Super Bowl Bets, Meet Math

Americans probably like to think of their countrymen as a group of achievers, hardscrabble hustlers who pull themselves up by the bootstraps each morning to go to work, eat apple pie, and fall asleep watching baseball.

While that’s certainly true in some cases, another silent majority is popping up and it’s almost all in the shadows: the story of America, the gambler. And what better time of year to tell that story than right before the Super Bowl, the pinnacle of legal and illegal gambling in our great country?

It’s said that over $3B gets bet on the Super Bowl every year between small prop bets, Squares, pools, and other sundry wagers amongst friends and co-workers. What’s amazing is that only $100M of that will be done legally. While I’m not here to debate the ridiculousness of that figure – do you think any states could use that tax revenue? – I am here to say that if you’re going to partake in any of that delicious, gray-area action, you may as well use math to give you an advantage.

(Ah, using things to gain an advantage. Now THAT’S American, baby!)

Total Rushing Attempts: LaGarrette Blount 14.5

You probably don’t need a fancy algorithm to tell you that the Seahawks have a great defense. They rank #1 in defensive efficiency, but there’s a slight difference between how good they are against the pass (#1) and against the rush (#4). The common logic here is that Belichick likely knows that a downfield passing game against Richard Sherman and company isn’t likely, so the earlier they can get settled with a power running game, the better.

Our algorithm predicts him at 15.28 attempts, which makes the OVER a good play. It gets even better when you dig into the numbers – we at numberFire use advanced analytics and similarity scoring to generate these insights, it should be noted – and realize that seven out of the top nine strongest predictors for Blount’s performance all top 15 carries.

Length Of National Anthem: 2:01

This one isn’t for us, but it might be for you. It’s hard to really build a mathematical model around this sort of thing, but we can say that only three anthems over the past nine years have gone over two minutes. Jennifer Hudson’s languorous, throat-shedding 3:10 version before Super Bowl XLIII skews things quite severely. Idina Menzel is this year’s singer – I must admit, I don’t know much about her – so this is an UNDER unless you happen to know that her style lends itself to long solos and Aguilera-esque tremolos.

Total Passing Yards: Russell Wilson 219.5

I’ve already gone on record that advanced analysis shows that while Russell Wilson is very good, he’s not elite. And let me tell you, my Twitter feed can confirm that a lot of Seahawks fans disagreed. Well, here’s another one for you, ‘Hawks faithful: Wilson won’t top 200 yards in Sunday’s game.

In fact, we’re projecting only 173.05 yards for Wilson. Part of the reason is because the Patriots have a very strong pass defense (#4), but another, perhaps larger part of the reason is Wilson just isn’t a bulk passer. He’s only likely to throw the ball about 28 times in the game, and with the worst WRs situation of any team that made the playoffs, there isn’t much of a downfield threat to speak of.

Be sure to follow these bets on numberFire Live, a brand-new predictive platform that makes following the game more exciting. Check it out here.

Hopefully some of these prop bets will not only give you another reason to stay glued to the game, but a nice windfall in which to take your significant other to a nice dinner to make up for how little you paid attention to them during the actual game.