The Calm Before the Storm? How Vegas Is Reacting to Historic Pats-Dolphins Spread
David Butler II, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady
On any given Sunday, bettors are usually pretty sure about how they feel about the New England Patriots. They are often among the most bet teams each weekend and bettors are always happen to add the Pats into parlays.
But, at least through Friday afternoon, it’s as if Paul Revere has come through the betting world, screaming “The Dolphins are coming!”
Betting on the historic Patriots-Dolphins spread — which features New England (-19) as the biggest road favorite since 2007 — has been so quiet, that bookmakers feel weird about it.
“Our largest bet is $5,000 (Pats -17.5),” said the Westgate SuperBook’s Eric Osterman. “We normally have a $20,000 to $30,000 bet on the Patriots.”
Osterman also said the game is middle of the road in the ticket count, which is also a rarity. Games involving the Patriots are the among the most bet on contests week in and week out.
Part of the hesitance is the gigantic spread. The Patriots opened as low as 11-point favorites on the SuperBook’s lookahead lines for Week 2 on Sept. 3. But after the Dolphins got thumped, 59-10, at home against the Ravens, and the Patriots beat the Steelers by 30, the line moved to 14.5.
On Monday, Sept. 9, the line moved from 14.5 to 18.5, and briefly got to 19 on Wednesday before returning to 18.5.
Cantor Gaming’s Tony DiTomasso says that it’s a game of cat and mouse. At 19 points, neither the public nor the sharps like the number. The question is, since sportsbooks want the action of every NFL game, who will budge? The books or the bettors?
DiTomasso reasons that if it’s the sportsbooks, it might be the books in New Jersey, aggressive in a competitive market, to go to 20 or 21. Then the sharps will follow there by pouring it on the Dolphins.
“But if the number never comes, sharps will just lay off it,” DiTomasso said. “There are 100 other good games to bet this weekend.”
DiTomasso did take the biggest bet, at least publicly mentioned, on the game — a $55,000 bet on the Patriots at 18.5, but said it wasn’t from a sharp.
“Aside from that money, we have some change — like $6,000 or $7,000 total dollars,” DiTomasso said. “The action is coming in at the usual rate — Patriots to opponents on a 3-to-1 basis — but it’s really quiet from a volume standpoint.”
At 19 points, it comes down to this: Are the Dolphins that bad and are the Patriots that good? If the answer is yes, a cover is clearly possible.
If this number does creep to 19 or higher, it will be the 12th NFL matchup since 1993 that features at least a 19-point favorite and the fifth time the Pats were giving 19.
Even though it’s a small sample, history suggests the Dolphins are in a good spot. Only three of the 11 favorites in this spot have covered and New England is 0-5 ATS as at least a 19-point favorite. They have failed to cover the number by an average of 12.4 points.
- 2013 DEN (-27) vs JAX, DEN, 35-19 NO
- 2007 NE (-24) vs PHI, NE 31-28 NO
- 1993 SF (-24) vs CIN, SF 21-8 NO
- 2007 NE (-22) vs MIA, NE 28-7 NO
- 2011 NE (-20.5) vs NYJ, NE 20-10 NO
- 2011 NE (-20.5) vs. IND, NE 31-24 NO
- 2001 STL (-20) vs. CAR, STL 48-14 YES
- 2013 SEA (-19.5) vs. JAX, SEA. 45-17 YES
- 2002 PHI (-19.5) vs. HOU, PHI 35-17 NO
- 1999 STL (-19) vs CLE, STL 34-3 YES
- 2007 NE (-19) at BAL, NE 27-24 NO
And then there’s the Patriots playing in Miami specifically, which would make a Pats backer this week even queasier….
Tom Brady has been a double-digit road favorite 15 times in his career entering Week 2…
• 12-3 straight up
• 7-8 against the spread
All 3 SU losses .. in Miami❗ pic.twitter.com/OoRirVQaMk
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 12, 2019
“How quickly people forget that Miami is Tom Brady’s personal House of Horrors — he’s lost four of the last five straight up there against some less-then-stellar Dolphins teams,” said Matt Chaprales, head of content for PointsBetUSA. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this game is closer than the market is anticipating.”