Industry Report: Superbowl XLVIII

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The Superbowl match-up is set; we’ll soon know everything about the players, coaches, trainers, wives, girlfriends, mistresses, and a variety of even more nonsense connected to the Broncos or Seahawks franchise in some capacity.   Let’s be real, numbers are what matters most on the biggest gambling day in our fine country. It’s time for a little crash course to get you ready for everyone’s favorite unofficial holiday.

Opening Line

With almost an entire season in the books, you’d think every oddsmaker would have similar power ratings for pricing a game between the best teams in each conference.  Oh contraire, that’s far from the case as we witnessed a myriad of opening lines from some of the most prominent books both here in Las Vegas and in the islands.  The LVH, widely regarded as Vegas’ sharpest book, opened Seattle -2 and BetCRIS, a prominent offshore shop, shared similar sentiment using Seattle -1.5. However Pinnacle, widely known for taking some of the largest wagers, used PK (just pick the winner) and Stations Casinos here in Vegas catering to more recreational bettors followed suit.  I know what you’re all thinking, why is this important to me now because all I care about is the line as of today. Denver is currently listed as a 2.5 pt favorite having seen a substantial swell of support from both the public and professional bettors since the market opened.

Changing Perception

It’s interesting to see how a single dominating performance against the Patriots changed the perception of the Broncos in the eyes of the betting public. Each of the last two weeks oddsmakers found themselves rooting for Manning’s Broncos to cover when matched up against the Patriots & Chargers. However, in the Superbowl they’ll be rooting against Peyton winning his second ring. “We had a great result in the AFC championship because more than 70% of the cash on the spread came in on New England and 65% of all moneyline bets (team to win straight up) were on them as well,” Mike Perry of told me.

Dave Mason, head of marketing and business development for offered interesting theories regarding bettors changing stance on the game; “We had the Broncos -1 over the Seahawks last week and actually opened our final game market at PK for next week.  Early bettors pounded the Broncos driving it out to -2.5 where we sit right now.  I think the early bettors were definitely influenced by the weekend’s results.  I mean we had this match-up posted last week with Denver -1 and 78% of the cash was coming in on Seattle whereas now it’s been a complete role reversal.”

Where’s the Money

The majority of money wagered here in Nevada hits the sportsbooks balance sheets in the 48 hours leading up to kickoff. Offshore books are a slightly different phenomenon but for a game like this early wagering patterns are indicative of the public’s stance. Both Perry and Mason reported roughly 75% of the early action is backing the Broncos and the league’s top ranked offense.  Perry shared that he was surprised by the big disparity in early bets but anticipated his book would be Seahawks fans simply because “bettors like a great offense more than they do a great defense.”

The Closing Bell

I’ve said since the market opened that making a case for either team at +3 in this game made sense if the line ever climbed to a field goal.  There’s no reason for me to waiver from that prediction now when you consider for all the talent on both rosters, weather along with other hard to ignore handicapping elements will be present.  Seattle away from home? Not the same team. Peyton playing in frigid weather (despite what he says)? Not the same quarterback.  X-factor? Percy Harvin’s health.  Every angle will be dissected leading up to kickoff, none more so than where this number will eventually close on gameday. 

Perry and Mason may normally be in the same boat but there was disagreement on where each believed the number will close at his respective shop.  Perry indicated he thinks closes Denver  -3 where Mason anticipated Seahawk money will come in late forcing them to close Denver -1.5 or -2.  In regards to the future book, both operators would love for the Lombardi trophy to head out to the Pacific Northwest on the evening of February 2nd, after all sportsbooks aren’t in business to lose money.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.