Do Favorites Or Underdogs Fare Better In A ‘Close’ Super Bowl? Here’s What History Says

Lombardi Trophy being raised after Eagles won the Super Bowl

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On February 12, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles will face off in Arizona in a game where the two teams will play for the right to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to the city they call home.

There’s obviously no way to know how Super Bowl LVII will ultimately unfold, but if the odds are any indication, we should be in for a pretty tight game when you consider most sportsbooks are currently listing Philly as 1.5-point favorites.

Most seasoned sports bettors are likely all too aware of the possible downsides of putting too much stake in the past while gambling on the future (although recent history definitely should’ve made the people who somehow thought the Jets would be representing the AFC in The Big Game this year think twice about that retroactively terrible decision).

With that said, it’s hard not to succumb to the urge to take a look back at what’s previously unfolded to see if any notable trends emerge before you make your pick—and we opted to do that by digging through the betting archives to see if the favorites or the underdogs have an edge in the Super Bowls where sportsbooks predicted a potential nail-biter. So if you’re trying to figure out how to make money on DraftKings or FanDuel for the Super Bowl, start here.

Which teams have the edge when there’s a close spread in the Super Bowl?

Lombardi Trophy being raised at the Super Bowl

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For the purpose of this article, I’ve opted to define “close” as any game where the final spread sat at three points or less; it may be a somewhat arbitrary definition, but drawing the line at any contest that was considered a one-score game prior to kickoff seems to make the most sense.

That’s been the case in 17 different times stretching back to the showdown between Baltimore and Dallas in Super Bowl V (the first four saw the favorite head into the matchup with a theoretical edge of 12 points or more).

Here’s a full list of the games in question:

  • Super Bowl V: Baltimore 16, Dallas 13—Colts -2.5Favorite
  • Super Bowl  VII: Miami 14, Washington 7—Dolphins -1Favorite 
  • Super Bowl  IX: Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6—Steelers-3Favorite
  • Super Bowl  XV: Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10—Eagles -3Underdog
  • Super Bowl  XVI: San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21—49ers -1Favorite
  • Super Bowl  XVII: Washington 27, Miami 17—Dolphins -3Underdog
  • Super Bowl  XVII: L.A. Raiders 38, Washington 9—Redskins -3Favorite
  • Super Bowl XXII: Washington 42, Denver 10—Broncos -3Underdog
  • Super Bowl  XXXV: Baltimore 34, N.Y. Giants 7—Ravens -3Favorite
  • Super Bowl  XLV: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25—Packers -3Favorite
  • Super Bowl XLVI: N.Y. Giants 21, New England 17—Patriots -2.5Underdog
  • Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle 43, Denver 8—Broncos -2Underdog
  • Super Bowl XLIX: New England 28, Seattle 24—Seahawks -1Underdog
  • Super Bowl LI: New England 34, Atlanta 28—Patriots -3Favorite
  • Super Bowl LIII: New England 13, LA Rams 3—Patriots -2.5Favorite 
  • Super Bowl LIV: Kansas City 31, San Francisco 20—Chiefs -1.5Favorite
  • Super Bowl LV: (Feb 7, 2021) Tampa Bay 31, Kansas City 9—Chiefs -3Underdog 

While there’s no overwhelmingly obvious trend, the favorite in those Super Bowls does sport a 10-7 record.

It’s also worth noting the underdog has only managed to defy the odds in one of the four “close” games that have been played since the Patriots pulled off the greatest comeback in history after falling into a 28-3 hole against the Falcons.

Interestingly enough, sportsbooks have also missed the mark in a big way in the majority of the games in question, as 10 of the 17 contests that were predicted to be decided by three points or less ultimately ended with one team winning by a double-digit margin.

At the end of the day, there’s really no such thing as a “safe” bet, but if you’re willing to read into these stats more than you probably should, picking the Eagles to win by at least one-and-a-half points seems like the right call.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.