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Oddsmakers like NFL Patriots despite Brady, Gronkowski injuries

© GETTY/AFP/File | Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, pictured on January 13, 2018, said his hand will be fine for Super Bowl 52

NEW YORK (AFP) - 

Defending champion New England has been made the biggest Super Bowl favorite since 2009 over the Philadelphia Eagles despite injuries to star quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Westgate sports book in Las Vegas opened the Patriots as a 5.5-point favorite while the Wynn Las Vegas had the Eagles a 6.5-point underdog and Caesars Palace gave New England a 6-point edge with William Hill liking the Patriots by 5.

Brady said Monday on his weekly WEEI radio appearance that he will have stitches removed this week from a cut on his right hand suffered last week in practice and be fine for Super Bowl 52 against the Eagles on February 4 at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"As the game went on, it got better and better and better," Brady said of the throwing-hand injury in New England's 24-20 playoff win Sunday over Jacksonville. "It won't be a problem in a couple of weeks, which I'm really happy about."

The Patriots were optimistic Gronkowski, who exited after a helmet-to-helmet blow in the second quarter caused a concussion, would be finished with the NFL's concussion protocol and available for the Super Bowl, the Boston Herald reported Monday.

A record $138.5 million was wagered in Nevada sports betting on last year's Super Bowl, when New England overcame a 25-point deficit to win in over-time.

Not since the Pittsburgh Steelers were 7-point favorites over Arizona nine years ago has a club been so lopsided a favorite as the Patriots, who chase their sixth Super Bowl title to match Pittsburgh's record and their third crown in the past four seasons.

"Every year has been different and every team is different and every season is different," Brady said. "This team earned it. If people don't like that, it's their prerogative. They can do whatever they want. But to get this far with this team is incredible."

The Eagles, however, are accustomed to underdog status, to the point of players wearing dog masks to revel in the snubs, defying oddsmakers in playoff wins over Atlanta and Minnesota.

"We haven't been talked about all year," Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "That's the story of the Eagles. If you go back and look, we're in the top five in a lot of categories. We keep finding ways to win and moving on. It's our motto. All we need is one more."

Brady detailed his injury, which happened when his right thumb was "bent back" after he collided with running back Rex Burkhead on a handoff attempt during a workout last Wednesday.

"It was just a crazy injury in practice," Brady said. "It didn't look good there for a little bit."

Brady said he "definitely wasn't sure" last Wednesday that he could play against Jacksonville, adding, "It turned out to be a lot of good luck that it wasn't more serious than it was. I think we're very lucky."

© 2018 AFP