A Super Bowl matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs will provide plenty of intrigue, but it's also one that oddsmakers had hoped to avoid.
The Chiefs were the most popular team in terms of preseason futures bets received at PointsBet Sportsbook, and the Bucs weren't far behind. Thanks in large part to the addition of quarterback Tom Brady, the Bucs were fourth in preseason futures after opening at +1400 to win it all. Both teams continued to receive support throughout the playoffs, and going into the conference title game oddsmakers were rooting for the Packers and Bills to salvage their futures market ledger. Instead, they got an exact result that will spell a loss for the book regardless of which team lifts the Lombardi Trophy.
"It's definitely a loss either way. This is basically the worst result for our futures book that could have come out of Sunday," PointsBet senior sports analyst Andrew Mannino told NBC Sports. "It is what is. We'll stumble out of it either way."
The Chiefs began the season as +575 favorites and saw those odds dwindle throughout the fall, starting the playoffs at +220 to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The Bucs faced longer odds and a path that included three straight road games. They were +1000 to win when the playoffs began, +800 after beating Washington and +425 after beating New Orleans, receiving attention from bettors every step along the way.
"As Brady continued to put together impressive stats week after week, more people were willing to jump on that bandwagon," Mannino said. "By the time the playoffs were set, a lot of people saw it as a good opportunity."
PointsBet will also be paying out several bets to clients who predicted this exact Super Bowl matchup - including some bets from before the season began:
Odds of Bucs-Chiefs exact Super Bowl matchup (via PointsBet Sportsbook)
After regular season: +900
After Wild Card: +700
After Divisional Round: +330
The action received on the matchup wasn't a surprise to Mannino given the popularity of some of the stars on both teams.
"Especially as this season went on and the storylines of these two teams emerged, people continued to get after it," Mannino said. "The Bucs were an early season favorite with their big offseason acquisitions. People were excited to get on them. The Chiefs were the defending champs. And once the playoff picture was set, I think there was an opportunity for a fair number of bettors to get in on the exact matchup."
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Chiefs (-3) open as Super Bowl favorites
Even before they were done polishing off the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs were installed as slight favorites over the Bucs to win their second straight Super Bowl.
Kansas City opened as 3.5-point favorites at PointsBet, with the total of what's expected to be a high-scoring affair set at 57. Both lines have moved slightly in the hours since, with the total down to 56 and the Chiefs now sitting as 3-point favorites. The line move on the side came despite a whopping 86 percent of early tickets written on the Chiefs, meaning that some respected sharp action is supporting the Bucs in what will be Brady's 10th Super Bowl appearance.
"All the early money so far is on Kansas City, against the spread," Mannino said. "But as soon as a line like this goes up, the sharks are circling and waiting to hit it. So this line has seen its share of sharp action and has settled down for the moment."
Mannino added that 66 percent of the early moneyline bets are on Tampa Bay (+150), and he doesn't expect to make many adjustments to the spread number over the next two weeks.
"I could see it flittering a little bit, maybe to (-3.5), but I don't really see it moving significantly barring any drastic news. I think it's basically where it's going to be."
Brady drawing attention in Super Bowl MVP market
While the Chiefs are favored to win the actual game, the Bucs (and their players) have received plenty of attention in some of the early prop markets.
Patrick Mahomes (-110) may be the current betting favorite to win MVP honors, but the player receiving the most bets in early action is, unsurprisingly, Tom Brady. Brady is in search of his seventh ring and potentially his fifth MVP award, and he has received nearly 22 percent the bets at +200 odds. Mahomes and Travis Kelce (+1000) have each received nearly 15 percent of wagers, while the next two most popular bets have been a pair of longshots: Devin White (+5000) and Mecole Hardman (+5000).
Odds to win Super Bowl MVP (via PointsBet)
-110: Patrick Mahomes
+200: Tom Brady
+1000: Travis Kelce
+1100: Tyreek Hill
+2500: Leonard Fournette
Likewise, Brady's top targets have received support in some of the other prop markets. Rob Gronkowski (+250) has gotten nearly 28 percent of all bets for "Anytime Touchdown Scorer," while Mike Evans (+1050) has received more bets (14.7 percent) than any other player for who will score the first touchdown of the game, just ahead of Mahomes and Kelce.
"I think people are expecting a lot of scoring, and nobody expects Tom Brady to get shut out in a Super Bowl, new team or not," Mannino said. "People are expecting there to be plenty of scoring to go around, plenty of touchdown opportunities, and that really opens it up when you're looking for player props."
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