Pats' historic season earns large point spread in Super Bowl

LAS VEGAS -- New England Patriots fans who want to bet on
their team in the Super Bowl will face a significant point spread
against the underdog Giants as quarterback Tom Brady aims for an
historic perfect 19-0 record and a fourth championship ring.

The Patriots are favored by 13 to 14 points against the
New York Giants (13-6) at Las Vegas sports books, a higher-than-normal
spread to entice underdog bettors on the biggest booked game of the

"The Patriots are still considered by far the best team in the
league," said Jay Kornegay, sports book director at the Las Vegas
Hilton. "We obviously make that line to get equal action on both
sides. To do that, because of the perception of the Patriots, we
have to increase their number more than usual."

Bets were flowing in on the Patriots early in the season as they
destroyed opponents and the spread, but the team has won by a
margin that was larger than the spread only once in their last
eight games, said Chuck Esposito, Caesars Palace's assistant vice
president of race and sports book operations.

"A game of this magnitude, historically you'll see some money
on the favorite," said Esposito, who put the Patriots as 14 point
favorites. "I think that's one of the reasons that the number
might be a little bit high."

The spread is the point difference oddsmakers set to even out
lopsided matchups in real life. A bettor who put $110 on the
Patriots would need the team to beat the Giants by at least 14 or
15 points to get back $210, which includes his original bet.

Oddsmakers set the total score of the two teams at around 55.
Bettors can wager that the final total will be more or less than
that amount.

Kornegay predicted a record handle at Nevada sports books,
topping the $94.5 million record set in 2006 when Pittsburgh beat
Seattle 21-10.

Not only could the game set NFL history with the longest streak
in a season by the Patriots, but the game is a rematch against the
Giants, who lost their season-ending game to the Patriots 38-35.

"The Giants played right with them for the majority of the
game," Esposito said. "And there will be another Manning
[quarterback Eli Manning] in the Big Game."

MGM Mirage Inc. sports book director Robert Walker expected the
handle in Nevada sports books to hit $100 million.

"I think with the New York team and the Patriots being the most
popular team in football, it has the makings of being a special
game," he said.