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Lately, Super Bowls are super tight

Feb 3, 2009 5:12 PM
by Mark Mayer |

If we’ve learned anything from Super Bowl 43, it’s that consistent double-digit victories are becoming a thing of the past.

"We’re not seeing those one-sided games anymore," said Mark Dufty, race and sports director at Jerry’s Nugget, which would have lost big had the final been Arizona 27-23 instead of Pittsburgh. "Underdogs are playing the favorites basically dead even now."

With the Cardinals covering the line, which in most Las Vegas books settled in at +7, that makes six times in the last eight years the dog has won money.

"I think there has to be changes in the way we make up the line," Dufty said. "There were a lot of blowouts in the 1980s, but this is a day of parity. Last year we had the Miami Dolphins as high as 500-1 and they went on to make the playoffs. We have Detroit 200-1 for next season and I think they have the talent along with a slew of draft picks to make the playoffs."

An argument could be made that Arizona was the worst team ever to make the playoffs after being blown out in three of their last four games. Now the argument is why are the Cardinals as high as 30-1 in some places to win Super Bowl 44?

"Obviously, the Cardinals made some tremendous adjustments in the playoffs, especially on defense," Dufty said. "I don’t think there was a hotter team going into the Super Bowl."

The Cardinals’ effort was strikingly similar to the New York Giants of last year, which killed the Nevada books when listed as high as a 14-point dog against New England.

Going back in Super Bowl history, there was a six-year streak (1992-97) and a seven-year run (1982-88) where the NFL championship game was decided by 10 points or more. Since 1997, only once (2006-2007) has there been consecutive double-digit victories.

"We may not see as many 7 to 14-point favorites in the Super Bowl anymore," Dufty said. "I’m sure there are many who can remember the Braves and Twins in the 1991 World Series, having finished last the year before. Ever since then, bookmakers haven’t been quite so easily giving up such huge odds on dogs."

Case in point: Last year Dufty had six NFL teams with odds of 100-1 and higher to win the Super Bowl. This year it’s down to three. And last year’s 500-1 high Miami is now capped at 200-1 for Detroit.

"We usually put up our Super Bowl odds for next season about two weeks before the current Super Bowl game," Dufty said. "We will get a rush of bets for futures after the Super Bowl is played, then some more for the NFL Draft, then a few with trades and free agent signings. They come in waves."

The Patriots are 6-1 favorites at Jerry’s Nugget, despite having missed the playoffs. Pittsburgh is just behind at 7-1. Arizona is out of the Top 15.