Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady
- Las Vegas bookmakers are reporting one-way action in the early betting market for Super Bowl 53.
- The oddsmakers in Vegas believe this line will continue to climb and is likely to hit the key number of Patriots -3.
LAS VEGAS — The betting market for the NFL playoffs has been interesting. Usually the public backs the Patriots in the postseason no matter the number, but this season has been different.
In fact, Las Vegas sportsbooks needed the Patriots to cover in both of their playoff games this season. Unsurprisingly, New England took care of business and that made for a profitable postseason on the Strip.
Even though one bettor at MGM did win a moneyline bet of $500,000 on the Patriots at +150 to win $750,000, another player at that shop lost $470,000 on four separate bets placed on Kansas City -3. Over at William Hill they confirmed they took a $345,000 bet on the Chiefs.
The books also made out well in the Rams-Saints game thanks to the total staying under.
But the biggest win, according to Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at MGM, was that they killed off Super Bowl futures on New Orleans at their Mississippi locations.
“While we still made out great on the Saints game going under, the best part of the Saints loss was the futures bets we took over there,” Rood explained. “We opened the Saints at 18-1 to win the Super Bowl which was obviously a massive overlay given the way they performed throughout the season. We had a considerable liability on New Orleans in the Mississippi region.”
But what’s done is done and now it’s on to the Super Bowl.
You’d think that the Patriots would have opened as favorites given how they’ve played the past two weeks and, well, they are the Patriots but plenty of books around town (and offshore) opened the Rams -1. That didn’t last long.
New England is now sitting at -2/-2.5 around Las Vegas.
“We opened our line at Patriots -1 and even then I knew it was a little different than some other major books had posted it just didn’t feel right.” Rood said. “We quickly moved the line to -1.5. We took a couple of big bets right away on New England which moved the line to -2 which where we are right now.”
There’s been some talk about “Patriots fatigue” among bettors, but Rood suggested that people are happy to put their money behind Tom Brady and Bill Belichick once again.
“Familiarity is a big draw. People who have cashed in the past on the Patriots will probably go to the well again,” he said.
“We opened the total at 59.5. We’ve also taken a little bit of under money which is a little surprising. I gotta think as the next couple of weeks progress we’re going to see at least 70% of the money come in on the over.”
The Westgate SuperBook opened the betting at Rams -1 but quickly flipped their line thanks to an onslaught of New England support.
“We moved pretty quickly to Patriots -1,” Derek Wilkinson, a supervisor at the Westgate, said. “We discussed it further and ‘The Legend’ [Westgate sportsbook manager] Jeff Sherman, brought up the point that the public is going to hammer the Patriots no matter what, so we had to favor them.”
Sherman was right, as money continued to steam in on the Patriots even when the line flipped.
“We know the Rams are the more talented team, but no one likes betting against Belichick and Brady. Especially, after the game on Sunday,” Wilkinson continued. “Sure enough, the public is all over New England. The line has been up less than a day and we already have a large five-figure liability on them as 90% of the tickets sold are on New England. We haven’t taken much Rams money at all yet and the line is up to Patriots -2.”
It will be interesting to see what happens if the line gets to -3, as that is a key number in betting. Will sharp bettors swoop in on the Rams if it continues to creep up?
“I think the current trend is going to continue unless we get above Patriots -3,” Wilkinson said. “I also think we’ll get some wiseguy action once the Rams are getting 3 points. I do think the line is heading that direction, but probably won’t reach 3.5.”
Interestingly this will be the first time this postseason that the sportsbooks will be rooting against New England. Bettors were happy to fade Brady and Belichick against the Chargers and Chiefs, but they aren’t keen on being fooled for a third time.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it where we needed the Patriots two weeks in a row in two such important games,” Chuck Esposito of Sunet Stations sportsbook said. “We did open the Patriots at -1 and our reasoning was after watching that fourth quarter on Sunday, how can you go against the Patriots? I’m fairly certain we’re going to be Rams fans come Super Bowl Sunday with the way Pats money is coming in at the moment.”
Like Wilkinson, Esposito believes that they will start writing Rams tickets once the line ticks up to 3.
“I’m sure that will level off a little, especially if the line hits 3. We have taken a bit more two-way action when the line went to 2.5 here and I definitely think you’ll see some more push back on the Rams but probably not enough for it to change our view on the game,” Esposito concluded.
Knowing that everybody would want to back New England, William Hill opened the game as a pick ’em instead of Rams -1 like other shops according to Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill.
“We knew from our experience the Patriots would draw money so we wanted to stay higher on the Patriots side and as the money started shifting we just started shifting with it,” Bogdanovich explained. “We’re trying to use the highest number possible on New England at that point because even as of late Monday just about every significant bet we have right now is on the Patriots.
“There’s no question we’re going to need the Rams for a pretty big number. We’re trying to stay ahead of it still with the Patriots at -2.5. There’s still a lot of -1.5 and -2 on New England around town but we definitely feel like there’s going to be significantly more Patriots money than Rams money,” Bogdanovich added.
Bogdanovich said he sees this number going one way and wouldn’t be shocked if Rams bettors have the chance to grab three-and-the-hook.
“I have no doubt it will get to at least -3. I’m not sure it will go past that because the sharps will see some value at that number and push back pretty hard. We could see a small spike to -3.5 on a quiet day maybe this Friday or Saturday but it definitely won’t hold,” he said. “It really is surprising that the number would even get to 3. In all of our ‘lookahead’ lines none of the possible matchups were over -2 and we thought even that could be high. But people, as often is the case with the Patriots, think that their good-but not-great season was a fluke. It’s playoff magic all over again with Belichick and Brady.”