The Patriots were 14-point underdogs to the St. Louis Rams when they upset the “Greatest Show on Turf” in a 20-17 win in Super Bowl XXXVI for their first championship.
Five Super Bowl titles and 17 years later, New England opened as a 1-point underdog to the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. However, early action on the Patriots quickly made New England a 1½-point to 2½-point favorite Sunday night at Las Vegas sports books.
“I don’t understand why some people opened the Rams as the favorite,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “People are going to bet New England. We’ll definitely need the Rams in this game.”
The consensus total is 58½ after opening at 58.
“The Chiefs-Rams would’ve been a much sexier matchup and probably got a ridiculous (betting) handle,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “But this will have a pretty strong handle.”
Bogdanovich has no doubt that Super Bowl LIII will eclipse last year’s Nevada record handle of $158.6 million, which shattered the previous mark of $138.5 million in 2017.
“Obviously it will set records,” he said. “End of story.”
The Patriots rallied for a thrilling 37-31 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game Sunday on Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the extra quarter.
The Rams rallied for a 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC championship on Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal.
Besides the Feb. 3 game in Atlanta being a Patriots-Rams Super Bowl rematch, another popular storyline will be the matchup of so-called coaching geniuses Sean McVay, who turns 33 on Thursday, and Bill Belichick, 66.
“It’s the old Jedi vs. the new Jedi. That’s a pretty intriguing matchup,” Rood said. “And it’s the grizzled veterans showing up again to play the next up-and-coming team.”