Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:06 PM
Opening Line Report - SB52
As the Eagles were finishing off the Vikings in the NFC championship game Sunday night, Las Vegas sports books opened the Patriots as 5.5- to 6.5-point favorites over Philadelphia for Super Bowl 52. Most early spread bettors took the points, and by Monday, the higher numbers had mostly disappeared, with the majority shops dealing New England -5.5.
The South Point was pushed from an opener of Patriots -6 to -5.5 by bets from what sport book director Chris Andrews called respected, “pretty big players.”
Andrews, though, believes these early bettors were simply looking for value, not necessarily weighing in with an opinion about the Eagles.
“At this point, it’s guys looking for value,” Andrews said Monday morning. “I think they thought the 6 is going to be hard to find later, and they might be right. They certainly disappeared last night.”
Andrews added however, “I’ve talked to a couple of sharp guys, and they’re not on the 'dog. (Eagles QB Nick) Foles looked great yesterday, he wasn’t so great the week before. He’s had that kind of an up-and-down career...A lot of sharp guys think the great Foles that we saw yesterday is probably not the real Foles.”
Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook oddsmaker Ed Salmons, whose shop opened New England -5.5 and stayed put through Monday morning, has a different perspective.
“Our early money is all Patriots, but I think if sharps have a position in this game, they’ll bet Philly because there seems to be value there,” Salmons said Sunday night. “If (Carson) Wentz was playing in this game and the Eagles would have destroyed Minnesota the way they did, you’re probably looking at a pick or maybe even Eagles -1.”
Still, the opening line for Super Bowl 52 reflects a reaction by the betting market to an outstanding performance by the Eagles – Foles, the running game and the defense all included – in their 38-7 win over the Vikings.
Over at CG Technology, discussion about how big a favorite to make the Patriots picked up as the Eagles took a 24-7 lead into halftime.
“We started talking maybe -7 (even) or -6.5 (-120), but then the Eagles just kept pouring it on, and we said, ‘You know what, it’s probably 6,” said Jason Simbal, vice president of risk at CG.
In look-ahead lines heading into the conference title games on the four potential Super Bowl matchups, the South Point opened New England -7.5 vs. Philadelphia before a quick adjustment to -7.
“I thought 7 was a good number, but Foles lit it up (Sunday) and the defense looked exceptionally strong, so I think it deserves to go down a point to 6,” said Andrews.
Toss recency bias aside, though, and you may find value with the Pats laying anything less than that.
“I was debating between 6 and 6.5 to open this, so I’m kinda leaning toward that,” Andrew said. “If I was out there betting, I wouldn’t be looking at this point in time to make a monster play on New England, but I thought the higher number was a little bit better. It’s not something I’d go crazy over, but I think (the Patriots) deserve to be a slightly higher favorite.”
Salmons added, “If you were to make a line before this week’s games, (Pats -7) would have been the line. Philadelphia’s power rating sunk to a really low number because of Wentz (going down), but the longer Foles plays, the more comfortable he looks. If Foles had Wentz’ number on (Sunday), you wouldn’t have known the difference. You would have thought it was Wentz out there. He looked amazing.”
As of Monday, CG is at the high end of the market, dealing Pats -6 (-105). To Simbal, Pats -6 feels like the right number.
“I try to put myself in the bettors’ shoes,” Simbal said. “Would you lay 7 with New England, or would you take 7 with Philly? I would take the 7. At 6, I’m a little uncertain, so that’s why I think it’s a good number.”
While the point spread moved in the underdog’s direction in early wagering, the money line moved toward the favorite. The South Point opened New England -215/Philly +185 before action from wiseguys prompted an adjustment to -220/+190.
Andrew isn’t convinced these sharps did themselves any favors by going to the window early.
“I’m not sure they made the right move,” Andrew said of money-line bets on the Pats. “Usually we see a ton of dog money on the money line, so I thought that (-215/+185) was a pretty good opening price. I have a feeling the guys who laid the -215 will find better numbers later.”
Were he on the customers’ side of the counter, Simbal may be waiting for those better number on the Pats.
“To me, it’s (Tom) Brady and it’s the Super Bowl, and you get such a discounted money-line (with the favorite) because everybody’s going to play the dog on the money-line,” Simbal said. “I would consider the Pats -210, but if it goes to Pats -200, that might be the play.”
While casual bettors have traditionally loaded up on the underdog money-line in the Super Bowl, Salmons has noticed a shift in that trend. Public players have taken a liking to betting favorites in money-line parlays during the regular season, and that’s carried over to the Super Bowl.
“The one thing that’s changed through the years is, because the public bets favorite money-lines all year, they’re more apt to bet it in the Super Bowl,” Salmons said. “(Betting money-line parlays) wins them money during the season, so you do see some money-line on the favorite, which years ago you didn’t see anywhere near what you see now.”
So, what will public bettors be looking to parlay the Patriots money line with Super Bowl Sunday?
“A basketball game that can’t lose,” Salmons anticipates, “like a 13-point favorite that’s like -16 or -20 dollars on the money-line.”
While Caesars Palace opened the total at a Vegas-low 46.5, the Westgate, CG and South Point all opened 47.5 and were pushed to 48. Salmons and Simbal both said their shops took immediate ‘over’ money Sunday night, Simbal specifying the action came from fans, not pros. The fact the game will be played indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will only conflate public bettors’ tendency to bet the ‘over’, particularly when the Patriots are involved.
The Gronk factor
While Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s status for the Super Bowl is not quite clear after he suffered a concussion Sunday, the betting market’s assumption is that he’ll be ready to go in two weeks. According to Salmons and Andrews, the line on the game was set as if Gronk will be in the lineup.
If Gronk is ruled out, Salmons anticipates the line dipping to Pats -4.5, perhaps as low as -4.
Gronk is worth about a point to the betting line, Andrews and Simbal both estimated.
“Not only does he produce some great numbers on his own, just having him out there opens up pathways, whether it be for the running game or the other receivers,” Andrews said. “Not having him as part of the equation would really make a big difference. I’d say at least a point, but I wouldn’t want to go too much further than that.”
Marcus DiNitto is a writer in Charlotte, N.C., who covers sports betting and all kinds of other stuff. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusDiNitto