Super Bowl Squares

Super Bowl Squares is a well-known party game many of us play with friends and co-workers during the Big Game. Here's a quick explanation: A 10-by-10 matrix (=100 squares) is made with one team on the top and the other is on the side. Each square on the grid is sold. Put the sold tickets in a hat, randomly select a ticket and fill up the squares in order. At the end of the quarter, if the last two digits of the score corresponds to one of your squares you win (usually 1/5 of the pool for a quarter and 2/5 for the final score).

A Variation of the Betting Squares Super Bowl Game
My friends and I like to introduce a bit of skill into this game so that is not completely determined by randomness. We all get together to watch the game. Our names are written in a piece of paper and selected randomly from a hat. One by one the draft order is selected. We then pass around a piece of paper in the order the names were selected (like a fantasy football draft) with the 10x10 grid to pick a non-selected square. Since it is usually 10-15 of us, we only use the lower diagonal of the grid (=50 squares, that makes 0-7 or 7-0 the same square). If it is 10 of us, each one gets to select 5 squares.

Last year, I was not given time to look at my data in order to best select the squares. Everyone would of course pick 7-0 if they had the first pick, but what will you select in your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th pick in order to maximize your chances of winning? Below I breakdown the frequency percentages for all the final and quarter by quarter football game scores in the past 3 years (all the quarter score data I was able to obtain for free), and for all the 41 Super Bowls prior to this.

Final Scores Breakdown
The frequency on single numbers suggests to stay away from 2-5-9-8 in that order. 8 leading that pack with 6% and 2 is the least seen in the final score with only 3.7%. On the other hand, 0-7-4-3 are all above 14% with 0 and 7 close to 1st place with 17%. That is, in the past 3 years, 17% of the games ended with one of the scores, visiting or home team, with a 7. But I need to pick squares not single number, which ones should I pick?

From the above chart, we see our top 10 would be:
0-3, 0-7, 1-4, 4-7, 0-4, 3-7, 6-7, 0-1,... the only surprise for me here is the number 4. But more useful is to know to stay away from 2-2, 9-5, 9-9 or just have this chart handy when your turn to draft a square in the 3rd round and above.

First Quarter Breakdown
Having a first quarter win is enough to profit from such an activity, so one might just go for the win in the first round. As you will see, some squares are showing much higher frequencies than others. Below is the same grid, but only for first quarter scores. The usual suspects are there, but there is one which stands out much more in first quarter than in the final scores, can you guess which one?Q1 Football Squares Scores

In quarter 2, there is not much difference in the orders except that 7-7 stands out more, the top 10 for the 2nd quarter were: 7-0, 7-3, 3-0, 0-0, 4-7, 7-7, 4-0, 4-3 again also that #4 surprising me.

In quarter 3 there is really nothing significantly different, so when looking for a winner in Q3, look at the final score grid.

Just Super Bowl
Let's look at the percentages for all the 41 previous Super Bowl games. Should there be any difference in these 41 games from the other 289 I looked at? No, but there will be because of the rather small sample size. It should still be fun to look at. Below are the final scores grid for all the 41 Super Bowl games.

Most of you are playing the random version of the betting squares so this information is irrelevant. The only thing I could say is good luck.
For those of you like me playing the strategic version, play with the odds. Someone should build a Fantasy Squares and have people go to a site at a specific date and time to pick squares. Stay tuned for Super Bowl picks coming this Sunday!