There were a trio of mainstream gambling narratives headed into the 53rd Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the L.A. Rams.
The first was that casual gamblers were going all-in on New England. Over 4 out of every 5 point-spread bets taken by BetOnline were on the Brady Bunch to cover (+1), (EVEN), (-1), (-2) or even (-2.5) points. Second, the public was firmly on the low side of the Over/Under total, dragging an O/U of (59) all the way down to (56.5) by the time Super Bowl Sunday rolled around. Finally, a few high-rollers went for Los Angeles on the moneyline, including at least one wager of over a million bucks.
Whoever risked enormous sums on L.A. lost their riches. But each of the betting public’s hive-mind predictions worked out incredibly well, and cost bookies a pretty penny.
A majority of Super Bowl bets won easily as the Patriots won a grudging defensive battle 13-3, notching yet another NFL title in a sluggish Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Tom Brady played a cautious game and did not throw a touchdown pass, while the Rams failed to surpass 100 total yards of offense until well into the 3rd quarter.
Typically, a falling Over/Under total indicates skepticism in a favorite’s ability to score points, but this time, the public accurately predicted that New England would hold L.A. out of the end zone and off the scoreboard. What did casual bettors (and high-rollers in the majority) see in the Pats’ defense?
Perhaps merely that Bill Belichick was coaching the unit. The Hoodie’s defensive game plan was brilliant, recognizing that the Rams’ offense thrives on getting an opponent moving one way and then bootlegging or cutting-back against the grain. Belichick ordered his defensive coaches to run “Jet” blitzes where linemen and linebackers penetrate straight up-field into the gaps. The Rams were unable to execute cut-back runs and failed to protect the pocket consistently, leading to 3.4 yards per carry and a pitiful day for QB Jared Goff.
New England running back Sony Michel, arguably the best player on the field on Sunday, rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries and scored the game’s only TD to give the Patriots a commanding 10-3 lead in the 4th quarter.
The fact that the Rams lost the game despite allowing only 13 points underscores the accuracy of the popular picks ATS and on the O/U market. More than a few bookmakers woke up with headaches on Monday after paying out to more than 2 out of every 3 gamblers on their Super Bowl bets.
No, it’s not time to delete all of those “bet against the public” tutorials. The masses will continue to trend toward the wrong side of a gridiron betting market more than 50% of the time.
But for Super Bowl LIII, the public had it pegged…and Las Vegas took a pratfall.
Image from YouTube.