With the NFL attempting to play a football season during the COVID-19 pandemic, the league and its players’ union last month hammered out a revised collective bargaining agreement that allowed players to opt out of the season.
In total, 67 players decided to bypass the season. A whopping eight of those are members of the New England Patriots. While most of the opt-outs had no bearing on the odds, the sheer numbers impacted the Patriots’ line.
New England’s odds were shorter at 17/1,” Jason Scott, BetMGM’s vice president of trading, told Casino.org. “The Patriots have drifted out several points in betting since the player retraction.”
In its latest odds, New England is 25/1 to win the Super Bowl.
The Patriots have won 11 consecutive AFC East titles. Could that change? Perhaps, with Buffalo (+125) being the slightest of favorites over New England (+130) to win the division.
The opt-outs continued a dramatic off-season for the Patriots, who watched legendary quarterback Tom Brady sign with Tampa Bay in free agency.
When Westgate SuperBook’s opening odds were released on Jan. 13, Brady was a member of the Patriots and New England was 12/1 to win it all. Now, with the loss of Brady and the opt-outs, the Patriots plunged to 40/1 in its odds.
Without Brady, New England will go with either veteran Cam Newton or unproven Jarrett Stidham. Newton won NFL MVP honors in 2015, when he threw 35 touchdown passes, ran for 10 others, and led Carolina to a 15-1 record. However, he missed most of last season with a foot injury and was released in April.
Newton is second on BetMGM’s Comeback Player of the Year board, his +450 trailing only Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (+350).
Belichick won six Super Bowls with Brady. He’s been Coach of the Year three times but hasn’t won the award since 2010. He’s BetMGM’s favorite at +1,000, ahead of Tampa Bay’s Bruce Arians – Brady’s new coach – and Dallas’ Mike McCarthy at +1,400.
The Patriots have won at least 10 games in each of their last 17 seasons. Their over/under for wins at BetMGM is 9.5 (+105 on the over; -125 on the under).
While many of the opt-outs around the NFL were by lesser players, the Patriots lost some quality performers.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, a 99-game starter in his first eight NFL seasons, was named to his second Pro Bowl last season. He became a father just a couple weeks before players were supposed to report for training camp.
Marcus Cannon started 15 games at right tackle last season. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma before the 2011 draft and missed the start of his rookie season while undergoing treatment. Safety Patrick Chung started 82 games in six seasons since returning to New England in 2014.
“I respect all of the players on our team,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters about the players’ decisions. “We all have to make decisions and I talked to those guys and they explained their situations. They had to make a decision that was best for them and I totally respect and support it 100 percent.”