Picking the Harbaugh Bowl Against the Spread

By Chris Katje
USA TODAY Sports-Derick Hingle

Millions of people around the world will watch Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. Many of the people will also bet on the game in some form. People will bet in office pools with squares and with friends. Others will bet through sportsbooks hoping to make a profit on the annual NFL tradition.

The most common bet in football is against the spread. The current spread for Super Bowl XLVII is San Francisco 49ers -4. This means that the books believe the 49ers will win the big game by at least four points. If you believe the 49ers will win by this many, you take San Francisco. If you think the Baltimore Ravens will win, or only lose by four points or less, you take the Ravens.

How does one decide who to bet on, other than what team you like? Today, I’m here to show you some of the valuable statistics in finding a winner. First, looking at Super Bowl history, it appears the 49ers have the advantage. San Francisco has appeared in five Super Bowls (XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXXIX) and holds a perfect 5-0 record. Against the spread, the 49ers are 4-1. The Ravens have appeared in only one Super Bowl (XXXV), but did beat the spread, giving them a perfect 1-0 record against the spread. So why does the advantage go the 49ers even though the Ravens are 100%. The Ravens one win against the spread is just too small of a sample size.

A better way to determine the winner is to look at the 2012 season. The 49ers, who posted an overall record of 11-4-1, were 9-7 against the spread. The Ravens, who finished the season 10-6, were 6-9-1 against the spread. If you would have bet on the Ravens and the spread each week, you would now have less money than when you started. The clear advantage here goes to the 49ers.

The Super Bowl is played in New Orleans, which is similar to an away game for both teams. On the road in 2012, the 49ers were 5-3 against the spread. The Ravens on the other hand did not fare so well on the road, going 3-4-1 against the spread. Advantage once again goes to the 49ers.

Another important thing to look at is the actual points used in the spread. In football games, teams score 2, 3, 6, or 7 points at a time. The number four is a little tricky here, because if the 49ers win by a field goal (3 points), they would actually fail to cover the spread. However, after my research I have determined that the best bet is the 49ers by 4 points.

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