NFL Line Watch Super Bowl

By: Art Aronson | Monday, January 22, 2018

Each week during the NFL season AAA Sports looks at one spread to be early on in the week, one to bet later and a total to watch. It's the final game of the year though, so here's their final Line Watch of the 2017/18 season.

Philadelphia vs. New England (-5.5)

If you buy into the old adage “Never bet on a streak to end,” then you have to figure that this Super Bowl will be close. The current Kraft/Belichick/Brady iteration of the Patriots will be making its 9th trip to the championship game, and all eight so far (five wins, and those two losses to the Giants) have been one-score games – including last year’s overtime victory over Atlanta.

This year it figures to be tight again, especially if All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is unable to go due to the concussion he suffered in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game victory over Jacksonville. The Jaguars showed that a solid defense can make things sticky for the Patriots, even if J-Ville wasn’t able to seal the deal due to its limited offense.

Oddsmakers opened the line at New England -5 or -5.5, which allows them plenty of room to maneuver the number between the key 3 and 7 without exposing them too much. The money line at most books is in the Patriots -220 / Eagles +180 range.

The week prior to championship weekend was dominated by speculation about Brady’s injured throwing hand, and bettors will be spending the next two weeks trying to figure out whether Gronkowski will be recovered enough to take the field in Minnesota on Feb. 4. Last year against Atlanta the Patriots struggled for nearly three quarters without Gronkowski before finding a way to move the ball.

The Eagles, meanwhile, may have caught a break when Carson Wentz was lost for the season in Week 13 instead of later on. Backup and one-time Nick Foles seems to be getting his legs under him after a few shaky starts, and had the best game (352 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs) of his career Sunday in Philly’s NFC Championship Game blowout win over Minnesota.

About the total (48)

Gronk also looms large among over/under wagerers, as New England will at minimum have to at least spend some time preparing for the possibility that he’ll miss a second straight Super Bowl. If the TE is sidelined, the Patriots will go to Plan B – extensive use of running backs as receivers, with the James Whites and Rex Burkheads getting a lot of touches in a possible bonanza for prop bettors. The Eagles could take the conservative route, preferring to pound the ball with former Patriots LeGarrette Blount, who seems to be at his best in big games.

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