Super Bowl Picks: What the Books are Overlooking

Nila Amerova

Thursday, January 23, 2014 6:42 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 6:42 PM GMT

As Super Bowl XLVIII approaches, what is the NFL betting outlook compared to the NFL betting public’s impression. Find out as we examine the markets and analyse the trends.

Super Bowl XLVIII picks and predictions are flooding in steadily and, predictably, opinion is divided evenly between Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, given that the matchup is all about the No.1 offense taking on the No.1 defense and how these opposing weapons stack up against one another. And deciding between the pair is no mean feat, mind. There couldn’t be a more mouth-watering prospect to sink your teeth into this season.

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Market Impressions:

When the NFL betting lines went to press, several sportsbooks installed the pair on a pick’em while others had Seattle Seahawks nudging ahead as the nominal 0.5 to 1-point favourites; the latter market cast clearly correlating to the well-known maxim: defense wins games. A fact also underscored by an interesting trend over the last four Super Bowls in which the best defense and offense went head-to-head only for defense to come up trumps three of the four times.

The NFL betting public didn’t seem to agree however. Whether it’s down to Peyton Manning’s popularity, his record-breaking season with the Broncos or simply the sentimental notion that he’s due another Super Bowl ring – a quarterback of his ilk and quality can’t possibly be a one-hit wonder – is neither here nor there. Point is many in sports betting circles conspicuously went against the aforementioned defensive trend, backing Denver Broncos and the No.1 offense instead towards Super Bowl glory.

That strong NFL betting inclination has lifted the Broncos up to 2-point favourites while forcing the Seahawks down to 2-point underdogs. And this overwhelming vote of confidence for Manning and his Broncos now permeates everywhere. Market favouritism towards Broncos extends to straight-up betting markets where they are listed as the -130 favourites. Seahawks meanwhile are the nominal +110 underdogs at Bet365.

Yet, underdogs have proven to be the value NFL pick in straight up betting in four of the last six Super Bowls. Once again, trends and public opinion are at cross-purposes.

Another trend that is worth noting is the head-to-head record between NFC and AFC teams against the spread in Super Bowl betting action. Going into last year’s exciting clash between San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, NFC teams were enjoying a perfect 5-0 ATS run of form. The Ravens bucked that trend with their victory, coming through as the underdogs (and, arguably, Ray Lewis and his defense won the game).

Of course, if the Broncos come through they’ll potentially extend that run of form to two straight, what could be the beginning of a whole new trend to stretch in the coming years. As it stands, though, the balance tips in favour of NFC teams, which is contrary to the market.

Finally, Seattle’s presence is strongly felt in one aspect of the overarching NFL betting outlook for this game: on the totals which are listed at 47, a rather low tally given Denver’s offensive prowess this season to reach No.1 (1st passing, 10th rushing) by averaging 37.9 points and 457.3 yards per game. This rather low tally is a credit to the formidable Seahawks’ defense that ranks No.1 and has given up which gave up 14.4 points and 273.6 yards per game. Is this the most telling aspect?

NFL betting verdict: Clearly, at the onset market impressions stood in stark contrast to NFL betting inclinations and had to be adjusted accordingly. But does the NFL betting public have it right or are they just barking up the wrong tree? When the evidence points to Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, is backing Denver Broncos just an emotional NFL pick, an extension of the love affair that NFL fans have long had with the great Peyton Manning. We hope not. Because it only seems fitting that Peyton Manning crowns the best season of his storied career with a Super Bowl.

NFL Picks: Denver Broncos to win SU at -130

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