Bookies make Patriots a 3-point pick with record over/under

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reacts as he is dunked after the NFL football NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Atlanta. The Falcons won 44-21 to advance to Super Bowl LI. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts after throwing a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman during the second half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) looks back as he runs to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

LAS VEGAS — Oddsmakers like the New England Patriots by a field goal over the Atlanta Falcons in what experts think will be a high-scoring Super Bowl.

Most are also expecting an offensive showdown, with an over/under of 59 at some sports books the biggest ever in Super Bowl history.

"You've got the Patriots and then you have this scoring machine in Atlanta," said veteran oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro at the South Point. "There should be a lot of points on the board."

The AFC title game had barely entered the fourth quarter when oddsmakers around town began putting up their numbers. There was agreement all around that the Patriots should be a 3-point pick, though some had the over/under at 58 instead of 59.

There was also agreement that the legal handle on the game could exceed the record $132.5 million bet on last year's Super Bowl.

"I think we have a real shot at a record handle," said Chuck Esposito, oddsmaker for Station Casinos. "These teams are huge offensive teams and you're going to see a lot of action on the total."

Oddsmakers had plenty of history on their side in finding a line that could stick at 3 points all the way until kickoff. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls and the margin of victory in all but one was 3 points.

"Three seems to be the prevailing number for them in Super Bowls," Esposito said.

Westgate Super Book oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said the Super Bowl handle might have gone even higher had Green Bay made the title game. Atlanta doesn't have a big following among casual sports bettors, but there will still be plenty of action.

"It won't be any problem," he said. "There are plenty of people with opinions on the game."

Sherman said the 3-point spread will probably stand because if it moved to 3 1/2 casual bettors would be putting money on the Falcons and if it dropped to 2 1/2, the so-called "sharps" would be all over the Patriots.

In addition to the point spread and total bets, sports books will offer hundreds of different parlay bets ranging from which team will win the opening coin flip to how many points will be scored in the third quarter.

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For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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