For the third straight week, respected money has shown on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL playoff betting markets.
Most sportsbooks opened the Green Bay Packers as a four-point favorite over the Bucs in Sunday’s NFC Championship at Lambeau Field. The wise guys took an early position on Tampa Bay +4 and +3.5, which drove the betting line down to Green Bay -3.
Clearly, Tom Brady still has gravitational pull with sports bettors.
These waves of financial support on a team quarterbacked by a six-time Super Bowl champion are real and definitely not coincidental. Betting blasts on the Bucs have been the norm all postseason long.
Tampa Bay opened as a 7.5-point road favorite in its playoff opener at Washington. That betting line climbed as high as -10. After the Bucs bested the Football Team, some sportsbooks opened Tampa +4 at New Orleans and the song remained the same throughout the ensuing week.
Sharp bettors whacked Brady and Co. from +4 to +3.5 to +3 by the time the weekend arrived. The masses also piled on late, knocking the spread through the huge key number three all the way down to +2.5.
“Everybody is on the Bucs,” one Las Vegas bookmaker told NESN before last Sunday’s showdown with the Saints. “Sharps hit it earlier in the week and the public is piling on today with straight bets and parlays. People love to bet on Brady.”
Brady has made me a nice chunk of change over the years, but I also watched him dink and dunk his way to a relatively average performance in the Superdome. Completing 18 of 33 passes for 199 yards doesn’t exactly raise my confidence in his abilities. Brady did enough not to lose while Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees stunk up the joint.
Tampa Bay won because it forced four turnovers, not because of Brady. But separating his incredible résumé and postseason prowess from his present abilities is quite a challenge. Amazingly enough, Brady is aiming to win a Super Bowl under a fourth American presidential administration. Wild isn’t it?
I’ll definitely be laying points with the Packers side because my bread is buttered with Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur. That combination has done nothing but win and Rodgers is playing the best football of his career in his 37-year-old season. Color me square if you must.
On the other side of the bracket, the health of Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the elephant in the room.
Legendary Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White told me the drop-off between Mahomes and his backup Chad Henne is nine points. Nine. Kansas City is holding steady as a three-point favorite against the Buffalo Bills and the favorite will certainly flip if Mahomes can’t clear the league’s concussion protocol.
White believes the “true number” without Mahomes would be around Buffalo -4, but the betting line would more likely be Buffalo -1.5 or -2. He explained that bookmakers would never make the Bills a four-point road favorite in Kansas City because they would get annihilated with non-stop Chiefs action at +4, +3.5 and eventually +3.
I always love looking up at this time of year and realizing who the remaining quarterbacks are at conference championship weekend. Brady, Mahomes, Rodgers and Josh Allen. It should really be no surprise that the best four in the game are the last four standing.
Buckle up for a wild finish to a wild year.