The 2011 Super Bowl is now set, as it will be the sixth seed from the NFC, the Green Bay Packers, taking on the second seed from the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers are the favorites at -2½, with the total set at 44½.
Wild Card Teams Win Super Bowls
We have analyzed the last 10 Super Bowls beginning with the Baltimore Ravens facing the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV following the 2000 season, and the Packers are now the fourth wild card in 11 years to reach the Super Bowl. They should be encouraged by the fact that the first three wild cards all won outright!
Then again, two of those wild cards were actually favorites, just as the Packers are this year. Those would be the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, as they beat the Giants 34-7 as three-point favorites and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, as they beat the Seahawks 21-10 as 4½ point favorites. The other wild card winner was the New York Giants in 2008, as they shocked the world by beating the then 18-0 New England Patriots 17-14.
AFC Wins But NFC Covers
Beginning with that Baltimore win in 2001, the AFC is now 7-3 straight up over the last 10 years. However, it is the NFC that has gone 6-4 against the spread during this time, as the AFC representatives won without covering.
The Patriots did this twice, beating Carolina only 32-29 as seven-point favorites in 2004, and then again winning by just three points as seven-point favorites while beating the Eagles 24-21 the following year. The other non-covering AFC winner was the Steelers, as they rallied late to nip Arizona 27-23 as seven-point chalk in 2009.
Interestingly, only one NFC team has been favored over the last 10 years, and that blew up badly when the “Showtime” St. Louis Rams lost outright 20-17 as 14-point favorites vs. the Patriots in 2002. In fact, the underdogs are now 7-3 ATS the last 10 years with four of them winning outright (2002 Patriots, 2003 Buccaneers, 2008 Giants, 2010 Saints), but the NFC being favored this year may change that dynamic.
“Under” Bettors Cash In
As for totals, the ‘under’ has gone 6-4 the last 10 years, with an average combined score in those Super Bowls of 45.9 points. There has been a stronger trend toward the ‘under’ more recently, as it is 5-1 the last six years, but most of those were vs. lower posted totals and four of those six games exceeded the 44½-point total posted in this year’s game.
But enough with full game ATS, total and straight up winners, the real gold mine in Super Bowl betting the last 10 years has been in playing the ‘under’ in the first half and the first quarter!
The ‘under’ is now 7-3 in the first half the L/10 years, with the most recent ‘over’ being by just half a point in 2009 when the Steelers and Cardinals scored 24 points in the first half with the total going off the board at 23½.
Most incredibly though, the ‘under’ is 8-1-1 in the first quarter since 2001, with the only ‘over’ coming when the Colts and Bears combined for 20 points in Super Bowl XLI.