VSiN.com senior reporter
LAS VEGAS – Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are back in familiar territory. Yes, they’re back in the Super Bowl for the third straight year, but they’re also back in the role of favorites as they’re 2-point chalk over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII after the first hour of wagering Sunday night.
A lot was made this week of Brady having been favored in 67 straight games before entering Sunday’s AFC Championship Game with his teammates as 3-point underdogs in Kansas City, but the Patriots used the supposed slight to their advantage to jump out to a 14-0 halftime lead and then were forced to overtime after a wild fourth quarter before prevailing 37-31.
That set up the Super Bowl matchup with the Los Angeles Rams, who rallied from a 13-point deficit to beat the Saints 26-23 as 3-point road underdogs in New Orleans. Often, we see sports books post the Super Bowl openers during the second half of the second game of conference championship Sunday, but they had to wait for the very end this year at approximately 7:13 p.m. PT.
The first Vegas books to pop up on the Don Best odds screen were Caesars and the SuperBook at Westgate. Caesars went with pick ‘em and an over/under of 57.5 while the SuperBook opted for the Rams -1 and over/under 58.
“We think the Rams are better than the Patriots, but the Chiefs were better than the Patriots and they lost,” John Murray, SuperBook race & sports book director, said on “The Opening Lines Show” on VSiN, which had to be pushed back to 10:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. PT after the Patriots-Chiefs game went to overtime.
CG Technology and Wynn Las Vegas both also opened the Rams -1, but the majority of Vegas books went with pick ‘em.
Within 10 minutes, the Westgate was at pick ‘em and the locals giant, Station Casinos, and the South Point both went from their openers of PK to Patriots -1 while the MGM books actually opened at Pats -1.
Murray noted that he saw an offshore book go to Patriots -2.5 right before he went on the air and he felt that was a prime reason why the money was coming in on them at lower numbers. Murray added: “We’re going to need the Rams really big on this and I’m OK on that.”
Part of the early action on the Patriots – besides them being a pretty popular team anyway – can probably be attributed to a lot of people believing the Rams didn’t deserve to win their game, pointing to the controversial non-call of defensive pass interference that would have likely led to the Saints winning in regulation instead of giving the Rams the chance to tie the game late and win in overtime.
By 8 p.m. PT, Patriots -1.5 and -2 were at five Vegas books apiece with the Wynn the only book holding the line at pick ‘em, but that didn’t last much longer and by 8:15 p.m. PT (after just over an hour of betting), the Patriots were a consensus -2 in Vegas with William Hill and Stations both at -2.5 and the low line being -1 at the Wynn.
As for the over/under, the early money came in on the over, pushing it from the opener of 57.5 to 58 at most books up as high as 59.5 at Boyd Gaming and MGM before settling back down to a consensus 58.5 after that first hour of wagering with a high of 59 at the Stratosphere and a low of 57.5 at Treasure Island.