Americans will drop an estimated $4.2 billion in bets on the 2016 Super Bowl, according to the American Gaming Association, and wagering on the big game is up 8% this year. Point being, Americans love to gamble—on the Super Bowl especially.
That said, on which team should you let your money ride? You could pick the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers based on a deep analysis of each team's strengths and weaknesses and key matchups in the game, with careful consideration of the point spread.
But what fun is that? Below are a handful of other suggestions for how to predict which squad will be crowned Super Bowl champs. They may seem less scientific and even laughable, but at least they don't require anything along the lines of, like, math and data crunching and stuff.
For the past dozen years, the Electronic Arts video game "Madden NFL" has conducted an advance simulation pitting the two Super Bowl teams against each other, with surprisingly impressive results. In 9 out of the past 12 years, the algorithm has correctly predicted the winner, and it nailed last year's Super Bowl not only by forecasting the exact final score, but by prognosticating that the New England Patriots' Julian Edelman would score the game's winning touchdown.
For Super Bowl 50, the Madden NFL simulation has it that the Panthers beat the Broncos by a score of 24-20. If this winds up holding true, in most cases this would mean that the Broncos would cover the point spread. (Most sports books favor the Panthers with a point spread of 5.5 to 6 points, meaning that if the Panthers win by less than that amount, a bet on the Broncos would collect.)
Cute Animals (and Donald Trump)
The Charlotte Observer rounded up a few of the more cuddly ways Super Bowl predictions are being made this year. Silly races around the country between baby tortoises and piglets forecast a victory for the Broncos, while entertainment experiments testing the predictive powers of a porcupine and a tiger yielded mixed results. Oh, and Donald Trump picked the Broncos, mainly because he thinks Peyton Manning is "a very, very good guy." Here's a video of the piglet race, which took place this past week on ABC's "LIVE with Kelly and Michael."
RiseSmart, a "contemporary career transition solutions" firm, says there is a 74% success rate for the theory that the Super Bowl contender based in the metropolitan area with the lower unemployment rate will win the game. The city with lower unemployment than its Super Bowl opponent has supposedly come out victorious in 26 out of the past 35 games.
If this theory holds up again for the 2016 Super Bowl, then Denver (unemployment rate: 3.9%) would top the Charlotte-based Panthers (unemployment rate: 5.4%). "The last time the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl was 17 years ago against the Atlanta Falcons, when [Denver] held a record low 2.9 percent jobless rate," RiseSmart notes. "A mere coincidence? We think not."
Chicken Wing Consumption
In addition to its prediction that Americans will collectively eat 1.3 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday, the National Chicken Council claims that more often than not, the team that plays in the city where more wings are consumed winds up winning the big game. The theory has held up in four of the last five Super Bowls, and "if the same holds true for Super Bowl 50, the Panthers will roll over the Broncos – selling wings at nearly a 3 to 1 pace," the council states.
Can team merchandise sales predict a Super Bowl winner? Ebay's data wonks conveniently have pointed to eBay NFL sales to indicate the idea indeed has some credence. "Seattle fans bought 34% more gear than Broncos fans before their upset in 2014 for their first Super Bowl win," an eBay press release stated. "Similarly, Saints fans bought 114% more gear than Colts fans ahead of their first Super Bowl championship in franchise history in 2009."
As for Super Bowl 50 predictions based on team merchandise sales, there's no clear-cut pick. The Broncos were crushing the Panthers in terms of sales through the early part of the latest NFL season, but Cam Newton's team has since come on strong. So you might have to let the piglets, or Donald Trump, steer you along into making a smart bet.