History Favors Patriots: Why Significant Line Movement Matters in the Super Bowl

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Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Super Bowl 53 featuring the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams opened as a pick'em.
  • The Patriots are currently 2.5-point favorites, with the point spread moving 2.5 points since opening.
  • When the line has moved at least 1.5 points in past Super Bowls, team the line moves toward are 14-2 straight-up and 12-4 against the spread.

Just minutes after Super Bowl 53 matchup had been set between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, sports books started posting opening odds.

Books from Las Vegas to New Jersey to offshore opened the spread as a pick’em or the Rams as 1-point favorites — only the third time Tom Brady has not opened as a favorite in his nine Super Bowl appearances. (The Pats won both Super Bowls they didn’t open as a favorite: Super Bowl 36 against the Rams and Super Bowl 49 against the Seahawks.)

Within the first few hours after lines opened, the Patriots flipped from a 1-point underdog to around a 2-point favorite. And by Monday morning, the Pats were widely available at around -2.5 — that’s a 2.5- and 3.5-point line move, depending on the book.

What’s the line movement mean?

Sixteen of the 52 Super Bowls (30.8%) have seen the point spread move 1.5 or more points from the opening line to the closing line.

In 14 of those 16 games, the team that the point spread moved toward — in Super Bowl 53’s case, the Patriots (moved from pick’em to -2.5) — has been the straight-up winner, going 12-4 against the spread.

Last year, in Super Bowl 52, the spread actually moved away from the Patriots, with the Eagles opening as 6-point underdogs and closing at +4.5 against the Patriots. Philadelphia received 52% of the betting tickets, which played a small part in pushing the point spread 1.5 points.

The Eagles covered the number and won outright, 41-33, rewarding the bettors wagering early in the week and moving the initial line.

In the 16 Super Bowls in which the line moved at least 1.5 points from opening to closing, the team that the line moved toward ended up covering the spread by an average of 6.7 points per game.

If the Super Bowl 53 point spread closes 1.5 or more points from the opening line, it will be the fourth time Tom Brady has played in this particular spot for a ring.

Here are the results of Brady’s Super Bowls with significant line movement:

Only twice in Super Bowl history has the point spread moved three or more points from opening to closing.

If the Patriots move to 3-point favorites, Super Bowl 53 will join this exclusive club:

Super Bowl 49

  • The Seahawks defeated the Packers in overtime to win the NFC Championship while the Patriots dismantled the Colts, 45-7, to take the AFC.
  • The Seahawks opened as 2.5-point favorites against the Patriots before New England tore apart Indianapolis and the line began to move.
  • The Patriots ended up closing as 1-point favorites and winning, 28-24, with the largest line move in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl 45

  • The Packers defeated the Bears, 21-14, to win the NFC while the Steelers beat the Jets, 24-19, to win the AFC.
  • The Super Bowl 45 line opened at a pick’em. It was the second time in history that had happened. (The first was Super Bowl 16.)
  • The Packers ended up closing as 3-point favorites against the Steelers and won, 31-25, covering the 3-point spread.