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A Close Super Bowl? Don’t Bet on It.

By NATE SILVER

“Anyone can tell you that it’s going to be a close game,” write Bill Barnwell and Aaron Schatz, two of the smartest football analysts on the planet, in their Super Bowl preview at Football Outsiders.

The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, indeed, are hard to distinguish statistically. The Steelers, counting the playoffs, have scored 24 points per game and allowed 15. The Packers’ numbers — 25 points scored per game, and 16 against — are nearly identical.

Bettors see two closely matched teams as well. Vegas lines have Green Bay favored, but only by a small margin — 2½ or 3 points, depending on the sports book. (Mr. Barnwell and Mr. Schatz also conclude that the Packers are slight favorites.)

Such close point spreads are fairly rare in the Super Bowl. Only 9 times in the 44 years of the game has the final point spread been within a field goal or less…. Read More