Let's find out where this Super Bowl spread is going and then we'll know when to bet it, depending on whether you like the Patriots or Eagles.
The first glance by bettors in Las Vegas had them siding with the Eagles: the few sports books that offered -6 or -6.5 (Wynn Resorts) were quickly pushed down to -5.5. And after one day of Super Bowl betting, most books are hovering around the dead numbers of -5 and -5.5.
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The books love using those dead numbers because it gives them lots of flexibility moving the number up or down with less fear of getting middled, as opposed to when a game is stuck on a key number of 3, 4 or 7, which makes a move much harder to do.
How's it feel for a book to get middled on the most-bet game of the year? A Black Sunday, like happened in Super Bowl 13 with the Steelers' 35-31 win over Dallas, would be a crushing blow to the house in this modern era.
In that classic, the Steelers were favored anywhere from -3.5 to -4.5 leading up to kickoff. Many bettors grabbed Pittsburgh -3.5 and then hammered Dallas +4.5 when the line rose -- they cashed both ways!
Sharp money usually means little in the Super Bowl.
This is the public's game and they collectively tell the books where the spread is going. And the public usually sides with the underdog in the first week of Super Bowl action. And for the most part they've been correct, as dogs have covered 12 of the last 16 Super Bowls.
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The average Joe also believes what they saw last as gospel. The Eagles blew out the Vikings while the Patriots struggled at home against the Jaguars. That'll be fresh on bettors' minds for at least a week.
Something that also sways Joe Public is them getting tired of the Patriots always being there.
They don't want to bet on the Patriots, even though they come in covering 10 of their last 12 games. And what's the status with Rob Gronkowski's concussion?
The Pats' 34-28 overtime win against the Falcons in the Super Bowl was the Patriots' largest margin of victory in the Super Bowl. They're all close games. Even the Eagles back-doored them in the 2005 Super Bowl, getting +7 in a 24-21 Patriots win.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see this number be Patriots -4 by the end of the weekend.
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From a ratings perspective, it's obvious Nick Foles was completely underestimated by Las Vegas oddsmakers during his entire run as starting QB since Carson Wentz was lost for the season
His two playoff performances, both as 3-point home dogs, were incredible. Before Wentz got hurt, the Eagles were almost rated the same as the Patriots.
The books said Atlanta and Minnesota were both 6-points better than the Eagles (minus 3-points home home field) with Foles and now they're saying the Patriots also are 6-points better?
I don't think so. Foles has had six weeks of practicing with the first string and has a nice rapport with his receivers. The Eagles also have a better defense than the Patriots.
I also don't think the spread gets much higher, meaning the money-line won't rise.
If you like the Eagles, your best bet is to take either option as soon as possible for maximum value. And if you like the Patriots, wait a while for the best price on each.
SUPER BOWL TOTAL
The Super Bowl totals offered at Las Vegas sports books form a buffet of choices to suit everyone's needs early on. If you're looking to bet Under, the Stratosphere, Station Casinos, William Hill and Boyd Gaming are all set high at 48.5 while the low of 47.5 is at the Westgate SuperBook, CG Technology and MGM Resorts.
The four chains of books using 48.5 are all popular local bet shops off the strip with the majority of their clients always betting Over, so with it being the biggest game they're just prepping for what they expect down the road and are willing to bank larger Under money now to store away for the long haul.
So where's the total eventually going? With the Patriots and Eagles offenses involved, and Nick Foles looking very comfortable last week against the Vikings No. 1 defense, the Over would appear to be the most attractive option.
But the books getting to 50 might be too much of a stretch, which makes 49 the number most books will likely be pushed to -- keep it tight to eliminate gaping middle opportunities. Watch what the Westgate and MGM do with their total to get a read of where things may go. Remember, though, this is the public's game and they move the numbers, not the sharps like the regular season and playoffs.
While Foles putting up 38 points last week is fresh on everyone's mind thinking Over, something to really ponder is their No. 4 ranked defense that allowed a total of 17 points in playoff wins over the Falcons and Vikings. The Patriots and Eagles both averaged 28 ppg while winning 15 of 18 games and covering the spread in 12 of them.
The Patriots' ability to win consistently despite their defense being ranked No. 29, allowing 360 ypg, is kind of amazing. Their first four games all went way Over the total, but they ironed things out to be a bend but don't break defense and stayed Under in 10 of their last 14 games. The Eagles allowed an average of 17.3 ppg, but away from Philly they allowed 23.5 ppg.
If you like the game Under, it won't hurt to wait a while. If you like the Over, you may want to bet it now.
And also, don't forget about the two-team 6-point teaser, the best value offered in the sports book. There are times the book can't win any side.
The all-way teaser cashed last season and also two years prior with the Patriots and Seahawks. The Patriots' 24-20 win against the Jaguars was an all-way teaser win for bettors. The NFL line is produced by the most sound rating of any sport, so when getting to take an additional 6-points on either side or total when these recent Super Bowls have been very close, it's an option to seriously consider no matter who you like.