While veteran quarterbacks are dropping like fies around the NFL, Tom Brady is still going strong at 42. The New England Patriots are showing few weaknesses, as usual, and could be chasing perfection for the frst time in more than a decade.
Just as dominant teams present challenges to oddsmakers, so do terrible teams, and especially when those opposite teams attract on the schedule. How low can the Dolphins go and how high can point spreads get on the worst team in the league?
Brady passed for two touchdowns and New England’s defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns Sunday in a 43-0 win in Miami, where the Dolphins opened the season with two home games and were outscored 102-10.
“Those are two of the worst games you’ll ever see an NFL team play,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said.
The Patriots, 3/1 Super Bowl favorites, were laying 18 points on the road, but the betting public showed no interest in the ugly underdog. Bogdanovich called the ticket count on the Patriots “insane.”
New England opened as a 17½-point home favorite over the New York Jets in Week 3. But then the injury-riddled Jets played Monday night and, after bettors and oddsmakers smelled a skunk, the line was reposted at 22½. This matchup is essentially the NFL’s version of New Mexico State-Alabama.
Meanwhile, it’s more of the same for the Dolphins, who are 21-point ‘dogs at Dallas. Miami is trading away stars for draft picks and tanking for Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (though it should be targeting Oregon’s Justin Herbert at No. 1). This is the frst time in 32 years there have been two favorites of 20-plus points in the same week.
“I guess we’re in uncharted waters,” Bogdanovich said. “How’s that for parity?” VSiN reporter Josh Appelbaum’s database shows since 2003, there have been only fve favorites of 20 or more points — four were the Patriots, and all failed to cover. Two props were opened last week and adjusted Sunday night. Will the Patriots go 16-0 in the regular season? The Westgate SuperBook posted a “No” price of -2,000 (bet $2,000 to win $100), with “Yes” paying 10/1 odds.
Will the Dolphins go 0-16? The “No” price is -450. “I think the Dolphins will win a game or two at some point,” SuperBook director John Murray said. “But they don’t really want to win, so you have to consider that, too. “There’s a pretty clear top two in the NFL right now.
New England and Kansas City are defnitely onetwo, but I don’t know in which order you want to rank those two.” The Patriots, who won their frst two games by a combined score of 76-3, could get tested at Buffalo in Week 4 but otherwise fgure to face little resistance until November. Circa sportsbook director Matt Metcalf said he ran the numbers and gives New England a 1.4 percent chance of going 16-0. The Dolphins are stuck in a hopeless situation against the Cowboys, who are making a case to surpass the Los Angeles Rams as the top powerrated team in the NFC.
Despite a drama-riddled preseason, Dallas abused the Giants and Redskins in double-digit victories over NFC East rivals headed in a downward spiral. Dak Prescott has completed 82.3 percent of his passes for 674 yards and seven touchdowns.
Prescott has the league’s second-highest passer rating, and Ezekiel Elliott is back in rhythm after rushing 23 times for 111 yards against the Redskins. Jerry Jones is preparing to write Prescott, who has yet to play in a conference championship game, a check for more than $30 million per year, which emphasizes the quarterback dilemma around the league. New Orleans is sliding down the NFC ladder.
The Saints fell to the Rams 27-9 and lost Drew Brees for six to eight weeks. Brees needs surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb and will be replaced by Teddy Bridgewater. The drop-off from Brees to Bridgewater is about four points. The SuperBook lowered Super Bowl odds on New Orleans (20/1) and Pittsburgh (200/1) after Monday’s breaking news on two quarterbacks. Kenny White, a Las Vegas oddsmaker and VSiN analyst, said the Steelers’ rating drops 6½ points with Mason Rudolph replacing Ben Roethlisberger, who needs season-ending elbow surgery. After losses to New England and Seattle, Pittsburgh is a 6½-point underdog at San Francisco.
The Brees and Roethlisberger injuries continue what has been a cruel month for veteran quarterbacks as Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck retired in the preseason and Jacksonville’s Nick Foles was knocked out with a broken collarbone in Week 1. Sam Darnold is not quite a veteran, but the Jets’ franchise QB is sidelined by mono. As for the Giants, Eli Manning has been sidelined by poor play, seemingly marking the end of the Eli era.
Aside from disparity and falling QB stars, the NFL has two more problems — offciating incompetency and poor prime-time matchups. “There are three teams on the feld in these games, with the third team being the offcials,” Murray said. The fag-football circus Sunday in Denver, where the refs helped MVP candidate Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears beat the Broncos at the buzzer, was a bad joke. The Saints, however, should be frst in line to complain.
There are too many fags, specifcally with roughing-the-passer calls, and pass interference is another perplexing story. The third team on the feld sometimes decides the betting results. The upcoming “Monday Night Football” schedule is a lineup of mostly lame games: Bears at Redskins, Bengals at Steelers, Browns at 49ers, Lions at Packers, Patriots at Jets, Dolphins at Steelers … this is prime time? Most of us love the NFL — the betting world revolves around it — but it’s a love-hate relationship.
Brady and Bill Belichick are great, but there are reasons to hate the shady Patriots, too. Here’s hoping the Antonio Brown experiment backfres in New England. Brady is busy turning back the clock to 2007, when the Patriots did go 16-0. But if they reach the Super Bowl, Manning and the Giants will not be there to crash the party this time.