The New England Patriots are trying to win their fifth Super Bowl in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era. Bookmakers have listed the Pats as three point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons. How often do 3-point favorites win?
There is a sample of 614 games in our database with a closing spread of 3 points. The favorite in that game won outright 56.8% of the time. In the postseason, the win rate increases to 66.7% but the sample is small.
We can increase the number of games in our sample if we look at all games with closing spreads of 2.5 to 3.5. In nearly 1,200 games, the favorite won 58.0% of the time. In the playoffs, a favorite of 2.5 to 3.5 points won 63.6% of the time. The sample is still small in the postseason but the trend holds.
Teams favored by approximately 3 points in the playoffs win outright more often than teams favored in the regular season. There could be many reasons for this; one motivation is higher in the postseason. Two, by the time we get to the playoffs we have more information on each team, therefore the lines should be more accurate, where in the regular season a team could be favored but shouldn’t be.
By our simulations the Patriots beat the Falcons 63.2% of the time. This is in line with historical winning percentages for 3-point favorites in the playoffs. The current money-line for Super Bowl 51 is New England -155. The implied probability is that the Pats will win 60.8% of the time. Thus there is value on the Patriots money-line.
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