Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
- Flush with money, visitors flooding Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend (2-3-2012)
- Gambling 101: A beginner’s guide to sports betting (2-3-2012)
- Events guide: Super Bowl watch parties (2-2-2012)
- A look at some of the Super Bowl prop bets offered by Las Vegas sports books (2-1-2012)
- Sports books open New England Patriots as slight favorites in 2012 Super Bowl (1-22-2012)
- How NFL conference championship weekend shapes up for local sports books (1-20-2012)
- Las Vegas sports books are no sanctuary from Tim Tebow craze (1-13-2012)
Sports book directors are certain that many Patriots bettors are out there, but they’ve played hide-and-seek over the last two weeks with an emphasis on the hiding.
For approximately every ticket Las Vegas sports books have printed on New England as 2.5- to 3-point favorites, they’ve sold two on the underdog New York Giants.
“We’ve got a lot of Giant money so far, but I’m sure there’s plenty of Patriot money out there,” Wynn Las Vegas sports book director John Avello said. “You’ve got to remember 85 percent of the money will come in on Sunday. Things can switch pretty rapidly.”
The public betting tendencies heading into Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis are somewhat abnormal for a Super Bowl.
Usually, according to Lucky’s sports books boss Jimmy Vaccaro, early action rolls in on the favorite and those who like the underdog gamble on them to win the game straight-up on the money line. But the Giants have dominated the action on both the spread and money line this year.
“Barring anything really crazy happening, we’re going to be rooting for the Patriots,” Vaccaro said. “It’s my guess that most other books, even though it won’t be a huge decision, will also need the Patriots.”
Although New England rides a 10-game winning streak into the Super Bowl, bettors are more impressed with New York’s recent five-game tear.
The Giants covered the spread in every game during their streak, while the Patriots run has only produced a 6-4 record against the spread. New York also impressively handled the top two teams in the NFC on the road, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, to reach Indianapolis.
“People have watched what they’ve done lately,” Avello said. “And they look at this Giants team as the 2007 Giants team. There’s also a lot of talk by the media that the Giants should be the favorite. Take those three factors right there and you’ve got yourself a lot of Giant money.”
The comparison to Super Bowl 42, when the Giants shocked the undefeated Patriots as 12-point underdogs, is a convenient storyline.
Like the 2007-08 season, the Giants had to play three straight weekends to reach the Super Bowl this season while the Patriots used home-field advantage and a bye to their benefit in two playoff victories.
But only 15 of the combined 44 players who started in the 2008 game will be on the field Sunday.
The quarterback matchup between the Giants' Eli Manning and the Patriots' Tom Brady remains unchanged, though. Bettors haven’t forgotten the way Manning passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns en route to Super Bowl 42 MVP honors.
“For me, this game is all about the passing game and the turnovers,” Avello said. “It’s those two factors right there that should decide it.”
New England ranked third in the NFL in turnover ratio this season at +17, while New York came in eighth at +7. Brady bested Manning in every notable passing statistic, which makes the lack of early Patriots support surprising.
But Vaccaro has an explanation.
“Anyone out there who is betting a substantial amount of money isn’t going to tip their hand on the Patriots,” Vaccaro said. “It’s pretty obvious that the worst you’re going to get is laying 2.5, so they’re waiting on the Patriots.”
If the larger bets flow in on the Patriots late as Vaccaro expects, it will put the books in a relatively safe position. The pricey wagers on New England would help cancel out some of the sheer volume on New York.
“The flavor of the game isn’t going to change much,” Vaccaro said. “The Giants tickets aren’t going to let up, but I don’t think there will be a huge gap as far as money is concerned.”