A Super Bowl Preview from the Freako Family

The Patriots are playing the Giants in Sunday’s Super Bowl. I thought it would be fun to put together a short Super Bowl preview.

I’ll go first (Justin Wolfers):

Cheering for: The Patriots. My first four years in the U.S. were spent in Boston, and that’s where I learned to love the sport that you guys call football.

If it were legal to bet, my $100 goes: I’d bet $100 on the Pats to win by more than 21 points, for a potential $320 win. It may not happen, but it will be a sweet payday if I’m right.

Super Bowl menu: Buffalo wings, nachos, and seven-layer bean dip. Sports can be a great vehicle for immigrant assimilation (I’m an Aussie), and so I usually go whole hog and drink American beer on Super Bowl Sunday (despite the lack of flavor). Usually it’s a Bud, but given that I’m cheering for the Pats, I’ll be drinking Sam Adams.

Favorite Super Bowl memory: When underdogs Tampa beat the Raiders by 27 points, and I had tipped radio listeners on KNBR that they would win by at least two touchdowns (at long odds!).

Steven Levitt:

Cheering for: Patriots. I’m tired of the 1972 Dolphins being so full of themselves.

If it were legal to bet, my $100 goes: Betting isn’t legal?! I’m betting that less than 54.5 points will be scored.

Super Bowl menu: Buffalo wings and cheap beer, just like Justin.

Favorite Super Bowl memory: Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.

Ian Ayres:

Cheering for: Kansas City Chiefs [My home town team was robbed (repeatedly) this season.]

If it were legal to bet, my $100 goes: I’d bet on the Giants to hedge my disappointment if the Pats lose.

Super Bowl menu: Kansas City (Gates) B.B.Q.

Favorite Super Bowl memory: Going to a Super Bowl party with econ grad students after finishing my econometrics paper at M.I.T. in 1984. I had just pulled what seemed like three all-nighters in a row (and written the very first thing that seemed like I might become an academic) — I somehow stumbled to a party with Larry Katz. I remember almost nothing about the game (including who played), but my memory of my classmates and our shared intensity for economics still burns bright.

Stephen Dubner:

Cheering for: The Giants. While I am first and foremost a Steelers fan, I do live in New York and the Giants have long been my second-favorite team. Also, I would like to see them win without Tiki Barber, whose me-first-ism is annoying. Finally, I don’t hate the Pats the way many people do but my Boston-sport-fan friends (Roland, are you listening?) have become gratingly triumphal.

If it were legal to bet, my $100 goes: I guess the Pats by the spread, just to hedge. But I don’t take much pleasure in gambling (unlike this guy). I take enough pleasure in the game without the action, and I’m not willing to bet enough money to make it meaningful. My first bet was the 1969 World Series, Orioles v. Mets. I was 6, and an O’s fan; my father was a Mets fan. We bet $5, which represented one year’s allowance (a dime a week, truly). When I lost, I was sure my dad wouldn’t make me pay, but he did. This pretty much cured me of gambling.

Super Bowl menu: I will be in Cancun, of all places (for work). So I will probably just have a big plate of mango and a cask or two of tequila, extra worms.

Favorite Super Bowl memory: It used to be the Steelers’ first win, over the Vikings, in 1975. I went on an extended BIRGer binge – Basking in Reflected Glory – that had me high as a kite for about six months. But the Steelers’ fifth win, two years ago, was even better because my son had by now become a fan. He revels in victory and gets over defeat easily; I try to learn from him. Worst Super Bowl memory: attending the Buccaneers-Raiders game in person five years ago. The game was dull, the facilities were blah, and the crowd, so heavily stocked with disinterested parties, was about as lively as a church meeting.

Your thoughts?

Think you know better? Leave your forecast of the final score in the comments. We’re offering a free piece of Freakonomics schwag to the first person who correctly picks the score. One entry per person, and obviously get your picks in before kick-off.


The Giants will win, because they are playing for more. The Patriots are just playing to extend their winning streak and put an exclamation mark at the end of an already historic season. It doesn't matter if they win, they'll be remembered anyway. The Giants, on the other hand, have much more on the line. Being the team that puts an asterisk on the Patriots' perfect season will be a huge achievement for them, and will likely be mentioned side-by-side in all future conversations whenever anyone talks about the 2007 Patriots. But if they lose, nobody will even remember who the Patriots had beaten in the Superbowl. The Patriots have already secured their place in history, and now the Giants are trying to get theirs.


34-13 Pats

We get to witness history.


Giants 32-27

Stephen M (Ethesis)

I'd say Giants 17, Pats 14


Actually, the winner is David Feherty: the golf commentator called the Giants winning 17-14 during a golf broadcast Sunday afternoon.



Giants 17 - Patriots 14....
I know it is past the deadline but since nobody got the score right I thought I might still get some Freakonomics Schwag!!

Charles L

Wow, what a game. Although my father-in-law is a devoted Boston sports fan, I was hoping Eli Manning would pull off the upset after reading the recent N.Y. Times article on him. That article references how he was the quiet 3rd son who was very close to his mom. Does anyone know how many SuperBowl champion quarterbacks were 1st born since some recent books and studies have researched the importance of birth order and success? All I know is that Archie Manning has to be one proud papa. First, to have two sons playing as starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and then to have two SuperBowl champions back to back!


Nice try StephenM and Matteo, but post game scores do not count. Take care.

Tom McMahan

A point about the 72 Dolphins being "full of themselves"...with every passing year, especially this one, that team's achievement looms larger and larger. It is the most singular team achievement in all of professional sports. Because of the nature of scheduling, the NFL is the only professional league in which you can even hope for an undefeated team, but in almost 90 years, its only happened once. It may happen again someday, but for now, those "full of themselves" Dolphins from the early 70s, I think, have plenty of reason to be proud of their achievement and record. For them to celebrate their achievement is viewed sometime as "rooting against" other teams, but given the nature of the achievement, its almost impossible not to come across doing that. That team was a class act then, and they have remained one to this very day...low-key, not flashy, just winners with class.

And they're still the only one!


Greg Moore

Pats: 20
Giants: 21


28-10 Patriots.


If I were a betting man, I'd say the Pats win by 11; 34-23. Plaxico got it half right (the 23 part), he forgot the Pats get to play 2 halves and will double down on his 17 prediction. Go Pats!!

David B

Pats win 35-27


41-27 Pats


Giants 27 - Patriots 24


giants 27 pats 24


I'll go with Plaxico, why not.
Giants 23, Patriots 17.


Prediction: Pats 41-17
Bold Prediction: A fat guy will score a touchdown
Boldest Prediction: at least one drop-kick will be converted

The Rocket

Jints 25 Pats 24. For schwag tiebreaker: Wide right at :02.


"...about as lively as a church meeting"???

Dubner, didn't you attend Appalachian State? Dude, that's right there in the womb of the modern-day Pentecostal movement (which began around 1896 near Camp Creek, NC, not too far from Murphy, NC, near the Tennessee border).

You obviously misspent your culture capital during college, for if you had went to an old-fashioned Church of God (the oldest Pentecostal denomination), you would NEVER use the phrase "about as lively as a church meeting" to imply quiet or dull. Ha!

There's a number of ways I can describe "dull." Going to church isn't one of them.