Bookies paid for +400 line

Feb 5, 2002 9:26 AM

The writing was on the wall. New England’s 20-17 victory over the 14-point favored St. Louis Rams wasn’t as surprising as most experts believed.

“The money line broke us up,” said Rob Akers, race and sports book manager at The Venetian. “It was a fitting ending. This was a Patriotic year. The team of destiny was right in this case.”

The Venetian opened the money line at +400 for the Patriots and the bettors bought for it. The line closed at +375 and Akers admitted he considered dropping to +350, meaning that a $10 wager paid $37.50.

Betting the Patriots on the money was the intelligent play. New England played errorless football in its two playoff wins, including the Snow Bowl with Oakland. Clearly, this was a fundamentally sound football team.

The Patriots also had a penchant for forcing turnovers, which definitely worked in their favor against the error-prone Rams.

Finally, there was the inability of St. Louis to dominate an opponent in the three most important games in franchise history ”” the two NFC title games and the 2000 Super Bowl. All three were decided by seven points or less.

The Patriots had opened as high as +500 on the money line before dropping to a level that averaged at +400 around town. The Gold Coast did offer +425. Either way, the experts predicting a St. Louis rout were humbled.

“We were basically rooting for a St. Louis victory,” Akers said. “Fortunately, we had a good cushion going into the Super Bowl. People were betting with their heart, and in this case, it was a difficult obstacle for us to overcome.”

Despite the loss, the Rams opened as a 5-2 favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl in San Diego.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Patriots at 15-1, but improved the odds to 12-1 after Sunday’s victory.