|
|#2||SportsBetting.ag||75% up to $1,000||Visit Site|
|#3||BetOnline||50% up to $2,500||Visit Site|
|#4||GTbets||100% up to $250||Visit Site|
|#5||5Dimes||50% up to $200||Visit Site|
As you can see from the table above, there are a lot of Super Bowl betting sites to consider. The world wide web is a vast sea that gives you countless options no matter what you're looking for, and that certainly doesn't change in the online betting spectrum.
The kicker, of course, is knowing which sites you can trust. The ones we've detailed above are reliable, trustworthy, offer some of the best Super Bowl odds, display a wide array of bets and also offer some of the best bonuses and promotions you will find.
It's up to you to decide where you'll be placing your bets, but if you choose the sites above, you won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll actually be rewarded and might win more money than you'd be able to elsewhere.
Super Bowl Betting Sites to Avoid
While we can safely point you to some legit betting websites, we should probably take the time to remind you that there are some real clunkers out there, too. Many recall BetUs bailing on their users and there has been a long (and growing) list of sports betting sites that either close up shop without giving you your cash, or worse - they keep making money without paying out your winnings.
It's not a good feeling to get swindled by online sportsbooks, which is why we're showing you the most legit Super Bowl betting sites around. We want to cover that from both sides, though, so when you're deciding on where to bet on the Super Bowl, perhaps refrain from betting on these sites:
BetUs - Laundry list of horrible stories, from not paying out bets to the company just closing up shop and leaving everyone stranded without their cash. BetUs had a great reputation for years, but that is simply no longer the case.
TonyBet - On the surface this looks like a good sportsbook with a lively site and a plethora of games, but this site has had a litany of slow payment complaints. Things seem to have gotten better, but this one still draws a red flag.
BetNow - BetNow is a little bland and limited at first glance, but this site could actually have a lot of promise. Two things have us stepping back on them, however: weak odds and no experience. They've been around for a very short amount of time and simply can't be trusted yet. We'll keep a close eye on them for down the road, but for now we can't label them a legit betting site to use for Super Bowl betting.
SBG Global - This is another big sportsbook that has been around for a long time (introduced in 1995). Usually longevity means you can trust a betting site, but SBG Global has proven over its long history that it isn't quite as legit as you'd hope. A look at this post on SportsbookReview.com shows a long list of slow or unpaid bets. That's not something we want from our online Super Bowl betting place.
Sports Betting Online - There are countless sites to avoid, but hopefully we're showing you some of the bigger and more popular online sportsbooks that you'll encounter - but should avoid. SportsBettingOnline.ag certainly isn't all bad, but they also don't get our stamp of approval. SBO isn't a terrible online betting site, but they haven't been around for all that long and have a growing history of slow payments or instances where they don't pay at all. They also have ties to WagerWeb, and that's never a good thing.
Rogue Sportsbooks that are No Longer Taking Wagers
The key is to play with the legit betting sites and avoid the scams or sites that are slow to pay out. Even worse than slow payments or sketchy betting websites? Falling prey to an uber scam site that ends up flopping and keeping you from any of your money.
BetIslands - One of the worst ones ever was BetIslands, who burned all of their users back in 2012 when they closed up shop while still owing a ridiculous $1.5 MILLION to their customers. BetIslands never garnered much praise even while running
World Sports Exchange - The online betting entity also known as WSEX folded with over $1 million still owned to customers, which made it extra sketchy, even beyond its regrettable acronym title.
BetOnSports - BetOnSports might be the most famous sportsbook flop ever. BetOnSports was indicted for multiple counts of fraud in 2006 and was officially banned by the U.S. government in the same year. In all, BetOnSports closed still owing an insane $16 million to its users and ended up settling with payments far lower than users were owed.
BetEd - Perhaps only second to BetOnSports, BetED.com was one of the more popular online betting sites and without a doubt one of the biggest sportsbook flops on the internet. Based out of Costa Rica, BetEd only received a marginal grade when active and really lost any remaining luster after being chased by the government on "Blue Monday" back in 2011. The rest is disturbing history, as BetED folded like a lawnchair and even left many of their own employees in the dust.
BetMayor - BetMayor arguably ties with another big online casino flip - EasyStreet - both of which failed to pay massive winners (to the tune of over $40,000) and later closed up shop without paying large sums of money to their users. BetMayor actually rose to mild prominence in 2014, but negative reports about slow payments bled into big winnings never being paid. It didn't take long for things to turn even more sour rather quickly.
The aforementioned five rogue betting sites weren't legit and they weren't safe. Naturally, these are the types of situations we want to avoid and we aim to help you do so if we can.
Super Bowl betting should be about enjoying the big game and potentially making some cash in the process; not hating the experience and fearing the possibility that you'll never see your cash. If you stick with the legit Super Bowl betting sites we've pointed out, that won't be a problem.
A Little History on the Super Bowl
Knowing where to bet on the Super Bowl is key, but so is actually knowing what the game is and how it's come to be. Let's take a quick look at its history:
What is the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl is the yearly championship game played between the winners from the AFC and NFC conferences. Both conferences allow six teams into the NFL playoffs, with division winners occupying four playoff slots in each conference and both conferences giving two spots to "wild card" teams. The two teams with the best records in each conference earn first round "byes", while the top team in each conference is granted home field advantage throughout the playoffs, up until the Super Bowl.
As for the name itself, the creation is credited to Kansas City Chiefs owner, Lamar Hunt. Hunt was one of the original founders of the AFL and suggested the name could replace the initial AFL-NFL World Championship. Hunt is also responsible for listing the games with Roman numerals, rather than basic numbers.
How Did it Get Started?
Looking at the Super Bowl now as we know it, it feels as though it was a heavily planned and well thought out event. In reality, it was merely the cause of football league competition and an inevitable merger.
Due to the NFL' immense success in the 1950's, a rival league, the American Football League (AFL) was formed. With the AFL distracting NFL fans and cutting into the NFL's profits, the two leagues eventually decided to team up, rather than continue working against each other. That ultimately led to the historic NFL/AFL merger, which then gave way to the first ever Super Bowl.
The two leagues were to operate under one name - the NFL - and split the two leagues into the AFC and NFC, the two conferences we know and love today. From that point on, the two best teams from each conference would get together at the end of each season to decide one ultimate champion for the NFL.
When Was the First Super Bowl?
While the AFL/NFL merger actually didn't get finalized until 1970, the two leagues immediately started combining forces and put their already existing competition to good use via the freshly minted Super Bowl.
The first ever Super Bowl (referred to as the NFL-AFL World Championship until the merger was completed) was played between the NFL's Green Bay Packers and the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California on January 15th, 1967.
The NFL's first ever Super Bowl I - didn't display the competitiveness the league quite was aiming for, as Vince Lombardi's Packers trounced Hank Stram's Chiefs, 35-10.
Green Bay entered facing immense pressure to win as the representative for the "true" league - the NFL. The 12-2 Packers responded in a big way, as they scored the game's first points via wide receiver Max McGee and going into half-time with a 14-10 lead. A competitive game blew open from that point on, however, as Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points to run away with the league's first ever title.
The game ending in a blowout in 1967 did two things immediately: it validated the NFL and verified it was the better league of the two and it also forced NFL fans to assume the AFL couldn't compete with the NFL. That sentiment was only enhanced in Super Bowl II, when Green Bay returned to the NFL's biggest game and once again showed how dominant the NFL side was by beating the Oakland Raiders, 33-14.
The AFL did finally prove it's worth just one year later, however, when Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath followed through on his guarantee that his New York Jets (AFL) would beat the Baltimore Colts (NFL). Namath's Jets didn't blow the Colts away like the Packers did in their first two Super Bowls, but they came through in the end, topping Baltimore, 16-7.
The AFL would even the score one year later in 1970, when the Kansas City Chiefs returned to the promised land and beat the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7. One year later, the merger was truly official, with the conferences being renamed the NFC (the new NFL) and the AFC (the new AFC). The AFC would emerge victorious that year, as well, taking Super Bowl V over the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13. The win was the first ever for the AFC and the third straight AFL/AFC title.
The path the Super Bowl has gone on since its inception is truly remarkable, as the NFL/AFL merger was initially more about finances and competition than it was attempting to create one huge product or in the this case, one game to end all games.
That is what ended up happening, while the AFL gradually morphed into the AFC and proved rather quickly that it wasn't just a threat to the NFL/NFC, but it was a worthy foe. In the 50 games NFL fans have been graced with since the league kicked the game off in 1967, we've seen that play out with the NFC side winning 26 times and the AFC winning 24 times.
Which NFL Teams Haven't Won the Big Game?
At what point during the NFL year you want to start your Super Bowl betting is totally up to you. You can throw down bets right before the big game when the final two teams are in, you can bet right when the final 12 playoff teams are announced, you can do so during the middle of the year, or you can bet on the Super Bowl the second the new season's odds come out.
The timing of your betting can be quite crucial, but no matter when/where you place your Super Bowl bets, you'll first want to know the odds of each team based on their franchise's history.
As things stand, 13 NFL teams have yet to win a championship. The Carolina Panthers could have shrunk that number to 12 in Super Bowl 50, but that wasn't to be.
Those 13 teams are:
Of this group, only the Browns, Lions, Jaguars and Texans have never been to the big game.
The other nine teams have been to the final game, with the Bills and Vikings (0-4) both impressively getting to the big game four times. Cincinnati got there twice and lost both games to the 49ers.
Which Teams Have Won the Championship?
As for the winning side, here's a quick rundown of every team who has won a Super Bowl and how many they have:
Betting on the Super Bowl
Our look at data can be for fun and reflection, or you can actually use it to your advantage to betting advantage. Super Bowl betting can be tough and the games - as we've seen - can end up being rather unpredictable. However, a closer look at past games could reveal some nuggets of information that can help us win when we bet on the big game.
Let's first look at some ways you can bet on the Super Bowl, as well as some betting history before we touch on a few things to use to your advantage:
Where Can You Bet on the Super Bowl?
You can bet in Vegas or various online gambling sites. Bovada is without a doubt one of the best online gambling sites to use for betting purposes, but the list is pretty long. Betting on the Super Bowl in Vegas is a lot of fun, too, while there are often bookies you can find locally.
For some specific Super Bowl betting sites to use, just refer to our table above.
What Bets Are Most Popular?
Once you figure out where you're going to bet on the big game, you can then start thinking about what kind of bet you'll be placing. Your options are almost endless, but here are the most popular bets you'll encounter:
- Coin Toss
- Prop Bets
If you're new to sports betting, the Spread, Moneyline and Totals are common betting options for nearly every sport. The Spread allows you to bet on a team based on the oddsmakers spotting points for or against either team. Here's a quick example:
In this case, the +7 Patriots are the underdogs, which means if you bet on them to either win or at least lose by six or fewer points, you would win your bet. Conversely, Seattle is the 7-point favorite in this case. If you bet in favor of the Seahawks, they need to win by more than 7 points for you to win your bet. If Seattle wins by 6, you lose. If Seattle wins by exactly 7, it results in a push.
The Moneyline is a bit different, as you're getting rewarded or penalized based on the odds and which team you're betting on. The underdog usually will award a bigger payout for the risk involved, while the favorite will pay less, depending on how big of a favorite they are.
In this case, the +7 Patriots are the underdogs, which means if you bet on them to either win or at least lose by six or fewer points, you would win your bet. Conversely, Seattle is the 7-point favorite in this case. If you bet in favor of the Seahawks, they need to win by more than 7 points for you to win your bet. If Seattle wins by 6, you lose. If Seattle wins by exactly 7, it results in a push.
In this example, you're getting $205 back on every $100 bet you put down on the Patriots, who are the underdog. Seattle is the favorite and would be paying out far less, so a similar $100 bet in favor of the Seahawks would only return about $40.82.
The Total is another common (and fun) bet to consider. It's pretty simple, as you're simply betting on how many points the two teams will combine to score. Let's use a Total of 51 as an example.
With a Total of 51, you're going to be tasked with either betting the Over or Under. Which way you lean depends on whether you feel the Patriots and Seahawks will combine for more than 51 points, or less.
A great way to come to your final number is to look at past matchups between the specific teams involved, and also look at the average amount of points each team normally scored during the regular season and in the playoffs.
If one or both of the teams have bad offenses or elite defenses, the Under could look more attractive. If both offenses have been known to put up points, the Over could be the way to go.
In addition to the basic Super Bowl bets, you can bet on which way the Coin Toss will go (head or tails), various bets associated with single quarter or half production, as well as a litany of prop bets.
Prop bets can really be anything from seeing a celebrity in the stands, to the first player that scores or to something as trivial as whether or not a player will cry during the National Anthem. What Super Bowl prop bets you conduct may depend on where you bet and what they either have listed or will accept.
While prop bets can be a little risky, they are highly entertaining and depending on which ones you choose, they can also be highly profitable.
In addition to some of these common (but popular) betting options, you can also bet on who will win MVP every year. This is a bet you will be able to place before the game even starts, as well as at some point before the game is over. The MVP odds will naturally alter as the game goes along, and eventually online betting sites will stop taking bets as the potential MVP becomes clearer.
We suggest you normally place your MVP bets ahead of the game, simply because this is when you can jump on the best odds and give yourself a little more upside. Regardless of when you bet on the MVP, however, you'll always want to consider this information that we've stumbled across throughout history:
MVP By Position
The best Super Bowl MVP ever is probably Joe Montana and the best standalone performance probably belongs to Steve Young. It's only fitting, too, since the 49ers are one of the more storied franchises in history, and both of these legends played the quarterback position.
Quarterbacks have been heavily celebrated in the Super Bowl, too, with an astonishing 27 quarterbacks winning the MVP. The quarterback position dominates the 50 years of Super Bowls, but running back and wide receiver performances haven't gone unnoticed. Here's a quick breakdown of how each winning position has fared in the league's title game:
- Quarterbacks (27 MVPs)
- Running Backs (7)
- Wide Receivers (6)
- Defensive (9)
- Special Teams (1)
As we can see, quarterbacks rule the MVP land and running backs and wide receivers are the next closest position, collectively. Through the NFL's first 50 Super Bowls, we've seen an offensive skill position player win the coveted award a whopping 40 times (80%) and quarterbacks have won 54% of the time.
Needless to say, even before the game begins, we can start betting on offensive players and give our chances a serious boost. And if we want one position to target above all others, it's obviously going to be quarterback.
Every team, game and matchup can be unique, of course, so we always want to take into effect team rankings, stats, past history and really as much information as we can that makes sense and could possibly impact our MVP betting.
Of course, we can largely rule out defensive players and special teams, as special teams players have accounted for just one MVP and the two genres make up for just 20% of all MVP winners.
Betting on the Game's MVP
Every game is going to be different in each Super Bowl. The two teams playing in the game tend to be different from year to year, and depending on the matchup and game flow, the MVP can vary.
However, history shows us that offensive players are held in high regard when it comes to who wins the MVP. Not only do offensive players tend to consistently have a greater impact on the points being scored, but they also tend to rack up more statistics.
Given the pressure put on the quarterback position, it makes sense that the position tends to favor well in voting when a passer puts up good numbers.
Here are a few things to consider when betting on the MVP:
- Play for a winner (only one player has ever won in a game where his team lost)
- Offense or bust (40 of 50 MVPs - 80% - have been offensive players)
- Eye on QB (as we've learned, 27 have been quarterbacks - 54%)
- No to defense (defensive players can win, but odds are against them - just 18%)
If you're going into a Super Bowl and betting on the MVP before the game even starts, a good bet will be on the quarterback of the team you think will win. Choosing a secondary offensive player is also a solid bet, as history has shown us.
While those are the safe plays, you could gauge which defensive players or special teams have the best shot at winning the MVP ahead of the game, based on how they've done on the year and what their matchup is. Due to such poor odds, these players aren't great bets, but offer major upside.
In summary, there are two massive correlations with the MVP winner: the MVP comes from the winning team and they usually put up impressive stats.
Due to this, when we bet on the MVP ahead of the game, we'll want to factor into our bet a prolific player who is likely on offense and is on the team we think will emerge victorious.
Super Bowl Betting History
We're not just saying the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event. It truly is, and it's the top event for sports betting on a regular basis, as well. Let's just take a look at some betting history to get a better idea of just how much action hangs around Super Bowl Sunday:
Most Money Bet
It's tough to pinpoint what the most money placed on any one Super Bowl bet is, but we know there have been some massive bets in recent years. One was revealed ahead of Super Bowl 50, with one person throwing down an insane $600,000 bet in favor of the Carolina Panthers. As we learned, the underdog Broncos upset the Panthers, which naturally gave us a huge $600,000 loser.
Someone reportedly set Vegas back a bit back in Super Bowl XLIX, too, with at least one bettor putting down at least $1,000,000 in favor of the Patriots. New England ended up beating Seattle, giving someone a massive payday.
One thing we know for sure, is that Super Bowl L (50) broke the bank when it comes to most collective bets taken at Nevada sportsbooks. Super Bowl 50 took the cake with a whopping $132 million. Vegas took home over $13 million in profit.
Here's a look at the money placed on the big game and how it worked out for Vegas, dating back to 1991, per the Nevada Gaming Commission:
|Year||Amt Wagered||Book w/l||Return||Final Score|
|2017||N/A||N/A||N/A||Patriots 34, Falcons 28|
|2016||$132,545,587||$133,145,39||10.10%||Broncos 24, Panthers 10|
|2015||$115,986,086||$3,261,066||2.80%||Patriots 28, Seahawks 24|
|2014||$119,400,822||$19,673,960||16.50%||Seahawks 43, Broncos 8|
|2013||$9,893,6798||$7,206,460||7.30%||Ravens 34, 49ers 31|
|2012||$93,899,840||$5,064,470||5.40%||Giants 21,Patriots 17|
|2011||$87,491,098||$724,176||0.83%||Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25|
|2010||$82,726,367||$6,857,101||8.29%||New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17|
|2009||$81,514,748||$6,678,044||8.19%||Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23|
|2008||$92,055,833||$-2,573,103||-2.80%||N.Y. Giants 17, New England 14|
|2007||$93,067,358||$12,930,175||13.89%||Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17|
|2006||$94,534,372||$8,828,431||9.34%||Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10|
|2005||$90,759,236||$15,430,138||17.00%||New England 24, Philadelphia 21|
|2004||$81,242,191||$14,440,698||15.31%||New England 32, Carolina 29|
|2003||$71,693,032||$5,264,963||7.34%||Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21|
|2002||$71,513,304||$2,331,607||3.26%||New England 20, St. Louis 17|
|2001||$67,661,425||$11,002,636||16.26%||Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7|
|2000||$71,046,751||$4,237,978||5.97%||St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16|
|1999||$75,986,520||$2,906,601||3.83%||Denver 34, Atlanta 19|
|1998||$77,253,246||$472,033||0.61%||Denver 31, Green Bay 24|
|1997||$70,853,211||$2,265,701||3.20%||Green Bay 35, New England 21|
|1996||$70,907,801||$7,126,145||10.05%||Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17|
|1995||$69,591,818||$-396,674||-57.00%||San Francisco 49, San Diego 26|
|1994||$54,483,221||$7481,541||13.73%||Dallas 52, Buffalo 24|
|1993||$56,811,405||$7,174,869||12.63%||Dallas 52, Buffalo 13|
|1992||$50,334,277||$301,280||60.00%||Washington 37, Buffalo 24|
|1991||$40,080,409||$3,512,241||876.00%||New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19|
Favorite Vs. Underdog and Spread Results
One of the first things people look at in regards to the games history is how many upsets the big game has seen.
Favorites have largely dominated when you look at their ability to win straight up. In the straight up game, the favorites are an eye-popping 33-15.
That number loses some steam when you look at the ATS success rate, as several underdogs have made games a little more interesting than Vegas perhaps anticipated. Favorites are just 26-18-2 against the spread in Super Bowl history.
Still, over history, the favorite has won 66% of the 50 NFL title games and has also beaten the spread over 50% of the time (52%).
With the information we have here when it comes to favorites and underdogs, history might tell us that the Vegas favorite is a pretty good play, but the underdog might be the better play ATS.
Another big part of Super Bowl betting is the Total (Over/Under). If you don't know how you feel about the outcome of the game, you can at least bet on the Total. If you think both offenses will show up or one team is far better than the other, a shootout or massive blowout often will point to the Over. If you think both offenses will struggle or the defenses will win out, you'll bet the Under.
Not a whole lot. In the 50 Super Bowls, one didn't provide a Total (Super Bowl I) and of the other 49, 24 hit on the Under. That gives us 25 for the Over and zero Push results.
The silver lining here at first glance is we can probably safely bank on either the Over or Under hitting, and we have a roughly 50% chance to get it right.
But that was the case to begin with. A closer look could crack the door a bit for us. For games with a Total of 50+, we saw the game hit the Over three times and go Under six times (3-6). This may show some real risk with going for the Over when Vegas gets excited and produces a high Total.
On the other side, in games with a Total of 40 or lower, we saw the Under hit 10 out of 19 games. Of course, seven of those occurrences happened before 1975, when the league set low Totals for the Super Bowl. This was due to stingy defenses, superior running games and less scoring as a whole.
Beyond 1975, we've seen low Totals at 40 or lower fail, with the games going Over (9-3).
This probably played into Vegas spiking the Total as history marched on. That, combined with a more explosive league, has led to just one game producing a Total of 40 or lower since 2002. In fact, we've seen it happen just twice since 1986.
Of course, because of that spike, Vegas has also over-compensated, producing massive Totals at times. Since 1986, possibly due to the inflated Totals, we've seen the Under come up 13 times.
Looking back at history, we don't learn a whole lot based on past Totals and what the Over/Under was. Instead, each year brings a new matchup and a new Total to bet on. We can't really lean on past betting results with this Super Bowl bet. Instead, we need to treat each Total differently and make our best possible bet based on the specific teams and the production they displayed throughout the course of their season.
AFC vs. NFC Results
We all remember how the Super Bowl started, with the NFC's Green Bay Packers winning the first two matches to prove they were the superior conference. The AFL (AFC) didn't wait long to prove their worth, of course, as Joe Namath's "guarantee" rang true when the AFC won their first league title in Super Bowl III.
The AFC has battled back fiercely ever since losing those first two Super Bowls, and the NFC now holds just a 26-24 edge across the first 50 games. Since the NFC won the first two, of course, the two conferences have been in a dead heat (24-24).
The AFC has been hot lately, however, as they've won the last two meetings, and have secured wins in three of the last four titles.
Record For Teams That Scored First
It might not give us a clear indication of who actually wins future bets, but it's always interesting (and helpful) to go back and obtain information from the past.
Scoring first does not guarantee a win. In fact, several of the teams that did score first ended up getting blown out in their respective title games. That being said, the team to score first historically has given themselves a head start and has gone on to win an impressive (and notable) 68% of the time.
Record For Teams That Won the Coin Toss
The coin toss is historically regarded as a 50/50 proposition. There is a roughly 50% chance for any given coin flip that the coin (almost always a quarter) will land on heads, and an almost equal 50% chance it could land on tails. There are only two sides, after all, and over time the probability evens out.
That's been the case for coin tosses for the most part, with tails narrowly edging out heads, 26-24 through 50 Super Bowls. While that's not quite 50% for both sides, it's about as close as we can expect on a year-to-year basis.
Obviously betting on the coin toss is a risky bet, but history suggests you have a close to 50% chance of cashing out. Considering Super Bowl 50 land on tails and tails had previously been leading, probability might suggest heads is coming up just around the corner.
We get that the coin toss is a 50% risk and history has shown it to be. But what about the impact of said coin tosses? We took a look at how teams do when they score first, and when that happens, the first team who scored wins 72% of the time.
Could there also be a correlation between winning the coin toss and winning? The evidence that supports the first team scoring is pretty similar, as the team who wins the coin toss is usually going to choose to receive and that would give them a very good chance to score before the other team does.
Looking back on the previous 50 Super Bowls, we can see that the coin toss winner went on to win 24-26. It's pretty weird how the coin toss winner is a mirror image of the actual coin toss results, but the bigger takeaway is how the team that won the coin toss didn't come close to matching the record (34-16) of the teams that scored first.
Perhaps this just shows us that as trivial as the odds of a coin toss can be, the impact on a team's chances to win because of or based on the coin toss are just as trivial.
The Super Bowl is traditionally played in warm weather locations, which promotes the potential for more people attending the game itself, and also helps with promoting pre/post-game festivities.
Naturally, the two most dominant regions to host the Super Bowl are Florida and California. Florida has hosted more than any other state, while California understandably ranks second. Louisiana has seen the third most games and together these three states make up 36 of 50 Super Bowls (72%).
- Florida (15)
- California (12)
- Louisiana (9)
The NFC has held the upper hand in California games (7-5), while the AFC has dominated (10-5) in Florida. As for Louisiana, the results have split right down the middle, with the AFC and NFC (5-5) each walking away with 5 wins in the state.
Defense vs. Offense
One key aspect to consider when you're trying to gauge who will win is what kind of team they are, and how similar teams have fared throughout history. The two best extremes to look at are teams that finish as the top-rated (scoring) offense, as well as teams that rank #1 in (scoring) defense.
It's not quite that simple, though. For one, most teams that get to the championship game are pretty good at both offense and defense. Their ability to be elite at one or the other, or very solid at both, put them head and shoulders atop their conference and also put them in the biggest game of their life.
In fact, the 2007 New York Giants are still the only team to win that didn't manage to rank inside the top-10 of offense or defense.
Both offense and defense have been crucial to success throughout the 50 big games, however. Throughout history, the winner sported the #1 scoring defense just 14 times. That numbers feels considerably bigger if you include winners that at least had a top-5 defense (30). In fact, out of 50 Super Bowls, just seven champions have sported anything lower than a 10th-ranked scoring defense.
In other words, 44 of the 50 teams to win a championship (a staggering 88%) enjoyed one of the better defenses in the league. The very best defense doesn't always win, and that may damage that old "defense wins championships" mantra just a bit, but having a strong defense clearly is still a big deal if you want to win an NFL title.
It works both ways, of course. Good offense is needed to combat all of that defense, so it's no surprise to see 10 champions boast the #1 offense the year they won. If we're going through just the #1 offense vs. the #1 defense, defense does win out slightly, with a 14-10 edge.
Offenses are still very important, however, as 28 of the 50 Super Bowl winners had top-5 offenses and an insane 40 had offenses finish 10th or better.
Of course, times have changed a bit over the years. Offense has become a little less necessary to win the big game, with just two teams winning with the #1 offense since 1999. In that same span, five #1 defenses have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. On the other side, during that span we have also seen champions with offenses ranking 10th or worse eight times.
Overall, we can see the battle between offense and defense is fairly close. Both are extremely important and ideally, you'd have both to lean on. However, defense has proven to be slightly more important throughout history. If you don't have a strong defense, it is tough to limit your opponent and get back into games if you fall behind. And in a game where the biggest comeback ever was just 10 points, that's a pretty big deal.
Winners by Commissioner
Despite the traveling across 50 years, the NFL has only seen 8 Commissioners govern the league. Of that 8, just three have served as the league's show-runner since the first game.
- Pete Rozelle (1960-1989)
- Paul Tagliabue (1989-2006)
- Roger Goodell (2006-Present)
All three NFL Commissioners have garnered both praise and criticism during their tenures. All three have found great success and maintained profit within the league, but of the three, Rozelle is historically looked back on as the best in NFL history.
Which Commissioner is "best" isn't what we're here for, however. Instead, it's interesting to see which teams and which conference thrived under each man's watch. Here's a quick breakdown for all three:Rozelle
Rozelle oversaw the 1961 Super Bowl and officially retired from his post in November of 1989, which had him have a hand in Super Bowl I, as well as Super Bowl XXIII.
During that time, the AFC won 11 games - all of which took place between 1970 and 1980. The NFC enjoyed quite the uprisal in the 80's, as the NFC won eight straight titles from 1982 to 1989. Overall, Rozelle oversaw 23 Super Bowls, with the NFC narrowly edging out the AFC, 12-11.
During that time, the Steelers won four championships and the 49ers won three times.Tagliabue
Paul Tagliabue took over before the 1990 Super Bowl, which had him oversee Super Bowl XXIV during his first season. Tagliabue would stay at the helm until August of 2006. During Tagliabue's 17 years on the job, the NFC held the upper hand with a 10-7 record over the AFC.
The NFC was the conference to beat when Tagliabue took over, as it ripped off eight titles in a row as he started his watch. Dallas benefited the most from Tagliabue ruling the league (three wins), while the New England Patriots also secured three of their four titles with Tagliabue in office.
Several "firsts" happened with Tagliabue in office, as well. The Patriots, Ravens, Buccaneers, Rams and Broncos all won their first titles, while the Green Bay Packers returned to the promised land for the first time since Super Bowl II.Goodell
Goodell's run as NFL Commissioner started ahead of the 2007 Super Bowl and as of this writing, is currently ongoing. Goodell has called the shots in the NFL for 10 Super Bowls. During that time, Peyton Manning got to three games (won two), the Patriots lost two (won one) and the conferences have split the big game right down the middle (5-5).
Goodell is another Commissioner who enjoyed many "firsts" as the head CEO, as the Seahawks and Saints both won their first NFL titles.
There isn't anything that steps out too much in three different eras of NFL commissioners, other than Goodell's reign has produced the tightest (least predictable) run of title winners. The one thing worth noting, of course, is that the underdog has emerged victorious in 7 of the 10 Super Bowls Goodell has watched over.
Has the Super Bowl Ever Been Rigged?
One of the first things anyone considering throwing a bet down wants to know is, is the betting rigged? That's a fair question anyone can ask for any sport and any game, but for the amount of fuss that goes into it each year, people want to know if it's legit or not.
It's tough to completely know for sure if any sport is legit, especially when shady activity has been uncovered over the years. There have been cases of teams fixing games, there has been referee corruption that was uncovered and there are countless conspiracy theories abound in basically every sport you can think to bet on.
The short-answer is probably no, simply because there is no overwhelming evidence to support it. That being said, there have been a few things over the 50 years of Super Bowl action that have raised some eyebrows.
Super Bowl III - Jets vs. Colts (Sloppy Affair)
The first of which is none other than Super Bowl III. With the AFL/NFL merger set in motion three years prior, the NFL was facing pressure from fans and media outlets to produce a competitive league. With the Green Bay Packers winning the first two games for the NFC side, they weren't accomplishing that.
That has some speculate that the league "fixed" the game in favor of Joe Namath and the New York Jets. The Jets beat the Baltimore Colts in a sloppy game that included five turnovers from Baltimore.
Bubba Smith, a Colts player in the game, suggested that the game was rigged for New York to win, saying it was "set up". While difficult to prove, the logic is certainly there, as the NFL as we know it may have been threatened had the AFC not stepped up and proved they belonged.
That might make sense, but considering Smith came from the team that lost, it could have just as easily been sour grapes.
Super Bowl XLVII - Ravens vs. 49ers (Power Outage)
The game known as The Harbaugh Bowl was quickly getting out of hand, with the Ravens running away with a 28-6 lead.
Out of nowhere, the lights went out with what is described as a "power outage" in the Superdome. Perhaps that's merely all that happened, but the delay allowed the Niners to get their minds right.
Once the game started again, San Francisco scored 17 unanswered points and found themselves back in the game. The Ravens still won, though, and the final score (34-31) didn't really impact betting with the 49ers favored to win by four points.
Super Bowl XL - Seahawk vs. Steelers (Bad Officiating?)
A Colts player says his game was rigged and we were there to see the 49ers/Ravens game get delayed, but perhaps the most obvious evidence of potential fixing went down in the 2006 Super Bowl where we saw corruption look so blatant on the field.
The Seattle Seahawks got hosed on several calls in their match against the Steelers, who wound up winning, 21-10. Not only did the Seahawks have a touchdown taken off the board in the first quarter due to a questionable call (they settled for a field goal), but they also got robbed of possession at the one-yard line due to a call a bad call the official later said he shouldn't have made.
Had the first call never been made, the Seahawks would have led, 7-0. Right there, that is a 21-14 game. If the second call had not been made - as the referee said it shouldn't have been - Seattle likely scores a touchdown in a game where they were down 14-10 at the time. Add the two calls, and the Seahawks very likely escape with their first NFL title in a
On top of these weird instances, there have also been several close games and some questionable plays. Few can forget the Patriots beating the Seahawks because Seattle opted to pass instead of run, while it's still difficult to fathom how the 18-0 Patriots ever lost to the Giants.
Then again, as fans of competition and sports betting, perhaps we should chalk these oddities up to the games simply being unpredictable and entertaining.
While there has been some mild speculation with the NFL or the Super Bowl being rigged in the past, it's not an allegation that gets tossed around all that much anymore. We agree it's possible there has been some cheating or potential rigging in the Super Bowl (and all sports) in the past, but it's really not a big concern when gearing up to bet.
Then again, no one is immune to corruption. After all, a World Series was fixed back in 1919.
How to Win the Super Bowl
Given all of the data at hand over the course of the first 50 Super Bowls, it's fair to wonder if we can tell based off of the past games precisely who and how teams can win the big game. Every year is going to be different, but based on what has already passed, there are a few things most winners have in common. Let's dive into the basics:
Getting to the final game is half the battle and a great way to do that is to have top notch coaching. We can see that superior coaching is necessary just by the success of coaches over time, as we've seen 76 coaches account for the 100 coaches in 50 Super Bowls.
That number is more impressive when you look at the names near the top, as Don Shula and Bill Belichick lead the way with six appearances, Tom Landry is second with five. Chuck Noll was the first coach to appear in four Super Bowls and he heads an elite five-man group, while Bill Walsh leads a trio of coaches who have been to at least three NFL title games.
That's an elite group, to be sure, but it arguably gets even more impressive when you look at the games won by these coaches. That group is responsible for 38 wins out of 50 games (an insane 76%). It's possible a few coaches ran into some luck here and there, but for the most part, history has shown us that a small group has accounted for most of the wins and 76% of the 50 Super Bowls have had that same group at least show up in the league's biggest game of the year.
Does Defense Really Win Championships?
Defense can certainly win a Super Bowl, but it isn't completely necessary. The New York Giants still stand as the only winner (2007) to not be ranked inside the top-10 for defense or offense, while a whopping five winners since 2006 have had a defense ranked at 10th or much worse.
Defense still matters, of course, as out of the 50 winners, the #1 scoring defense won the title 13 times and we've seen at least a top-10 defense win 44 times (88%). While the trend has reverted in the last decade, history suggests you probably need at least a top-10 defense to win the title.
Do Elite Offenses Really Win?
Great offenses do not guarantee a win, but they're not necessarily inferior to elite defenses, either. The Denver Broncos won in 2015 with a very average offense, and they head a solid list that features 9 champions that finished worse than 10th in scoring offense the year they won the Lombardi Trophy.
That's only 9 champions with average offenses or worse (18%), of course. That actually helps the argument that offenses are extremely important, as does the fact that we've seen the #1 offense win the league title 9 different times. A more telling stat may be the success of top-10 offenses, as teams that won the Super Bowl had a top-10 scoring offense or better an incredible 40 times (80%).
The answer, then, isn't that defenses or offenses win Super Bowls specifically or that one is better than the other. Defense barely edges out offense if we look at the numbers, but the more telling stats reveals a high level of balance is crucial.
Of the 50 champions, a staggering 34 (68%) had both offenses and defenses ranked 10th or higher.
On top of coaching and overall offense and defense rankings, another thing to consider is the talent across a roster. A great way to showcase that is if a team has a player so good, that they win the coveted MVP award after an amazing regular season.
Except, not really. Cam Newton won the MVP in 2015 and had a shot at joining a very exclusive group of 10 NFL players who have won the league MVP and went on to help their team win the championship in the same year.
That's not a huge list, as 10 MVP winners only accounts for 20% of the Super Bowls.
Here are a few other things to consider when looking at numbers and data that can (or can't) correlate with a Super Bowl winner:
- No rookie QB has ever led his team to a Super Bowl win
- Only 2 quarterbacks have won a Super Bowl after being undrafted by the NFL
- Home matters - One team ever (2007 Giants) won it all after a losing home record (3-5)
- Road matters, too - One team ever (2010 Packers) has won it all with a losing road record (3-5)
- Quick start - Of the 50 winners, 40 (80%) have started off 1-0
- Old age - Peyton Manning (39) joins ten 36+ year old quarterbacks to play in Super Bowl
- Too old? - Of that group, 36+ year old passers are just 5-5 in the big game
- Rushing leaders don't win - Just two running backs that have led the NFL in rushing yardage have ever helped their team win a Super Bowl in the same season - Emmitt Smith (1994) and Terrell Davis (1999)
Does Playoff Seeding Matter?
One other interesting aspect on the path to the Super Bowl is precisely the avenue teams usually take to get there. Seeding understandably could be seen as a huge piece to the puzzle, and that's probably why teams fight so hard to lock up first round byes and battle for home field advantage.
History says yes. The NFL has only used playoff seeding as we know it since 1975, but since then, the data reveals that you probably want to finish with a good record and as close to the top of your conference as you can.
Since 1975, the league has seen the NFC produce 24 #1 seeds, with the AFC delivering 22 #1 seeds, as well. Of that group, 23 won, meaning a solid 46% of #1 seeds have won it all. That number even looks a little better once the #1 seed gets to the big game, as a solid 50% of #1 seeds that made it went on to win.
Of course, this isn't exactly a dominant showing. The numbers are solid when looked at via a widened lens, but we have still seen the AFC produce 28 representatives that did not win their conference's #1 seed, and 26 for the NFC. Collectively, that has produced 54 participants that were not #1 seeds out of a possible 100 contenders.
That sure does feel like a leveled playing field. In other words, if you get the #1 seed, you have close to a 50% chance to make it to the Super Bowl and win, but your odds aren't even necessarily as great as a coin toss.
The odds haven't looked especially great for top seeds in recent years, either. Over the last decade (since 2006), just four teams (2 from each conference) have won. Of 20 possible teams, just 20% won as #1 seeds, while seven more got there and lost (35%).
Playing for that high seed and home field advantage still matters, though. The #1 seed hasn't necessarily dominated as a whole, but when you compare it to any other specific seed (6 total), it most certainly has.
Perhaps the #1 seeds find so much success once they get to the big game because their most feared competition is weeded out. After all, in the last 20 years, we've seen a #1 seed from both sides face off just two times.
How Many Teams Won as a Wild Card?
You can still win as a low seed. We've seen it happen 10 times in history, where the Raiders, Broncos, Ravens, Steelers, Giants and Packers all ran the table out of the wild card round.
Of course, when just 20% of NFL champions emerge from the first weekend of playoff action, we can see why teams fight for the best record every year.
Final Thoughts About Betting on the Super Bowl
It's crazy how much can come into play when looking at which team could win the Super Bowl each year and how you should bet. In short, it isn't that predictable. The AFC and NFC have battled to a tight 26-24 finish through the first 50 games, but we're dealing with just two conferences, so that data isn't much more helpful than the data from the result of a coin toss.
Defenses and offenses appear to be fairly equal when we look at the big game from a broad scope, while elite numbers from running backs haven't often translated into success.
Instead, the Super Bowl has been a largely consistent and balanced game where you need to have competency on both sides of the ball and experienced, reliable coaching.
Balance in general is the name of the game, as some very good teams have put up huge numbers and stormed to the Super Bowl with amazing records, but ultimately crumbled because they were too one-dimensional or extremely flawed in one area.
Beyond that, it's crucial to take care of the football in the big game, execute in clutch moments and be careful to not fall too far behind.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to the Super Bowl betting- both what we can expect in the future and what we've already seen come to pass. All that is certain is that pro football games are unlike any other, and while a lot of the data seems to be revealing, each new Super Bowl tends to take on a life of its own.
Super Bowl betting can be volatile, but history also points us to a lot of repeating information. If NFL bettors can tap into the right data in the right year, they just might have a shot at winning big off of their Super Bowl bets.