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Superbowl Betting Props: Will The Game Go To Overtime? – SportsUntapped.com
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Added February 3rd, 2010 by David Glisan

Superbowl Betting Props:  Will The Game Go To Overtime?
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Another Superbowl betting prop based on pure statistics concerns whether or not the Superbowl will go into overtime.  Although this wager doesn’t explicitly hinge on the outcome of the game in most cases it is a de facto play on the underdog.  Most NFL overtime games are decided by field goals, and if Indy wins by three–in overtime or not–New Orleans Saints’ bettors will cash their tickets as +4′ or +5 underdogs.

Regardless of the sport, no team wants to win or lose a championship based on overtime.  This is especially true in ‘sudden death’ sports like NHL hockey and even more true in the NFL where the overtime rules have frequently been a subject of criticism.  Sudden death is a poor fit for football, a fact recognized by college football which has gone to an overtime format where both teams have at least one possession.  In the NFL, the team that wins the coin toss more often than not wins the game.  For that reason, a team has solid motivation to avoid overtime where the outcome of the game can literally be taken out of their hands.  This is true during the regular season, and much more the case for the Superbowl.  Obviously, a team would rather take their chances in overtime than lose but suffice to say that both the Saints and Colts will be doing everything possible to win the game in regulation.

The overtime prop bet we’ll consider is from Bookmaker:

Will the game go into overtime?

Yes +800
No -1200

Props like this can be tough to bet since there’s an obvious ‘right side’ but you’re risking a lot to win a little.  Still, the ‘true odds’ of an overtime occuring represent an overlay for the ‘No’ position despite the high price.  On the other hand, the ‘Yes’ position is a bad statistical value despite the bigger payback.

Since 1972, somewhere between 4.5% and 5% of all NFL games have gone to overtime.  More significantly, there has never been an overtime game in the previous 43 Superbowls.  As noted above, NFL teams have a significant interest in not letting games go to overtime due to the statistical reality that the team that wins the coin toss often ends up winning the game.  Though the toss winning team has prevailed in 52% of the games, this is enough of a disadvantage to make overtime a ‘worst case scenario’.

Based on the prices above, betting the ‘No’ is still the correct value play.  For the sake of argument, we’ll assume that there’s a 5% chance of the game going into overtime.  In reality, the dynamic of the Superbowl makes it even less likely but the 5% number is still useful to illustrate this point.  First, lets consider the math behind a ‘Yes’ play.  At +800, theoretical break even is 11.1% meaning that this price nowhere near reflects the 5% chance that an overtime will occur.  To do that, you’d have to have a moneyline takeback price with a theoretical break even of 5% or lower meaning that unless you’re getting +1900 or higher you’re betting into a bad number if you’ll looking for the game to go into overtime.

The -1200 price may scare away a lot of casual players, but its a fair price and actually gives us a slight overlay.  At -1200, the theoretical breakeven is 92.31%, giving us a little bit of value with a 95% (or higher) likelihood that the game won’t go into OT.  Over the longterm, this is how you make money betting on sports.  If you’re betting into numbers that provide wagering value and avoiding numbers that don’t, you’re well on the way to long term profits.

Bets like these are often the strongest plays on any given Superbowl since they’re not dependent on one team or another performing a certain way, and we can come up with some concrete probabilities based on statistics.  Once you determine the theoretical chance of overtime or other occurance happening, its just a matter of finding the best value price and making your bet.


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