If you just saw the greatest movie ever with the most amazing final twist you ever witnessed you might want to tell your friends all about it. Of course, if you did, you stand to ruin it for them. If you know something and want to share it but know revealing it too early would ruin it for others, what do you do?
Okay, it’s not really a movie I’m talking about here, and the final twist is not really as confirmed as a movie already locked in on film. But, as sure as knowing the final twist on movies like The Sting or The Usual Suspects, I know how Super Bowl LVI is going to end.
I’ll try not to ruin it for you by telling you too soon.
Instead, I will spend the next couple weeks dissecting this matchup from more angles than a pool shark uses to drop balls. I’ll explore how favorites and underdogs do and how the two teams that played the game both close to their home stadium and in their home stadium have dominated their opponents.
Those two games, by the way, were the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. In the early 1980’s, San Francisco had been scheduled to expand Candlestick Park, home of the 49ers, to meet the minimum requirements for seating capacity necessary to host a Super Bowl. With that expectation in place, the City won the bid to host Super Bowl XIX. When the expansion project got waylaid, the game was shifted from Candlestick to Stanford Stadium.
The 49ers advanced to Super Bowl XIX and had the expansion project at Candlestick been completed, they would have hosted their contest against the Miami Dolphins in their home stadium. In the end, it seemed the “home field advantage” provided by the nearby Stanford Stadium suited the 49ers just fine, as they dominated the Dolphins and Dan Marino in his only Super Bowl appearance, 38-16.
It would be 36 years after the 49ers romp that a National Football League team would actually be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got that opportunity when they met the favored Kansas CIty Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
How did that work out?
The Buccaneers dominated Super Bowl LV from start to finish while earning a convincing 31-9 victory. Which means this, teams playing close to home or in their home stadium have outscored their opponents by a 69-25 margin and the point spreads on both games were close. The 49ers a slight favorite over the Dolphins to complete the 1984 season, and the Buccaneers a slight underdog to the Chiefs last year.
In Super Bowl LVI, the Los Angeles Rams become the third team to play a Super Bowl in or near their home site with the contest to be played at SoFi Stadium. So, what do you think is going to happen?
The opening point spread on Super Bowl LVI has the Rams favored by four points. If we assign the commonly accepted three point advantage for the home team, that means the Rams on a neutral field would be a one point favorite over the Cincinnati Bengals.
I don’t think so.
My numbers indicate that if this game was played anywhere but SoFi Stadium, the Rams would be a 3½ point favorite. So why are the books only giving the Bengals an extra half point in a situation that has seen Super Bowl teams dominate?
If I told you, I’d ruin the suspense.
But I know, and you will also know soon enough.