INDIANAPOLIS — Between the side, total, and prop bets, we’ve got a lot to cover today, so I’m not going to waste any time with an in-depth introduction that would most likely put you to sleep before you get to the red meat of this article.
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who read this column this year, and my sincerest hope is that you got something out of it. Whether it was a couple of winners or a better understanding of how professional sports bettors go about their business, hopefully you’ve come away with something that has made you a sharper sports bettor.
This is it. The final game of the year. Feel free to leave your predictions and favorite prop bets in the comments section below.
SUPER BOWL XLVI
NEW YORK GIANTS (12-7, 7-3 road) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-3, 9-1 home)
Time: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET
Opening line: Patriots -3.5/55
Current line: Patriots -3 (even)/54 at LVH, Patriots -2.5 (-120)/54 at BetOnline.com
Current betting trends: 60% backing the Giants, 52% backing the UNDER
New York Giants: 11-7-1 against the spread, OVER is 9-9-1
New England Patriots: 11-7 against the spread, OVER is 12-6
Interesting trends: The Giants are 8-0 ATS in their last eight playoff games as an underdog, while the Patriots are 1-7 ATS in their last eight playoff games.
Analysis: Since when did it become so popular to bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? I’m in Indianapolis this week for the game and can’t seem to find anyone in the media willing to pick the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.
Yep, the Giants really are that hot.
The same trends are taking place in Las Vegas at the current moment. Wynn sportsbook director Johnny Avello told me on Wednesday that 85% of the action coming in to his shop is backing the Giants. Approximately 60% is on New York over at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) and Chuck Esposito—sportsbook director for Station Casinos in Las Vegas—told me his shops were taking more action on New York than New England to this point as well.
The thought process for the heavy action on Big Blue can be traced to three things: First, most in the public feel the Patriots “got lucky” against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Second, the Giants have covered five straight spreads and have been a betting darling since knocking off the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round. And finally—if you can believe it—many people feel the wrong team is favored in this game.
Put it like this: If Vegas had the wrong team favored, we would have seen the line move a hell of a lot more than one point over the last 11 days.
From what I’ve gathered talking to my contacts in Vegas, the sharps took a position on the Giants +4 and the Giants +3.5 when the line first opened. Since that time however, the action has been more balanced. In fact, some shops have gotten resistance when they’ve tried moving the game to New England -2.5, as the money quickly comes in on the Pats, forcing a movement back to NE -3.
“Many of the sharps feel this game should have been posted at ‘pick,’ but the oddsmakers hedged to the Pats -3, feeling the betting public’s infatuation with Belichick and Brady in big games as well as New England’s revenge motive would justify making the Giants a 3-point dog,” professional handicapper Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com told me Wednesday. “But the books didn’t realize that New York would become a public dog. What the books don’t want is for the game to fall on 3, as have all four Belichick/Brady Super Bowls. If you like the Giants, you like the fact that they are 16-2 ATS as dogs against the AFC East. If you like the Patriots, you like the fact Belichick is 12-3 SU and 13-2 ATS in same season revenge games with New England.”
As for the total, the number sat at 55 for close to 10 days before we saw some aggressive betting force a movement to 54 on Wednesday. Be advised that in the five combined playoff games played by these two teams this season, the total eclipsed 55 only one time (Giants 37, Packers 20). In addition, the Pats and Giants combined for just 44 total points in New York’s 24-20 win at Foxborough back on Nov. 6.
The pick: Call me a contrarian if you want to, but for as much as I’ve loved the Giants this postseason, it’s tough to back a team that a large percentage of the public is picking to win the Super Bowl. If it were that easy, places like Vegas wouldn’t exist. I’m going to wait for the line to get to NE -2.5 (-110) and then I’ll play the Patriots. I’m also backing the under in this one as well.
SOME PROPS TO CONSIDER…
I reached out to some of the brightest minds in the business in an effort to find you guys an edge when it comes to Super Bowl prop betting. Here’s what we’re looking at:
Will there be more points scored in the FIRST half or SECOND half (+OT)?
Pick: Second half + OT
From: Warren Sharp, SharpFootballAnalysis.com
“This line is at five dimes, though at CRIS I’ve seen -130, while Pinnacle is at -119. This is a play borne from a quote I read from Teddy Bruschi last week. He mentioned how the defense gets really gassed in a hot dome in the second half of a Super Bowl. There is a huge halftime show and the game has more frequent, longer commercial breaks. So I went back and looked at dome Super Bowls. Since 1977, 12 of 14 have seen more points scored in the second half, including all three Patriots Super Bowls from 2001-2007.”
Team to score first: New England Patriots (+100) or New York Giants (-110)?
Pick: New York Giants (-110)
“This is one of those props that the general public will eat up because they think they’re getting a steal on the favored team at even odds. However, if the Patriots score first, it will in all likelihood be in the game’s second possession and not the first. That’s because the Giants are a near certainty to receive the ball first, something the sportsbooks are well aware of.
Since Sept. 7, 2008, the game Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury, the Patriots have won the coin toss 28 times. All 28 times the Patriots chose to defer. The Giants, meanwhile, have won the toss nine times this year and elected to receive in seven of them. One of those games was against the Patriots in Week 9.
In two previous meetings — once in the 2007 regular season, and once in the Super Bowl later that year — the Giants won the toss and elected to receive. In the Super Bowl, the Giants took the ball and drove down the field before kicking a field goal to go up 3-0.
This year’s Super Bowl is expected to be a high-scoring affair with a total set at 54. If you think the team that gets ball first will score, then the Giants look like a strong play at reasonable odds, even though it might not seem like it.”
Will the first kickoff result in a touchback?
From: Teddy Covers, Covers.com
“This bet is still worth making at -200 or better and it’s an interesting handicap. The Patriots have a strong tendency to defer when they win the opening coin toss, while the Giants’ prevailing tendency is to get the ball first when they win the toss. As a result, the chances are pretty good that it’s going to be Stephen Gostkowski with the opening kickoff, not Lawrence Tynes.
Gostkowski is a ‘touchback’ type kicker with a big leg, and the adrenaline will surely be flowing for that opening kick. The Giants don’t attempt many kickoff returns from deep in their own end zone – without a strong return game, they are quite comfortable taking the ball at the 20-yard line. And the pristine conditions inside Lucas Oil Stadium have produced touchbacks on 76% of the kickoffs this season. Put it all together, and we’re getting a 3:1 favorite while laying 2:1 or less to do it.”