Super Bowl Trends: Underdogs Beat Spread, NFC Teams Cover ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

American Football League New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath gives his father, who is wearing an Orange Bowl hat, a big hug in the Jets' crowded dressing room on Jan. 12, 1969. Namath led his underdog team to a 16 to 7 win over the National Football League champion Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl III game in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo)
Associated Press

When the dust settled on opening lines for Super Bowl XLVIII, the Denver Broncos emerged as a slight 2.5-point favorite over the Seattle Seahawks.

But being the underdog may bode well for the Seahawks, as underdogs in the Super Bowl are 5-1 against the spread with four outright upsets over the last six Super Bowls.

The team representing the NFC is also 5-1 ATS over the last six Super Bowls, with San Francisco's failing to cover as a 4.5-point favorite last year breaking a 5-0 ATS run by the conference.

And let's not forget about the pattern when the top defensive team meets the top offensive team in the Super Bowl. The best defense has won three of the past four championship games when that matchup has occurred.

From a team-trends perspective, both Seattle and Denver should feel comfortable with the spread as it stands. Seattle is 17-3-1 ATS in its last 21 games as an underdog, while Denver is 9-2 SU and 8-3 ATS in its past 11 games as the betting favorite.

Seattle's last trip to the Super Bowl came in Super Bowl XL, when they lost and failed to cover the spread in a 21-10 loss to Pittsburgh. Denver hasn't been to the Super Bowl since the team won back-to-back Super Bowls under John Elway in 1998 and 1999.

Peyton Manning's last Super Bowl appearance was in Indianapolis's 31-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints in 2010.

While many Super Bowl trends don't point definitively one way or the other, the trends for these two teams coming off of bye weeks seem to heavily favor the Broncos. Over the last 13 seasons, Denver is 11-2 ATS coming off of a bye week.

Seattle, on the other hand, is just 3-10-1 ATS coming off of a bye week over the last 14 seasons.

"The two weeks before the Super Bowl isn't a proper 'bye' but underscores how teams have performed when they get that extra week to rest up and prepare a game plan," said analyst Jack Randall in an interview Wednesday.

Another historical trend favoring the Broncos is the head-to-head history between these two teams. In 15 meetings since 1996, Denver is 12-3 SU and 9-6 ATS against the Seattle Seahawks.

The two teams have met just three times since Seattle moved to the NFC, with Denver going 2-1 SU and ATS in those three meetings.

One trend that shows no sign of abating is the trend towards hundreds of Super Bowl prop bets. Since the very first prop was added to the betting menu back in Super Bowl XX (will William Perry score a TD?), the number of fun proposition wagers has grown every year.

This year, it includes everything from the coin toss, where the NFC is on an inexplicable 17-3 streak.

Recent games point to a low-scoring game in the Super Bowl. The total has gone UNDER in each of Denver's last five games and in each of Seattle's last seven.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted; all spread and odds data powered by Odds Shark; follow on Twitter for injury updates and line-move updates.