Defending champ Eagles lagging behind in Vegas action

ByDavid Purdum ESPN logo
Friday, September 7, 2018

The defending champs aren't getting much respect in Las Vegas.

Entering the first week of the NFL regular season, a number of teams -- including the Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers -- had better odds to win the Super Bowl than the Philadelphia Eaglesdid.

The Eagles were listed at 14-1on Thursday to win the Super Bowl at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The New England Patriots, at 6-1, are the consensus favorite for a third straight season, with significantly better odds than the Eagles, who beat the Patriots in last season's Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams are each 10-1, followed by the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chargers and Texans at 12-1.

At 14-1, the Eagles have the worst preseason odds for a defending Super Bowl champion since the Baltimore Ravens kicked off their title defense in 2013 at 30-1.

Even at the longer odds, bettors haven't shown much interest in Philadelphia. As of Tuesday, 10 teams had attracted more bets to win the Super Bowl at the Westgate than the Eagles, including the New York Giants.

Ed Malinowski, sportsbook director for Stratosphere in Las Vegas, described the betting interest on the Eagles at his shop as "middle of the road."

"There are a ton of teams that have a lot more action [than the Eagles]," Malinowski said.

That includes Philadelphia's opener Thursday night at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The betting action has been lopsided on the underdog Falcons -- even at the new sportsbooks in New Jersey that are just a few hours' drive away from Philadelphia. At William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey, 78 percent of the money bet on the game was on Atlanta. FanDuel and DraftKings each reportedat their New Jersey sportsbooks Tuesday that more than 80 percent of the money on the game was on the Falcons.

The line on Falcons-Eagles had shrunk as low as Philadelphia minus-1 as of Thursday morning. It had been as high as Eagles minus-5.5 this summer.

A lot of the line movement is caused by the Eagles' quarterback situation, according to Ed Salmons, head football oddsmaker at the Westgate.

"No one knows when [Carson] Wentz is going to be back," Salmons said. "And it became pretty clear to everyone in the preseason, when he didn't play at all, that he wasn't going to play Week 1."

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will start at quarterback until Wentz is cleared to return from a knee injury.

While there is a lack of interest in the defending champions, bettors are flocking to the Rams. More bets had been placed on the Rams to win the Super Bowl than on any other team at the Westgate, and more money has been bet on coach Sean McVay's team than on any other team at William Hill books.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills are the biggest Super Bowl long shots on the board at the Westgate, each listed at 300-1.