by Larry Josephson, Top Market Sports
The Side – Philadelphia (+5) vs. New England
The line opened at -5.5 on Sunday shortly after the Eagles had destroyed the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, but early money on Philadelphia coupled with uncertainty of the availability of concussed Patriots tight end Ron Gronkowski has lopped a half-point off the number. Eagles backers seem confident that Philly can shake off the monkey that has been riding on their backs since the Patriots defeated them by a field goal when they met in the Super Bowl 13 years ago. And much of that bravado stems from the performance of backup QB Nick Foles, who had the game of his career against Minnesota, reprising the great 2013 season he had under coach Chip Kelly. Whether Foles can do it back-to-back, in the Super Bowl against a Bill Belichick team that has two weeks to prepare for him, is open for discussion. Tom Brady has a ring for every finger on his banged-up but now healed throwing hand, and the Pats are just two mind-boggling improbable Giants pass completions from having seven titles since the 2001 season. With the spread being in the 5-point range, bookmakers have retained the ability to maneuver the number over the next 10 days without having to hit the key 3- or 7-point thresholds. It’s also interesting to note that every Super Bowl that New England has played in this century has been a one-score game, and another tight one would give a huge edge to Eagles bettors who grab the points. For those who like the Eagles to win outright, right now a $100 bet will net $215, while Patriot backers would need to wager $255 to cash in for $100.
The Total (48)
The number varies from 47.5 to 48.5 depending on the book, and savvy shoppers who have multiple offshore accounts or who happen to be in Las Vegas can afford to shop around and wait for the best bargain. For those who care about such things, Patriot playoff games in their two most recent Super Bowl runs (this year and 2015) have gone over consistently. Under players cashed only once – last week vs. Jacksonville, and then just barely (the number was 46, and the Pats and Jags combined for 44).
Three Crazy Props
TOTAL NUMBER OF DONALD TRUMP TWEETS (O/U 2.5)
Trump tends to Tweet on weekday mornings when the TV cable shows get him riled up. While he loves sticking it to the NFL, you wonder if the 71-year-old will still have a lot of energy by kickoff.
WILL AL MICHEALS SAY THE WORDS "POINT SPREAD"? (Yes +360, No -500)
Of all broadcasters, Michaels is probably most aware of the betting line and not afraid to mention it live on the air. But with the New Jersey sports betting case working it's way through the Supreme Court, the NFL might muzzle the veteran announcer.
ODDS TO MAKE A GUEST APPEARANCE DURING THE HALFTIME SHOW
Rapper T.I. is tight with halftime headliner Justin Timberlake and goes off at 2/1. Jay-Z is currently trading at 5/1, but how much buzz would there be if Janet Jackson (whose 2004 halftime show brought the words “wardrobe malfunction” into the American lexicon) appeared? She’s a significant long shot, being offered at 200/1.