The expectation of fireworks from both teams was reflected in the opening total of over / under 57½ points, which was quickly reduced to 56½ in most stores. An over / under of 56 is available on some sports bets.
If the grand total is 56 or more at kick-off, it will be the third highest grand total in Super Bowl history. One of those games, Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, fell below the total of 57 (62 points scored) while the other, Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts, fell below the total 56½ (48 points were scored). Last year’s Chiefs-San Francisco 49ers game also ended with a robust over / under of 54½ with a final score of 31-20.
There are reasons to like the over in this matchup. This season’s goal boom brought 84 games over 57 total points in the regular season and playoffs, a significant increase from last season (60) and the largest increase since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay had the fourth and fifth highest scores per trip during the regular season. But that’s not as obvious a clue as it may seem. Since 2002, when teams met in the top five for scoring efficiency in the playoffs, they have accumulated 57 or more points in 11 out of 21 games. That hardly suggests that this game is a barrier to go over.
Then consider this: Since 2002, there have been 102 playoff games in which one of the teams was in the top 10 in regular season defense as measured by points allowed per trip. Only 27 of these games, or 26.5 percent, gave a total of 57 or more points. According to this metric, the Bucs 2020 took sixth place.
In addition, teams in the Super Bowl tend to start slowly. In the past 18 years, only three title games had more than 10 points in the first quarter. Three of the last six Super Bowls had no points in the first quarter. Not only is that below attractive; This also applies to the first quarter (10 points at FanDuel with a rate of -136). Thanks in part to those slow starts, only five of the last 19 Super Bowls have exceeded 56 points.
Let’s work through a simple projection for the end result. NFL teams get roughly 11 rides per game, an average number for those teams and also for the Super Bowl contestants since 2002. That would mean teams like the Chiefs and Buccaneers, who score about 2.7 points per ride, do that Game should end with a combined final score of 59 points.
However, championship-level teams also play defense. Tampa Bay had one of the best defenses this season (fifth best by adjusting for strength of schedule per Football Outsiders), and Kansas City was a little below average (22nd). If we adjust the efficiency of the offensive scoring for the opposing defenses and simulate this matchup 1,000 times, the projected total is below 56½ points in almost 58 percent of the cases, with an average total of 54 points. (Last year, this method projected a total of 51 endpoints, the exact number of points scored.)
Probability it goes under by simulation
Alternative totals are also available. The Westgate SuperBook offers over / under of 42½, 49½, 63½ and 70½ each with different money lines, implying different odds. As you would expect, the chance of going under increases significantly with each increase in your score. In all of these scenarios, the “under” option offers at least some betting value.