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Breaking Down The Odds For Super Bowl 52

I break down the odds for Super Bowl 52. Below I talk about: why the line was set where it was, where the early money is going, when you should bet the game and why it’s important to understand the mentality of the sportsbook. 

For the latest Super Bowl odds, click here leading up to the big game. 

What bettors must understand about betting the Super Bowl: 

This is the most recreational or publicly bet game of the year at sportsbooks. That means it’s also the most unpredictable for them. They really don’t know who or where the money will come from and which way these strangers will bet so it’s a bit of a love-hate thing for sportsbooks. 

Tons of action? Good. Unpredictable action? Scary.  

Despite the uncertainty, keep in mind that oddsmakers are still very good at what they do. Nevada sportsbooks have won money on 25 of the last 27 Super Bowls according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s revenue reports. So if you think you know which side most of the money is going to go on, it’s not the worst strategy to simply go opposite the public in the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t always advise that.

Why sportsbooks set the opening line at New England -6: 

  1. A lot of the numbers suggest to me this spread should be lower. But New England’s experience with five Super Bowl wins and seven Super Bowl appearances under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is going to attract Pats money. So is the fact the Pats are a combined 28-9 against the spread over the last two seasons. That’s mind-blowing considering the Pats were favored by 9 points or more in 13 of those games. So we can assume this line opened a little inflated. It’s important for every bettor to know that. I think New England -4.5 or -5 would’ve been a truer line but remember – inflated doesn’t mean “guaranteed loss”. 
  2. BetOnline and the South Point in Las Vegas both had New England -7 before last Sunday’s action got going. Golden Nugget oddsmaker Aaron Kessler also told VSiN’s Joe Ostroski he was going to open -7 until the Eagles slaughtered the Vikings. So, in just one afternoon the opening number moved about a point. That just shouldn’t happen without injuries. It shows you the recency bias of the public and how books must protect against it. If they all open at 7 last Sunday night, I think they get flooded with early Eagles money after seeing Philly beat up on the best defense in the NFL.  
  3. Opening at 6 was a good spot for sportsbooks. At that number, they could’ve moved to 5 if early Eagles money comes in (which it did) or to 7 pretty comfortably if early Pats money came in. I think in the latter situation, they’d also be thrilled to take a side on the Eagles +7 (and so would I). Either way, by opening at 6 they don’t have to worry about the middle – or in other words, the final score landing on 6 points where they’d risk losing both sides of the bet. 

The challenge for sportsbooks: 

I think the trickiest part for sportsbooks this year is simply guessing where the money is going to go. On one hand, you have an experienced Patriots team seeking its sixth Super Bowl that has killed the books over the last two seasons at 28-9 against the spread. On the other, you have a Philadelphia team that has won two straight games as an underdog and comes from an area more condensed with sports bettors than anywhere in North America: Philly-New Jersey-New York.

Is it going to go like the 2008 Super Bowl – which was the worst ever for books – when they didn’t anticipate the waves of New York money that came in? New England closed at -12 after opening as 14-point faves. Books lost their shirts on moneyline and spread bets on the Giants.  

Or will it go like the 2005 Super Bowl, when New England was favored by 7 over the Eagles? That turned out to be the best Super Bowl ever for sportsbooks where the Pats won 24-21 but didn’t cover. Nevada books earned a hold of 17 percent (highest ever) and won $15.4 million (second-most ever). That year, money went on the experienced Pats against the spread with plenty of Eagles moneyline wagers coming in too. Bettors lost both.

The challenge for bettors: 

I think the statistics point to the Eagles being an easy pick here but the intangibles point to the Patriots.

Going simply by average score margin per game, these are the top two teams in the NFL. The Eagles are at +11 and the Patriots are at +10.3. Even under Nick Foles, the Eagles have a +8.8 average scoring margin. That makes a spread of New England -6 look way too high. 

But I feel the Eagles don’t have a way to cover Gronk and this is old hat to the five-time winning Patriots. I also feel the Pats O-line is the most underrated in football, which is hard to show with simple statistics. So this is a very tough one for me where I’ve had very clear plays – and won with both – the last two Super Bowls. 

Where the early money is going:  

Our OddsShark consensus numbers say 57 percent of the early tickets are on the Eagles. BetOnline’s Dave Mason reported 55 percent of bets there are on the Eagles. South Point’s Jimmy Vaccaro said they’re seeing early money on the Eagles in Las Vegas and moved the line from 6 to 5.5. 

Early money is also on the OVER and the total moved from 47.5 to 48 and 48.5 at some spots. 

When should you bet? 

I didn’t think we'd see the Pats go lower than -5 but on Wednesday night, the Mirage in Las Vegas and BetOnline both went to -4.5. It might get to -4 at a book or two now but that would surprise me. I don’t think the Eagles are going higher than +6. So I’d suggest taking the Patriots now if you like them and waiting on the Eagles if you missed them at +6 early on. 

In terms of the total, the public loves the OVER in the Super Bowl and four of the last five of them played OVER. I think we’ll continue to see OVER money come in and this line will continue to move up.

If you like the UNDER, I’d wait. If you like the OVER, I don’t think the number is getting any better. If you want to shop around, check out our list of recommended sportsbooks

Follow me on Twitter @JonnyOddsShark

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