Recap of Super Bowl LI betting action for week one, look ahead to week two

It’s been an interesting first week of wagering in the two-week run-up to Super Bowl 51, but with almost no exceptions, there’s been no change in the pointspread. Covers recaps the past week of action on the big game, with insights from Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports at Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip; Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology in Las Vegas; Scott Cooley, odds consultant for offshore sportsbook Bookmaker.eu; and Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at the South Point in Las Vegas.

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons – Open: +3 (-110); Move: +3 (even money); Move: +3 (-105); Move: +3 (-110)

New England is on a two-month tear, having not lost a game since a mid-November 31-24 home setback to Seattle as a 7.5-point favorite. The Patriots (16-2 SU, 15-3 ATS) have since ripped off nine consecutive victories, going 8-1 ATS in that stretch. That includes last week’s 36-17 win over Pittsburgh as a 5.5-point home fave in the AFC Championship Game.

Atlanta isn’t quite that hot, but has been no slouch of late either. The Falcons (13-5 SU, 12-6 ATS) are on a six-game win streak (5-1 ATS), pounding Green Bay 44-21 last week as a 6.5-point home chalk in the NFC Championship Game.

Avello’s opening line was right on target with his previous projections: Patriots -3.

“I opened this game 3, and that has been the AFC vs. the NFC for four months,” Avello said Monday, alluding to the fact that bettors could have gotten that number long ago on the conference vs. conference option on the betting board. “That line is always projected on the two best teams that’ll get there from each conference. And that’s exactly what happened. Now, my power ratings have the Patriots a bit higher, but I just felt there would be probably some Atlanta money that would come in late. That’s what I’m thinking of, late, because the early money so far has shown on the Patriots.”

Indeed, by Tuesday, Avello had to adjust the price on New England from -110 to -120, though by Wednesday evening, it had climbed back down to the standard -110, where it remains today. Avello indicated the bulk of the action was public money.

At CG sportsbooks, including at The Cosmopolitan, M and the Venetian, the line also opened -3, but on Wednesday the Patriots’ price bumped up a tick to -115.

“We’ve seen a lot more Patriot action come in early on here, throughout this first week,” Simbal said Thursday morning. “In fact, there’s been two times as many bets on the Patriots and about 1.7, 1.8 times more money on New England.”

That was primarily public money, as well, with no six-figure bets or even anything approaching such a sizable wager. Moneyline betting had also taken an interesting turn in the first few days of wagering at CG shops.

“Generally, as we get closer to the game, the bettors will kind of (bet) on the moneyline on the ‘dog, trying to get that extra money. But what we’ve seen early on is people taking New England moneyline actually,” Simbal said. “So it’s kind of been interesting there, but we do expect some of that ‘dog moneyline action to come in next week.”

Some of that seems to have arrived over the past three days. Late Thursday and through Friday, the price on both ATS and moneyline wagers moved at CG on the strength of Falcons cash. Atlanta +3 went from -105 to -120 – taking New England to even money at -3 – and the Falcons’ moneyline price, once as high as +145, dipped to +120.

And on Sunday morning, Matthew Holt – the COO of CG Analytics, tweeted out: “Two massive six figure bets on Falcons (at +3) have evened up the betting handle right now at CG after almost all Patriots money early on.”

Bookmaker.eu was also seeing some interesting swings from midweek through Sunday.

Said Cooley on Thursday night: “The Patriots’ steam is picking up a bit. We’ve moved the -3 to -115 this evening, and the moneyline is at its highest point of -162. We are wary of moving off the key number because of the expectance of Falcons money, which we’ve seen during the last two weeks.

“The wiseguys could be waiting on that hook (+3.5), and with our limits at $50,000 already, to be raised to $100,000 soon, we don’t want to get lopsided on sharp money.”

Then, much like at CG and other shops, Falcons money began hitting. Although Bookmaker.eu has stuck on that key number of 3, Atlanta’s price crept up to -120 before going back a notch to -115, while New England is now -105.

The total has provided one of the more intriguing developments of Week 1 wagering, opening at Super Bowl record highs for sportsbooks in Nevada and offshore. CG opened at 58.5 and quickly went to 59.

“This was an interesting one, because this was the thing that they bet right away,” Simbal said. “When we put up the line, they actually were faster to bet the over than either of the sides. We were at 60 at one point. That’s back down to 59 now. Kind of what we’re seeing is at 59, we’re getting some decent two-way action, 58.5 they’re betting over, 59.5 they’re betting under.

“I think 59 is the number. You might end up seeing a 60 as we get to kickoff, because the public figures to bet the over.”

Proposition bets are annually what really bolsters Super Bowl handle, and by Friday afternoon, sportsbooks all around Vegas had their hefty prop sheets out and on the betting board. At South Point, just south of the Strip, Andrews was seeing brisk prop business by Saturday afternoon.

“There’s a lot of prop action,” he said, noting his place is offering approximately 300 of the alternative wagers. “We filled out most of the menu Friday. We’re pretty well set probably until next weekend, and then we’ll get some of those cross-sport props up. We did a lot of money the first full day.”

With the huge tourist crowd prepping to converge on Vegas, there’s no doubt Andrews and his peers around town are going to do a lot more money this week.


Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.



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