Is it just a bit ironic that the first time ever a Super Bowl participant is playing the game in their home stadium is the same season that the National Football League completed a regular season that for the first time in history found visiting teams winning more games than home squads?
The NFL will complete the most amazing feat of their 101 year history next Sunday when they stage Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. That accomplishment is simply getting through a 256 game regular season and expanded playoff schedule in the timeframe determined before the season started. They worked around occasional outbreaks of Covid-19 with the deftness that a skilled press secretary avoids answering unwanted questions.
In the process, the league found home teams winning 127 games while losing 128 and tying one. So, if the home teams had their first losing season straight-up, they must have had a horrible year against the point spread.
In a typical NFL season, the average for the ten years before this season, home teams win 57% of the time but in the same 2,560 games cover the point spread in only 49% of their games. Last year, while the home teams had their winning average cut to 50% how did their point spread results drop?
Home teams against the spread last year were 127-128-2, a shade above their winning average from the previous ten seasons.
How can this be?
Because the guys setting the point spreads are so skilled at separating bettors from their money that variations on the field seldom interfere with how they control point spread results. With that as a guide, what are they telling us about this Super Bowl? How can we get on the books side and collect with them next Sunday?
The opening line on this game had the Kansas City Chiefs favored by 3½ points in Tampa next week. That line was quickly dropped to 3 points and has stayed there though the first week even though 60% of the public bets are backing the favored Chiefs.
By the numbers, that would lend credence to a wager on the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.
But that move is by no means conclusive. Two years ago, after downing the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime in the AFC Championship Game, Tom Brady made his way to the losing locker room to console Kansas City Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, acknowledging him as the next king of the hill in the NFL.
How that same quarterback could be with a new team two years later, deeper into his ageing career, and take on Mahomes in his prime and beat him seems off the top to be the short straw in this game.
Yes, there are two sides to this game, and while the public is backing the kid in the beginning of his prime, the books are shading their likes to the man that has appeared in 18% of all Super Bowls ever played.
In a year that will not have all the buildup with teams arriving at the game site on the weekend before the contest is played, and extravagant hoopla that leads up to the Super Bowl that includes a media day and ongoing parties, Super Bowl LV is so different than any other.
Except for this, Brady is here.