The point spread is arguably the most popular way to bet the Super Bowl. As Super Bowl bets go, however, it can be somewhat tricky as well. It doesn’t just boil down to choosing a winner or a loser, which apparently even an octopus can do. I would have love to have seen Paul the Octopus betting against the spread. But let us no speak ill of the dead. The point is that Super Bowl betting is a matter probably best left to mammals. You do need a certain minimum cranial capacity to comprehend a variety of potential scenarios. First things first, though. In a sporting contest between two sides there is a favorite and an underdog.
Let’s have a look at the odds for Super Bowl LIII:
New England Patriots -2.5
Los Angeles Rams +2.5
The minus sign indicates that the Patriots were the favorites entering that matchup. Logically it follows that the Rams were the underdogs. The number 2.5 means that New England was favored by two-and-a-half points. Ergo, the Pats were expected to win by at least three points. If you placed a moneyline bet on the Patriots to win, you won that bet. And if you wagered on the Rams to win straight-up, then you lost. However, in a point spread bet, the straight-up loser can nonetheless be an ATS (against the spread) winner. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We can begin by picturing a scenario in which you bet on a favorite to cover the spread.
Super Bowl Odds to Cover the Spread
BALTIMORE RAVENS -4½
MIAMI DOLPHINS +4½
This is an example from the upcoming NFL season, taken from My Bookie.ag. The Ravens are 4.5-point favorites. In order for Baltimore to cover the spread, they must win by five points or more. Therefore, if the final outcome is Ravens 32-Miami 7, then Baltimore, by winning by 25 points, has successfully covered the spread. There is the possibility, however, that the game score is much closer. Which is actually very likely when you bet the Super Bowl. With that in mind, let’s find a more competitive example.
TENNESSEE TITANS +5½
CLEVELAND BROWNS -5½
This is from Xbet.ag. There is a lot of hype surrounding the Browns. Maybe it’s justified, but then maybe it’s a little exaggerated as well. How about we give them the benefit of the doubt while remaining realistic? For instance, Cleveland can very well defeat Tennessee. Still, the Titans put up a good fight. As a result, the game ends with the following score: Tennessee 10-Cleveland 14. That is to say, the Browns are victorious, albeit by just four points. They don’t cover the spread and you lose your bet.
Now let’s imagine you’re betting on the Super Bowl but you’re backing the underdog. For this one we can use an example involving a team very likely to appear in the Super Bowl.
Houston Texans +7
New England Patriots -7
These odds are from GTBets.eu. The Patriots are favored to win Super Bowl LIV outright. Then again, they are notorious for their slow regular season starts. It’s inconceivable that the Texans take the Pats to the wire. Perhaps New England wins 28-26. Although Houston loses, they have kept it close enough that the Patriots fail to cover the spread. In consequence, this counts as an ATS win for the Texans.
And what happens if the underdog actually wins the game. That’s what in sports betting is known as an upset. And the answer is simple. If the favorite teams loses, they obviously can’t cover the spread. As a matter of fact, the burden of spread-covering is always on the favorite. When the underdog wins, it becomes a straight-up as well as an ATS win for them. And for bettors who wagered on them. So now you know what point spread betting is, for when the time comes to bet the Super Bowl. Oh, and before we go, a word of gratitude to the sportsbooks whence we compiled the odds for our examples. Visit them for the best Super Bowl odds.