Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Super Bowl Total Analysis
Super Bowl 54 Total (O/U) Analysis
We are still quite a ways out from the big game, but all this prep time before the Super Bowl is great for bettors like myself who love to dig deep into the data, historical and otherwise, to see if any lightly discussed edges arise.
With this year's total already getting bumped up quite a bit initially, you will see many arguments for both sides of the full game total in the coming days. But there are other ways to attack the total for the Super Bowl, and they include things like first quarter and first-half total plays as well. And while it can be easy to dismiss whatever happened in a Super Bowl years ago as non-relevant to this specific game, similar historical scenarios still exist and we can use them to potentially help strengthen a position.
So before we get into the historical 1st Quarter and 1st Half results for the Cheifs and Niners this specifc year, let's take a broader trip through history to see if there is anything that becomes a shiny enough data nugget to invest in.
Super Bowl 54 Over-Under (O/U) Betting Odds
Odds provided by FanDuel (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
Odds Subject to Change - T&C's Apply, 21+
1st Quarter: Over 10 (-125) or Under 10 (+105)
1st Half: Over 27 (+100) or Under 27 (-120)
Full Game: Over 54 (-110) or Under 54 (-110)
Super Bowl History: 1st quarter
While I don't have the historical lines for 1st quarter totals in the Super Bowl, it was easy enough to go through the previous 53 games box scores and come away with some findings. I mean, the Super Bowl is a game where nervous starts are quite prevalent for teams, as the magnitude of the game really can hit guys early. Also, no team wants to fall behind big early, so conservatism tends to rule the day in 1st quarters of the big game.
Through 53 played Super Bowls, the average combined point total we've seen in the 1st quarter of those games is 8 points. Nine different times we've had scoreless first frames, and oddly enough, those full game totals in those scoreless first quarter games has ended up with a 5-4 'over/under' record overall. So those of you that may already be eyeing an 'over' play for this year's game, it may pay off to wait and save part of your stake for some In-Game Wagering.
Should you get a slow start – three of those nine scoreless 1st quarters have come in the past five years – the in-game total will be a lot lower then the current line, and we have seen teams explode following that slow start. That wasn't able to happen in last year's game, but the four other times a scoreless 1st quarter in the Super Bowl has happened this century, we've seen the games finish with 62 (SB LI), 52 (SB XLIX), 45 (SB XXXIX) and 61 (SB XXXVIII) points. Keep that in mind as you follow this game along.
But what about past Super Bowls that have had an identical scenario to what we've got this year.
Well, here are some of those 1st quarter betting facts.
-- Super Bowls that have been played with a #1 seed vs #2 seed have a 1st quarter scoring average of 9.307 points in 13 previous occurrences, but when you isolate #1 NFC teams vs #2 AFC Teams, that number does rise up to 11.714 points in seven occurrences. With this year's number juiced to the high side of 10, there is no real great edge here alone.
-- Super Bowls that have been played with a total that closed in the 50's have a 1st quarter scoring average of 8 points in 11 previous occurrences, but only twice (SB XXIX and SB XIX) were there more then 10 points scored in the 1st quarter. Ironically enough, the San Francisco 49ers were involved in both of them.
-- Super Bowls that have closed with a point-spread of -3 or less have a 1st quarter scoring average of 6 points in 15 occurrences, and again have only cleared 10 points twice in that time. Even still, the seven times it's happened this century, the full game O/U record is 5-2 to the 'over', as it's happened six times this past decade alone.
-- Super Bowls played in Miami have a 1st quarter scoring average of 9.8 points in 10 occurrences, as this location has actually been much more kind to 1st quarter 'over' bets. The last four Super Bowls played in Miami have all finished with at least 10 points in the first frame.
-- Super Bowls that have closed with the AFC team has the favorite (of any number) have a 1st quarter scoring average of 6 points in 28 occurrences, and have only hit 10 points or more three times in 15 tries this century.
If you are to average all those first quarter historic point totals that have had scenarios that apply to this year's game, you get a number of 7.82 points. That's nearly a full FG below this year's current number, and if 10.5's start popping up, going low may be the way to go.
Super Bowl History: 1st Half Over-Under Notes
Continuing on with those same applicable historical scenarios for this year's game, let's take a look at how some of these 1st halves have played out.
-- Super Bowls that have been played with a #1 seed vs #2 seed have a 1st half scoring average of 23.769 points in 13 previous occurrences, but when you isolate #1 NFC teams vs #2 AFC Teams, that number does rise up to 25.14 points in seven occurrences.
-- Super Bowls that have been played with a total that closed in the 50's have a 1st half scoring average of 21.18 points in 11 previous occurrences, but only twice (SB XXIX and SB XIX) were there more then 24 points scored in the 1st half. Again, the San Francisco 49ers were involved in both of them.
-- Super Bowls that have closed with a point-spread of -3 or less have a 1st half scoring average of 20.33 points in 15 occurrences, and have hit 27 or more points in four of those games.
-- Super Bowls played in Miami have a 1st half scoring average of 21.4 points in 10 occurrences. And just like 1st quarter wagers, the Miami site has been kind to high-scoring first halves, as 30+ 1st half points have been scored in three of the last six times the city of Miami has hosted.
-- Super Bowls that have closed with the AFC team has the favorite (of any number) have a 1st half scoring average of 19.928 points in 28 occurrences, and have only hit 27 points or more six different times. That's a 21.4% clip.
So what can we take from all that history?
Well, what does stand out is how much the 'under' in both the 1st quarter and 1st half this year appears to be a solid play. You average out all those averages for the same scenario's this year's game is facing, and the 1st half total comes out to 21.322, with a 1st quarter total of 7.82 (mentioned above). Both of those numbers give you plenty of wiggle room to still stay low a the current numbers.
But let's say for instance, we eliminate the “Super Bowls played in Miami” historical angle simply because it carries the least significance. Then you've got 1st quarter averages of 7.325 points scored, and 1st half averages of 21.302. Not a big change by any means, but it does bring up one historical fact that was too juicy to keep to myself.
If you go back through all the Super Bowls and look for one that had seeds of #1 vs #2 playing, a point spread of -3 or less, a total in the 50's, and the AFC team as the favorite, you get one Super Bowl that fits all that criteria:
Super Bowl LI between New England and Atlanta, the game that will forever be remembered as the 28-3 choke job by the Falcons.
That just so happens to be a game that current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has to remember vividly, as he was the Falcons offensive coordinator then. Funny how the connections can come full circle, and that was also one of those games where we got a scoreless 1st quarter, 24 points in the 1st half, and ultimately an 'over' ticket cashing for the full game.
Will this year's total result be similar?
2019 Team History – Kansas City Chiefs
Historical angles are always nice, but current data on these teams is ultimately more important as they are the guys out on the field. So, let's go through a similar exercise with both teams.
-- Kansas City games had 10 or more combined points scored in the 1st quarter 12 times in 18 games this year, landing on 10 exactly in five of those occurrences. The average total 1st quarter points in Chiefs games this year was 11.55 points per game.
-- KC themselves put up an average of 5.38 points in the 1st quarter, and were blanked six different times
-- Kansas City games averaged 28 points in the 1st half through 18 contests, but they've been held at 27 or less 11 different times this year, including a stretch of eight straight games to finish the year.
-- In KC road games this year, they averaged total points of 11.25 in the 1st quarter and 26.875 in the 1st half. Basically right where the numbers are for the Super Bowl, as six of those eight road games had at least 26 total points in the 1st half.
2019 Team History – San Francisco 49ers
-- San Francisco games averaged 10.722 points in the 1st quarter. 12 of their 18 games this season also finished with at least 10 points scored in the opening frame.
-- SF themselves put up an average of 6.66 points in the 1st quarter this year, and were only blanked four times, one of which was their heavy monsoon game in Washington
-- San Francisco games averaged 24.05 points combined in the 1st half, and landed on 27 or more points nine different times (50%)
-- In SF road games this year, they averaged total points of 12 in the 1st quarter and 23.5 in the 1st half, as only half of those eight road games finished with a 1st half score of 27 or more points.
As you can tell, it's this year's numbers from both teams that are highly influential in posting the current numbers the markets are dissecting, and in all instances, both teams have results right around the totals for the 1st quarter and 1st half. It's why you've got to be willing to dig for edges elsewhere, and it's why I brought up those historical Super Bowl angles first. They can be used as some out of the box thinking to help formulate your plan of attack for this game.
With minimal to take from the two respective teams track record this year, it's the historical angles that side overwhelmingly with the 'unders' in the 1st quarter and 1st half that I can't seem to ignore. Remember, it's not like we haven't seen great offenses (KC) go up against great defenses (SF) in the Super Bowl before, so even with both organizations propensity for putting up points in bunches this year, I'm not sure that will be the case this season.
Cautious starts have been the norm for Super Bowls this entire century – only three of 20 Super Bowls this century have opened up with 11 or more points in the 1st quarter – and I'm not sure that changes here. Having two weeks to prepare for this game is a big part of those past results, and I would expect both defensive coordinators to have their units extremely ready to go from the outset.
KC's got plenty of confidence they can come back from a multi-score deficit given how their first two playoff games have gone, but I'm not sure they want to tempt fate for a 3rd time in that regard, especially in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco doesn't want to be forced to start chucking the ball all over the yard should they find themselves with an early deficit to climb out of, meaning they'll look to pound the rock early and often and adjust from there. If that's how this game plays out, it's only good news for going 'low' early.
So it's the historical side that I'm siding with for this game, as it's one where taking the 'under' 10 in the 1st quarter and under 27 in the 1st half is where I'll start. If one or both of those cash, I'll look to add an in-game 'over' play to the card, because history also suggests that slow starters in the modern game – Super Bowls from the 1980's on – do tend to loosen up as the game goes on and teams figure out what's working.
And if it's a shootout from the start, well then it's no different then losing two units on any other play this year. Chalk it up as losses and move on. Remember, just because it's the Super Bowl, it doesn't mean that you've got to go all out or expose your bankroll completely. It's just one more game.
But it is a game everyone wants some piece of, and from a total's perspective, I'm sticking with the first 30 minutes of action, at least from a pregame standpoint.
Super Bowl 54 Over-Under Best Bets
1st Quarter Under 10 (+105)
1st Half Under 27 (-120)
Odds provided by FanDuel (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
Odds Subject to Change - T&C's Apply, 21+