Under roof Super Bowl changes game
With the New England Patriots already installed as favourites, the best bet for this game would be for them to win by 7-12 point...
Richard O'Hagan explains how holding the Super Bowl indoors changes the dynamics and how a game is played.
This year, the movable feast that is the Super Bowl will pay its first ever visit to Indianapolis. The NFL has never been that keen on taking its showpiece event north of the Mason-Dixon line but has been tempted to Indianapolis by the 2005 construction of the roofed Lucas Oil Stadium, meaning that whatever the weather outside, the game is guaranteed perfect conditions inside.
This will be the 15th time that the Super Bowl has been played under cover, and that fact alone has some surprising implications for those trying to predict the game. Take, for example, the number of points to be scored during the game. In the period since the first indoor Super Bowl there have been 20 outdoor ones, so making a comparison between indoor and outdoor games is reasonably reliable.
Doing so shows that, contrary to what you might expect, it is the outdoor games which tend to have more points-per-game, 52.1 compared to 46.92. This makes the current [1.94] on offer for a 55-or-fewer point game look exceedingly attractive, especially when you factor in that there have only ever been two indoor games of more than 55 points and none of those since 1990.
The type of score also seems to be affected by the presence or absence of a roof. As you might expect, indoors with no breeze to speak of field goals are slightly more likely, with 2.78 per game as opposed to 2.65 outside. There's also a slight preference for rushing touchdowns, with 2.07 per game against 1.9. But - and here is the real surprise - it is actually harder to score a passing touchdown indoors. Outdoors you can reckon on 3.4 per game, but indoors that figure drops to 3.07.
These are, of course, very important considerations in the 'first score' markets, and there are two other things that also need to be considered. The first is that, indoors, scoring plays by the defence and special teams are almost non-existent. There have only ever been six, an average of 0.46 per game, whereas outside the figure is over one per match at 1.15.
In addition, despite the figure above, rushing touchdowns have been less common, barely more than one a game since 1999. All of which makes the [4.2] on offer for either side to score first with a field goal look very generous.
Another important difference occurs in the winning margins between indoor and outdoor victories. Outside, that averages out at 15 points per game. Inside, it drops to 14.07. But if you take out the Chicago Bears' victory by 36 points in Super Bowl XX and the San Francisco 49ers 55-10 demolition of the Denver Broncos four years later (the two biggest winning margins in Super Bowl history) that figure drops to just 9.75 points. Indeed, there has only been one win by more than that in the last six indoor games.
Finally, the betting market finds it much easier to predict the winner of an indoor game. In those 14 matches the favourite has only lost three times, which gives the market a win ratio of 78%. Outside, favourites lose two thirds of the time. With the New England Patriots already installed as favourites, the best bet for this game would be for them to win by 7-12 points, at a price of [4.7].