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NFL best bets for the Super Bowl

NFL Bets

One. More. Game.

That’s all that remains of the 2021-22 NFL season.

Super Bowl 56: Bengals at Rams.

Here’s how I’m betting the side and total.

You can find all my bets in the FTN Bet Tracker. Use the promo code FREEDMAN to get 20% off your FTN subscription. Game odds via our Super Bowl betting odds page. Historical data against the spread (ATS) and for the total goes back to 2003.


Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl Odds

  • Kickoff: Sunday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBC
  • Bet: Bengals +4.5, Under 48.5
  • Odds: -110, BetMGM

“Bengals +4.5” means that the Bengals can lose by up to four points while still winning the bet. “Under 48.5” means that the Bengals and Rams can combine for any number of points up to 48 while still winning the bet. At -110 odds, bettors wager $110 for every $100 they wish to win.

The spread is now down to +3.5 at Caesars, and it’s +4 or a juiced +4.5 everywhere else, so there’s value in betting this line at BetMGM.

Even though this game is in Los Angeles, the Rams have no real home-field advantage. In the NFC Championship, SoFi Stadium was overrun with 49ers fans.

Rams head coach Sean McVay is 20-20-2 ATS at home in his five years with the team, whereas he’s 28-20 ATS on the road or at a neutral location.

In his brief NFL tenure, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is yet to play in a neutral stadium, but on the road he has been dominant, going 10-5 ATS. And for what it’s worth, Burrow in college was 11-3 ATS on the road or at a neutral field.

And he has been similarly strong as an underdog. In the NFL, he’s 12-7 ATS — 7-3 ATS this year — when getting points. As a collegiate underdog he was 5-1 ATS.


Bottom line: The Bengals are a league-best 6-1 ATS as road underdogs this season. The market has regularly been down on the Bengals, and they have significantly and routinely outperformed expectations.

Among all quarterbacks this year, Burrow is tied with Patrick Mahomes for No. 2 (0.155) — trailing only Aaron Rodgers (0.168) — in composite expected points added and completion percentage over expectation (per RBs Don’t Matter).

On offense, the Bengals can put up points, and on defense they’re sufficient. Since the Week 10 bye, they rank No. 9 in defensive EPA per play (-0.023) and have allowed just two teams to score more than 28 points: The Chargers (41, Week 13) and the Chiefs (31, Week 17).

The Bengals were just 10-7 in the regular season, which makes them one of the least-heralded Super Bowl teams of the past 20 years, but the five teams to which they are most comparable by record all played well in the Super Bowl. Four of them won outright and all five covered.

  • 2007 Giants (10-6): Won Super Bowl, covered +12.5
  • 2008 Cardinals (9-7): Lost Super Bowl, covered +6.5
  • 2010 Packers (10-6): Won Super Bowl, covered -3
  • 2011 Giants (9-7): Won Super Bowl, covered +3
  • 2012 Ravens (10-6): Won Super Bowl, covered +4.5

I first put this in the Bet Tracker at +4, and I like it even more at +4.5.

As for the total: McVay and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor know each other well. Taylor worked under McVay for two years with the Rams, first as an assistant wide receivers coach and then as the quarterbacks coach.

Familiarity tends to breed offensive inefficiency and conservatism — and both coaches are risk-averse situational decision makers anyway. Just look at how often they are willing to settle for field goals.

Over the past decade, no team has attempted more field goals than the Rams (2.3 per game), and Bengals kicker Evan McPherson has attempted an obscene number of field goals (3.1 per game) since the Week 10 bye.

I expect this game to be more of a field-goal kicking contest than a touchdown-scoring shootout.

Picks: Bengals +4.5 (-110), Under 48.5 (-110), BetMGM
Limits: +3 (-110), 47.5 (-110)


Super Bowl 56 Coin Toss Winner to Defer

At -500 odds, bettors wager $500 for every $100 they wish to win.

These odds are steep, but they’re not nearly steep enough. This year, the Rams have won the coin toss 10 times, and they have deferred all 10 times. Similarly, the Bengals are 11-of-11 winning and deferring. 

And this isn’t just a 2021 thing.

In five years as a Rams head coach, Sean McVay has deferred on all 48 of his coin toss victories. As for Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, he has deferred on all but one of 26 coin toss victories in three years.

No one likes paying juice, but this prop offers significant value.

Pick: Coin Toss Winner to Defer (-500)
Limit: -2000

Super Bowl 56 First Score to Be a Field Goal

At +165 odds, bettors wager $100 for every $165 they wish to win.

The Bengals and Rams can both put up points.

But historically, teams have been tight to open the Super Bowl. Over the past 22 Super Bowls (since 2000), the first score has been a field goal in 54.5% of those games.

Both McVay and Taylor are conservative situational playcallers who are fine settling for field goals instead of attempting to convert fourth downs.

Early on, both coaches will likely be fine just getting some points on the board instead of pushing for touchdowns.

Finally, casual sports bettors want to root for touchdowns instead of field goals, and that dynamic has likely skewed this line.

With +165 odds, this prop has an implied probability of 37.7% (per our Betting Odds Calculator), but I think the true odds are closer to 50%.

Pick: First Score to Be a Field Goal (+165)
Limit: +130

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