Nevada sportsbooks are starting to adjust the point spread for Super Bowl LII after an early onslaught of money supported the underdog Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots.
MGM Resorts made the move Wednesday afternoon and is now offering the Patriots as a 4.5-point favorite, with the over-under total set at 48. On Sunday night, the sportsbook's opening Super Bowl odds were Patriots -5.5 with the total at 47.5.
Other outlets have since followed suit. The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas moved its spread to New England -4.5 on Thursday and also offers a total of 48. Station Casinos are dealing Pats -4.5 and 48.5.
New England advanced to the Super Bowl by overcoming a 10-point deficit in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars and escaping with a 24-20 win in the AFC title game. Philadelphia won the NFC title game as a home underdog for the second consecutive week in the postseason, routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7.
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Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports for MGM Resorts, said Wednesday that the ticket count and money wagered had favored the Eagles by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which prompted the move in the spread.
"We were getting Eagles action all the way around. So we decided to go down and test the waters," Rood said. "I was a little surprised to see the public going against the Patriots this hard, but I can understand why they see some value there."
The point-spread adjustment has had the desired effect, Rood said. Since the change, the sportsbook operation has seen about 80 percent of the action on the Patriots at the lower number.
Another factor that added to the sportsbook's liability on Philadelphia was what Rood described as a multi-million-dollar wager placed by a customer Wednesday on the Eagles. Rood wouldn't disclose the bettor's identity, or whether he or she wagered on the Eagles with the points or on the money line to win outright.
But the sportsbook executive acknowledged the wager made the MGM's Super Bowl handle lopsided on Philadelphia.
"It's fair to say we're very heavy on the Eagles at this point," Rood said.
The total has seen 90 percent of the wagers on the over, causing the shift from 47.5 to 48. Rood noted many Nevada sportsbooks already have moved as high as 48.5.
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Sportsbooks likely haven't seen the last of point-spread adjustments on Super Bowl LII before the game kicks off. One major factor, Rood noted, will be the health of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a concussion in the AFC title game.
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"I could see the spread going higher if news comes out that he has no ill-effects and will be fine," Rood said "If the news is negative, I could see it going down to -4, if he is possibly not playing."
Gronkowski similarly had injury concerns heading into Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants. He played but was ineffective, with just two catches for 26 yards. The Giants won 21-17 as 2.5-point underdogs.
Rood said he sees Gronkowski as worth a half-point to the spread, noting the tight end is one of the few non-quarterbacks who can influence the number.
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