Super Bowl LVI: Consider going contrarian

February 13, 2022 05:49 AM
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There are certain times of year when betting against the public increases in value. Whether it's March Madness in college basketball or bowl games in college football, the influx of public betting saturates the market with "herd mentality" bias that value-minded contrarian bettors can take advantage of. The ultimate spot for this line of thinking is, of course, the Super Bowl.

As we all know, the Super Bowl is the most heavily bet sporting event of the year by far, even more so now with the spread of legalized sports betting. Bettors may not have gotten down on the NFL all season long but will place a wager on the Super Bowl just to have some fun and join the party. The betting public will typically lean on the favorite and the Over, which provides value to going contrarian and sweating dogs and Unders. And, oh yeah, why do contrarians like to bet against the public? Because more often than not, the public loses. 

Over the past decade, dogs are 6-4 SU and 6-4 ATS in the Super Bowl. If they're getting 3 points or more, they improve to 5-1 ATS. 

Here is a breakdown of the last 10 Super Bowls:

— 2020: Bucs (+ 3) beat Chiefs 31-9

— 2019: Chiefs (-1.5) beat 49ers 31-20

— 2018: Patriots (-2) beat Rams 13-3

— 2017: Eagles (+ 4.5) beat Patriots 41-33

— 2016: Patriots (-3) beat Falcons 34-28

— 2015: Broncos (+ 4.5) beat Panthers 24-10

— 2014: Patriots (-1) beat Seahawks 28-24

— 2013: Seahawks (+ 1.5) beat Broncos 43-8

— 2012: Ravens (+ 4.5) beat 49ers 34-31

— 2011: Giants (+ 3) beat Patriots 21-17

With these trends in mind, let's discuss how the betting market is shaping up for Super Bowl LVI.

Los Angeles Rams (-4.5, 48.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Super Bowl will be played at SoFi Stadium, home of the Rams, although Los Angeles is designated as the visiting team for this game.

The Rams (15-5 SU, 10-10 ATS) are coming off a 20-17 win over the 49ers in the NFC championship game, failing to cover as 3.5-point home favorites. Previously in the postseason, the Rams dominated the Cardinals in the wild-card round 34-11, easily covering as 3.5-point home favorites and then took down the Bucs 30-27 in the divisional round, winning outright as 2.5-point road dogs. 

The Bengals (13-7 SU, 13-7 ATS) are coming off a pair of thrilling postseason upsets, shocking the Chiefs 27-24 as 7.5-point dogs in the AFC championship game and beating the Titans 19-16 in the divisional round as 4-point road dogs. In the wild-card round, Cincinnati edged Las Vegas 26-19, covering as a 6-point home favorite. 

This line opened with Los Angeles as a 3.5-point favorite. Early money laid the points with the Rams, driving the line up to 4.5. Super Bowl teams with line movement in their favor are 11-5 ATS (69%) since 2004. However, we've seen some buyback on the Bengals at their inflated price, dropping some books from 4.5 to 4. The Bengals offer value as a contrarian dog with an inflated line in the most heavily bet game of the year. The Bengals have won their last two playoff games outright as a dog. 

Joe Burrow is 12-7 ATS (63%) in his career as a dog. The Bengals are 6-3 ATS as a dog this season, including 5-0 ATS when getting three points or more. Super Bowl dogs are 13-6 ATS over the last 18 matchups. If they're getting 3 points or more, they improve to 8-2 ATS. The Bengals are also in an ideal teaser spot (+ 4.5 to + 10.5), which goes through the key number of 7. 

We've also seen wiseguys target the Under, dropping the total from 49.5 to 48.5. This signaled a classic reverse-line move to the Under as the total fell despite a majority of early bets (53%) taking the Over. Super Bowl Unders are 3-0 the past three seasons. Unders are 8-4 so far this postseason. When the total falls, the Under is 57% over the past decade in the playoffs. The Bengals are 3-0 to the Under this postseason. The Rams are 2-1 to the Under. Both of these teams rank in the bottom half of the NFL in tempo and plays per game.

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