A statistic being thrown around this week shows that “never bet against Tom Brady” is more than just a cliché meant to emphasize how reliable the future Hall of Famer is in quarterbacking his team to victory.
That being said, Las Vegas has decided that now might be a good time to start betting against Tom Brady.
It’s a whole new era for Tom Brady
Tom Brady chalked up victories in 10 or more games in each of his final 16 full seasons as the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots. That makes for an interesting juxtaposition in 2020 as he takes over as quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady earned six Super Bowl rings with the Patriots but signed as a free agent in the offseason with the Bucs, who haven’t won more than 10 times in an NFL season since 2005.
Brady arrives in Tampa Bay at the right time. The Bucs showed a two-game improvement last fall when they went 7-9, they were already loaded on offense before he signed, and the team also traded for tight end Rob Gronkowski, a reliable target and good friend for Brady in their days together with the Patriots.
However, none of that changes the fact that we are talking about the Buccaneers, a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and hasn’t triumphed in a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.
Las Vegas has had amazing faith in Tom Brady
The release of the NFL schedule each spring is inevitably followed immediately by the posting of opening-week lines by the Las Vegas sportsbooks.
That development this week points to the likely end of an amazing streak. According to ESPN research, the streak of Tom Brady-quarterbacked teams being favored to win is about to end at 74 consecutive games. The Week 1 schedule this fall has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveling to New Orleans to play Drew Brees and the Saints, who have been established as 6.5-point favorites.
There were games in September 2016 in which the Patriots were underdogs while Brady missed four starts. But you must go back to Week 2 of the 2015 season to find the last time a Brady-lead team wasn’t favored to win. By the way, the Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills (who were favored by a point) by a 40-32 margin that day as Brady threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns.
“Can’t imagine that will ever be broken. How many guys will ever be that good, play for a coach that good, in a system that good and in a division that bad for that long?”John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas
Digging inside the numbers
ESPN calls Tom Brady’s streak of quarterbacking favorites in 74 straight games a record for the Super Bowl era. The closest challengers were Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers (62 games from 1993-97) and Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams (48 in a row from 1999-2003).
The next-longest active streak is Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints with a very modest string of nine straight games as the quarterback of the favorite. The ESPN research also turned up this tidbit: Despite the focus being on Brady-led teams as favorites, the 20-year NFL veteran is pretty darn good as an underdog – 29-17-1 outright and 33-13-1 against the spread.