England (16-2) vs. Carolina (14-5)
Total Points = 37.5
Total Points = 38
NE 21, CAR 17
Points for = 22, Points against = 15
Over/Under = 7-10-1
Points for = 21, Points against = 18
Over is 3-0 in CAR’s last three overall.
CAR is 5-1 ATS in their last six as a dog.
Over is 5-0 in CAR’s last five as a dog.
NE is 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 overall.
Patriots are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 as a favorite
NE is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
You’re playing for a big, ugly diamond ring and
a free trip to Disney World.
First a cautionary note. For some odd reason, recreational
gamblers will bet more money on this one game (est. $400
million) than any other game of the year. They do this
despite knowing that every one of the bookmaker’s
football analysts has nothing better to do for two weeks
than run the numbers. So, don’t go nuts on this
game! At best it’s a 55% play.
As one very respected analyst in town said, this Super
Bowl week may be the Panthers vs. the Patriots on the
field, but it’s the squares against the sharps
in Vegas. The general public will be on the Patriots
and the wise guys will be on the Panthers.
There are good reasons for the general public to favor
the Patriots. The first of which is the Super Bowl favorites
with two weeks rest and preparation are good bets against
the spread. In the last nine games with two weeks between
the conference championship and the Super Bowl, the favorite
is 9-0 straight up and 6-2-1 ATS. Second, the Patriots
played in the tougher conference (AFC). Third, New England
beat both the Titans and the Colts twice (2nd and 3rd
best teams in the league). Fourth, NE had the best ATS
record in the NFL. Fifth, New England has played in the
Super Bowl twice in the last three years so they have
gone through the drill and the pressure before and come
out champs. Finally, the Patriots had a better record
against common opponents than the Panthers.
So, you can make a pretty convincing argument for why
the Patriots will win this game. But it’s not about
winning the game in Vegas; it’s about beating the
The sports books know that the novice better will put
his money on the favorite more often than not. On paper,
the spread in this game if it were held anytime during
the regular season would be about 4 ½ points.
The game opened at New England – 6 ½ and
was quickly bet up to seven. If you bet the Patriots,
you will be paying a 2-½ point premium and if
you take the Panthers, you’re getting almost a
field goal’s value. That’s one good reason
to favor Carolina.
A second reason to like Carolina is the touchdown you’re
giving up if you put money on New England. How many games
would the Panthers have won ATS on the road if they were
getting seven points? They beat TB 12-9, beat Indy 23-20,
beat NO 23-20, lost to HOU 10-14, lost at DAL 20-24,
lost at ATL 14-20, beat ARI 20-14, beat NYG 37-24, beat
STL 29-23, and beat PHI 14-3. The victory margins in
these games are +3, +3, +3, -4, -4, -6, +6, +13, +6,
and +11. The only two road games whose outcome was greater
than this week’s points spread were two Carolina
victories (NYG and PHI). Carolina’s hung tough
in close, low-scoring defensive games (Tampa Bay and
Philadelphia) and they’ve stayed close with high-scoring
offenses (Indianapolis and St. Louis). There’s
no reason to believe this game won’t be close as
So, the Vegas insiders will be on the Panthers this
week (but not by a huge margin). And what do the pros
think about the total? If this game were played on any
Sunday during the regular season, the total line put
out would have been 33 or 34. So, why did it open at
38? The reason Vegas put up that line is that the general
public is aware that Super Bowls are high scoring games.
Totals for past games are 2003 TB/OAK 69, 2002 NE/STL
37, 2001 BAL/NYG 37, 2000 STL/TEN 39, 1999 DEN/ATL 53,
1998 DEN/GB 55, 1997 GB/NE 56, 1996 DAL/PIT 44, 1995
SF/SD 75, 1994 DAL/BUF 43, 1993 DAL/BUF 69, 1992 WAS/BUF
61, 1991 NYG/BUF 39, and 1990 SF/DEN 65. If this week’s
total (37.5) were used in these past Super Bowl games,
the over/under record would be 12-2. If you used the
average NFL total point line (41) the over/under would
be 10-4, meaning that Super Bowls are substantially higher
scoring games than regular league games 1990-present.
There’s a reason for this-if you’re behind,
why not pull out all the stops? Most think Super Bowls
are conservative games, and they may be until one team
gets up by more than a touchdown. But then, the team
playing from behind throws caution to the wind and the
result is either a score or a turnover that may result
in a score or good field position for the opposition.
So we have a problem for the books and the recreational
gambler. Do you spot the book over a field goal in value?
Normally, you don’t have that many occasions where
the underdog covers the spread and the game goes over
the total. However, the verdict from the pros seems to
be yes, play the over. The sports books’ directors
came down 11-5 on that side, the professional handicappers
also favored the over (not as one-sided, however), but
think players will be able to get a 37 total before kickoff,
so wait until you get your best number before you jump
I hope you’ve all had a profitable year and good
luck this Sunday.