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Super Bowl Point Spread Trends Revolve Around Joe Montana

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The Super Bowl continues to grow, even as NFL ratings decline, with the big game attracting big handles from the world of sports wagering. Point spreads and over/unders offered by sportsbooks like Sports Interaction for the Super Bowl can be divided into three eras based on Joe Montana’s career.

Before Joe lead the 49ers to four Super Bowls, favorites crushed underdogs in low scoring affairs. During Montana’s reign, favorites still performed well against the spread, even as overall scoring exploded. After Joe hung up his cleats and Elway finally won a ring, underdogs started to cover the spread at an accelerated rate while scoring dipped.

 

Pre-Montana Super Bowl Era

The first 15 Super Bowls were mostly predictable affairs. Sportsbooks appeared to be cautious when determining point spreads for favorites, with underdogs rarely making a splash against the spread. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the most dominant team of the era, earning four Super Bowl rings, beating the spread three times in the process.

Overall, the favorite beat the spread 11 out of 15 times, a whopping 73% winning ratio. Coincidentally, two of the biggest point spread upsets may have triggered caution for bookies determining spreads.

Joe Namath’s guarantee beat an 18-point spread in Super Bowl III, while Super Bowl IV witnessed Kansas City obliterate Minnesota, despite a 12-point spread favoring the Vikings. After these two massive upsets, favorites beat the spread in nine of the proceeding 10 Super Bowls, creating the dominant trend before Montana.

Nine of the first 14 Super Bowl totals were conservative estimates during this era, including seven consecutive under results between Super Bowl III and XI. Only two of those 14 games featured an over/under above 40, evidence of the low-scoring trend over the first decade and a half of the biggest single annual event in sports.

The Joe Montana Super Bowl Era

Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers were slim, one-point favorites to beat Cincinnati during Super Bowl XVI in 1982. They held on for a five-point win against the Bengals to collect their first of four rings during the 80’s.

San Francisco’s “west coast” offensive style would have a major impact on the NFL, inflating the final score through a stronger emphasis on passing. Favorites continued to rule between Super Bowl XVI and XXXI, beating the spread in 10 out of 16 games, resulting in a 62.5 ATS winning percentage.

The majority of the 1980s and the 1990s were dominated by quarterbacks like Montana, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre and John Elway. As such, only two over/under totals were below 40 points, including three consecutive projected totals over 50 between 1994 and 1996.

Montana’s example created an increase in scoring for Super Bowl games, with the over winning in 10 of 16 championship games.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Montana Super Bowl Era

Ironic that the end of the “Montana” Super Bowl era would result in John Elway’s first Super Bowl – a milestone which was powered by Terrell Davis and one of the greatest rushing performances in football history. During Super Bowl XXXII, Terrell Davis carried Elway and the Broncos to a stunning upset of Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, who were 11-point favorites.

Since then, underdogs have performed well against the spread. Including Elway’s miraculous win, 12 of the past 20 Super Bowl spreads were covered by underdogs, with two championship games a push or pick’em. Between 2002 and 2017, 11 out of 16 underdogs beat the spread, resulting in an incredible 68.8% record for ATS dogs.

The post-Montana era still features plenty of scoring, with 11 of 20 Super Bowls finishing above the expected total. However, the NFL no longer features the ridiculous run’n’gun scoring of the 80s and 90s, when defenses were still struggling to catch up to offensive innovation.

Perhaps the most telling trend would be recent MVPs for the big game. Tom Brady’s won two of the past four Super Bowl MVPs, with linebackers Malcolm Smith and Von Miller snagging the award in 2014 and 2016. Defense appears to be the greatest predictor of the modern Super Bowl, which might eventually be known as the “Brady Era”.

 

Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media and DiMoro Enterprises LLC. He is a former Contributor for Forbes and the Huffington Post where he covered sports, social media, and SEO. Anthony hosts the Anthony DiMoro Show podcast, and formerly hosted the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast'.

NEWS

Raiders’ Antonio Brown Settles Lawsuit

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New Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was acquired via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason, has struck a settlement with a man, Ophir Sternberg, that claimed that he nearly killed a toddle by throwing furniture off of a Miami apartment building balcony, according to TMZ.

In the lawsuit, Sternberg claims his 22-month-old son was walking around the pool at the high-end apartment complex back in April 2018 when suddenly “large objects started to fall from the building many floors above them.”

Sternberg claimed that Brown tossed everything from vases, an ottoman, and other pieces of furniture from the balcony and they landed within feet of the toddler.

Brown had denied throwing the items, claiming that it was another person who had access to his apartment on that day.

Police responded to the scene and reported that Brown was “very agitated” and yelling when they arrived, noting that people have been trying to calm Brown down.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

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NBA

Eagles’ Jalen Mills Arrested

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Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested in Washington D.C following an altercation with Washington Wizards player Devin Robinson, according to the Associated Press’ Howard Fendrich (via the Washington Post).

Both men were charged with disorderly affray, which is described as fighting in a public place.

According to the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, a verbal altercation broke out between the two that escalated into a physical fight that took place on the sidewalk.

Robinson was transported to a hospital following the fight with Mills and upon his release he was taken to to department’s 2nd District station where Mills was detained.

Mills and Robinson were “involved in a verbal altercation which escalated into a physical altercation on the sidewalk adjacent to the Opera Night Club” in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the police report.

Both teams have since responded, with the Wizards essentially parting ways with Robinson due to the incident.

“We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions. We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season,” the Wizards said in a statement.

The Eagles issued a statement saying that they are “aware of the situation” and “continuing to gather more information.”

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NEWS

Mike Tannenbaum Joins ESPN

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Following his run as Executive Vice President of Football Operations with the Miami Dolphins, and long-overdue dismissal following a disaster 2018 season, Mike Tannenbaum is joining ESPN, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.

Tannenbaum will end up being ESPN’s replacement for Bill Polian, who retired from broadcasting to become a co-founder of the Alliance of American Football, which officially ended all operations last week.

Tannenbaum will make appearances on SportsCenter, NFL Live, and other ESPN productions in the build up to the NFL Draft and will also be a part of ESPN’s draft coverage during the 2019 NFL Draft.

At the end of the 2018 season, Tannenbaum was “reassigned” within the Dolphins organization, although no details were provided at the time and no information regarding his re-assignment have been made public since.

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