02/02/2012 5:19PM

Giants-Patriots: An ideal matchup for Vegas books


LAS VEGAS – With apologies to fans of the Ravens and 49ers, this Super Bowl matchup of Patriots and Giants was the one everyone wanted to see when the conference championship games were played two Sundays ago.

And that’s especially true of bookmakers here in Vegas. With the ultra-popular Patriots and the Giants from the giant metropolis of New York, these are not only two teams that attract a lot of betting action but also have a lot of well-known players that make for great proposition wagers that are a big part of the Super Bowl handle these days. Joe Flacco and Alex Smith are fine quarterbacks in their own right and continue to improve, but they don’t have the marquee value of Tom Brady and Eli Manning.

When the matchup was determined when the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes kicked the winning field goal in overtime against the 49ers, the line went up at Patriots –3.5 at most books, with some going as high as 4, but early money on New York knocked it down to 3 by that Monday morning. For most of the ensuing week and a half, the ViewFromVegas Consensus Line was Patriots –3 even (with a play on Giants +3 costing –120 instead of the standard 10 percent vig), with a few books going to 2.5 before getting bet back to 3. As we passed the middle of Super Bowl Week, more books have been going to 2.5, with the South Point, MGM Resorts, Coast Casinos, and Wynn Las Vegas making the move. The over/under, which opened as high as 56 also has been coming down, with 54 being the consensus number as of late Thursday morning.

Giants +3 vs. Patriots

I’m just 5-5 against the spread in the NFL postseason after splitting again two weeks ago with a win on the Ravens plus the points and a loss on the 49ers against the Giants, so this pick decides if I show a profit or a loss. I took the Giants +3 even on my website the night the lines first came out and hopefully New York backers were able to grab a better line than is now available. Regardless, I believe the Giants are the right play, and I’m guessing many people that miss out on the +3 will instead take the +115 or +120 on the money line to win straight up.

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A lot of this is based on the fact the Giants beat the Patriots in Week 9 (when they weren’t playing as well as they are now). I’m not a handicapper that puts a lot of stock in revenge – I’d rather have the team that has proven it can beat the other team – and yet we’re still getting points in this case.

This also is based on recent form as the Giants are peaking at the right time. Granted, the Patriots’ defense is playing better than it did earlier in the season, but I still think the Giants’ offense will have more success against them than the Patriots’ offense will have against the Giants’ D.

Gotta give props

Now, I’m a firm believer that you have to bet props based on the way you handicap the game, with the caveat that you can’t just bet all the overs on passing yards, TD passes, rushing yards, and receptions on the top players just because you like one side or you like the over (or coversely betting all the unders if you like the game to be low scoring). Many times, the losing team has more passing yards because they’re behind and forced to pass, while the leading team might be running the ball more to milk the clock, so just beware of that.

Other bets to avoid are the ones that look too easy and the ones that are “due.”

The ones that look too easy are ones like the LVH (formerly Hilton) has with “Will either team score 3 straight times?” The “yes” opened –175 with the “no” at +155. Most people look at that and think that a game with a spread this low will see teams trading scores back and forth and think the “no” is a sure bet. But Jay Kornegay and his crew, dating back to their days at the Imperial Palace, have been doing these for years and have researched all these props tirelessly. If you were getting true odds, you should be getting a lot closer to 2-1.

An example of a bet being “due” – which always reminds me of Krusty the Klown on “The Simpsons” saying he bet the Washington Generals because he thought they were due – is “Will there be overtime?” The “yes” opened +800 with the “no” at –1100. This prop gets a ton of square money every year from people betting the “yes” because they think it’ll be a close game and could go to OT, even though there hasn’t been an overtime in any of the 45 previous Super Bowls. And they’re taking 8-1? If/when there is a Super Bowl OT, there’s going to be a lot of people saying “I told you so,” but the more truthful ones will be saying “I’m still a loser on this bet over the years.”

Okay, now for some props I do like:

Largest lead under 13.5 +125: This is similar in a way to fading the “3 unanswered scores” prop but gives me more wiggle room as long as it’s not a team getting out to a 17-0 lead.

Game decided by exactly 3 points +375: On the surface, this is a bad bet as I should be getting at least 5-1 if we accept the fact that about 15 percent of NFL games land on 3, but we also get the Giants by 3 with this, and it also helps in case I push with my game wagers (besides, the Patriots’ last four Super Bowls have all been decided by 3 points).

Brandon Jacobs 15-1 to score first touchdown: Ever since I had Devin Hester at 30-1 to score the first TD in the 2006 game, I get asked to pick this every year (and I might as well since I haven’t lost all those profits). I think the price is fair on Jacobs and will like it even more if we can get a pass interference call in the end zone on the opening drive.

Enjoy the game.