As followers of @Bet_Labs know, we often run mailbags – an opportunity to get an answer to any sports related question. Earlier this week we got a query that was good enough that it needed its own blog post.
@Bet_Labs ATS of super bowl losers in the first game of next season?
— 2 Chinz (@robotleader) June 22, 2016
So how do Super Bowl losers perform against-the-spread in their first game the next season? The results were surprising. Can anyone say Super Bowl Hangover?
Using Bet Labs data, the runner-up in the championship game has gone a humbling 2-11 against-the-spread (and 5-8 straight-up) in Week 1 since the 2003 season. The ATS win rate is surprising but even more so when you compare it to historical win probabilities.
On average, the Super Bowl loser has been favored by 3.2 points in its first game the following season (in our date the runner-up was favored in 10 out of 13 games). Historically, teams favored by 3 to 3.5 points have an against-the-spread record of 393-415-50 (48.6 percent) over the last 13 seasons and win outright about 60 percent of the time (508-350 straight-up).
We would expect the Super Bowl losers to cover the spread about 50 percent of the time based on the average line, not the 15.4 percent we have observed.
While we were at it we pulled the Week 1 results for the Super Bowl winners. Since 2003, the defending champions have gone 8-4-1 against-the-spread (and 11-2 straight-up) in the first game of the season.
Interestingly, and probably just a coincidence, the Super Bowl champions have been favored on average by 3.2 points in Week 1 – the same as the Super Bowl losers. However, the champs win rate both straight-up and against-the-spread exceeds expectations. This is likely due to the small sample size.
Nevertheless, recent history suggests backing the Super Bowl winners, not the losers, in the first game of the season.
Carolina, last year’s runner-up, is currently a consensus 2.5 point favorite in Denver to start the season. Nearly 80 percent of all spread bets are on the Panthers to cover. How comfortable are you backing Cam Newton and crew knowing the recent shortcomings of Super Bowl losers?