Special bets around the Super Bowl typically range from the frivolousness of the Super Bowl coin toss to more serious markets framed around the performances of the teams and key players.
Markets focus on the high profile players and their predicted achievements in the Super Bowl, most notably the two quarterbacks - Tom Brady of New England and Matt Ryan for Atlanta.
How to analyse the numbers
The most popular Super Bowl betting markets are about the passing yards.
- Will gross passing yards for Tom Brady be over 300.5 (1.666*)?
- Will Matt Ryan have more gross passing yards in the 1st half (2.20*)?
- Will Tom Brady’s longest pass completion be over 39.5 yards (1.787*)?
There are many sites that have extensive player stats, play-by-play data and gamebooks from the current season for all quoted players, but there are a few pitfalls to avoid when analysing these numbers.
Passing yards and betting markets framed around them can be quoted in either gross or net yards. In the latter yards lost on a passing play such as sack yards are subtracted.
Also, some player stats are driven by the state of the game. A side may take to the air when they trail and a predictable, repetitive game plan may gain yards, but perhaps not be able to sustain a drive and produce points.
If we take Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl as a starting point, the winning quarterback has thrown for more yards than his opponent in just five of the 15 contests.
Similarly, the winning passer has made more passing attempts than his defeated counterpart in just four out of the previous 15 Super Bowls.Also some individual game stats may contain games where a player was partly benched through injury.
Pricing in the winner factor
While raw player stats from a successful regular and post season can be helpful in predicting how players will fare on February 5th, they may need to be skewed by an opinion about the most likely winner.
A side tends to pass more frequently if they trail or run more often than usual if they lead, particularly late in the game.
Next, while a mean value can summarise a player’s season long accomplishments, outliers may produce a skewed estimate.
Therefore a median value, which takes the middle figure of a series once it is arranged in ascending order is often more representative of a player’s typical output.
For example, the mean gross yards thrown by the losing quarterback in the Super Bowl since SB XXXVI is 291 yards, but the median is only 276 yards.
This season New England’s wide receiver, Julian Edelman’s longest reception per game has a mean of nearly 27 yards, but a median of just 22. The former being skewed by a 77 yard reception at Miami.
Matt Ryan has a mean of 23.7 post and regular season completions per game, but a median of 26 and his mean, gross passing yardage is 315 compared to a median value of only 292.5 yards.
Ryan’s passing yardage is only one side of the estimations that needs to be made. You then need to see the passing yardage that New England has been allowing over the season to gauge the defensive capabilities of his opponents in the Super Bowl.
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