Before the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game started, the Westgate SuperBook posted a Super Bowl line with the Patriots -3 over the Falcons and a total of 58, the highest Super Bowl total ever.
A few minutes later Station Casinos and MGM Resorts posted the total at 59 and then both would soon be bet up to 59.5.
The previous Las Vegas high for a Super Bowl total was 57 when the Saints beat the Colts, 31-17, in 2010. The Falcons’ average score this season has been 33-25 while the Patriots average is 27-15. The 15 points-per-game allowed by New England was the lowest allowed in the NFL this season.
My first thought on the Super Bowl was to stay high with the Patriots and offer them at their true value over the Falcons – I have the Patriots 3 points better than Atlanta. I also don’t want anything to do with messing around the 3 number so early in the Super Bowl wagering game, so -3.5 would have been what I recommended despite the market showing -3.
Most books started with low wagering limits Sunday just to get a feel for what the public was thinking early on until ironing out their own strategy during the week. The last few years we’ve seen public opinion flip from week to week, causing the books to give more value on a team the public eventually came hard with over the final weekend when 70 percent of the overall action is taken.
Last year it was all Carolina money early on after their blowout win against Arizona, but then Denver money came strong the final few days.
Another consideration the books have to account for that may have made them feel more comfortable with a safe -3 to start with is the public loves taking the underdog in the Super Bowl. They’ve been correct the past five years with outright wins.
The underdog money-line is always bet upon heavily so no value is ever offered.
Early wagering strategy
If liking the Patriots, lay the money-line now instead of the points. Boyd Gaming and Coast Resorts are offering -145 while the Westgate and Wynn are sitting closer to what a 3-point spread money-line should be at -160. If you like the Falcons, I think you can wait and at least try to get +3.5 or higher.
Part of the reason I think the Patriots spread will get higher is just because they’ve covered inflated numbers in 15 of 18 games this season. I can’t ever remember a pointspread success rate as good for a Super Bowl team. Of course, the Patriots have that evil empire moniker that will automatically force a few bets on the Falcons from the masses.
The bottom line for me is I don’t think the Falcons secondary will slow Tom Brady. The only way to rattle him is with a tenacious pass rush and they don’t really have that despite having the NFL sack leader outside linebacker Vic Beasley. I also don’t think the Patriots defense gets enough credit for what it’s done all season and I like them to slow Matt Ryan’s hot hand.
Anyway, those are my first thoughts. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the way and my opinion on the game could change, but overall I’m excited for the matchup and can’t wait to watch the betting story unfold in Las Vegas.
“To set the state record for Super Bowl handle I don’t think it matters who plays these days, and in this game there’s a lot that is attractive,” said Westgate Super Book VP Jay Kornegay. “You’ve several notable players on both sides, two high scoring teams with Atlanta being the highest scoring team.”
A record $132 million was written in Nevada last season with a hold at 10 percent. The best win happened in 2015 when Seattle crushed Denver, 43-8, netting $19.6 million in win at 16.5 percent.
The best hold percentage was in 2005 at 17% when the bookmakers’ dream occurred with New England winning but not covering in a 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The books have lost only twice (1995 and 2008) since the state began keeping records in 1991.
Bring on the props
“We do about 55 percent of our overall Super Bowl writes on the props,” said Kornegay. “We’ll have those posted on Thursday at 7 p.m., but they’ll just be on the board; we won’t have sheets out until late Friday night or Saturday morning.”
Yes, I can’t wait for the sheets, a 20 page book of love that is carried with me everywhere for a week.
How the books did?
The big question coming in to Championship Sunday was whether or not the bettors would continue to win big as they had the first two weekends of the playoffs.
The score was Patriots 33-9 when the Super Bowl spread was posted with the only wagering decision really left in the game being whether or not the total would go OVER 51 points. It did with 11 points scored in the fourth-quarter to make it 36-17 much to the dismay of the sportsbooks.
That decision, coupled with the Falcons easily covering 6-points in a 44-21 win over the Packers NFC Championship game in a game that went OVER a record total of 61, left the books as a small winner on the day. Most of the win came when championship futures and the ties-lose parlay card were posted.
“We did well on the first game just because we took lots of Packers action taking the points and the money-line a few hours before kickoff,” said Kornegay. “The UNDER would have made it better for us, but we were off to a good start and didn’t have a lot of parlay risk heading into the late game.”
The Falcons’ high scoring offense didn’t waste any time putting points on the board in their first drive for the eighth consecutive game. Atlanta took a 24-0 lead into the half and then scored immediately in the second-half to derail any comeback from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
If you had a wager on the Falcons, the victory cigar came out very early. Most had the total OVER and needed to wait a little longer to be a winner.
“We lost on the Patriots cover,” said Kornegay, “but it still turned out to be a pretty good day.”
Kornegay also said they did well on Atlanta and New England conference futures that were also posted.
“If you had asked me weeks prior how I thought we’d do if the both favorites and OVERS occurred in the conference championship games, I would have said it would be an awful result, so I consider ourselves fortunate to have won what we did.”