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May 24, 2022

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ODDS ‘N’ ENDS | JEFF HANEY :

What a difference a Brady makes

As the former Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots prepare for life — or at least the rest of the season — without quarterback Tom Brady, the betting ramifications of the future Hall of Famer’s knee injury are coming into focus.

First, there’s Sunday’s game in which New England, led by backup Matt Cassel, visits the New York Jets.

An early-bird Las Vegas line on the game released before the NFL preseason — and before the Jets acquired Brett Favre — had the Patriots favored by 9 points.

With a healthy Brady, the line would have had New England favored by 5 1/2 to 7 points.

When the point spread was posted this week, though, the Jets were favored by as many as 3 points in Nevada sports books. The betting marketplace drove the number down slightly, but New York is still favored by 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 points in Las Vegas.

Sports handicapper Joe D’Amico said he’d be hard-pressed to name another NFL player who could command such a large swing in the point spread of an individual game.

“New England is a well-coached team with a great system in place,” D’Amico said. “But the difference in the win-loss column with Brady in the lineup is huge.”

Losing a typical starting quarterback might mean 2 or 3 points in the line for a given team, D’Amico said, and a star such as Tony Romo could mean 4 or 5 points to the Dallas Cowboys.

No one compares to Brady, said D’Amico, whose power ratings had New England favored by 7 at New York before the injury.

“This is the best quarterback in the league going down, the leader of a team that’s the first real dynasty since the ’90s,” said D’Amico (online at allamericansports.info).

A second consideration concerns futures, or seasonlong wagers.

Before Brady’s injury the Patriots, coming off an 18-1 performance last season, were favored to win the Super Bowl at odds as low as 5-2 in Las Vegas sports books.

Adjusted odds this week have the Pats at a consensus 15-1 to win the Super Bowl, behind at least seven other teams. (As always, odds vary by casino property.)

New England was also atop the list of team season-win over/unders, with a projected total of 12 1/2 to 13 regular-season victories, depending on the casino.

With Brady out, oddsmakers’ projections have the Patriots winning about 10 games.

“Any of the elite teams in the league is one significant injury away from going from a 13-win or 14-win team to a team that could easily finish 8-8 or 9-7,” D’Amico said. “It could be a quarterback, a running back, even a key guy on the line, and you see them going from an elite team to an average team barely making the playoffs.

“It’s a grueling 16-game season, and you’ve got to stay healthy to stay at that top level.”

Then there’s the effect Brady’s injury has on other top contenders in the AFC East and elsewhere in the league.

The Buffalo Bills, for instance, received an upgrade in the power ratings recorded by D’Amico, who makes Marshawn Lynch & Co. the new team to beat in the division.

“Buffalo doesn’t have too many stars, the kind of guys who make the ESPN highlight reel,” D’Amico said. “But they run the ball and they stop the run. They don’t do it pretty but they get the job done.

“I don’t think the Jets, once they get past the novelty of Favre, are going to last.”

The Dallas Cowboys, who opened at about 6-1 to win the Super Bowl, became the latest favorite at odds as low as 7-2, due in part to uninspired Week 1 outings by the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers, two of the other top choices in Las Vegas future books.

D’Amico has a piece of advice for bettors wondering how to analyze New England sans Brady: Sit back and watch for a bit before firing away at the betting window.

“Take a couple of weeks and see how this kid Cassel performs,” D’Amico said. “I’m not sure how much this offense believes in him right now. A team has to have faith in its quarterback.

“With 30 seconds left in the game, can he bring you 80 yards down the field? Cassel might be adequate, but he’s not Brady.”

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