The ongoing saga between the NFL and future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is on again following a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday, reinstating a four-game suspension issued last year.
Brady was originally suspended for his role in the Deflategate scandal in the 2015 playoffs, allegedly changing the PSI level in balls during a 45-7 New England rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots went on to win their fourth Super Bowl title versus the Seattle Seahawks two weeks later.
But sportsbooks in Las Vegas and offshore still have New England among the favorites to win Super Bowl LI following a fifth straight AFC title game appearance. The Patriots are listed at 6/1 to win the Super Bowl at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and 7/1 at William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada, with their previous future odds remaining unchanged. Brady can still appeal the decision, although another reversal is unlikely.
“We are not making changes at this time since this appeals process will be lengthy,” said Jeff Sherman, lead oddsmaker at the SuperBook. “We don’t think we’ve heard the end of it.”
New England is coming off a 20-18 loss in the 2016 AFC Championship Game to the Denver Broncos, who won the Super Bowl before losing quarterback Peyton Manning to retirement. The Broncos are still currently looking for a starting quarterback with former backup Brock Osweiler also deciding to sign with the Houston Texans as a free agent instead of staying with the team that drafted him.
Looking ahead to the start of the 2016 regular season, New England will visit the Arizona Cardinals in the first Sunday Night Football game before hosting the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills. Last year, Brady was expected to miss the NFL season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football and a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars at home along with road games versus the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.
The Patriots ended up winning all four games with a 3-0-1 mark against the spread after Brady was cleared to play en route to a 10-0 start.
Without Brady under center, there is a very good possibility New England loses at Arizona in a game that was previously listed as a pick’em at William Hill, although the other three are certainly winnable at home despite Jimmy Garoppolo probably starting for him. The SuperBook and William Hill have both taken the Patriots-Cardinals game off the board for now.
New England will also likely decide to sign another veteran signal caller who could step in and compete with Garoppolo for the job. Another intriguing storyline for the Cardinals in the season opener is that they made a trade with the Patriots for defensive end Chandler Jones, who led the team in sacks last year.
Brady’s suspension would figure to benefit the Miami Dolphins the most since they play at Gillette Stadium in Week 2 and have an extremely difficult early slate, playing three of their first four games on the road. If the Dolphins can find a way to split their first four, including a home win against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, they could challenge New England for the AFC East title.
The Pats have won the division seven consecutive seasons along with 12 of the last 13, with Miami the only other team to take it during that stretch in 2008. The Dolphins have a new head coach in Adam Gase, and they will host New England in Week 17 riding a three-game home winning streak in the series.