The Patriots were getting the early action for Super Bowl XLIX, but the NFL odds have changed course – now it’s the defending champion Seattle Seahawks pulling in the big bucks for the Big Game.
Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 3-3 ATS, 3-2-1 Totals
The game is afoot. On Sunday, even before the Conference Round was in the books, people were falling over themselves to bet on the New England Patriots for Super Bowl XLIX (Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m. ET, NBC) in Glendale. And no wonder: The Patriots were destroying the Indianapolis Colts (+7 away) 45-7, while the Seattle Seahawks (–8.5 at home) needed a comeback for the ages to beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime.
It’s Monday as we go to press, and the tide has turned dramatically. Now it’s the Seahawks who are bringing bettors to the yard. Our expanded early consensus reports show over 73 percent of the action coming in on Seattle, despite just 39 percent of the marketplace supporting the defending champions. The average bet size on the Seahawks is a whopping $994, more than four times as big as New England’s $232. The early NFL odds have moved from a pick ‘em to Seattle –1 as a result.
Odds of Future Past
All of this fits nicely into our sharp-square football betting narrative, which we’ll discuss at length later this week. It’s also a welcome development after the relative confusion of betting patterns from earlier in these playoffs. To fully appreciate what’s been going on these past couple of days, we have to go beyond the “official” open on our NFL odds board and look at the very early action in Vegas – and on the futures market.
Heading into the Conference Round, football odds were made available at Bodog/Bovada for all four of the potential Super Bowl XLIX matchups, and Seattle was a 3-point favorite (–120) against New England in the most likely of those scenarios. Then the Westgate opened things up in Vegas on Sunday with the Seahawks at –2.5. It didn’t take long for that line to turn into a pick ‘em.
Meanwhile, although you won’t find it in our lines history, Pinnacle was one of the first online sportsbooks on the scene at Seattle –2. Reports have that spread moving briefly to –3 before the Patriots started putting the boots to Indianapolis. Sure enough, those football odds quickly shifted to Seattle PK, which is where you see our first numbers coming in.
Now things are moving in the other direction. There doesn’t appear to be any on-field reason for this shift – we’re still waiting for the MRI news on both CB Richard Sherman (elbow) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder), although it might be folly for us to hope for some accurate reporting on those results. But it’s easy enough to imagine casual bettors loading up on the Patriots this past Sunday, before the start of the traditional work week. Again, more on that later.
We’re also still up in the air when it comes to the status of Patriots center Bryan Stork. It’s believed he suffered a “significant” sprain of his right MCL during the Divisional Round. In theory, the extra week of rest before Super Bowl XLIX could be enough to allow Stork to play. Things went well enough against the Colts in his absence: Tom Brady was sacked just once, and LeGarrette Blount had little trouble ventilating Indy for 148 yards rushing and three TDs. Just like I almost predicted.
There’s a minor kerfuffle in the news about the Patriots deflating footballs during the Colts game, which shouldn’t really be minor at all – that’s cheating. But from a betting perspective, we don’t see this as having the same impact as Spygate did on Super Bowl XLII, when many casual bettors expressed their displeasure by loading up on the New York Jets (+12.5) instead of the Evil Empire. We could be wrong, though. Let’s see how this story plays out in the media over the next few days before making our Super Bowl picks.