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Published: Monday, 1/23/2012

Patriots early favorites over Giants

New England playing in 1st Super Bowl since falling to N.Y. in '08

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Talk about a super sequel.

Four years after New York stunned previously undefeated New England in the Arizona desert, the Patriots and Giants are going at it again at the Super Bowl -- this time in Indianapolis.

Brady and Belichick. Eli and Coughlin. Both teams rolling through the playoffs.

Yep, here we go again.

New England opens as a 3-point favorite for the Feb. 5 game.

It's familiar territory for Tom Brady and the Patriots (15-3), who are playing in the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 11 years. New England is in the big game for the seventh time overall, second only to the eight trips by Pittsburgh and Dallas.

But it's the Patriots' first appearance since Eli Manning and the Giants (12-7) upset New England's pursuit of perfection in 2008.

In odds posted Sunday night by Cantor Gaming, the Patriots opened as three-point favorites over the New York Giants after New York beat San Francisco 20-17 in overtime in the NFC championship game, Race and Sports Director Mike Colbert said.

"The public will still like New England," Colbert told the Associated Press. "I don't think people are actually hip to how good these NFC teams are."

The over-under was set at 53 points, while New England betting fees were adjusted to be slightly more expensive than normal, with bettors required to wager $115 to win $100 rather than $110 to win $100, Colbert said.

Cantor sets lines for several sports books in Las Vegas, including the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Palazzo Las Vegas and the M Resort.

The Glantz-Culver line favored the Patriots by 3 1/2, with a total of 55 1/2 points.

New England beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 for the AFC title, when Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

Colbert said the 2008 Super Bowl rematch is the best matchup possible for casinos, with a shot at breaking wagering records for Nevada casinos.

The Patriots opened as 14-point favorites four years ago, but Giant backers bet the line down to 12 points and got paid when New York earned a 17-14 win.

Nevada casinos lost the most money ever on the Super Bowl that year -- $2.6 million.

Gambling expert R.J. Bell said the rematch could see $10 billion in wagers worldwide, with only 1 percent of that figure gambled in casino sports books in the Silver State.

Bell said several factors will make bets more expensive for Patriots backers than the raw matchup would dictate, including the celebrity of Brady and Belichick and the fact that more casual bettors generally gamble on the Super Bowl than other NFL games.

Bettors also like to see scoring -- an advantage for the Patriots over the Giants, he said.

"Usually there's going to be a premium on offense," Bell said.

Bell said that while the Patriots have played better all season, the Giants have been the best team over the past month.

Executive Race and Sports Director Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino says an injury to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could have a big effect on the line, because if he doesn't play the Giants will be able to double-team other New England receivers.

"That's a big factor, a huge factor actually, and will change things. I know he came back into the game, but I'm pretty sure he's not 100 percent," he said. "That's going to be a half point or so, maybe a point."

Kornegay said the Patriots may be the favorites, but the close win over Baltimore showed they are beatable.

"The Patriots -- they were fortunate, and they just got by," he said.

Owens added to Pro Bowl

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars fullback Montell Owens has been added to the AFC's Pro Bowl roster.

Owens replaces New England's Matthew Slater as the conference's special teams player. Owens joins running back Maurice Jones-Drew as the team's only representative in Hawaii for next Sunday's game.

Owens, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2010, led the Jaguars in special teams tackles in 2011 with 13 and had two forced fumbles. He owns the franchise record for career special teams tackles with 108. He has played in 91 games since joining Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent from Maine in 2006. He set the franchise's single-season record with 30 special teams tackles in 2009 and was named a first alternate to the Pro Bowl.



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