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Super Bowl 50: Line history provides a telling trend

The line in the Super Bowl gets scrutinized every year, but it turns out it doesn't come into play that frequently. Our Larry Hartstein shares some very interesting trends around the Super Bowl.
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SportsLine's picks and projections for Super Bowl 50

If not for Malcolm Butler's goal-line interception last year, the underdog would be on an 11-3 against-the-spread run in the Super Bowl.

New England's 28-24 win in Super Bowl 49 -- the Patriots closed at -1 at most books -- temporarily stalled the underdog train.

Recent Super Bowl betting history
SB Result Winner's line Total
49 Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 NE -1 Over 47
48 Seahawks 43, Broncos 8 SEA +1.5 Over 47
47 Ravens 34, 49ers 31 BAL +4.5 Over 47.5
46 Giants 21, Patriots 17 NYG +3 Under 53
45 Packers 31, Steelers 25 GB -3 Over 44.5
44 Saints 31, Colts 17 NO +4.5 Under 56.5
43 Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 ARI +6.5 Over 46.5
42 Giants 17, Patriots 14 NYG +12.5 Under 54.5
41 Colts 29, Bears 17 IND -6.5 Under 47
40 Steelers 21, Seahawks 10  PIT -4 Under 47
39 Patriots 24, Eagles 21 PHI +7 Under 47
38 Patriots 32, Panthers 29 CAR +7 Over 38
37 Bucs 48, Raiders 21 TB +3.5 Over 44
36 Patriots 20, Rams 17 NE +14 Under 53
35 Ravens 34, Giants 7 BAL -3 Over 33.5
34 Rams 23, Titans 16 STL -7 Under 48
33 Broncos 34, Falcons 19 DEN -7.5 Over 51.5
32 Broncos 31, Packers 24 DEN +11.5 Over 49
31 Packers 35, Patriots 21 GB -14 Over 49
30 Cowboys 27, Steelers 17 PIT +13.5 Under 51

Underdogs had won the three previous games outright, and five of the previous seven, turning big profits for moneyline players.

Overall, however, favorites are 25-22-2 against the spread in the Super Bowl, according to Covers.com. The Over is 25-23 (there was no widely reported total for Super Bowl 1).

Here's the biggest trend for the biggest game: Pick the winner and you'll cover. It's held true 88 percent of the time.

Only six times in 49 Super Bowls has a winning favorite failed to cover. It's either been the favorite winning and covering or the underdog winning outright.

So if you just pick the winner without thinking about the spread, you would have been correct 43 times in 49 tries. 

This could be due to the snowball effect. Teams that fall behind significantly on the biggest stage imaginable resort to drastic measures, and those backfire more often than not.

All that said, here are notable trends for each team, via Covers.

Carolina Panthers (13-5 ATS, 12-5-1 O/U)

The Panthers are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games on grass.

The Panthers are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 playoff games.

The Over is 4-0 in Carolina's last four playoff games and 20-7-1 in Carolina's last 28 games vs. winning teams.

Denver Broncos (9-8-1 ATS, 6-11-1 O/U)

The Broncos are 6-0 ATS in their last six games as underdogs.

The Broncos are 2-5-1 ATS in their last eight playoff games.

The Under is 5-1 in Denver's last six playoff games.

Larry Hartstein
Larry HartsteinSenior Analyst