Last Updated: 2019-02-01
The ever all-too-long two-week wait is finally almost over; and while many us have engaged in the inevitable transition out of football into other betting markets, we can welcome back football – if only for one more night.
The Big Game is one on which everyone wants to have a little action. Even the most casual of football fans, who only show themselves for this one game can’t help but indulge, eager to wager “pizza money” on their annual company Block Pool.
For those who fully submerge themselves into the world of Sports betting, however, the Super Bowl is just another game in a sense; one in which angles may be found in some years, and in others, not. The sharpest of the sharp, most of the time, won’t even have a play on the side or total, considering the extra attention these lines get, but will find their advantages in Prop markets, or sometimes in exploiting cheap money lines.
The standard recreational bettor, and even the one game a year bettor, will most certainly have a play on the Super Bowl, though, and there are times when value is created because of this. Public perception will shape these lines in this game more than any game all year, and if you’re not versed in finding value within the softer prop markets, fading the public narrative is often your best bet.
In this Super Bowl edition of MarketWatch, I’ll focus on these publicly dictated side, total, and money line markets, looking for any evidence of potentially sharp involvement, while also considering how recreational money may have influenced these numbers over these past few weeks. Because, while the prop markets are fun, and often profitable, there are still those old-fashioned bettors who bet the Super Bowl still preferring to take a side, possibly a total, or money line. Hopefully, if you haven’t quite made your mind up one who, or what you’re looking to take, this article will provide some clarity.
So, for one last time this season, join me on deep dive into the off-shore betting market, for this Super Bowl edition of NFL MarketWatch.
New England Patriots vs. LA Rams
Off-shore Opening Line: NE – 1.5 – 110
Consensus Current Line: NE – 2.5 – 110
Off-shore Betting Consensus: 77% NE
Opening Total: 58.5 O – 110/ U -110
Consensus Current Total: 56 O -110/ U -110
Consensus: 54% Over
Opening Money Line: NE -125, LA +105
Current: NE -139, LA +119
Consensus: 64% NE
Oh how fickle the betting world; so quick to dismiss the Patriots as a dynasty passed its prime one week, and to put them on pace to be the most popular side in any Super Bowl the next. This is how fast public perception can change, and if you watched New England in the AFC Championship game, and are aware of what this team has accomplished historically, it’s easy to see why.
The Patriots certainly look like a team on a mission; and match them up with an LA Rams team that many would argue do not deserve to be here given the highly criticized non-call in the NFC Championship game, and the narrative of Super Bowl LIII becomes quite clear. Is it in fading this narrative where the value will be found here for the astute bettor? Or is it all too obvious what the outcome will be here and have the sharps jumped on board with the foregone conclusion? Let’s see what the market has to say.
Opening as a consensus one-and-a-half-point favorite off-shore, the Patriots have been the unrelenting object of a significant majority of the spread bets – from the night of January 20th, following the conclusion of the AFC Championship game, up until now. The market has responded in turn, making its way up to NE -2.5 with varying juices as a consensus, while a few major off-shores have even tested the waters at three.
Bovada is the one outlier of the major off-shore books who has remained at three, making the full move all the way up to 3 -110 while most would only go to a soft three, before getting immediate buy-back on the other side. The sharpest and highest limit off-shores, never dared even go reduced at three, fearing the substantial playback from sharp bettors on the key number.
There is no sense wasting more time breaking down the side here, because the conclusion is clear. At three, the Rams are the preferred sharp angle; while at 2.5, I don’t believe professional money will be involved much. The reduced numbers at Pinnacle and Matchbook tell me that the highest limit shops are comfortable taking money on either side, while the fact that they never even tested the waters at reduced prices at three show that they are taking a position below three and fear professional money on the Rams at this number.
Given the overwhelming consensus on the Patriots, and the fact that a large majority of bets haven’t even hit the board yet, your best chance of getting this number would be right before kickoff. I would guess that you won’t see it at a majority of off-shore shops, but it is certainly a possibility; the number is already available at Bovada and the Patriots could likely end up being the most popular public side in Super Bowl history.
In analyzing the total, it appears that an influential position may have hit the market; with a slight majority of bets on the over, the number has come down since open. The current landscape of the Total market suggests a sharp lean to the under, even at the current consensus, with Pinnacle leading the way at the lower end of the market at 56, reducing the over to -101 and charging the standard -110 on the under. MyBookie, one of the more recreationally-driven shops off-shore is at 58, while many other major books are at 56.5, such as BetOnline (-109 over, -111 under) and Bovada (-115 O, – 105 U).
I’m comfortable saying that there is some line value relative to some potentially sharp positions taking the under at any number higher than 56 -110, and this is most likely similar to considering a position on the Rams, in that the best opportunity for value may be in waiting this one out until just before kickoff.
Finally, I will consider the money line, where historically, favorites have shown value year-after-year, as public money floods the market, looking to take the underdog to win the game outright.
This year, however, things are a bit different. Not quite as popular as laying the points with the Pats, picking New England to win the game is actually the more popular of the money line bets – a rarity in the Super Bowl.
A quick cross-section of the market shows Bovada and MyBookie leading the way on the highest money line prices on the Patriots (-150 and -155, respectively), and the best odds on the Rams (+130, +125), while Matchbook and Pinnacle are cheapest on the Pats (-125, -133) and at the expensive end on the Rams (+120). Therefore, while anomalous to years passed, it appears that the value this year is to be found in picking the Rams to win the game outright. Any number better than +120 is certainly worth a look, and currently, it can be found as mentioned already, at Bovada, and also at 5Dimes.
Overall, in tying it all together, it’s quite clear what the world believes is going to happen in this Super Bowl LIII; The Patriots will beat the Rams, by at least a field goal, in a shootout. And in a game where the market will be driven more so than ever by what the world -outside of professional bettors- believes will happen, playing against this narrative is where the value is likely to be found. It’s no easy bet to make, playing against a team that we have become so accustomed to seeing dominate the sport in recent years; but as has been a theme with this article this season, it’s the most difficult bets to make that also hold the most value.
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