The Super Bowl is fast-approaching – along with interest in the popular Super Bowl Square Pools. If you are participating in a Square Pool (where only the last digit for each team counts), you are randomly assigned a digit for each team, such as New England 3, and Seattle 4. Many fans have an idea of what numbers are “good.” Here, we compute Super Bowl Square Pool probabilities by quarter, based on recent historical results.
Most people prefer numbers like 7, 3, and 0 due to the key numbers associated with touchdowns and field goals. But how often do those numbers hit? And what about the 4, 6, or 1? A few years ago, we took a look at the probabilities of the digits winning at the end of each quarter – based on every Super Bowl ever played. The results were originally published by the New York Times in their Super Bowl Sunday spread several years ago (full link below):
This year, we refreshed the results to reflect the NFL’s adoption of the two-point conversion since 1994. We used every Super Bowl – along with Conference Championship games – since 1994. In addition, we computed the probabilities at the end of each quarter. The results are also informed by which team is favored to win the game.
So, what numbers are good?
For the team that is favored (New England, this year), the best numbers to have for the final score are: 1, 4, and 7. These numbers each have about a 17.5% chance of hitting, based on our data sample.
The best numbers for the underdog’s final score (Seattle) are 4, 7 and 0 – in that order.
The best overall numbers, to win at the end of any quarter – favorite or underdog – are 0, 7, 4, and 3, as expected.
The 0 and 3 are particularly good to have at the end of the first quarter and first half.
By the end of the game, the 4 and 7 are the best.
The worst numbers are the 2 and 5, but by the end of the game, every number has won in our data set, since 1994.
Look up your numbers in the charts below to find the percentage of your numbers hitting, for each quarter.
First Quarter Square Pool Probabilities
Half-Time Pool Probabilities
Third Quarter Probabilities
Final Score Square Pool Odds
Note that if there is a 0.0% in a given square, it does not mean that this event is impossible. It just means that during our sample size, that set of numbers has not occurred for the given quarter. Please keep an eye out for our “Who Will Win” analysis for this year’s Super Bowl. Enjoy the game!
Carlton Chin, CFA, is a fund manager and quantitative researcher focused on the financial markets and sports analytics. He has been quoted by the New York Times and Wall St. Journal. Don La Fronz, CFP, is a financial advisor and originated the idea for this article.