A form of this phrase will be repeated countless times this week: It’s tough to bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That said, bettors are not shy about stepping to the windows to vote against New England, which is appearing in its eighth Super Bowl of the Brady-Belichick era.
At the South Point sports book, the Patriots opened as 6-point favorites and minus-215 on the moneyline. Those numbers have dipped to 4½ and minus-180 at most books. The total is 48½. The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are attracting millions of dollars in wagers in Las Vegas, so while it’s never easy to bet against the NFL’s most feared coach-quarterback duo, it's being done frequently.
In a Super Bowl prediction poll of Vegas Stats & Information Network staff members, other media, oddsmakers and professional handicappers, the Patriots are the straight-up pick by 21 of 30 panelists:
Gill Alexander, VSiN: Patriots, 30-17
The Eagles defense has been great, but its Achilles is covering tight ends. The common thread of any recent Patriots postseason difficulty (vs. Atlanta in SB LI and vs. Jacksonville in this year's AFC Championship) has been the absence of their All-Pro tight end. Rob Gronkowski comes back from his concussion. Ball game.
Chris Andrews, South Point sports book director: Patriots, 24-17
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady know how to win on this stage, but this is a new experience for the Eagles and Nick Foles.
John Avello, Wynn sports book director: Patriots, 31-20
The Eagles might fly on Sunday, but that’s when the Patriots go out to play.
Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100: Patriots, 30-27
I'm sitting on Pats plus-100 and Eagles plus-6, so let this be right. Expect a very competitive battle, but in the end, look for Belichick, Brady and Gronk to find a way.
Todd Dewey, Las Vegas Review-Journal: Patriots, 33-17
Everybody loves the Eagles in this one and you know what that means. I’ll take Tom Brady and Bill Belichick over Nick Foles and Doug Pederson as the Pats pull away for their most lopsided Super Bowl win.
Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station sports book director: Patriots, 24-23
Tom Brady has 27 postseason wins, and Nick Foles has only 22 regular-season wins. Experience pays off as Brady gets a sixth championship.
Patrick Everson, Covers.com: Eagles, 28-24
To beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, you’ve got to be a risk-taker, a little more aggressive. Philadelphia coach Doug Pedersen is just that, as shown in the NFC championship rout of Minnesota. It pays off again here.
Dave Farra, VSiN: Patriots, 26-17
Nick Foles is going to regress. I expected him to against the Vikings, and he didn't, but that doesn't mean it's not coming. Being a home underdog with 70,000 screaming fans at your back has been great for him in the playoffs. Now he faces the Tom Brady and the Patriots on a neutral field.
Lou Finocchiaro, professional handicapper: Patriots, 33-19
The Patriots’ experience and coaching, Tom Brady, a healthy Rob Gronkowski and an ordinary Eagles defensive backfield seem the keys to this game.
Doug Fitz, professional handicapper: Eagles, 26-20
Better defenses usually win championship games, and the Eagles are better in every important defensive category.
Ron Flatter, VSiN: Eagles, 27-20
Before I left town to head to the sports-gambling tundra, I got the Eagles early at plus-200 on the moneyline and put twice as much on the Eagles plus-5. I also teased the total down to get over 42 and the spread up to Eagles plus-11. Bottom line: The Eagles defense is too good to ignore, and the Patriots defense ... well ... is not.
Hank Goldberg, ESPN, professional handicapper: Patriots, 31-27
It would not shock me if the Eagles win by controlling the ball. Their defense is good and they can take the ball away. But it's Brady again.
Ed Graney, Las Vegas Review-Journal: Patriots, 27-20
Tom Brady learned how to milk cows and chew tobacco in Minnesota. Winning a sixth Super Bowl ring in perfect indoor conditions won’t be as difficult.
Paul Howard, VSiN: Patriots, 23-17
Danny Amendola has another big game in the playoffs as he has emerged as Brady’s No. 1 target. The Pats’ bend-but-don’t-break ‘D’ gets enough stops and benefits from some Foles turnovers after he played the game of his life. The Pats cover and it stays under. Eagles backers have to be worried about coming off a blowout win, while the Pats struggled, and 80 percent of the early money being on Philly.
Scott Kellen, professional handicapper: Patriots, 27-24
The Eagles’ Doug Pederson is a very good, creative, offensive-minded coach. Unlike Doug Marrone, who ran out of creative play calls with 55 seconds to go in the first half and two timeouts remaining and playing not to lose in the second half, Pederson will keep the pedal to the metal in this game. Pederson is a disciple of Andy Reid, and Reid’s team took apart the New England defense in Week 1, 42-27. But, at the end of the day, it’s still Tom Brady and Bill Belichick against Nick Foles and Pederson. And, we know how that usually ends. It’s a tough battle that probably sees its share of points with two aggressive coaches.
Doug Kezirian, ESPN SportsCenter anchor: Patriots, 27-16
The Eagles seem to have the necessary Tom Brady recipe with a potent pass rush, but I expect the Patriots to counteract that with screens and misdirection. I also envision Bill Belichick rattling Nick Foles, who will play his first road game this postseason.
Jay Kornegay, Westgate sports book director: Eagles, 23-20
Expect both defenses to make plays throughout the game to keep it close and low scoring. But the Patriots fall short this year, and Philadelphia holds on to win by a field goal.
Vinny Magliulo, Gaughan Gaming, VSiN: Patriots, 27-20
The Eagles defense is the better of these two and has carried them, while the New England ‘D’ bends but doesn’t break. However, the advantage of Tom Brady at quarterback and the Patriots’ in-game adjustments are the difference-makers in my opinion.
Steve Makinen, Point Spread Weekly: Eagles, 23-20
I have concerns about both the Patriots in this game and their performance in past Super Bowls. Bill Belichick’s team is not anywhere near as talented or as statistically impressive as its predecessors. The Eagles are a physical, talented and seemingly ultra-hungry team. The Patriots won their two most recent Super Bowl tries, and covered the spread in each, but they were generally outplayed by their NFC opposition, and only a couple of miraculous-type game swings pointed things in their favor. Their largest win in any Super Bowl victory was a year ago, by six in OT over Atlanta. The Eagles have held seven of their past 11 opponents to 10 points or less, and they should have an advantage up front on both sides of the ball. Those are good signs for an underdog.
Tony Miller, Golden Nugget sports book director: Patriots, 34-17
Brady vs. Foles. Really? Lay the points and enjoy the easy win. The public has got this all wrong.
Mitch Moss, VSiN: Patriots, 27-20
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will have something dialed up to neutralize the Eagles’ pressure. This makes it six rings for the best QB and coach of all time.
Brent Musburger, VSiN: Patriots, 24-20
Tom Brady has led the Patriots on a game-tying or game-winning fourth-quarter drive in all five of his Super Bowl wins, but Brady has not done it alone, and it is his cast of supporting playmakers that has to give anyone pause before dropping a bet on the Eagles. The Patriots have too many playmakers for the Eagles to account for during the course of a full 60 minutes.
David Purdum, ESPN.com: Patriots, 20-16
This feels like a one-score game, to me. If that’s how it plays out, I’d rather have Tom Brady than Nick Foles.
Wes Reynolds, professional handicapper: Eagles, 24-23
When in doubt, taking the better defense and the points will get the money more often than not.
Amal Shah, VSiN: Eagles, 24-20
The Philadelphia defense stymies the New England offense and forces two turnovers.
Jeff Sherman, Westgate sports book manager: Eagles, 23-21
If Carson Wentz had been playing in this game, the line would be around Pick. After the initial shock of the Wentz injury, the Eagles have rebounded nicely and the team now has confidence in Nick Foles. After doing the props and assessing the matchup, anything greater than Eagles plus-3 is value.
Dave Tuley, VSiN: Eagles, 24-23
The Eagles have the offense and defense to match up with the Patriots. And even though Belichick and Brady are legendary, their only Super Bowl win by more than 4.5 points was last year (and only because of the OT rules.)
Jonathan Von Tobel, VSiN: Patriots, 21-17
The Eagles defense will pressure Tom Brady and force the Patriots into a tight, low-scoring affair. However, with the ball in his hands and a sixth ring on the line, Tom Terrific will do what he does best and lead his team to the promised land.
Robert Walker, US Fantasy Sports: Patriots, 27-23
I would love to go with the Eagles, but at the end of the day I just can’t imagine Foles over Brady. Expect another close game with the Patriots finding a way.
Matt Youmans, VSiN: Patriots, 23-20
The Eagles are live ‘dogs mostly because of their defense, but they are no longer home ‘dogs, and there’s a difference. The Patriots are shooting for their sixth Super Bowl win of the Belichick-Brady era, so roll with the NFL’s greatest coach-quarterback duo against a green Philadelphia team with a backup quarterback.
Straight-up picks: Patriots 21, Eagles 9
ATS picks: Eagles 18, Patriots 12
Total: Under 21, Over 9