NFL Odds: How Popularity and Reputation Impacts Super Bowl Betting

ERF-502_BOS_NFL Futures_October 15
Life isn’t fair. That’s something we all come to learn pretty early on, especially when we see two things, otherwise equal, differentiated between because of their names or reputations. Well what if I told you that such bias could be used to your advantage –when it comes to betting on the NFL, at least?
In football, like anywhere else, recognition matters. We like to root for the NFL teams we’re familiar with, and we like to bet on the Super Bowl contenders we’ve seen contend for the Super Bowl previously.
That’s why teams like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will forever top the sportsbook so long as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are alive and well under center. Bettors are familiar with Brady and Manning – even their mothers are familiar with Brady and Manning – but how much of a factor should this play in your NFL wagering strategy?

Popularity Comes at a Price

One of the disadvantages of having teams like the Pats and Broncos, two franchises widely considered Super Bowl contenders by casual and hardcore fans alike, is that such popularity lowers their potential payout. The more bettors wager on a particular team in a long-term betting scenario – like futures – the more oddsmakers adjust the Super Bowl lines accordingly.
Eventually, thanks to the steady stream of bettors supporting a particular team, the higher they sit on the list and the lower the potential payout is.
If there was, in contrast, a mass exodus away from the Pats, the other teams would climb the futures list, the Pats would dip, and the potential payout for a New England victory would increase.
Obviously these SuperBowl betting odds mechanics apply to all teams, whether household names or not, the phenomenon is just magnified by teams that see more activity in the sportsbook. A casual fan may be more familiar with a team like the Green Bay Packers than the Cincinnati Bengals and thus more likely to bet on them, but that doesn’t mean both aren’t equally likely to win the title.
We like to stay away from household contenders if we can help it, or at least hold off on betting on their Super Bowl odds until we’re able to find them available at more intriguing times. It’s not easy, but opportunities do arise where popular contenders can be had at better rates – like after they lose a game or their division rival goes on a winning streak.
Otherwise, you’re stuck paying a premium for them just because everybody else is betting on them, too.

When Being a Hipster is Cool

Given the above, it makes sense to buy in to teams before the masses follow suit. One doesn’t have to go far back in the past to find a time when the Seattle Seahawks were still an enigma in the sportsbook. These days, Pete Carroll and company are as popular a Super Bowl online betting option as any and their odds reflect it. Last year, not so. Whether fans were reluctant to bet on a team with a rookie quarterback or just reluctant to believe in Carroll’s system in general, the Seahawks offered a more significant payout.
Why? Regardless of which was the better squad, last year there was less certainty and thus more risk involved. This is the basic premise of gambling, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s important to consider the psychology of sports betting when crafting your own NFL wagering strategies.
A good rule of thumb to add to your SuperBowl betting tips is that if a team is a playoff contender for two or more consecutive seasons, they’ll be overvalued in the sportsbook. That means teams like the Patriots, Broncos and Packers may never be particularly sexy, so to speak, but at least you know what to expect out of them.
More lucrative from a potential jackpot perspective are teams like the Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. They may be slightly harder to commit to given the relative shroud of uncertainty that surrounds them – but the higher payouts makes them intriguing options.