Snap judgment: First impressions of the Super Bowl 52 betting line

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Winslow Townson / AP

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches action from the sideline in the first half of an NFL game against the New York Giants on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass.

Mon, Jan 22, 2018 (2 a.m.)

Super Bowl 52

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Bettors who zinged punchlines at Nick Foles at the end of the regular season must have felt a lot like Bill Belichick after he bear-hugged Matt Patricia on Sunday evening.

Both seemed like great ideas in the moment, but turned out to be quite miserable. The Patriots’ notoriously standoffish coach appeared to recoil once he was deep in his defensive coordinator’s arms celebrating his team’s 24-20 win over the Jaguars on Sunday to reach Super Bowl 52.

Those who faded Foles throughout the playoffs also wish they could have pulled themselves away before the backup quarterback led the Eagles to a 38-7 victory over the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. Between the win over the Vikings and the divisional-round triumph against the Falcons, Foles completed 77 percent of his passes for 9.5 yards per attempt to lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years.

The run should reiterate one of the most important lessons of sports betting — Never over-react to what you see last.

Foles had a long track record indicating he was a mediocre-to-average NFL quarterback, not the horrific one that labored his way to a combined 23-for-47 passing with only 202 yards in poor week 16 and week 17 performances. The Eagles were one of the best teams in the NFL all season, and probably never should have been a home underdog in back-to-back playoff weeks solely because they lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz.

But now the pendulum appears to have swung ever-so-slightly the other way. After Foles torched the Vikings for 352 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, bettors seem a little too convinced he’s set up for the same type of performance against the Patriots on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

There’s been enough immediate action to keep Philadelphia as low as a 5-point underdog at some sports books around town, and spring the total to as high as over/under 49 points. That seems somewhat short-sighted after the consensus going into Sunday’s championship games was that the spread would be higher, and the total would be lower.

Just as Foles isn’t as bad as he was at the end of the regular season, he’s not as good as he’s looked in the playoffs. The Patriots’ defense appears to be a big step down from the Vikings' unit, but their statistical profile is bogged down by a horrific start to the season.

They’ve improved dramatically since then.

New England has been consistently terrific on offense for nearly 20 years behind Tom Brady, who threw for 7.6 yards per attempt with two touchdowns to no interceptions against the Jaguars despite having 10 stitches in his hand. The Patriots are highly unlikely to commit three turnovers against the Eagles like the Vikings did.

From a value standpoint, it’s hard to not lean towards the Patriots minus-5 and under 49 points in the Super Bowl on first reaction. Super Bowl handicapping is a long process with hundreds, if not thousands, of wagering opportunities thanks to the preponderance of props, so there shouldn’t be any rush to bet immediately.

But both those prices look like they could be bargains come kickoff. Let’s cozy up to them for now, but not fully commit — the same approach Belichick and Foles’ detractors should have taken.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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