So, yeah, the over has been a popular bet in the first five days since lines opened last Sunday. And it will remain that way right until kickoff between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers a week from Sunday if the action continues.
“I think it’ll just trend upwards, 54 and a half is a certainty, but I struggle to see it getting higher than 55. That’s probably the cap,” John Sheeran, Director of Risk and Trading at FanDuel Sportsbook, said in an interview with TheLines.
“We’re probably going to put our anchor down and kind of say ‘this is where our number is,’ and if it’s lopsided on one side, then so be it and we live with the outcome.”
Quite a mouthful from a man whose company will be exceptionally exposed for the Super Bowl, but Sheeran is not alone as sportsbooks around the United States and the world have seen an extraordinary amount of action come in on the over, which opened at 51.5 and quickly moved to 54.
And even with the line at 54, FanDuel is seeing 90 percent of the over/under wagers come in on the over.
Yes, 90 percent.
“We looked at projections from all of our statistical analysis, considered the matchups, and we came up with pretty much the same number as everyone else did, 51 and a half,” Sheeran said of the opening number on Sunday. “And all of the narrative in the media has been 100 percent accurate, it’s just been one-way traffic for the over. It’s not surprising when you see the Chiefs in terms of their explosiveness and how they’ve been playing recently, and the Niners, everyone saw what they can do in New Orleans (a 48-46 comeback victory in early December).
“It’s questionable what you can do to slow them down, the Chiefs, they’ve got so many weapons. You think about how the matchups are going to look and how (the 49ers) are going to manage to cover Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins before you think about Tyreek Hill.
“It’s just that they’re so explosive, have so many options. They have so many ways to hurt you, it’s hard to cover everything. So from that perspective, there’s an understanding that maybe people are looking back at that game in New Orleans and saying we’re going to see a bit of a repetition where they’re up and down the field all day.”
Other early action on Super Bowl 54
So while Sheeran finds himself stuck in the position of being overly exposed on the over, there is not much he can do about it except accept it, hope for the best and continue to post lines that FanDuel will try to use to differentiate itself from the competition while still paying heed to American regulators whose rules differ from state to state.
Coin toss props bets will be available in every state where FanDuel is operating.
“We took 7,000 bets on that last year, and there will be more this year,” Sheeran said.
Sheeran expects a considerable amount of action on the coin flip in the half-hour before kickoff, because bettors like to think they can get into the black just moments before the opening kickoff — even if they have already laid money in the days and weeks leading up to the game.
That popular Gatorade prop bet? That one will only be on the board in New Jersey.
“Historically we’ve offered all of those markets globally, but unfortunately in the US a lot of the regulators are hamstrung by the status as to what we can offer. We would like to be in a position to offer them, but we understand the limitations that the regulators are operating under, and therefore it’s not as broad of as novelty focused as we would be in other parts of the world.”
FanDuel also is looking forward to receiving thousands of pre-game parlay bets stringing anywhere from three to eight or 10 possibilities together.
“In football this fills a void for customers,” Sheeran said. “They don’t want to have 20 on the side and get 39 dollars back, they want the opportunity to have a 10-1 shot and get 200 dollars back, and this fills this void perfectly. It’s a differentiator for us, because we have it and a lot of our competitors do not.”
Until then, much of the early Super Bowl player prop action is on the quarterbacks.
“We’ve taken a lot on Patrick Mahomes over 297.5 (passing yards),” Sheeran said. “The total is rising, so that’s people looking at it as an angle into the game. There is plenty of interest in the under with Jimmy Garoppolo, which is the narrative from recent games because the 49ers being so run-heavy. They’re probably the two most popular ones, but that’s not surprising because they are the two quarterbacks.
“Once we get closer to the game we’ll see more Super Bowl centric props, but it’s still a long way off and we’re adding to our offering every day, and that will continue right up to Sunday of Super Bowl week.”
Their competitors also have a lot of exposure on the over, and it is a fair bet that if the under is what hits, the gambling operators will be having holiday parties on the Monday morning after. That, lest we forget, is “America Calls Out Sick Day.”