Bettors also seem sick of the Patriots, as gambling money has flowed in on the Eagles

Shutdown Corner

New England Patriots fatigue also extends to Las Vegas, even though all that’s supposed to matter there is the bottom line.

Since the Super Bowl LII point spread was released following the conference championship games, the spread keeps shrinking as gambling money flows in on the Philadelphia Eagles. There have been reports of big bets on the Eagles, and the line has gone from New England being favored by 6.5 points in some spots all the way down to 4 points. It might be a case of people betting with their hearts.

The Eagles like the underdog role, and in this case people seem to love them getting points.

“I wonder if so many of those bets are people tired of seeing the Patriots win,” said Gill Alexander, who hosts a daily show on Brent Musburger’s Vegas Sports and Information Network (VSiN) in Las Vegas. “I wonder if it’s as simple as that.”

Whatever the motivation, it’s hard to ignore how the line keeps moving down. It’s a bit surprising given the Patriots’ annual dominance (though, all of their Super Bowls in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era have been close). Sports books will move the betting line when they get a majority of action on one side. Sports books typically want an equal split on both sides. The Super Bowl LII line is shrinking because bettors are putting their money on the Eagles. The majority of money-line bets, which don’t use a point spread but are bets on which team wins straight up, are on the underdog Eagles too (public bettors often bet the money-line in the Super Bowl instead of the point spread, Alexander said).

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Chris Andrews, the sports book director at the South Point casino in Las Vegas, posted look-ahead lines before the conference championship games for each possible Super Bowl matchup. The Patriots-Eagles matchup had the Patriots favored by 7.5 points. Then the Eagles looked great in an NFC championship win over the Minnesota Vikings, and Andrews knew when he posted the official line that Sunday night for the Super Bowl it had to be less than a touchdown, though still in favor of the Patriots.  He debated between 6.5 and 6 points before settling on 6.

“I thought that was a good number,” Andrews said. “And now here we are at 4.”

Andrews, who said he has taken one $500,000 bet on the Eagles, he doesn’t expect the money to keep coming in on Philadelphia. Already he has seen a lot of the action on prop bets favor the Patriots, such as the over on Tom Brady’s yards, the under on Nick Foles’ yards or people betting low numbers on the exact amount of points the Eagles will score. With the weekend coming and more people getting to Vegas for Super Bowl parties, Andrews anticipates more Patriots action as kickoff approaches, especially now that the line is down to 4 or 4.5 around town. He anticipated that by kickoff, the South Point sports book could have close to equal amounts of money on both teams.

“We’re leveling out a bit,” he said.

Another reason for all of the Eagles love to this point at the betting windows is how well Philadelphia played in the NFC championship game. Bettors are influenced by what they saw most recently, and that certainly seems to be the case with all the Eagles action. After all, the Patriots are a machine against the spread. They’ve covered the spread the last 13 times they’ve been favored by seven or fewer points, according to OddsShark. The Patriots have covered the spread in 10 of their last 12 games and 11 of their last 15, OddsShark said, which is amazing because they’ve been the NFL’s premier team for years and betting lines usually reflect that.

But recency bias has a strong influence, and the last thing fans saw was a huge Eagles win over Minnesota.

“I thought it was recency bias to open it at 6,” Alexander said of the opening line. “We saw Tom Brady struggle a bit against Jacksonville (in the AFC championship game) and we saw Nick Foles became Johnny Unitas against Minnesota. It’s totally recency bias. It’s amazing. How many times do you have to see this movie?”

Alexander said he took the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl, and will be taking them again this year.

“I’ll happily take Tom Brady over Nick Foles on a neutral field,” Alexander said.

The Eagles break a huddle at a practice leading up to Super Bowl LII. (AP)
The Eagles break a huddle at a practice leading up to Super Bowl LII. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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