We check in on the NFL odds board and determine whether there have been any line movements worth noting on this game, which is largely being held close to the vest across most sportsbooks.
Super Bowl XLIX Odds Hanging Tight
Since sportsbooks have gone to press, there's been little impact on the NFL odds board. The spread has barely budged, so too the money line odds. The only notable movement has been in total betting markets where the totals are coming down by as much as 2-points at some sportsbooks, which is rather significant. In fact, it's the only significant movement so far and, thus, the focus of this column.
Super Bowl XLIX Talking Points
There may yet be other line movements closer to kickoff, but the way things have been rolling for over a week this is all we've gotten from sportsbooks. We can only discuss what happened and what we have. It's not for us to predict their upcoming decisions, which could go either way depending on the action that comes down the wire before kickoff.
As noted in previous columns, before Championship Sunday there was talk about the Seattle Seahawks being field-goal faves. That outlook quickly changed when the day's games concluded on two different notes: Seattle Seahawks barely squeaking out a victory over the Packers and the New England Patriots decimating Indianapolis Colts. The upshot of the Championship round was to force most sportsbooks to opening the highly anticipated Super Bowl XLIX matchup on a pick 'em. It's worth noting: if it closes on a pick 'em, it would be a first in the history of Super Bowl betting.
Reviewing Early Line Moves
The absence of major line movements is telling. The obvious conclusion is that the books are happy with where they are on the NFL betting spread. It also suggests NFL bettors are split down the middle. Action must be balanced all around, putting bookies in a position to make profit, which is their sole objective after all. It's also increasingly unlikely for there to be any major changes occurring before kickoff in spread betting markets across various online platforms.
All while NFL 'powers that be' and the esteemed Media are eager to frown on the Patriots (the hoopla with 'Deflate-gate' the main talking point), the Patriots not only didn't fall out of favor in NFL betting circles, but also have been bet up to the slight faves, where they remain today. Early money jolted the lines up from a pick 'em to a point with the Patriots to the good early last week. That's where the NFL betting landscape remained for the most part with only slight movements here and there and up to a maximum of half-a-point in favor of the Patriots for a brief stint. Indeed, that's the biggest the line has been since the billing was determined and when we last looked (so far as we've been able to tell). In any event, it's back down to a point.
Seattle Seahawks opened ahead at -115 to the Patriots at -105 in money line odds, but since opening last week the roles have reversed and the Seahawks are matched at -105 (so-called dogs) while the Patriots are the token faves at -115.
If any prevaricating on the trading floor were noted, it's in total betting markets that have been steadily coming down from the opening high of 49-points to a recent low of 47.5, which is currently trading at Bet365.com. If anything, the total points have seen the most movement so far of any of the markets on Super Bowl XLIX. That suggests this is where the bookies are the least happy and where they are the likeliest to continue shuffling either way.
Don't miss out on this great Super Bowl XLIX Prop Betting guide
Talking Points: Opening 49; Current: 47.5
As it stands, the NFL betting trends reveal 57% of the public is backing the OVER 47.5 while just 43% is piling onto the UNDER in total bets. This despite the total coming down by almost 2-points. So which is the smart NFL pick in total betting?
When looking at some past Super Bowl trends: five previous Super Bowls that closed on a 48 total saw the UNDER cashing 3-2. Three Super Bowls closing on a 49 total saw the OVER cash 3-0.
Of course, the Super Bowl XLIX betting trends aren't necessarily motivated by past trends. Rather the perception of both these teams, namely the high-powered Patriots offense at the expense of the well regarded Seattle defense. It's hard to look past the 45 points Tom Brady and Company dumped on the Colts in the AFC Championship game and the 35 points they put up against the Ravens in the round prior. (In two postseason games, the Patriots are average 40-points per game.) Nor can we overlook the fact that the Patriots went 9-7 in over-under betting this season, improving to 10-7-1 in over-under ahead of Super Bowl XLIX.
Altogether, the Patriots averaged 30.4-points per game this season. Last three games, they averaged 29.7-points per game, although that is largely skewed by their 17-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills in week 16. It should be pointed out the Seahawks are no slouches on offense either, averaging 25.2 points per game this season. That number increases marginally over their last three games to 26.3 points per game.
There's a lot to be said about the maxim: defense wins games. Seattle's defense was formidable last year as it stifled Peyton Manning and the Broncos in a way few would have predicted. That same defense kept the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game with the Packers long enough for Russell Wilson and the O-Line to finally get going and lift them to the victory.
It's definitely possible the Seahawks defense will play a big part in Sunday's finale but, at the same time, it's hard to imagine it would stifle the Patriots entirely. The Patriots are not just brilliantly coached but also exceptionally good at beating defenses while systematically putting up points. If this total continues to come down, the OVER will be a good play. As it stands, we fancy the OVER 47.5 on our NFL picks.
Free NFL Betting Pick: Over 47.5 at 5Dimes