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Patriots favored by seven in early odds


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Patriots favored by seven in early odds

By ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer

January 18, 2004

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The New England Patriots are Las Vegas oddsmakers' pick to win the Super Bowl.

The Patriots, 24-14 winners over Indianapolis on Sunday in the AFC title game, were made a seven-point favorite over the Carolina Panthers by four of the biggest Las Vegas sports books.

The Panthers earned a spot in the Super Bowl in Houston with a 14-3 victory over Philadelphia in the NFC championship game Sunday night.

Bob Scucci, Stardust sports book director, said he posted a seven-point line with eight minutes left in the NFC game.

He said bettors will most likely put their money on the Patriots, the most consistent NFL team this season in covering the spread.

``Right now the Patriots look like the best team,'' Scucci said. ``I think we'll see a lot of money on them in the Super Bowl. I don't think anybody beats them this year.''

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

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 38 to 38 1/2 -point over-under line, meaning bettors can put money on whether the teams combine to score more or less than that amount. The oddsmakers said they expect that number to rise.

Robert Walker, sports book director at The Mirage hotel-casino, said he also tapped the Patriots as seven-point favorites.

Walker added that professional gamblers had bet on Carolina throughout the playoffs, and he didn't expect that to change.

``I think Carolina will give New England a better game,'' Walker said. ``I do like New England in the game, but seven is a lot of points.''

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