The NFL odds board might go on tilt from all the public action, as Brady's finally back into action. Where Tom Terrific goes, the people follow. Where else is John Q. Public laying action?
Do the New England Patriots even need Tom Brady? Since he took over the starting quarterback job in 2001, we've seen the Patriots win games with Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett filling in for Brady. It's just like we've been saying all these years: Brady is a game-manager for head coach Bill Belichick.
Okay, he's a very good game-manager. And now that both Garoppolo and Brissett are injured, the Patriots sure do need Brady this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) as he prepares for his season debut against the Cleveland Browns. New England opened at –10.5 for this matchup, and that chalk pile is bound to get bigger as the betting public lights up the Week 5 NFL odds board.
They've been waiting patiently, too. If there was any doubt about Brady's popularity, check out the NFL public money charts, where the Patriots (3-1 SU and ATS) sit at No. 23 in his absence. People were more interested in betting on the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for crying out loud.
But not the Browns (0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS). They rank No. 29 on the money charts, having already burned through two starters of their own in Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. So is this a good spot to make a contrarian bet on Cleveland? Maybe, but it looks like the sharps are already kicking the tires on New England, giving the favorites the second-largest average bet size on our expanded consensus report at $77. The Browns? Just $13.
We could spin this in a number of ways – including the sharps putting in a little seed money on New England now to get a better price on Cleveland later in the week. There are quite a few sportsbooks with the spread at +10, so there's at least some extra incentive for the wiseguys to bump the price on Cleveland to +10.5. Our recommendation here at the ranch is to hold off for now; McCown (shoulder) might play this week, and the Browns may have center Cameron Erving (chest), too, which would be very important after backup Austin Reiter blew out his knee last Sunday. Be prepared to bet on the Browns this weekend if the planets align.
Record: 6-5 ATS, 4-5 Totals