Democracy Dies in Darkness

# The best and worst numbers for Super Bowl squares, and how freak plays can change them

This Super Bowl Sunday might not have the boisterous parties and large gatherings of a typical year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still participate in box pools, better known as Super Bowl squares.

For the unfamiliar, Super Bowl squares require participants to place their name or initials in one or more of 100 squares on a 10-by-10 grid. After every box is accounted for (or purchased, if you’re playing for money), the numbers 0-9 are randomly assigned along the vertical and horizontal headers. To determine which box is a winner, take the last digit of each Super Bowl team’s score (at the conclusion of each quarter, at each scoring change or with the final whistle) and find the corresponding square on the grid to identify the winner.

The Chiefs and Buccaneers can both score, but bet the under in the Super Bowl

Your pairings may be random, but it’s still fun to know which numbers are best. As of 2015, when the league pushed back the line of scrimmage for extra-point kick attempts, the best square to have is 0|0, a score combination that was found at the end of eight percent of quarters of all games over the past six seasons, including the playoffs. That combination would have returned an average of nearly \$2 per \$1 bet, assuming an even split of pool money across all four quarters of every game (with \$25 awarded per quarter, and not counting overtime).

A square with 7|0 (with the home team listed first) offered the next best return (\$1.60 per \$1 spent) followed by 0|7 (\$1.41), 0|3 (\$1.24) and 3|0 (\$1.13). The worst boxes to own were those including a 9, 8 or 5.

Super Bowl Squares

Return per \$1 invested

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

\$1.90

\$0.21

\$0.13

\$1.24

\$0.65

\$0.13

\$0.49

\$1.41

\$0.13

\$0.20

1

\$0.29

\$0.15

\$0.06

\$0.25

\$0.21

\$0.04

\$0.10

\$0.27

\$0.08

\$0.08

2

\$0.13

\$0.04

\$0.02

\$0.07

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.04

\$0.11

\$0.04

\$0.04

3

\$1.13

\$0.15

\$0.09

\$0.75

\$0.25

\$0.07

\$0.31

\$0.84

\$0.09

\$0.13

4

\$0.84

\$0.21

\$0.06

\$0.45

\$0.36

\$0.07

\$0.29

\$0.60

\$0.12

\$0.09

5

\$0.12

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.09

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.06

\$0.08

\$0.02

\$0.02

6

\$0.54

\$0.08

\$0.07

\$0.38

\$0.20

\$0.06

\$0.20

\$0.31

\$0.07

\$0.07

7

\$1.60

\$0.19

\$0.10

\$0.92

\$0.56

\$0.08

\$0.36

\$1.07

\$0.12

\$0.21

8

\$0.14

\$0.11

\$0.04

\$0.11

\$0.10

\$0.05

\$0.05

\$0.16

\$0.05

\$0.03

9

\$0.21

\$0.05

\$0.03

\$0.17

\$0.10

\$0.02

\$0.09

\$0.20

\$0.02

\$0.07

Source: Neil Greenberg

Artur Galocha/THE WASHINGTON POST

Super Bowl Squares

Return per \$1 invested

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

\$1.90

\$0.21

\$0.13

\$1.24

\$0.65

\$0.13

\$0.49

\$1.41

\$0.13

\$0.20

1

\$0.29

\$0.15

\$0.06

\$0.25

\$0.21

\$0.04

\$0.10

\$0.27

\$0.08

\$0.08

2

\$0.13

\$0.04

\$0.02

\$0.07

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.04

\$0.11

\$0.04

\$0.04

3

\$1.13

\$0.15

\$0.09

\$0.75

\$0.25

\$0.07

\$0.31

\$0.84

\$0.09

\$0.13

4

\$0.84

\$0.21

\$0.06

\$0.45

\$0.36

\$0.07

\$0.29

\$0.60

\$0.12

\$0.09

5

\$0.12

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.09

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.06

\$0.08

\$0.02

\$0.02

6

\$0.54

\$0.08

\$0.07

\$0.38

\$0.20

\$0.06

\$0.20

\$0.31

\$0.07

\$0.07

7

\$1.60

\$0.19

\$0.10

\$0.92

\$0.56

\$0.08

\$0.36

\$1.07

\$0.12

\$0.21

8

\$0.14

\$0.11

\$0.04

\$0.11

\$0.10

\$0.05

\$0.05

\$0.16

\$0.05

\$0.03

9

\$0.21

\$0.05

\$0.03

\$0.17

\$0.10

\$0.02

\$0.09

\$0.20

\$0.02

\$0.07

Source: Neil Greenberg

Artur Galocha/THE WASHINGTON POST

Super Bowl Squares

Return per \$1 invested

Visitor

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Home

0

\$1.90

\$0.21

\$0.13

\$1.24

\$0.65

\$0.13

\$0.49

\$1.41

\$0.13

\$0.20

1

\$0.29

\$0.15

\$0.06

\$0.25

\$0.21

\$0.04

\$0.10

\$0.27

\$0.08

\$0.08

2

\$0.13

\$0.04

\$0.02

\$0.07

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.04

\$0.11

\$0.04

\$0.04

3

\$1.13

\$0.15

\$0.09

\$0.75

\$0.25

\$0.07

\$0.31

\$0.84

\$0.09

\$0.13

4

\$0.84

\$0.21

\$0.06

\$0.45

\$0.36

\$0.07

\$0.29

\$0.60

\$0.12

\$0.09

5

\$0.12

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.09

\$0.05

\$0.02

\$0.06

\$0.08

\$0.02

\$0.02

6

\$0.54

\$0.08

\$0.07

\$0.38

\$0.20

\$0.06

\$0.20

\$0.31

\$0.07

\$0.07

7

\$1.60

\$0.19

\$0.10

\$0.92

\$0.56

\$0.08

\$0.36

\$1.07

\$0.12

\$0.21

8

\$0.14

\$0.11

\$0.04

\$0.11

\$0.10

\$0.05

\$0.05

\$0.16

\$0.05

\$0.03

9

\$0.21

\$0.05

\$0.03

\$0.17

\$0.10

\$0.02

\$0.09

\$0.20

\$0.02

\$0.07

Source: Neil Greenberg

Artur Galocha/THE WASHINGTON POST

Most pools award prizes at the end of each quarter, and 22 boxes would have accounted for 95 percent of the first-quarter prize money over the past six seasons (again, including all games). The most lucrative first-quarter box is 0|0 (which hits 16 percent of the time, including at the end of the first quarter of three of the last six Super Bowls). But any box with a score ending in zero is a good one after the game’s first 15 minutes.

Two unusual ways to disrupt the stranglehold the typical boxes have on these pools: missed extra points and two-point attempts. Tampa Bay’s Ryan Succop and Kansas City’s Harrison Butker were both above-average field goal kickers in 2020, but both were below average at kicking extra points. Succop is 60 for 66 and Butker is 54 of 61 on extra-point kicks heading into the Super Bowl, both a bit below the NFL average success rate of 93 percent

Two-point conversions, on the other hand, have been rare between these two teams. The Chiefs went 3 for 3 during the regular season and have yet to try one during their two playoff wins. The Bucs are 0 for 3 during the regular season and playoffs combined.

Still, it’s easy to wonder how these unusual plays might impact the best squares. An early missed extra-point attempt improves the value of the 6|0 square (\$6.25 return per \$1) and the 6|3 square (\$4.33). And an early two-point conversion boosts the value of the 8|0 box and 2|0 box.

The best prop bets for the Bucs-Chiefs Super Bowl

Without anything out of the ordinary, boxes featuring a zero, three and seven remain valuable through the end of the first half, with the 0|0 box slightly edging out the 7|0 box as the most lucrative to have at halftime, based on past results. However, the 0|7 and 7|0 boxes are half as likely to hit in the second quarter as in the first. The boxes lose their value in this frame if there is a two-point conversion.

By the end of the third quarter, the 0|0 is still king but only barely over the 7|0, 0|7, 0|3, 3|0 and 7|7 boxes. If there has been an extra-point missed, then good news if you own the 3|7 box, 6|0 or 9|7 boxes, which jump to the top. If there has been a two-point conversion by this point, then the 1|1, 4|7 and 1|4 boxes rise to the top of the board.

Seven familiar combinations (7|0, 0|7, 0|0, 7|4, 4|7, 3|0 and 0|3) give you the best probability of snaring the final (and, usually, biggest) prize at the end of the game. Five of the top seven final-score options include a zero, and four of the seven involve the number seven.

Unless, of course, there has been one of those unusual plays, such as a two-point conversion. Then 8|1 is the best box to own, followed by the 1|4 and 4|4 boxes. A mixed extra-point helps anyone who holds the 6|0, 3|0 and 0|4 boxes at the end of regulation.

Boxes featuring 9|5 or 5|9 are the worst to own for the final score in the entire grid. The odds of either of those boxes hitting for the final jackpot are about 500 to1, at least based on recent scores. Those odds do improve substantially if there is a two-point conversion. The 9|5 box improves to 70-1 odds and the 5|9 box improves to 150-1, based on past results. A missed extra-point helps the 9|5 box a little (200-1) but still makes it a long shot.