It wasn’t Tom Brady’s poor play that sunk the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ ship for the second week in a row on the road, so let it be clear the blame is not being pinned on the 45-year-old quarterback. Still, it’s obvious something has been wrong with Brady since the preseason.
A lot of things are going wrong for the Buccaneers as a team, with everything exposed Sunday in one of the most humbling losses of Brady’s long career.
The Carolina Panthers, 13-point underdogs who came into the game with an interim coach and seemed to be tanking by trading away star players, coasted to a 21-3 win behind a quarterback who was fourth on the depth chart in training camp.
P.J. Walker, who played for the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL in 2020, outplayed Brady in the Panthers’ second win of the season.
It was mid-March when Brady ended his 40-day retirement. Since his comeback, the seven-time Super Bowl winner has lost four of his seven starts and his supermodel wife, who is reportedly aiming for a divorce. Brady’s personal problems are being compounded by setbacks on the field.
“Brady probably made the right call by retiring,” DraftKings sportsbook director John Avello said. “He retired on a high note and I don’t know why he came back. It’s probably time for Brady to call it a day. He can still throw the ball and read defenses well, but that team can’t score.”
The Buccaneers have scored more than 21 points in only one game this season, after averaging 31.4 points through seven games last season. Tampa Bay’s offensive line is a weakness, its ground game has vanished and star receiver Mike Evans dropped what would have been a 64-yard touchdown pass on the third play of Sunday’s game.
First-year coach Todd Bowles must take some blame for the Bucs’ defensive issues. At this time last year, Tampa Bay top-ranked run defense was allowing 67.4 yards per game — and it is now allowing 118.3 per game after yielding 173 yards to Carolina.
For the record, Avello was not depressed about the Bucs’ downfall and venting frustrations by calling for Brady to retire a second time. He called it a “good day” for his book, mostly due to Tampa Bay and Green Bay going down as road favorites.
Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay went a step further, saying, “It’s our best Sunday of the season.”
Before burying the Bucs, it’s important to remember they are still tied atop the NFC South at 3-4 and play their next three games at home. The remaining schedule is relatively soft and sets the table for a potential Tampa Bay turnaround.
“It’s a crazy year in the NFL,” Avello said. “But I would not count them out just yet -- the Bucs or the Packers.”
It’s crazy to see Brady lose as a double-digit road favorite in consecutive weeks. In Week 6, Tampa Bay was taken down by Pittsburgh and its clumsy quarterback tandem of Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky.
Brady, for many years a cash machine after a loss, is no longer an automatic bounce-back bet, one of 10 lessons to take away from Week 7.
It’s going from bad to worse for Aaron Rodgers
The box score showed two touchdown passes and no interceptions or sacks for Rodgers. The opposing quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, threw a pick-six. Somehow, Green Bay squandered a 14-3 second-quarter lead in a 23-21 loss at Washington.
The Packers (3-4) have lost three in a row and are 11-point road dogs at Buffalo in Week 8, the first time in Rodgers’ career that he’s a double-digit dog. It’s not going to be easy to build a strong case for taking the points.
Rodgers is bothered by a sore thumb and is out of sync with his receivers. The Packers were 0-for-6 on third downs and totaled only 38 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Heinicke and the Commanders finished with a 364-232 advantage in total yards. Next up: Josh Allen and the Bills. Green Bay will need some luck just to cover.
Expect no miracles from Matt Ryan and the Colts
I hesitantly punched in Colts + 2.5 on my Circa Millions and Westgate SuperContest cards. I looked at it and reconsidered as the voice of reason in my head said, “Hey, man, is this a smart move?” If you put on a pink suit and look in the mirror before going to work, the question and answer would be the same: “No, don’t do that.”
Ryan’s performance was an embarrassment to him, the Indianapolis organization and all of us foolish enough to place any sort of bet on the Colts. Ryan completed 33 of 44 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown, but he tossed two lame-duck interceptions and took three sacks to overshadow anything positive. I would say he looked old and slow, but this is not a time to throw around compliments. (Indianapolis must’ve been watching the same game I was, because on Monday, the Colts named Sam Ehlinger their starter for the rest of the season.)
The reasoning for the pick was mostly about Ryan looking better the previous two games, the return of injured running back Jonathan Taylor, and a fade of a Tennessee team that’s nothing special. Also, the rematch between division rivals figured to be close, so taking the points seemed the better option.
The Titans won 19-10 and their cover had a lot to do with Ryan throwing a pick-six in the second quarter. Taylor carried only 10 times for 58 yards. Tennessee (4-2) has the inside track to winning the AFC South. Indianapolis (3-3-1) is miraculously a .500 team that’s still in the race. The moral of the story is when you bet on a bad quarterback, don’t be surprised when bad things happen.
The Rams had good reasons to trade Jared Goff
I liked my contest selection of Lions + 7 a lot more. The reasoning for the pick was mostly about Detroit coming in healthier off a bye, and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott figured to be rusty after missing five weeks.
Prescott was not great and the Cowboys led 10-6 deep into the fourth quarter. The Lions unraveled. Goff threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles, and running back Jamaal Williams lost a fumble at the 1-yard line after coach Dan Campbell failed to challenge what appeared to be a Detroit touchdown. Dallas scored twice in the final three minutes to win 24-6.
For those who wondered why the Los Angeles Rams were so desperate to trade Goff to Detroit for Matthew Stafford, this game showed why. The moral of this story is when you bet on a bad quarterback and a knucklehead coach, you are also a knucklehead.
Zach Wilson is not a reason to bet on the Jets
There’s no chance that one person on the planet thought the Jets would be 4-0 on the road at this point, but that’s the case after their wins at Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Denver. Most of the credit goes to the New York defense and rookie running back Breece Hall, who ripped off a 62-yard touchdown sprint midway through the first quarter before leaving with a season-ending knee injury.
Wilson, a second-year quarterback, is not lighting it up. He passed for 121 yards in the Jets’ 16-9 victory over the Broncos. He passed for 110 yards the previous week against the Packers. Wilson still has much to prove, and Hall will not be there to help, unfortunately.
Denver opened as a 3.5-point favorite and closed as a 2-point underdog, a point-spread adjustment that resulted from the Broncos going with Brett Rypien as their starting quarterback in Russell Wilson’s injury absence. Rypien did not play much worse than Wilson. Hall’s big play was the difference in the game. The betting public was smart to support the Jets, but they need more from their young quarterback if the winning is to continue.
Daniel Jones is no joke
Quarterbacks are the theme this week, and they are the primary factor when handicapping most games. In the past, Jones was a reason to bet against the Giants. He has suddenly become a reason to bet on the Giants, and that’s no joke.
Jones passed for 202 yards and a touchdown, ran for 107 yards and a touchdown and made no big mistakes in New York’s 23-17 win at Jacksonville. Brian Daboll, the Giants’ first-year coach, played a major role in developing Josh Allen as a young quarterback in Buffalo. Daboll is doing something similar with Jones, who also has surprising running ability. It also helps that Saquon Barkley is healthy and ranks second in the league in rushing yards.
The Giants are on a lucky run and not as strong as their 6-1 record indicates, but their remaining schedule outside of NFC East play is weak so they will stay in the race to win the division. Sharp bettors were all about the Jaguars as 3-point favorites, but it’s time to pay some respect to Daboll, Jones and Barkley.
Joe Burrow is better than the hottest ATS trend
Atlanta was the league’s last perfect team against the spread at 6-0 going to Cincinnati. Handicappers and media talking heads were praising Falcons coach Arthur Smith. Oddsmakers opened the Bengals as 6.5-point favorites because oddsmakers don’t get influenced by ATS trends and media hype.
Burrow put the Falcons in their place, passing for 481 yards and three touchdowns as Cincinnati cruised to a 35-17 win. Atlanta was outgained 537-214, with the Falcons getting 75 of their total yards on one play.
Justin Herbert is not enough to save the overrated Chargers
In an annual tradition, the betting market shows love for the Chargers in the summer before they eventually take a fall and underachieve. There are forces at work (bad injury luck and poor coaching top the list) that even an elite quarterback such as Justin Herbert cannot overcome.
Herbert passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, yet he was no match for Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker III and the surging Seahawks, who stormed into L.A. as 5-point dogs and won 37-23. If you are not fading the Chargers as home favorites, you have not been paying attention.
A starting QB returning from injury is not always a quick fix
Prescott’s comeback did not immediately turn the Cowboys into a big-play offense. Dallas won and covered anyway, capitalizing on an inept Detroit team. Tua Tagovailoa’s return from a concussion influenced bettors to back Miami in its Sunday night game against Pittsburgh as the Dolphins drew heavy action as 7-point favorites and the total was bet up from 42.5 to 44.
Miami, which averaged 16 points in its previous three games -- two of which Tua missed completely -- held on to win 16-10. Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett, also returning from a concussion, threw three interceptions. A low-scoring game should not have been a surprising result.
Patrick Mahomes can humiliate the league’s best defense
Sunday’s highest-scoring game was a reminder not to doubt Mahomes. San Francisco showed up with the NFL’s top-ranked defense and a new running back, Christian McCaffrey, acquired in a hyped Friday trade with Carolina. The 49ers jumped ahead 10-0 and were feeling good.
Mahomes was just warming up. No quarterback is better at overcoming deficits, and he seems to play best after falling behind. Mahomes passed for 423 yards and three touchdowns as Kansas City won 44-23. The 49ers are legit yet looked helpless, and that’s what can be most impressive about Mahomes.
Here's another reason Avello said it was a "good day" -- one bettor dropped $420,000 on the 49ers' money line at DraftKings. The bettor hoped for a payout of $820,000, but took a beating and paid a heavy price for doubting Mahomes.
It appears the Chiefs (5-2) will run away from a disappointing pack in the AFC West. The Seahawks (4-3), not the 49ers or Rams, stunningly lead the NFC West after seven weeks.