super bowl rams patriots
(USA Today Sports Images)

It’s not always easy to predict which side bettors will prefer in the Super Bowl. Sometimes sportsbooks need the favorite to win and sometimes they need the underdog. This year, both sharp and public bettors are clearly on the Patriots with the game 72 hours away.

The total is a different story. Historically, books set the number a little high, sharps hit the under, and then public money comes in on the over to drive the total up closer to kickoff. Oddsmakers expect that trend to continue again this year.

Public loves scoring

While the books almost always need the under in the Super Bowl, it makes even more sense that public bettors will be piling on the over this year. The game features two of the NFL’s top-four scoring offenses during the regular season. The Rams ranked second, averaging 32.9 points per game, while the Patriots were fourth at an average 27.3 points.

It’s also a matchup of two of the top three scoring teams in the postseason. New England is averaging 39.0 points in two playoff wins, which ranks tops in the NFL. Los Angeles’ scoring average in the playoffs is a down a bit from the regular season but the Rams are still averaging 28.0 points in wins over the Cowboys and Saints.

Number to creep back up at MGM

After books opened the total anywhere from 58 to 59.5, the consensus number was 56.5 as of Thursday. The MGM opened on the higher side of 59.5 but has seen the number drop three points However, Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at MGM Resorts, expects that number to go back up again as kickoff approaches.

“We predicted this to be an attractive over play for the general public, so we opened it 59.5, and we took some money on the under,” Rood said. “We went down to 56.5. I imagine this total will start creeping back up again once we get more public money showing up.”

[Also See: Super Bowl Prop Bets Chat: Discussing Our Top Patriots-Rams Props]

History to repeat itself at Golden Nugget

The Golden Nugget opened its total at 59 but it didn’t last long as initial sharp money drove the number steadily down to 56.5 early this week. It hasn’t moved off 56.5 as of Thursday afternoon. Tony Miller, sportsbook director at the Golden Nugget, isn’t sure we’ll see a late flood of over money.

“They’ve been betting nothing but under,” said Miller. “We opened 59 and now it’s down to 56.5. We’re getting a little two-way at 56.5 but before that it was nothing but under money. I keep hearing all this over money is coming but I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Miller’s colleague Aaron Kessler, the Golden Nugget’s assistant sportsbook director, is confident history will repeat itself and over money is coming, just like it does every year with the Super Bowl. Kessler expects the total to close near 58.

“It happens every year with the Super Bowl,” said Kessler. “The first 10-11 days all we take is under and the public gets to town on Friday night and all we get is over, over, over. This game will close at 57 or 57.5. Especially with the Rams crowd coming in. They believe in their offense.”

(USA Today Sports Images)

CG Technology rooting for the sharps

CG Technology opened the total 59 and it quickly went down to 57. After holding there for four days, the number dropped to 56, before going back up to 56.5 after taking a big bet on the over. It’s remained at 56.5 since Tuesday.

Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management at CG Technology, said despite the larger bets being on the under, his book will be rooting for the sharps on Sunday. The reason? Parlays.

“It’s been the sharp guys betting the under and the public on the over,” said Simbal. “In fact, all the parlays, whether it’s the Patriots or Rams with the total, it’s all over. Rams moneyline and over or Patriots -2.5 and over in the parlays. Seventy percent of the parlays we’ve taken have the over in it. We’ll certainly be on the sharps’ side in terms of who we’re rooting for with the total.”

Over money coming to New Jersey

In New Jersey, FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks are also sitting at 56.5 with the total. Johnny Avello, DraftKings director of sportsbook operations, said they often set the total a little high for the Super Bowl, that’s why sharps come in early on the under. Books want that money to even out all the public action on the over.

“A lot of times you’ll see sophisticated bettors betting the under early,” said Avello. “They feel we put the number up too high, which we tend to do for the Super Bowl. It’s a game where we know we’ll get a lot of over money late. Sometimes we’ll figure the number at 57 and put up 58. The bigger bettors will take the under to move that number back down. Then the public money comes after.”

At FanDuel, bettors have been slow to wager on the total with so much attention being paid to the side and prop bets. Like most books, early action came in on the under, although John Sheeran, risk manager for FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands, expects money will be lopsided on the over by the time kickoff arrives Sunday.

“The total has actually been quiet. It’s one of the quietest markets we have right now,” Sheeran said. “We’re down from 57 to 56.5. Most of the money at that number is starting to come on the over but previous to that, money was on the under. I would expect a huge swing to the over by kickoff. My guess is somewhere in the range of a 70/30 split for the over at our book.”

[Also See: Super Bowl Prop Bets Chat: Discussing Our Top Patriots-Rams Props]

The Patriots have gone over 57 points just six times in 18 games, although both of New England’s playoff games easily eclipsed the number. The Rams have gone over 57 points seven times in 18 games with both playoff wins staying under that total.