It's not often you get a rematch between two teams that just met on a neutral field, one game removed.
Georgia and Alabama played in the SEC championship game. After CFP semifinal wins, they meet again with the national title on the line Monday night. Georgia is a 2.5-point favorite at BetMGM.
That point spread is a significant change from the first meeting, and it'll lead to completely separate analysis from bettors, with both sides having reasonable arguments.
The first time the teams met, Georgia was a 6.5-point favorite. They lost to Alabama 41-24. If you like Georgia in the rematch, you should feel like the 4-point change is too much. One-game sample sizes aren't the best barometer of anything. If oddsmakers felt the fair line before the SEC title game was Georgia by nearly a touchdown, and nothing dramatic happened in the CFP semis to change either team's power rating (if anything, the way Georgia QB Stetson Bennett bounced back against Michigan could have made the Bulldogs' number stronger), then one game shouldn't shift things that much. Even if that first meeting with Alabama wasn't a great game for Georgia. Then you can rightfully argue there's value on the Bulldogs at less than a field goal.
However, ignoring the first meeting seems a little foolish, mostly because it's Alabama. The Crimson Tide have been in a number of big games and more often than not, they look like they did in that SEC championship game. The Georgia defense is great, but didn't play a quarterback like Bryce Young or an offense like Alabama until that SEC title game in Atlanta. Alabama rolled up 536 yards.
Even if this isn't the greatest Alabama team in recent history, Nick Saban is probably the best coach in college football history and he has an annual cast of future NFL stars to deploy. Anyone backing Alabama doesn't view the SEC championship as some one-off performance, but what the Crimson Tide play like in the biggest games. The dominant semifinal win over Cincinnati was yet another example. Why would the rematch with Georgia be that much different considering these two teams played about a month ago and not too much changed since then? Maybe it's just that the line was off in the first meeting.
Either side makes sense. I'll take Alabama and the points. It seems like betting against the Tide as an underdog will be a losing proposition more times than not. Not that there are many opportunities to take Alabama getting points. If Georgia finally breaks through against Saban, Young and an Alabama program that is operating on a different plane than anyone else, congrats to the Bulldogs. But I need to see that happen first.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:
What about that NFL Week 18, right?
A wild final week was capped off by Chargers-Raiders, one of the most thrilling games in NFL regular-season history. We'll have plenty of opportunity to break down wild-card weekend after Georgia and Alabama are done, but Nick Bromberg has the opening lines from the first set of NFL playoff games.
Any other games on the schedule for Monday?
You'll find a few college basketball games, but nothing of too much importance. The biggest game is Oregon at Oregon State. The sport cedes the spotlight to the CFP title game.
There are seven NBA games and three NHL games that weren't canceled. The best NBA game is probably the Milwaukee Bucks at a fun Charlotte Hornets team. The Bucks are a 2.5-point favorite, if you are using a second screen tonight or hate watching SEC football teams.
What's the best bet?
We'll keep it to the marquee game and go with Alabama. I had Georgia in the SEC championship game and regretted fading Alabama as a pretty big underdog. I don't get excited to see Alabama in the national title game every season, but denying their greatness is foolish. I don't feel I'm overreacting to that SEC championship game, but recognizing that taking Bama as an underdog should be almost automatic. They don't win every big game, but often enough to make it a pretty good investment.