Super Bowl 51: Odds steady for New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons

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With each team seemingly as much of a picture of health as it can be after 18 games, the New England Patriots remain a field-goal favorite against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots are listed as three-point favorites against the Falcons with a 59.5-point total in the Super Bowl 51 matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The NFL championship game takes place at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, where 13 seasons ago the Patriots won the second of their four titles.

New England is 4-6 straight-up and against the spread in its last 10 games as a favorite of four or fewer points. Since Dan Quinn took over the Falcons in 2015, they are 8-2 SU and ATS as a underdog of four points or fewer, but obviously none of those were playoff games, let alone a Super Bowl.

The reason the lines have not shifted is that both teams got through the NFC and AFC Championship Games relatively unscathed. The Falcons, who are 13-5 SU and 12-6 ATS, have two major components of their league-leading offense, WR Julio Jones (sprained toe) and C Alex Mack (left fibula), back on the field at practice.

Quinn was the defensive coordinator when the Seattle Seahawks went to two Super Bowls, routing the Denver Broncos at the end of the 2013 season and coming up one yard short – thanks, Pete Carroll – against the Patriots in 2014.

Quinn-guided teams are 7-1 SU in their last eight playoff games. Atlanta, which has NFL sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. helping it generate pressure with a four-man pass rush – a must since Tom Brady shreds blitzes – is allowing five fewer points per game in the playoffs than in the regular season.

Incidentally, there are +300 odds on Matt Ryan winning regular-season MVP and Super Bowl MVP, which hasn’t been accomplished since Kurt Warner in the 1999 season. Seven of the last eight quarterbacks who collected regular-season MVP hardware after leading their team to a conference title lost in the Super Bowl, including Tom Brady in 2007.

The Patriots are 16-2 SU and 15-3 ATS and their only new injury of note is run-stuffing DT Alan Branch (toe). The bye week should be a salve for WR Chris Hogan (thigh), WR Danny Amendola (ankle) and TE Martellus Bennett (knee).

Brady will be facing an Atlanta defense that finished the regular season with an unsightly 31-to-12 TD/interception ratio. The Falcons’ 4.5 yards per rush allowed was also 26th in the NFL, and they might have been fortunate that neither of their NFC playoff opponents, the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, were strong in the rushing phase.

This will be the 10th time Bill Belichick has had direct control of a defense in the Super Bowl and the previous nine opponents averaged 22.3 points, compared to a cumulative 25.2 through the regular season. Belichick’s team has also prevailed two of three times (against the 1990 Bills and 2001 Rams, with a loss against the 1996 Packers) when it has faced the No. 1-ranked offense. Of course, both wins came down to the final seconds and a placekicker.

Texans set to host Chiefs in a pick’em betting matchup on Sunday night

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The prospect of untested linemen trying to block the likes of J.J. Watt has the sharps projecting the Kansas City Chiefs for their first loss of the season. The Houston Texans and the Chiefs, the NFL’s last unbeaten team, meet in a Sunday Night Football matchup that has moved to a pick’em on the betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Chiefs were initially laying 3.5 points against the Texans, who they are a 3-1 straight-up against in their last four meetings, but QB Alex Smith (ankle) might have to be careful with an injury, while various ailments will mean backups will step in for RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and C Mitch Morse.

Each team takes an extreme against-the-spread trend into this rematch. The Chiefs are 8-0 SU and ATS in their last eight road games. The Texans are 3-21-1 ATS in their last 25 games at night.

The Chiefs, who are 4-0 SU and ATS, have endless ways to attack a defense and get linebackers to take themselves out of the play. That could mean some big opportunities for RB Kareem Hunt in both the rushing and passing phases. Smith, who has the NFL’s highest passer rating, will need to be somewhat nimble to avoid the Texans’ fierce pass rush of Watt, OLB Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Whitney Mercilus.

Houston is allowing 7.6 yards per pass, 23rd in the NFL, so there’s questions of whether the Texans will be able to keep WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce completely contained.

The Texans are 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS. Three starts into his NFL career, QB Deshaun Watson has shown that his mobility and vision can flummox even legendary defensive minds such as New England coach Bill Belichick and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau.

Against a pass rush that will once again not have OLB Dee Ford (back) to pair with OLB Justin Houston, Watson might be able to buy some time with his legs. That could give an extra advantage to the WR combo of Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins, who have a tough matchup on the outside against the CB tandem of Marcus Peters and Terrance Mitchell for some long-yardage strikes.

Houston is 1-8 SU in its last nine Week 5 games, but seem to finally have a balanced offense, with RB Lamar Miller churning out yards between the tackles and also catching short-range passes. The total has gone under in three of the Chiefs’ last four games against the Texans, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. The total has gone over in 11 of the Texans’ last 13 games in October.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

 

Sunday Night Football has Seahawks as large favorites hosting the Colts

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October has been the cruelest month for bettors who back the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson for a cover at home, but they are facing a quarterback making his first road start.

The Seahawks are listed as as 13-point favourites against the Indianapolis Colts with a 41.5-point total for their Week 4 Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Seattle  is 10-1 straight-up in its last 11 games following losses, and they are 0-5 against the spread in their last five October home games.

The Colts, who are out of the gate at 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS, will be sending young QB Jacoby Brissett into one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums, CenturyLink Field. Brissett’s chances of success could hinge largely on how much support he gets in the rushing phase, which pits the Colts’ struggling ground game against a Seattle run defense that is third-worst in the NFL.

Based on form and personnel, the Seahawks might be more apt to break out and keep Colts RB Frank Gore below 100 yards.

Indianapolis, which is 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS on the NFL betting lines in its last 10 games against NFC teams, will likely need to rely on Brissett’s mobility, since the Colts offensive line has allowed 11 sacks and will be up against premier pass rushers such as DE Michael Bennett.

However, Seattle’s opponents have had some success challenging CB Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom secondary, and Colts WR T.Y. Hilton has given Seattle fits in the past (140 yards in a 2013 game).

Taking the Seahawks, who are 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS, and the points is a gamble as long as QB Russell Wilson and the offense persist in having slow starts. While it’s hard for defensive guys on struggling teams to get noticed, the likes of ILB Jon Bostic and ILB Antonio Morrison have helped the Colts toughen up on that side of the ball. For all its issues with run blocking, the Seahawks have at least identified a primary running back in Chris Carson.

Wilson’s favorite target, WR Doug Baldwin (groin), has an injury that bettors should keep tabs on right up until kickoff. But where Indianapolis is really struggling in pass defense is against throws to the middle of the field, especially to tight ends and running backs. That means there’s a big opportunity for TE Jimmy Graham, as well as Carson, to be X-factors on Sunday.

Seattle is 10-0 SU and 6-3-1 ATS in its last 10 home games against AFC teams, but was a double-digit favorite in all three of those against the spread losses. The total has gone over in seven of the Colts’ last eight games as road underdogs. The total has gone over in 18 of the Seahawks’ last 24 games when hosting a East Coast team.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.