By Michael Donovan
As the Patriots prepare to play their eighth Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, the most amazing statistic is that a six-point margin of victory was the biggest among the Patriots’ five Super Bowl wins.
It was also the largest total differential margin, as the Patriots’ losses to the Giants were by a combined seven points.Prior to the Falcons game last year, the other four Patriots Super Bowl victories came by a total of 13 points. Essentially, in seven Super Bowls, the Patriots have played seven one-possession games. They’ve gone 5-2, but easily could be 7-0 or 0-7.
Considering the Patriots’ Super Bowl history, the safest bet Sunday is that this will be a close game.
And that’s why the wise-guy money is flowing in on the Eagles, as the line has consistently shrunk since the conference championship games to the Patriots being favored by only 4 points.
The “look-ahead” line came out with the Patriots favored by 7. It came out officially with the Patriots favored by 5 and has shrunk to 4, depending on which sports book you prefer.
There have been multiple reports of bettors putting up hefty bets on the Eagles, including a $2 million wager on Philly at the Mirage and other individual bets of $700,000 and $500,000.
The big bets on the Eagles are wagers on history repeating itself and the Patriots either eking out a victory or losing as a favorite. The Patriots are 3-4 against the spread in their Super Bowls and they’ve come up “under” the over-under four times.
The Patriots covered the point spread in their past two Super Bowl victories, the furious comeback over the Falcons and the improbable goal-line stand against the Seahawks three years ago. But the Patriots failed to cover in the prior four Super Bowls, two losses to the Giants (2012 and 2010) as favorites and narrow victories over the Eagles and Carolina (2004 and 2005).
The first Super Bowl victory of the Belichick-Brady era came in an epic upset of the Rams in 2002, as the Patriots were 14-point underdogs and pulled off one of the biggest statistical upsets in Super Bowl history. (The Patriots were also double-digit favorites against the Giants in 2008, when they were stunned and lost their undefeated season).
What exactly does all this mean? Well, it could mean everything. But there’s also a counter theory that explains why it could mean nothing. In Belichick’s regimented vision, every season is different, every game is different and each team is distinct. This statistic exists only as an intriguing anomaly, as one Super Bowl has little to do with the next considering all the different variables – players, opponents and schemes.
In his “on to Cincinnati” world, tying together disparate Super Bowl results would be about as enjoyable as recounting an oral history of deflate-gate and Spygate.
That attitude has permeated down to the players.
“Do you think any of those previous games will predict what happens in this game?” Patriots tackle Nate Solder asked. “I don’t think so either. You’ve got to think that the two best teams in the NFL are playing. There’s going to be a high level of competition that comes down to some big plays or close plays.”
The bottom line is that there are infinite variables that could determine the outcome. (Betting against Nick Foles is just as sound logic as looking at prior Super Bowl results).
But as the line shrinks, it appears the Vegas sentiment disagrees with Solder. History says the safest bet in this Super Bowl is the Eagles and the points.