I’m not ready to pick a winner in Super Bowl 56, a game pitting the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals that won’t be played until Feb. 3.

But I have to start warming up at some point, so I’ll begin the process by doing some stretching today.

The Current Betting Line: The Rams are favored by 4.5 points. As a general principle, I think any number higher than 3 for the favorite is too high for this matchup. The bookmakers are seeing a lot of early money coming in on the Rams, and those putting their dollars on the Rams aren’t getting a value rate. They have to pay a premium to bet the Rams. The sharps know this and are trying to take advantage of the pro-Rams trend to grab the Bengals and 4.5 while they still can. Five of the final six NFL postseason games this season were decided by exactly three points.

The Current Over/Under: It’s set at 48.5 points, with a chance of reaching 50. But using 48.5 points as the total, if you wager on the over, both teams must score a combined 49 points or more for you to win. If you go with the under, then the teams must score no more than 48 points combined. The early money is headed to the under. Footnote: Unders have won at a rate of 54.1% overall this season (152-129-3), which is the highest mark since 1991.

What You Should Know About Underdog Trends: In Super Bowl history, the favorite has a straight-up record of 34-21. But against the spread, the betting favorite is 25-26–3. (With one push.) There’s more to this. In the last 20 Super Bowls the underdog is 14-6 against the spread – and 10-4 ATS in the last 14 Supers.

The Underdog Role Bodes Well For The Bengals: This season Cincinnati is 8-2 against the spread on the road or at a neutral site. But as an underdog Joe Burrow and the boys are 8-3 against the spread overall, and 6-1 ATS on the road or at a neutral site. When listed as an underdog by three to six points, the Bengals are 5-0. And they are 5-3 this season ATS against opponents that have won more than 55% of their games.

Record Against Postseason-Bound Teams: How did the Rams and Bengals fare against higher class of competition this season when the betting line was 4.5 points? Including the postseason, the Bengals had nine games against playoff teams. If they had been a 4.5 point underdog in each of the nine games, as is the case for the Super Bowl, the Bengals would have gone 9-0 vs. the spread. The Rams had 10 games against playoff teams, and if they’d been a 4.5-point favorite in each of the 10, they would have gone 3-7 ATS.

The Joe Burrow Factor: As an underdog by at least three points this season, Cincinnati is 6-0 outright and 6-0 ATS when Burrow starts the game. As an underdog by at least three points in his career, Burrow is 11-2 against the spread and 7-5-1 outright.

The Rams Have Been Shaky As the Favorite: LA’s record as the betting fave this season is 7-10. That includes a 4-5 record against the spread as the favorite at home or at a neutral location. Super Bowl 56 will be played at the Rams’ home (SoFi Stadium) but it’s a neutral-field game.

The Team With the Better Record? Not helpful. The team that came into the big game with the superior record has lost 11 of the past 12 Super Bowls straight up. Regular-season and postseason included, the Rams are 15-5 and the Bengals are 13-7.

The Under Is Looking Sweet: This is subject to change, based on over/under movement for Super Bowl 56. But in the past 12 Super Bowls the under is 9-3 … and the past three Super Bowls have all gone under the total. In a related note, the unders have prevailed in eight of the 12 postseason games leading to this Super Bowl.

Looking At Four Categories: I don’t want to go too deep into the bramble here, but I got this from VSIN last year and have updated the trends. It’s interesting to me.

1) The team that has the higher yards per passing attempt in the Super Bowl is 43-12 outright and 37-15-3 against the spread.

2) The Super Bowl team that turns the ball over more is 6-49 outright and 8-36-8 against the spread.

3) The team that has the edge in time of possession has won 40 of the first 55 Super Bowls outright and is 39-13-3 ATS.

4) The Super Bowl team that rushes for the most yards in the game is 41-14 straight up, and 38-14-3 ATS.

Super Bowl teams that prevailed in three of the four categories 40-5 straight up, and 36-8-1 against the spread.

Super Bowl teams that prevailed in all four categories are 26-0 straight up, and 24-1-1 ATS.

When A Team Puts Up 30+ Points In A Super Bowl: The last 26 to do so are 24-2 straight up and 23-3 ATS.

No Surprise Here: The last 21 teams that failed to score at least 14 points in the Super Bowl went 1-21 straight up and 1-21 against the spread.

However, Consider This: The team that allowed the fewer yards all season when entering a Super Bowl has lost nine straight Super Bowls — both straight up, and against the spread. And LA allowed fewer yards than CIN this season.

Thanks for reading…


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at 590thefan.com — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

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