The New England Patriots have dominated the NFL landscape for two decades, but with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady on the move, oddsmakers expect that to change. For the first time in 18 years, the Patriots aren't one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
New England entered the week +1200 to win the title. With Brady's future uncertain, those were already the Patriots' longest odds since 2010. Once he announced he would not be returning and reportedly agreed to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots' odds moved to +3000, and they went from -200 to -110 to claim the AFC East. It's the first time since before the 2001 season that the Patriots' odds to win the Super Bowl are longer than 20-1. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers moved from +4000 to +1400 after adding Brady.
The Patriots have been the NFL's only constant over the last two decades. They've won the AFC East 16 of the last 17 years and have been a serious threat to win the Super Bowl in every one of those seasons. Is the run finally over, or can bettors find value in New England futures?
The biggest issue most casual bettors have when it comes to futures is they wager on teams, not numbers. They bet with emotion and typically throw a few bucks on their favorite teams to win the championship. Because the franchise has been so successful for 20 years, most non-Patriots fans root against the team.
The second that Brady announced he was leaving New England, people lined up to read Bill Belichick his last rights. However, while everyone zigs, bettors have an opportunity to zag and jump on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl at odds that offer some value. Don't let hate for the Patriots prevent you from grabbing a good line; they're still one of the AFC's strongest teams.
Belichick critics will point out the only time he's missed the playoffs in the last 17 years is when Brady went down with a season-ending injury in Week 1. Supporters will mention he still finished 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback and won three of four games in 2016 when Brady was suspended.
Like him or not, Belichick is a phenomenal coach. The Patriots return the No. 1-ranked total and scoring defense, so it's not like they're starting from scratch. Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have shown they can insert other quarterbacks into their system and find success. Is it inconceivable that a guy like Andy Dalton - who led the Bengals to four seasons with 10-plus wins - can provide the same?
It's not like a new quarterback will be replacing peak Brady. Last year, he averaged 6.6 yards per attempt (second-lowest in his career) and posted an 88.0 passer rating (lowest since 2013). Some of that had to do with his supporting cast, but some of it also had to do with a 42-year-old quarterback's skills declining.
How many teams are better than the Patriots on paper outside of the Super Bowl favorites, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens? For all those falling in love with the Buffalo Bills and predicting they will overtake New England in the AFC East, don't forget about their quarterback issues. Let me refresh your memory:
We don't know who the Patriots' starting quarterback will be, but we do know they have arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history and a top-ranked defense. That wins a lot of games in the NFL. All the love is with Brady and the Bucs right now, but that team is overvalued at 14-1. Astute bettors will realize the value lies with the Patriots. The GOAT may be gone, but it's a perfect time to hit New England in the futures market before those 30-1 odds are a thing of the past.
Thomas Casale is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. He's been following the sports betting industry for almost 30 years. A devoted fan of the wishbone offense, Thomas bets on all sports but specializes in college football, NFL, and college basketball. Find him on Twitter @TheTomCasale.