The New England Patriots are the defending champions of the National Football League, and with its star quarterback Tom Brady and legendary yet controversial coach Bill Belichick returning for their 15th season together, they should be a strong favorite to repeat.
Of course, that hasn’t been the case following “Deflategate,” last January’s AFC Championship game in which the Patriots were accused of tampering with the footballs and subsequently led to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspending Brady four games for allegedly knowing the balls were underinflated.
However, the Patriots are slowly becoming more of a frontrunner to return to the Super Bowl after US District Judge Richard Berman ruled Thursday to overturn Goodell’s decision.
“Based upon the foregoing and applicable legal authorities, the Court hereby denies the Management Council’s motion to confirm the Award (suspension) and grants the Players Association’s motion to vacate the Award, thereby vacating the four-game suspension of Tom Brady, effective immediately,” Berman wrote in his opinion.
Odds Improve, Slightly
The Patriots kickoff their season on September 10th against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Foxborough, and while they were once listed as much as an underdog, Berman’s nullifying of Brady’s suspension has skyrocketed New England to a 6.5 and 7-point favorite at most sportsbooks, and the over/under has grown from 48.5 to 51 at William Hill in Las Vegas.
Though the bump in odds is significant for the Patriots’ home opener, its overall odds for winning Super Bowl 50 have improved only marginally.
Prior to Brady’s successful appeal, the Patriots were at 10/1 to repeat as NFL champions, and today Bovada lowered that line to just 9/1.
That’s likely because the NFL isn’t finished with its case against Brady, Goodell confirming after Berman’s decision that the league would appeal.
“We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision,” Goodell wrote. “The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end.”
“We will appeal today’s ruling … to protect the integrity of the league,” Goodell said.
Goodell Job Security Not Good
With the NFL saying it will appeal, the Patriots will remain behind the Packers, Seahawks, Colts and Eagles, the four teams more likely to win Super Bowl 50 according to Bovada.
The continued legal battle has many considering the Patriots to be a buying opportunity.
According to NJ.com, 81 percent of the total dollars wagered on the Patriots-Steelers game have been in favor of New England.
Perhaps a more entertaining line would be on whether Roger Goodell is still commissioner of the NFL come Super Bowl 50.
Players, fans, owners, and even Judge Berman have been outwardly critical of his job performance in handling Adrian Peterson’s child abuse and Ray Rice’s domestic violence case.
Goodell initially suspended Rice two games for knocking out his fiancé in an elevator, only to later admit that he “didn’t get it right.”
Sports commentator Bill Simmons tweeted, “‘Protect the integrity’ (puke),” while former Patriots player and now ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi said on SportsCenter, “The leader of the NFL is making the league look ridiculous.”
The NFL certainly seems to be in need of an image overhaul, and that might just start at the top with Goodell.