Belichick's record a factor for bettors

LAS VEGAS -- Be careful betting against the New England Patriots.

For the second year in a row, the Patriots are Las Vegas oddsmakers' pick to win the Super Bowl.

The Patriots, 41-27 winners over Pittsburgh on Sunday in the AFC title game, are favored by nearly a touchdown over Philadelphia by four major Las Vegas sports books.

Bob Scucci, Stardust sports book director, posted a 6½-point line with more than a quarter left in the AFC game. Other books, among them MGM-Mirage, had New England a six-point pick.

Scucci said bettors will most likely put their money on the Patriots, one of the most consistent NFL teams when it comes to covering the spread. Most, he said, will be influenced by the record of New England coach Bill Belichick.

"Belichick comes up with a game plan to defeat anyone," Scucci said. "People know that. They love to bet on that. People love to go with a proven winner."

John Avello, director of Race & Sports Book operations at Bally's Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Sports Consultants had the Patriots as six-point favorites.

Beating the Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champs, won't be easy, Avello said.

"The Patriots are the dominant team in football," he said. "Philly was going to be a [under]dog no matter who was on the end."

The initial odds put out by bookmakers often change as bettors put money on one team and the bookmakers try to balance their ledgers by moving the point spread.

Oddsmakers put up a 46- to 48-point over-under line, meaning bettors can put money on whether the teams combine to score more or less than that amount.

Robert Walker, sports book director at MGM Mirage casinos, made the Patriots a six-point favorite.

"The AFC will be favored because the AFC is perceived to be better," Walker said. But the Patriots have "shown they don't lose. [Tom] Brady doesn't lose in the postseason."

Last year, the Patriots were seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers and won 32-29.