And thus the curse has sort of been placed with the mighty hand of Vegas wielding its sorcery, if you believe in such things.
As is the case every year, the betting public needs to recoup its losses quickly, which is why it usually takes maybe an hour for the Super Bowl odds to come out after the two competing teams are known, and Championship Weekend has concluded. That happens even though at that point there’s still 13 days for injuries to emerge, and for offensive linemen to get lost somewhere the night before the biggest game of their lives.
In keeping with that tradition, late last night just hours after the Ravens defeated New England, most Las Vegas books introduced the line for a 49ers-Ravens Super Bowl at five points in favor of San Francisco. That’s since widely dropped to 4.5, with one industry expert telling The Associated Press that San Fran is a “very public team” this year:
“San Francisco is what we call a very public team because they’ve been very good over the past couple years, and people just like to bet on them,” said Eckstein, who provides betting lines to more than 100 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. “The 49ers have done very well against the spread this year, so they’ve made people a lot of money.”
Of course, that line is strategically placed by Vegas to limit the collective dip in blood baths taken by the books and casinos. The Super Bowl is the mecca of casual betting, with everyone’s grandmothers and pet goldfish placing a sawbuck or two. Last year, the result of that dogged pursuit of the American dream was $93.9 million wagered on the Giants-Patriots game at Nevada casinos, the largest cash throw down in 10 years. Vegas reeled in $5 million on that action.
But back to the potential for some 49ers voodoo here with this close spread. Since 2002 starting with the Patriots’ massive upset of St. Louis when the Rams were favored by 14 points, the underdog as determined by Vegas has covered eight times. That stretch of favorite failure also includes the Pats folding in 2008 against the Giants when they were favored by 12 points, and the Steelers falling short of their seven-point spread over Arizona in 2009.
So I say we just forget about even playing the game now. But we’ll still have the halftime show, if only to satisfy Chris Mathews’ ogling needs.