U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman just threw a grenade into the NFL betting market after he sensationally lifted the four-game ban on New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday.
In a ruling that surprised many legal observers (but far fewer sports journalists) Berman ruled that NFL commissioner had overreached in his decision to suspend Brady for the opening month of the season for knowingly pulling with under-inflated footballs.
This story has rumbled on for months and Brady lost his previous appeal when the man who banned him was also the appeals judge and unsurprisingly didn’t decide to overturn his own ruling. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already announced that he will launch an appeal in the U.S. Appeals Court, 2nd Circuit but this is a man who is now fighting for both his job and his legacy. This is akin to pushing all your chips into the centre of the table when you do not have a hand.
The important news for betting fans though is suddenly the Patriots aren’t without their three-time Super Bowl winning QB for the first four games.
They open the season next Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers and will play all the season with both a sense of vindication and with a giant chip on their shoulder. It has been an awfully long time since a team has felt victimised by the league and they will want nothing less than to win it all so the commissioner has to hand them the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 50.
I wrote in my Ante-post Super Bowl 50 Preview, ‘New England’s big question mark is about Tom Brady’s four-game ban for ‘deflategate’. Watch that situation closely because if that bans gets significantly reduced or even quashed altogether then expect their odds to tumble. They are the defending Super Bowl champions and as long as the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady combination is still going strong then they will be there or thereabouts.’
I stand by this and would now pronounce them as AFC favourites although the exchange isn’t backing me up on this.
The Colts are currently trading at 4.6 to win the AFC with the Patriots at 4.7, and the Broncos at 6.4 but not for me. As much as I love Andrew Luck and what they are doing in Indianapolis, I think you are playing with fire if you don’t take Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when they have such an ‘us against the world mentality’. and with Brady not missing any games, they now are in a position to secure home field advantage throughout the AFC portion of the play-offs.
I’m not ready to fully embrace the Pats to win the Super Bowl as Seattle are still out there over in the NFC and they would have won Super Bowl XLIX earlier this year if it wasn’t for one of the most boneheaded calls by a Head Coach in the history of the sport.
If you don’t know what happened, the Seahawks had the ball at the one yard line with 25 seconds left on the clock. They had the man they call Beast Mode in the backfield ready to drive the ball into the end zone and win it all but then, well this happened…
The Seahawks also added a great TE in Jimmy Graham to give Russell Wilson a legitimate weapon in the passing game so they are probably rightly favourite on the exchange but in the AFC, the Brady news means they are the team to beat and at 4.7 they represent sensational value.