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The Bill Belichick-Tom Brady Patriots are 5-2 in Super Bowls but just 3-4 against the spread

They’ve beaten lots of spreads this season, however.

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday against the Eagles in Super Bowl 52, New England is a 4.5-point favorite. Betting with the spread in Patriots Super Bowls this century has proved to be a much riskier endeavor than just betting on the Patriots to win.

The Patriots are 5-2 in their seven Super Bowl appearances with coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. But they’re 3-4 against the spread, per OddsShark:

  • 2002: Patriots (+14) beat Rams by 3 and cover
  • 2004: Patriots (-7) beat Panthers by 3 and fail to cover
  • 2005: Patriots (-7) beat Eagles by 3 and fail to cover
  • 2008: Patriots (-12) lose to Giants by 3 and fail to cover
  • 2012: Patriots (-2.5) lose to Giants by 4 and fail to cover
  • 2015: Patriots (+1) beat Seahawks by 4 and cover
  • 2017: Patriots (-3) beat Falcons by 6 and cover

The Patriots are, on average, favored by 2.4 points in these Super Bowls. And that number goes to 4.1 if you discount Brady and Belichick’s first rodeo together, against the Greatest Show on Turf Rams in 2002. Their actual margin is a total of 12 points over seven games, an edge of 1.7 points per game. They’ve won closer than expected, generally.

New England’s done a great job covering spreads this year, though.

The Patriots are 12-6 against the spread this season and 8-2 against it in their last 10. They’re favored in every game they play, and they’ve rewarded bettors time and time again anyway. The most notable recent exception, of course, is the AFC Championship against Jacksonville, where New England fell behind two scores and couldn’t cover a 7.5-point spread in the course of its comeback win. The Patriots also didn’t cover when they lost to the Dolphins in Week 14. Otherwise, they’ve been golden since midseason.

If this line stays at 4.5 points in New England’s favor, it will be the fourth-smallest line in a Patriots game all year. (They have been favored in literally every game, including a visit to 11-2 Pittsburgh in Week 15. That wasn’t an exaggeration.) The Patriots covered in each of the games with smaller spreads, including that one against the Steelers (+2.5) and games against the Falcons (+3) and Buccaneers (+3.5).

If the Patriots follow their usual script, though, they’re a dangerous spread bet. They usually win Super Bowls by three or four.

There’s nothing actually predictive about previous margins of victory in New England Super Bowls, I don’t think. But if you’re someone who thinks the Patriots are going to choose the most obnoxious way possible to win and prevail by, like, a point, then you probably won’t feel safe laying 4.5 points and putting money on New England.

In that case, a moneyline bet might be for you. At a risk of about $200 to win $100, most sportsbooks will let you bet on the Patriots to win straight up.

I don’t purport to give gambling advice. But if I were betting on this game, I’d assume the Patriots win on a 57-yard field goal as time expires and don’t cover.