The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins look like a couple of teams headed in starkly different directions this season. The Patriots, fresh off of their sixth Super Bowl title since 2001, throttled the Pittsburgh Steelers by the score of 33-3 in the season’s opening week. The Dolphins, meanwhile, were thrashed at home 59-10 by the Baltimore Ravens.
The two teams are set to meet in South Florida in Week 2, and the game has been a hot topic among bettors and oddsmakers alike. The Patriots understandably opened as two-touchdown favorites over their AFC East rivals, but bettors have pushed the line closer to three touchdowns as we get closer to kickoff. As of Friday morning, some sportsbooks had New England as high as -20 on the spread to beat the lowly Dolphins.
ESPN reports that most sportsbooks have decided to set the line at Patriots -18.5. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the only game where a team has been favored by 20 or more points in a September game was the New York Jets (-20) against the Buffalo Bills back in 1968. The Bills wound up winning the game outright by the score of 37-35.
The hefty spread has done nothing to scare bettors away from backing New England. Johnny Avello, the sportsbook director at DraftKings, told ESPN,
“Ninety percent of the money was still on the Patriots at 18.5. And then, when we hit 19, we got a little bit of buyback. So I think we found the number.”
The vast majority of the money came in on New England when the spread was between 14.5 and 18.5.
If sportsbooks ultimately settle on an 18.5-point spread by the time kickoff rolls around, the Dolphins will be the biggest home underdog in an NFL game in 12 years. The Patriots were listed as 19.5-point favorites against the Ravens in Baltimore back in December of 2007. New England won the game, but they failed to cover the massive spread. The Patriots escaped with a 27-24 win that kept their perfect season intact.
Part of the reason for the Patriots being so heavily-favored is last week’s signing of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown is expected to make his debut for the team in Week 2 after missing last week’s game, but there is some question regarding his availability for the game in Miami amid a rape charge that was filed against him earlier this week. Brown is expected to play, but Avello insists the line should stay where it is regardless of the player’s availability.
“How poorly the Dolphins played and how good the Patriots looked impacted the line far more than Brown’s availability.”
DraftKings reportedly took a bet worth $20,000 on the Dolphins to cover a 19-point spread, which pushed the line back down to 18.5. Caesars Sportsbook also reportedly took a lucrative bet on Miami at +19. New England was listed as -3000 favorites to win the game outright on the football moneyline over at Caesars. So, bettors would have to wager $3,000 on the Patriots just to win $100 back. Heading into Friday, a whopping 86.1% of moneyline bets and 95.1% of the total amount wagered was coming in on New England.
Prior to Week 1’s action, the Patriots were conservatively listed as 11.5-point favorites to beat the Dolphins in Week 2 at some sportsbooks. Avello sounds a bit nervous about the hefty spread, as he said,
“The spread, to me, looks really higher than it should be. We’ll see how many takers are out there.”
Considering how horribly the Dolphins played in Week 1, some sportsbooks are already accepting wagers regarding whether Miami will win a game all season long. Other sportsbooks have the Dolphins priced as minus favorites to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. DraftKings reportedly took a $3,400 bet on the Dolphins finishing the season 0-16 at 30-to-1 odds. If Miami finishes the season 0-16, that bettor will pocket $102,000.
Nevada sportsbooks are not the only ones taking massive bets on the Patriots. Nick Bogdanovich, the director of trading for William Hill US, said that the Patriots-Dolphins game is going to be massive for the company’s sportsbooks in Rhode Island. He said,
“Every bet is Patriots. All states are a burial. But Rhode Island is way worse.”
Rhode Island borders Massachusetts, of course, which means no shortage of Patriots fans frequent the state’s sportsbooks. If you’re planning on betting on football action this season, make sure to visit our page on the top NFL betting sites available.
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