For much of the regular season, the Denver Broncos were betting favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Towards the end of the year and into the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks were given the best odds of winning it all. On Sunday, the two teams will meet to determine the best team in the NFL.
For almost the entire week, Las Vegas casinos have had Denver favored by 2.5 points. The Broncos have not been an underdog the entire season. The Seahawks have been favored in 17-of-18 contests, which includes the playoffs.
In the regular season, no team was better at covering the betting line than the Seahawks. Seattle went 11-5 against the spread. They pushed the eight-point spread in their divisional round game against the New Orleans Saints and covered in their win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks covered the one time they were underdogs, but they failed to win the game.
The Broncos was nearly as good as the Seahawks in the regular season, covering 10-of-16 games. They’ve gone 1-1 in the playoffs. When the Broncos win, their games usually aren’t close. All of their victories, except for one, have come by at least a touchdown.
The current point spread is very small by usual Super Bowl standards. Only two other Super Bowls have ever seen a smaller betting line. In 1973, the undefeated Miami Dolphins were favored by one point and beat the Washington Redskins by a touchdown. Nine years later, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, when the oddsmakers separated the teams by just a point.
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In the game’s 47-year history, the favorite has a record of 26-19-2 against the spread. However, the underdogs have been dominant in recent history. Since 2002, the team getting points has not only covered nine of 12 contests, but they’ve won outright half the time. With a betting line set at less than a field goal, it’s unlikely that the Seahawks would lose the game, but still cover the spread.
Many of the earliest Super Bowl betting lines were set in the double-digits. Before the merger, each NFL team was favored by at least 12 points. From 1994-2002, seven underdogs were expected to lose by double-digits.
Since 2003, that number has fallen to one.