In the offseason, there was so little betting interest in the Atlanta Falcons that some Las Vegas sportsbooks lengthened their Super Bowl odds from 40-1 to 100-1 in an attempt to drum up some action.
It didn't help.
When the NFL season kicked off in September, sportsbook operator CG Technology had taken more bets on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl than it had on the Falcons. In fact, as of Sept. 6, only one team had attracted fewer bets to win the Super Bowl than the Falcons -- the Tennessee Titans.
Five months later, the sportsbooks are feeling good about their positions heading into Super Bowl LI.
The Falcons opened as 3-point underdogs against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Sportsbooks do well on their Super Bowl futures markets regardless of who wins, but an Atlanta victory would be the bigger boon.
"We took a $5,000 bet at 40-1 on the Falcons to win the Super Bowl," CG Technology vice president Jason Simbal said. The ticket would net $200,000. "And we still win almost a million on the Falcons. That's how few people bet them."
While few and far between, there are some other big Super Bowl tickets on the Falcons. William Hill reported taking 184 tickets on the Falcons at odds of 100-1 or greater. And MGM 's sportsbook took 31 bets on the Falcons at 75-1, with the average amount around $70, according to vice president of race and sports Jay Rood.
"Some people have some pretty nice tickets on them," Rood said. "But we still look great to them."
The Patriots were the consensus Super Bowl favorites throughout the season and also one of the most popular bets. In September, more money had been bet on New England to win the Super Bowl than any other team at William Hill's Nevada sportsbook. But the books kept the Patriots' odds low enough that they'll still turn a significant profit even if New England wins.