Less than a day after the Denver Broncos joined the New England Patriots to compete in the AFC Championship Game, oddsmakers have shifted the opening point spread more toward the Patriots.
The game opened with the Patriots as six-and-a-half point underdogs playing on the road at Invesco Field at Mile High, but the line has quickly shifted to New England being only four-and-a-half point road dogs. This comes after Tom Brady was recently quoted saying no one will probably pick us to win. The statement was most likely aimed to rally his troops so they would embrace the us against-the-world underdog role that is becoming more and more common among professional sports.
Nonetheless, the quick change in the spread can be attributed to a couple of things.
First, it is no coincidence that the shift occurred rather abruptly after the news broke that Broncos starting cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. would miss the rest of the playoffs with a torn ACL. Quinton Jammer, who replaced Harris against the San Diego Chargers in the Divisional matchup, was quickly victimized by Philip Rivers when he entered the game.
The other explanation for the line movement is that the betting public doesn’t believe that the Broncos are more than six points better than the Patriots and that the early money is backing New England. Early-money shifts happen quite commonly in professional sports.
Typically, home-field advantage is worth three points in the NFL, so the shift is beginning to reveal that these teams are pretty evenly matched. The Patriots needed a furious comeback to beat the Broncos 34-31 in OT earlier this season in Foxboro. The 3-point margin of victory only strengthens the argument that these teams stack up pretty well against each other and the opening spread may have just been a little too much in favor of the Broncos.