Tom Brady appealed his four-game suspension in a 10-hour hearing yesterday. Will the result of his appeal alter the Season Win total odds for the New England Patriots?
Brady Brought This On Self
I don't know about you, but I had my fill of "Deflategate" and all that surrounds it several months ago. But we won't hear the end of this until Tom Brady's four-game suspension appeal decision is rendered. We might hear that decision by next week.
First off, Brady should have just brushed this off after it came to light following the AFC Championship Game. Something like, "Yeah, I do like the footballs a bit more inflated, I really didn't think it was that big of a deal or any competitive advantage whatsoever. My apologies." Brady gets hit with a $25,000 fine or something and this is forgotten heading into the Super Bowl. Instead Brady was evasive and said he didn't even know the equipment managers involved. That turned out to not be true.
I believe Brady was given a four-game suspension not because this is that big of a deal; maybe it's equal to a pitcher putting bit of pine tar on a baseball. No, he was suspended that many games because he wouldn't cooperate with the Ted Wells investigators. Now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is in a bind. Four games seems ridiculous, but the New England Patriots franchise has a history of pushing the envelope when it comes to NFL rules. Plus there is a race factor here. Goodell is constantly handing out these long suspensions to African-American players. So Goodell had to appease the rank-and-file by hitting the NFL's Golden Boy pretty hard. Completely wiping out that suspension would probably anger a lot of the average NFL players (not to mention many other team owners fed up with the Patriots).
Awaiting Appeal Ruling
Brady's appeal was heard by Goodell -- he really should have brought in an independent arbitrator -- on Tuesday. Reportedly Brady's side spent more than 10 hours giving their side of things when the meeting was only supposed to last 4 hours. Goodell heard from Brady and representatives from the players' union. I hate how ESPN constantly relies on sources, but Adam Schefter is one of the best NFL reporters out there and he was told by a source that "Tom Brady's greatest ally (Tuesday) was Tom Brady. (He gave) an A-plus performance."
Brady repeated what he always has said: if the balls were deflated, he knew nothing about it. His "legal" team also had two key points in the appeal: 1) That the evidence collected in the Wells report doesn't prove Brady violated any NFL rules; 2) the punishment is harsher than for similar violations. There are reports that Brady will not accept just a reduction -- he wants the suspension wiped clean to clear his once untarnished name. And if it's not, then Brady will go to federal court. Obviously the federal courts don't exactly move fast, but Brady could get a temporary injunction pretty quickly and play while that's in place.
Training camps open in five weeks so Goodell can't wait too long to rule. New England would likely start second-year QB Jimmy Garoppolo if Brady misses any games. The team also signed veteran Matt Flynn. For the sake of argument, let's say the appeal is lifted.
Currently the Patriots are given a wins total of 10 at 5Dimes, which is the lowest I've seen (some sportsbooks have taken the wins total down again). The 'over' is a -180 favorite on the NFL odds. I believe that jumps to 11, which is where New England originally opened, if this suspension is totally dropped. At Bovada, the Pats are +450 second-favorites to Indianapolis (+300) to win the AFC. New England would retake the favored role if Brady has no suspension. I expect heavy money to roll in on both those props favoring the Pats if this suspension is wiped out.
For Week 1 at home against Pittsburgh, that line opened with New England at -6.5. It dropped to a pick'em, but the Patriots are taking about 60 percent of the action since that drop and now it's back up to New England at -2.5. I expect that to return to the original number if not jump to 7 because even heavier money is going to roll in on the Pats if Brady can play. Remember: no Le'Veon Bell for the Steelers in that game.
NFL Free Pick: Brady's suspension is reduced to two games, meaning he would miss the Steelers and then the game at Buffalo in Week 2 if no injunction. Pats' win total improves to 10.5.