It's hard to quantify just how valuable a player like Tom Brady is but below we do just that and determine how the nullification of his four-game suspension affects the NFL odds and the Patriots' place in the standings.
Yes, He's Back...Back Again
Roger Goodell messed with the bull and got the horns. Judge Richard Berman was not subtle in his criticism during the proceedings which should have sent a crystal clear message to Goodell and his high-priced team of sycophants that if they didn't settle, this case was going south. Therefore it was no surprise, except to Goodell and company, that the suspension was vacated and Tom Terrific will be under center for what appears to be the entire season unless the NFL's Hail Mary of an appeal somehow passes muster. It won't.
So just how important is Brady to the success of the New England Patriots? ESPN Stats and Info projected that the Patriots would make the playoffs 68 percent of the time without Brady for four games. However, that number has been revised to 74 percent now that No. 12 will be around for the duration. Below is a chart that explains the business of being Brady.
* The projection above is derived from Stats and Info’s Football Power Index, a mathematical model that assigns every NFL team a strength rating for its offense, defense and special teams and then simulates the schedule 10,000 times, tracking how often each team wins its division, conference and even the Super Bowl.
The Patriots Win AFC East and More
Let's face facts. No one expected the Buffalo Bills or Miami Dolphins (and don't even mention the Jets) to break New England's stranglehold on the AFC East just because Brady had to sit for four games. Second year man Jimmy Garoppolo is untested to be sure but the early reports on him are positive therefore if he had to be the field marshal for the first quarter of the season the bottom wouldn't drop and the sky wouldn't fall.
As a matter of fact you could say that New England is virtually guaranteed a 2-2 start even if Brady was sidelined. Let us preview the first quarter of the season. The NFL odds have spiked from 2 ½ to as high as 7 in sportsbooks like 5Dimes and Pinnacle in their opener against Pittsburgh but even with Brady's understudy Jimmy Garoppolo under center the Patriots history versus the Steelers tells us that they are well-equipped to handle the boys from Pittsburgh. The Pats are 11-5 ATS against the Pittsburgh Steelers over their last 16 contests and are 8-3 straight up and ATS over the last 11 games therefore it would not be a leap of faith to put the season opener in the win column for the Pats even with young Jimmy G. in the pocket.
However, their second game of the season against the seemingly new and improved Buffalo Bills could be problematic for the Pats. Rex Ryan is still in the AFC East only now he commands the Bills and not the Jets. Brady could make all the difference in this one. Garoppolo might not fare as well against an amped up defense devised specifically to ruin New England's day.
However, the Pats could bring back Steve Grogan for the sake of nostalgia and still beat the Jaguars in Week 3 so between the opener in Week 1 and this walk-in-the-park in Week 3 we have our two wins right there. Week 4 against the Cowboys in Dallas won't be a picnic and we can chalk that up as a loss on the win/loss record.
In this hypothetical we can see that the Patriots could end the first quarter of their season 3-1 with Brady versus 2-2 without him. That is worth a full game right there. New England will rule the AFC East once again now that Brady is back and should be either the top seed or the second seed (behind only the Indianapolis Colts) when the playoffs commence.
Brady's back and New England rejoices.