With sports betting popularity being at an all-time high, no event takes on more bets than the largest sporting event in American sports. The Super Bowl has gained a significant amount of betting attention over the past decade, and in 2022, estimates project that sportsbooks will take on over 500 million dollars in Super Bowl bets.
Whether it is finding an inside source for the Gatorade color or figuring out what bet the best capper is taking, everyone wants to find an edge to profit from the big game. While there is no foolproof method to predict the game’s winner, there has been one trend that has almost an 80 percent success rate since 2014.
Defense Wins Championships
Looking strictly at the Moneyline, the team entering the game with less points allowed on the season has won the Super Bowl straight up in eight of the last nine seasons. While this season there was not great value on the Los Angeles Rams, who closed at -200 on the Moneyline, this trend has predicted some large upsets in the past.
Of the previous six winners following the trend, four were Moneyline underdogs going into the game: Seahawks in 2014, Broncos in 2016, Eagles in 2018, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.
In the first year this betting trend dates back to, the Seattle Seahawks dismantled the Denver Broncos 43-8, and closed at +2 on most books. In this game the top-ranked Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defense faced up against the Denver Broncos, who had the top-scoring NFL offense of all time.
Reigning NFL MVP Peyton Manning broke every single-season passing record available, however those statistics did not help him in the championship. The team with the better statistical defense prevailed, forcing four turnovers along the way.
The three favorites who also followed with the trend were the Los Angeles Rams this season, and the New England Patriots twice, 2017 and 2019. The other three winners had their Moneyline set no higher than -150.
In the two years which it did not hit came at the hands of some of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen. In 2015, despite the worse statistical defense, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks. This, of course, was almost not the case, but Pete Carroll decided not to run on the one yard line.
The other instance came two years ago, when Patrick Mahomes completed a ten-point fourth quarter comeback against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. While the trend is not perfect, it has taken some crazy endings for the team with the lesser ranked defense to win a Super Bowl as of late.
Broncos Were Big Winners
Of the upsets this betting trend aligned with, the Denver Broncos cashed out as the largest at +150. That season, many fans got caught up in the show that was the Carolina Panthers, which featured regular season MVP Cam Newton.
Despite Peyton Manning’s clear declining play, the defense of the Denver Broncos shut down the 15-1 Panthers, which was highlighted by 2.5 Von Miller sacks and a forced fumble. The Broncos not only won, but in convincing fashion, 24-10. Von Miller would go on to win the Super Bowl MVP award.
While sometimes it is fun to bet on explosive offenses and big names, one has to keep in mind football is the ultimate team sport. There are two sides to football, and a defense stepping up can make an even bigger impact than a great offense. It may sound cliché, but defenses do win championships.