The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals to reinstate Tom Brady's four-game suspension because of "Deflategate" has understandably shaken up the NFL betting markets. Let's start by saying those sharp enough to take Arizona in what was once a "pick'em" game against New England in Week 1 are feeling pretty good right about now.
After news of Brady's reinstated suspension broke Monday, the Cardinals-Patriots Week 1 matchup was taken off the board by many sportsbooks. Others adjusted by immediately moving the line from, what at that point had been Arizona -1, all the way to Arizona -4.5. As of Tuesday, that number had gone up another point at most shops and now Cardinals' backers will need to lay 5.5 points to beat the Jimmy Garoppolo-led Patriots.
The NFL futures markets were also adjusted to account for the Brady suspension, of course. At MGM Resort, the Patriots went from the 5-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl to the 6-1 co-favorite with the Steelers, who saw their odds drop from 8-1.
Meanwhile, CG Technology, which runs several sportsbooks in Las Vegas, adjusted by moving the Patriots from the 6-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl to the 8-1 co-favorite with the Seattle Seahawks.
As for winning the AFC, the Patriots have gone from the prohibitive favorite at +330 to the +400 co-favorites with the Steelers. This seems reasonable, but does a four-game suspension at the start the season really impact the Patriots' chances of winning the AFC? Perhaps a couple extra losses will cost New England a home playoff game, but if you were willing to take the Pats at +330 it would seem well worth the gamble at 4-1.
Finally, the Brady suspension also caused CG Technology to move the Patriots season win total from 10.5 to 10.
Now, back to the Week 1 matchup with the Cardinals. Can you say "middle," anyone? There is a gaping hole to potentially exploit for those that locked-in the Cardinals either as a pick'em or even minus-1. Of course, that will require faith in the unproven Garoppolo.
Taken in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Patriots, Garoppolo has played in just 11 games over two seasons and has never started. In 2014, Garoppolo was 19-of-27 for 182 yards and a touchdown in six appearances. Last year, the Eastern Illinois product threw just four passes, completing one for six yards, in five games of mop-up duty.
The good news is this is Bill Belichik and the Patriots. Remember, in 2008 when Tom Brady tore his ACL in the season opener, backup Matt Cassel took over and played like a potential franchise quarterback when completing 63.4 percent of his passes and racking up a pair of AFC Offensive Player of the Week Awards. The Patriots, always looking to sell high, quickly traded Cassel in the offseason to Kansas City, where he would sign a huge free-agent contract. Cassel's first-year production with the Chiefs? How about as many touchdowns as interceptions (16) and just a 55.0 percent completion percentage.
So the Patriots have a track record of masking mediocre quarterback play. And with months to prepare, you can bet New England will put Garoppolo in the optimum position to succeed. Of course, facing an Arizona secondary with the "Honey Badger" and Patrick Peterson prowling the grounds in primetime will be a monster challenge for Garoppolo's first-ever NFL start.
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