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Patriots-Buccaneers one of most likely Super Bowl matchups

When the Patriots lost 19-17 to the Buccaneers in Week 4 to fall to 1-3, a rematch in the Super Bowl seemed inconceivable.

Eight weeks later, a Bill Belichick-Tom Brady showdown in Super Bowl LVI appears very possible.

In fact, according to Football Outsiders, a data analytics website, New England vs. Tampa Bay was the most likely Super Bowl matchup heading into Week 12, with a 9.9 percent chance of happening.

Based on a parlay of each team’s conference futures at BetMGM — where the Bucs are +210 favorites to win the NFC and the Pats are the +450 third pick to win the AFC — the odds are 16-1 that the rematch takes place.

“That would be a monster matchup for the league, for TV and for our industry,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said.

MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback agrees.

“You couldn’t write a story like that,” he said. “That would be like one of those Hollywood movies, and it has a good possibility of happening.”

Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller said he’d make Tampa Bay a 1-point favorite over New England on a neutral field.

“I would love to see that matchup, just because of all the props that would be available,” Miller said. “But the Bucs have a much tougher path than the Patriots.”

Books win again

New England (8-4) and Tampa Bay (8-3) delivered two of the biggest wins for bettors on an NFL Sunday in which Las Vegas sportsbooks reported being small winners.

The biggest favorites on the board at -7, the Patriots won and covered their sixth straight game in a 36-13 rout of the Titans.

“The Patriots were the biggest loser for us,” Stoneback said. “They’re becoming a public team again.”

Bad beat

The Bucs covered as 3-point road favorites over the Colts in a 38-31 comeback victory that ended with a bad beat for Indianapolis bettors.

Tampa Bay rallied from a 24-14 halftime deficit to take a 31-24 lead in the fourth quarter. After the Colts tied it with 3:29 left, Brady drove the Bucs into range for a winning field goal, which would’ve resulted in a push and a refund for most bettors on the game.

But with 20 seconds left, running back Leonard Fournette broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run to lift Tampa Bay to a 38-31 win and cover.

The Colts, who had five turnovers, still had a chance to force overtime when Isaiah Rodgers returned the final kickoff 71 yards to the Bucs’ 32-yard line with 10 seconds left. But Carson Wentz’s first pass fell incomplete, and the second was intercepted near the goal line.

Underdog winners

Underdogs went 5-6 ATS with five outright wins by the Giants (+4, beat Eagles 13-7); Jets (+3, beat Texans 21-14); Broncos (+2½, beat Chargers 28-13); Packers (+2, beat Rams 36-28); and Dolphins (+1½, beat Panthers 33-10).

Denver, Miami and the Giants were the biggest winners for the books, while bettors won on Green Bay’s upset of Los Angeles.

A Caesars Sportsbook bettor won a $445,000 wager on the Packers on the money line (+115).

Aaron Rodgers accounted for three TDs for Green Bay on a fractured toe while Rams QB Matthew Stafford threw a pick-six for the third consecutive game in L.A.’s third straight loss.

“The NFL has been so difficult to predict this year, especially over the last three or four weeks,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “Every time we think someone is going to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, they unexpectedly lose. I would expect that to continue through the rest of the season and most likely in the playoffs.

“I believe that Green Bay is the best team in the league, though Arizona fans might have something to say about that. There are probably 12 teams that can win the Super Bowl. I’m still not sold on the Patriots. Let’s see what they do against Buffalo.”

New England is a 3-point underdog at Buffalo next week on “Monday Night Football.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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