Eagles' upset gives mixed result for books

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

February 4, 2018 09:19 PM

LAS VEGAS – The Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33 in a wild Super Bowl LII.

Some of the sports books here in Vegas had heavy liability from six- and seven-figure bets on the Eagles as well as lopsided early wagering that came in on the live underdogs. The books were probably able to limit some of that exposure with most of the gameday wagers coming in on the Patriots, but we probably won’t know for sure how the books fared until the official Nevada handle and win/loss figures get released by the state’s Gaming Control Board on Monday.

However, we did hear some reports from the books after the game. Jay Kornegay at the Westgate, which didn't take any of the huge Eagles wagers, was still going over his final figures.

"When the smoke clears, I'm hoping for a small win," he said. "It was a small winner on the game but we got destroyed on props."

The Westgate has the most props of all the Vegas books and usually doesn't fare well when there's a lot of offense and the "overs" continually cash.

Jimmy Vaccaro at the South Point said on-air on VSiN and also Tweeted: "We ended up winning a ham sandwich on the game as we took a lot of money line line bets on the Pats in the last hour. We did very good on props. The point-spread props fell our way and total going over dealt us a good result as Eagles parlays were 60-40 to the under."

However, William Hill, which took several of the biggest wagers in town on the Eagles, reported a multi-million dollar loss to ESPN's David Purdum.

The Eagles drew first blood when they settled for a 25-yard field goal by Jake Elliott on their opening drive. The Patriots responded with a 26-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, but the Eagles score the first touchdown of the game on a Nick Foles 34-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery, who was among the favorites to score the first TD at 8-1 Elliott missed the PAT but the Eagles lead 9-3 after the first quarter as 0.5-point, first quarter underdogs and it went over the first-quarter total of 9.5 points.

There were a combined 22 points in the second quarter, including TDs by LeGarrette Blount, James White and Nick Foles (on a 1-yard TD reception from Trey Burton). The Eagles led 22-12 at halftime to cash for those taking them as 3-point, first-half underdogs and it went over the first-half total of 24 points.

The Patriots opened as 6.5-point, second-half favorites but some books went with -7 and that’s where it closed after Justin Timberlake’s halftime show. The second-half total was set at 28 points.

Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski with a 5-yard TD pass to open the second half. The Eagles responded with a 22-yard TD pass from Foles to Corey Clement but Brady answered with a 26-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan to pull the Patriots within 29-26 at the end of the third quarter.

Elliott put the Eagles ahead 32-26 on a 42-yard FG, but the Patriots took a 33-32 lead on Brady’s 4-yard TD pass to Gronkowski.

However, the Eagles had one last answer as they drove down and completed a 14-play, 75-yard drive with a 11-yard TD pass from Foles to Zach Ertz. And it seemed fitting that the winning play came on one of those “is it a catch or is it not?” plays that was upheld on review.

The Patriots did win the second half, 21-19, but did not cover as 6.5- or 7-point, second-half faves, The over was again an easy winner in the second half, going over 28 points.

Note: here was my VSiN report heading into Sunday’s betting action showing how the Super Bowl line was bet into place.

Super Sunday arrives with the Patriots as 4.5-point favorites over the Eagles with an over/under of 48.5 points after nearly two weeks of wild wagering.

However, sports books directors up and down the Strip as well as all over the state of Nevada have been saying that 80-90 percent of the wagering takes place over the huge Super Bowl Weekend, so a lot can still change before the 3:30 p.m. PT kickoff. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority estimates that 311,000 visitors are in town this weekend to fill 90% of the city’s 150,000 hotel rooms and all indications are that last year’s record handle of $138.5 million will be shattered.

During the third quarter of the Eagles’ 38-7 rout of the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 21, sports books here in Nevada and offshore opened the Patriots between 5.5- and 7-point favorites. The higher spreads quickly disappeared and the line was a consensus Patriots -6 by the time the Eagles-Vikings game finished.

The early money continued to come in on the underdog Eagles that Sunday night and it became apparent that Patriots -5.5 was looking like the more likely spread. The over/under opened between 46.5 and 47.5 but got up to 48 at most books.

By Wednesday morning of the bye week, it was looking like things were settling down with the Patriots still mostly -5.5 and the money line around Patriots -200/Eagles plus-170 at most books and the over/under at 48. However, the day started with MGM’s Jay Rood coming on VSiN’s “A Numbers Game” show with Gill Alexander and saying he was in the process of taking a multi-million wager on the Eagles. Speculation ran rampant that it was the famous “Bettor X” from last year’s World Series. Rood wouldn’t say if it was a point-spread or money-line wager, but the fact is the MGM books were the first to drop to Patriots -4.5.

After most Nevada books put up their lists of proposition wagers on that Thursday and Friday, heavy wagering continued over the bye weekend with Boyd Gaming being the first to lower the line to Patriots -4. Several of the major books followed suit, including VSiN’s host hotel at the South Point as well as the Westgate SuperBook.

More sports book directors continued to come on VSiN to report that they’ve been seeing more money-line wagering than usual, again with most of the biggest wagers coming in on the Eagles. That caused some books to go as low at Patriots -170 on the money line to just with the game straight-up.

New England money started to show up Thursday and Friday as Super Bowl Weekend visitors began showing up in droves. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was cleared from concussion protocol on Thursday but the betting markets didn’t react immediately (note: most everyone assumed that Gronk, with two weeks to recover, was going to be able to play, so the market wasn’t expected to react as much as if he was declared out).

The last Patriot -4 disappeared at the Westgate on Friday afternoon as every Vegas books settled in at -4.5 over Friday and Saturday. The over/under has also been trending upward with 48.5 taking over as the most popular total though several books have since gone to 49.

We’ll continue to monitor the evolution of the line all day Sunday on Twitter @ViewFromVegas, and also tune into VSiN’s programming all day Sunday starting at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT (basically a 7.5-hour pregame show before the in-game wagering show with Brent Musburger and His Guys in the Desert during the actual playing of the game) as our hosts and guests will obviously be reacting to any changes in the betting market.

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