Thursday, February 14, 2013

In the Super Bowl, bet on the underdog

Editors’ Note: I really did have this started before the Super Bowl, but real work has been a bit crazy lately and this one did not get out in time. Honestly. I promise.

Another year and another upset in the Super Bowl. Here’s a quick primer on how common an occurrence this has been over the past decade or so. I pulled data from, which contains a wonderful database of game data, including spreads, game conditions and play by play data going back to the 2000 season. For the 12 seasons ending in 2011 (2012 data is not available yet), here are the percentages of underdogs covering:

It’s also interesting to see the outperformance of underdogs in terms of points rather than simply covers:

Anyway, just an interesting quick analysis that would have been much more helpful before the game. At least now it’s out there so I can just put it back on the front page next January and end up looking dumb when favorites cover.

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