The Patriots allegedly under-inflating footballs in order to make them more manageable in the rain has once again branded Belichick and the organization as a bunch of dirty, no-good cheaters (Remember, “Spy Gate”? They recorded opponents’ practices for crying out loud!).
It’s a moniker that could come back and bite New England in the ass, believes one oddsmaker, when the Pats face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona two Sundays from now.
“The one angle I do think could play out (of Deflate Gate) is the crowd in Phoenix,” Peter Childs, an oddsmaker with Sportsbook.ag tells Covers.
The Super Bowl is the most public game of the sports betting calendar, which means the recreational bettors control the market – not the wiseguys. In that same vein, people who would not normally be a football fan on any other Sunday instantly become a flag-waiving, jersey wearing supporter of one of two Big Game contenders.
With the game being held at a neutral site, there are plenty of neutral butts in the seats – either non-football fans or fans of other NFL teams – that will side with the Patriots or the Seahawks before kickoff on Feb. 1.
These recent allegations painting the Pats as “The Bad Guys” could be enough to swing those fence-sitting fans into becoming the newest members of the infamous 12th Man, giving the Seahawks a home-crowd edge in Super Bowl XLIX, much like it did at MetLife Stadium last February.
“Last year in New York, there’s no question it was a Seahawks partisan crowd,” says Childs. “Last year was the exception though, it was far less of a corporate crowd than is expected this year in Arizona.”
Childs says that first cold weather Super Bowl scared away many of the corporate types – stiffs and suits who get free tickets to the Big Game through their jobs/clients, that don’t really have an invested interest in either team or the game. That meant the fans that were braving the chilly New Jersey temperatures were true football fans – or at least a little more excited to be in the stadium.
Not only does Childs expect an influx of Seahawks fans to flock to the desert – more so than a cross-country trip to Jersey in the dead of winter – but New England’s bad mojo could sour the undecided vote, like a politician getting caught up in scandal the week before the election.
“With the Pats once again getting heat for ‘cheating’, I can see the corporate-type fans, who normally wouldn’t root for a particular side, root for the Seahawks and against the Patriots,” he says. “That could create a decent, partisan Seahawks crowd which, in my opinion, gives the Seahawks a tiny edge that they normally wouldn’t have.”
As for the immediate impact “Deflate Gate” has on the Super Bowl odds, which currently have New England as a 1-point favorite, most oddsmakers and line managers give a slight chuckle before simply stating “None”.
However, with tourists and recreational football bettors migrating to Las Vegas in the next week and a half, there could be plenty of people who will bet against the Patriots simply because 1. They want action down on the Big Game, 2. They don’t like what New England has tried to pull – the same way books take public money against Floyd Mayweather for each of his fights, just because he’s not a likeable character.
“From the camera thing to this ball thing, the Patriots have a nice reputation for themselves,” Nick Bogdanovich, director of U.S. trading for William Hill, tells Covers. “There are some people who will bet that way (fading Patriots for Deflate Gate) but not enough to make a real difference.”
I guess we’ll just have to keep our ears open for the crowd noise on the Patriots’ first third-down try of the Big Game to see just how far out of favor New England has fallen with the average football fan.