Why You Should Never Bet On the Super Bowl

I’m intrigued by Nate Silver’s blog. I know that rarely are two blogs the same, but Silver’s blog is definitely one of a kind. The way he uses statistics to explain everything from politics to search engines is fascinating.

Being the huge sports guy that I am, naturally I had an immediate response to Silver’s blog post called A Close Super Bowl? Don’t Bet on It. Although I love sports, I’m not a gambling guy. The simple thought of losing money puts me in distress. That’s why I kept my money in my pocket (or rather my daughter’s pocket) when Super Bowl Sunday finally arrived. I’m a 49ers fan and I doubt they’ll make the Super Bowl any time soon.

Silver wrote in his piece that the Vegas lines had the Packers favored by a very narrow margin of 2.5-3 points, the first Super Bowl game with a point spread that close in nine years. According to Silver, “What’s interesting about those games is that while the point spread was close, the games themselves usually weren’t.” His advice? Offer a bet where you take both teams by at least seven points because you’ll have a 60 percent chance of winning.

Now, my numbers skills aren’t as sharp as Silver’s, but I’d say that those odds are pretty good. However, I have better advice. Save your money! Unless you have an overabundance of cash and have no problem losing some of it. At the end of the day, the point spread is only a tool used by bookkeepers to fatten their own pockets. Silver acknowledges how poor of a score predictor the point spread is. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

In another online piece written three days before game day by Michael Ferraro and Quenton Narcisse for UConn’s The Daily Campus, Quenton says that Roethlisberger’s 10-2 career playoff record would be enough to get the Steelers the win. What Quenton failed to recognize was the two losses in the quarterback’s record.Although the odds are in Roethlisberger’s favor, the two losses tell me that beating him is possible. An immediate red flag for me. A ‘keep-your-money-in-your-pocket’ indicator, if you will. By the end of the game we all saw how well the odds treated the Steelers.

The point I’m trying to make is that statistics can be biased. There are two sides to every statistic and Nate Silver is effective in pointing that out in his blog, regardless of the topic he decides to tackle.

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  1. February 15th, 2011

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