I can’t quite seem to understand this one…
If you’re unaware of how betting lines work, that’s fine. They’re kinda weird. Essentially, if a team is -7 points in a given game, they’re favored by 7 points (because they’d have to “subtract” 7 points for the teams to be equal). If they’re +7, they could lose by 6 points and cover the spread. If an outcome is listed as “-200,” then you have to bet $200 to win $100. If it’s +200, then you have to bet $100 to win $200.
The Patriots are -350 to make the playoffs. That’s insane. If you do the math, you’ll realize that Vegas is giving the Pats a 77.78% chance of making the playoffs.
The first time I did the math and read the stat, I thought that it was a 78% chance of winning the division, and I thought “Ok, that’s fair considering that Brady is missing the first 4 games.” But nope, this is just about making the playoffs. Even if the Jets, Bills, or Dolphins somehow has an awesome season and exceeds everyone’s expectations — which is the only way that the Pats wouldn’t win the division barring an insane number of critical injuries — the Pats could still get one of the Wild Cards and win you the bet.
Have they not been watching the Brady-Belichick Patriots for the past 15 years? Only in 2002 and 2008 did the Pats not make the playoffs. Brady wasn’t Brady in ’02, and he was obviously injured in ’08, an unusually deep year for the AFC. The Pats won it all in 2014, won their first 10 games in 2015 and had a playoff spot pretty much locked up from like Week 4 on. Oh yeah, and they’ve made 5 straight AFC Championships and earned 6 (!!!!) consecutive 1st round byes. That seems like a lot more than a 78% chance to make the playoffs to me.
This line shouldn’t be that surprising, though. Las Vegas is damn good at making lines that either screw you over or make it impossible for you to make a decision, but they constantly underrate New England. In 2014 and 2015, the Pats had under/overs of 10.5 wins. I could kinda see that in 2014, but that was certifiably stupid in 2015 after the Super Bowl 49 season. (That 10.5 wins line existed even after Brady’s suspension was originally overturned in early September of 2015.)
An even better example might be 2010, when Vegas pinned the Pats at 9.5 wins heading into the 2010 season after the shaky 2009 Pats season. That line was somewhat defensible at the time because it did seem like Belichick didn’t have the same command of the locker room as he did during the Super Bowl years, but 9.5 wins for a team getting Tom Brady back for the 2nd year after his ACL tear? C’mon. At the very least, you’d think that Vegas would have learned their lesson after that debacle of a line and the Pats’ subsequent 14-2 season.
We love sports as a whole because of the unpredictability, but we love the Patriots because of their consistency and reliability. Patriots -350 to make the playoffs is as close to free money as you’ll get in sports. Don’t miss out on the opportunity.