The history of the Super Bowl is marked by acrobatic catches from the likes of Lynn Swann and Jerry Rice, diving tackles by Mike Jones (remember the goalline tackle in Super XXXIV?) and Jack Lambert and masterful rushing performances from Terrell Davis and John Riggins.
The history of Super Bowl betting is marked by not-so-thrilling back-door covers, huge double-digit underdog winners that rewarded fans and brutal line moves that crippled sportsbooks.
The Giant-killer: Giants upsetting Patriots in Super Bowl 42
There is no double-digit favorite in play when the New England Patriots battle the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI (the Pats are favored by 3 points) but it happened the last time these teams met. New York was a 12-point underdog four years ago and pulled off a monster upset of the almost-perfect Patriots in a great day for bettors.
But it was one of the blackest days in online sportsbook and Las Vegas casino history. Many bettors had taken the Giants at +12. Worse for the casinos, plenty of heavy action hit the moneyline for the Giants, meaning a 4/1 and 5/1 payout when they won the game straight up.
"Bettors who wagered $100 on the Giants to win at +450 profited $450," said Mike Pickett of OddsShark.com. [ NFL Moneyline Explained ] "It was a great day for bettors."
Exciting Finish! Not really....
Super Bowl 43 was one of the most exciting games in history with a frenzy of late scoring and lead changes aplenty. But while the Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes TD in the final minutes rallying the Pittsburgh Steelers past the Arizona Cardinals was a thrill for fans, it was a yawner for bettors.
The Cardinals were 7-point underdogs and had the cover pretty much locked up. Even when they lost the game, Zona backers were still smiling. Same story at Super Bowl 39 where the Eagles never really threatened to beat the Patriots, but they still covered the spread with a late ‘meaningless’ TD to lose 24-21.
Meaningless to whom? To Patriots bettors who lost their bets? To Eagles bettors, whose disappointment was softened by a trip to the payout window?
Black Sunday – Super Bowl 13: Steelers vs Cowboys
Those who understand NFL line moves can appreciate how well Super Bowl 13 worked out for bettors and how it crippled Vegas sportsbooks.
The game between the Steelers and Dallas Cowboys opened betting with the Steelers favored by 4.5 points. But during the week, so much money was bet on the Cowboys that the line moved to -4 and finally to -3.5 as the sportsbook looked to balance action (get as much money on the underdog as on the favorite to minimize risk).
But that live movement proved fatal for sportsbooks when the final score ended 35-31 Pittsburgh. Bettors who got the Cowboys early at +4.5 won their bets. Bettors who got the Steelers late at -3.5 won their bets. Everyone who bet at -4 or +4 experienced a push (or tie) so all those wagers were refunded.
In the end, sportsbooks paid out far more winners and suffered what is still known today in Vegas as Black Sunday.
Check out the history of Super Bowl odds with lines and totals on all 45 games.