Wednesday, 18 March 2020 13:59 EST
Finally, officially, after two decades, the reign of terror in over: Belichick ‘n’ Brady’s New England Patriots are dead, and the Golden Boy has moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For NFL bettors, the consequences of the move will have both immediate and short-term effects.
In the short-term, NFL bettors no longer necessarily have to adjust for the hyper-dynastic Patriots’ outlier performances over the 20 seasons since a fifth-round draft pick out of Michigan came into the game for an injured Drew Bledsoe. The presence of the Patriots has distorted both Super Bowl history and win-less records ATS, but bettors need no longer affix the asterisks to such historical marks, as the Patriots may now be considered a historical artifact.
For the 2020 NFL season, of course, the big acquisition has already wreaked havoc with the odds tables in the “To Win Super Bowl LV” proposition bets. Below run the top teams on both tables; odds listed reflect those posted by Bovada and Las Vegas sportsbook odds aggregators, respectively.
To Win Super Bowl LV
• Kansas City Chiefs: +650, +450
• Baltimore Ravens: 8/1, 5/1
• San Francisco 49ers: 11/1, 10/1
• New Orleans Saints: 16/1, 14/1
• Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 20/1, 14/1
• Dallas Cowboys: 25/1, 14/1
• Seattle Seahawks: 25/1, 20/1
• Philadelphia Eagles: 25/1, 20/1
• New England Patriots: 25/1, 30/1
• Green Bay Packers: 33/1, 20/1
• Indianapolis Colts: 33/1, 20/1
NFLbets has already commented on the early odds table to win Super Bowl LV – and those odds on the Baltimore Ravens still look pretty good to us, by the way – so here we’ll consider the effects of the Brady move on his new Buccaneers and departed Patriots.
The jump seen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seems fair enough; though they’re drawing shorter odds than two teams already getting well shorter odds than can be excused away only as marketability and volume betting. (Look, pragmatically speaking, the 49ers will not repeat as NFC champions and the Saints’ window of opportunity has closed.) In a what-the-hell spirit, throwing some moneys at the 2020 Buccaneers is hardly the worst bet; heck, NFLbets has Dallas penciled in as NFC champ.
But remember that those odds on Tampa Bay are based purely on potential. Bruce Arians-led teams are just 22-25-1 SU over the past three seasons – and before anyone snarkily points out he was coaching the Arizona Cardinals and the Buccaneers in those years, the Pythagorean Expectation (PE) statistic shows that those teams actually unperformed by more than 3½ wins combined.
Additionally, Tampa Bay sports quite the impressive cadre of WRs in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rashad Perriman and O.J. Howard, this last of which requires a bit of a flier, as this guy just hasn’t yet lived up to his potential in the NFL. Of course, these three guys have done little in the postseason and last year were graced with Jameis “The Coronary Inducer” Winston at QB; the 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers thus oddly led the NFL in passing yardage, were no. 3 in passing TDs and were dead last in turnovers.
The defense, meanwhile, was subpar against the pass in 2019. To address this thus far, Tampa Bay reupped Jason Pierra-Paul, franchise-tagged Shaquil Barrett ... and that's about it. With the $27 million/two-year deal handed Pierre-Paul plus Brady's haul will certainly suck up a lot of cap space and eliminate certain opportunities to improve on this side of the ball.
So the Bucs are dealing with quite a fair number of unknowns going into 2020, including how much the GOAT QB has left in the tank. But, hey, NFL bettors could do a lot worse than covering Tampa Bay in a seemingly wide open NFC.
Then there’s the 2020 New England Patriots, first Pats team since 2001 expecting to start a quarterback other than Brady. Remember how, once upon a time, Bill Belichick was known as a defensive mastermind, the guy that stopped the daunting and revolutionary hurry-up offense developed by Marv Levy’s Buffalo Bills for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl? Or as the defense-first HC that stopped the Greatest Show on Turf 10 years later? Well, after all this time with a hyped-up GOAT, Belichick looks poised to turn New England into a defensive juggernaut designed to stop the high-flying offenses in Kansas City and Baltimore.
In the first half of last season, the Patriots defense was on a historically great pace: Through eight games, New England didn’t surrendered more than 14 points in a single game and allowed an average of just about 7½ ppg to that point. The defense may have been publicly perceived as the Patriots’ problem in 2019, beginning with the 37-20 week 9 loss to Baltimore, but the truth is they still finished no. 1 in overall defense per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
We can therefore expect the post-Brady Patriots to lead with the defense, at least in the immediate future – but the offense may need a thorough overhaul to stay competitive. Touchdown Tommy’s main weapon in 2019 was of course Julian Edelman, but what does anyone expect from a Brady-less Edelman? James White had a decent season with 908 total yards, but fellow RB Sony Michel mainly demonstrated his limited ability as a pass-catcher, getting just 20 targets and making a poor 12 catches. Is Rex Burkhead really the answer? And of course there’s still that Gronkowski-sized hole at TE…
On the plus side, the offensive line is still solid, having ranked no. 9 overall in DVOA and no. 5 in pass blocking. Guard Joe Thuney was the only possible starter headed for free agency and the Patriots franchise-tagged him to insure a return.
In the final analysis, then, we’ll take a wait-and-see on the 2020 Patriots making the Super Bowl. The Chiefs and Ravens still loom large and given the combination of moves made by Houston and Tennessee, NFLbets is actually quite liking the Titans’ chances as well, but 25/1 to 30/1 represents outstanding value for what could be the NFL’s best defense in 2020 – not to mention the GOAT head coach of all-time…
–written by Os Davis