It Just Won’t Be The Same Super Bowl Sunday

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Let’s get this Super Bowl party started, Las Vegas-style, with a 2021 pandemic twist attached like an asterisk.

The point spread has stayed idle and stale for the first week of Super Bowl like never seen before at most sportsbooks, with the exception of the South Point which uses exclusively flat numbers.

“It’s all Chiefs money when we’re -3 (-110) and all Bucs when we’re at +3.5 (-110),” said South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews, who has the world’s best number at each move. He’s bounced back-and-forth five times since the opener through Monday.

Other books have some variation of money attached to the spread like BetMGM at -3.5, -105 where its VP of trading Jason Scott says they’re getting even action on both sides. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has been steady at -3, -120 since last Sunday night.

“We’re getting more action on the Bucs spread so far, but we have more tickets bet on the Chiefs,” said SuperBook VP of risk management Jeff Sherman. “Our larger bets have been on the Bucs with the largest being $80,000 from someone who brought to +3.5 laying -135. We’ve seen about 75% of the cash on the spread so far be Tampa Bay, and a 6-to-1 cash ratio on the Bucs money-line which we just dropped from -170/+150 down to -165/+145.”

Any chance of dropping to -2.5?

“For us to move to 3-flat it’s going to take a lot,” Sherman said. “And there’s no chance we’ll be at -2.5.”

To say “no chance” at -2.5 is a big deal at this stage of betting the Super Bowl because the public usually comes in from out of town loaded with cash on the weekend and they always decide what the spread will be pushed to. But things are vastly different with the pandemic hovering.

“It’s definitely different and we don’t know what to expect as our book is allowed only 25% of capacity with the seats all spaced out and we’ll also have three separate viewing areas with 50 people each allowed as well as the bars showing the game,” Sherman said.

The Westgate security team will be handling the people count. If someone leaves, they’ll allow a new person to come in. Nevada’s Gaming Control Board will be in charge of enforcing the state rules and will be monitoring throughout. No casino wants a citation with a big fine attached. Sadly, no more standing room only packing the room’s open spaces and aisles, part of the very reason that watching with a big crowd was so fun.

And Is it possible that no final rush will happen? Maybe people just stay home and watch it. Maybe the rush comes from the phones, or maybe Californians have to continue to bet illegally with their bookie rather than drive to Las Vegas. It’s hard to tell what the overall effect will be, but we can all assume the Vegas Super Bowl vibe as we’ve known it will be altered.

What we do know is that the number 3 lands more often than any other margin of victory in the NFL. In Week 12, the Chiefs won 27-24 at Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers covering +3.5.

The best way to offset possibly getting sided in this Super Bowl — push with favorite -3, lose with dog +3.5 — if it lands 3 is to offset the action with props, and the crew at the Superbook have been doing it better than anyone for almost two decades. The last few seasons they’ve seen their prop action equal the amount bet on the game itself (spread, total, money-line) but Sherman says it’s even higher this season and they’ve had a couple of props run one way.

“The total yardage of all field goals made combined has gone from 112 to 119.5, and total kickoff returns combined from both teams was bet from 3.5 under -190 to -130, and will Micole Hardeman score a TD has dropped from 4-to-1 to +330, and I probably should drop it lower,” Sherman said as he was assessing the liability.

My favorite prop as a bookmaker was always the first player to score because it was our first big win of the day we posted, unless it was 2007 with Devin Hester returning a kick 92-yards for a TD to open the game paying out 35-1 odds which everyone seemed to have because the rookie Hester had five returns for a TD during the 2006 season.

“We have the most cash and tickets bet on Patrick Mahomes to score the first TD and have dropped him from 16-1 down to 14-1,” Sherman said. “Another index prop like that is the player to win MVP and our biggest risk so far is Tyrann Mathieu who was 60-1 and is down to 40-1.

“They also like Antonio Brown to win MVP and he’s dropped from 50-1 to 40-1, but both QB’s are the top two money attractions to win MVP.”

A QB has won the MVP in 30 of the 55 Super Bowls with Tom Brady winning it a record four times. But two of the last seven MVPs were defensive players — Malcolm Smith and Von Miller.

“We also saw a run on the Chiefs to score a rushing TD from +200 down to +160,” Sherman said.

I asked Andrews how a 26-24 Chiefs win would work out for the South Point, the bookmakers’ dream with the favorite winning but not covering and the dog money-line losing while keeping the game under.

“That would be beautiful,” he said.

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