Smashing Super Bowl records
In early February, fans watched on as Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammate Cameron Brate connected up once more. This time, the players were nowhere near a football field. They tossed the Lombardi Trophy from one boat to another across the Hillsborough River, just days after the Bucs secured victory in Super Bowl LV.
Along the river, Tampa Bay fans applauded the spectacle, but they also cheered for the quarterback who had played an integral role in making their dreams come true. The Bucs now have a second NFL championship to their names, and Brady made history once more in helping them get it. He has taken home seven Super Bowl rings since 2002, the latest extending his own record for most titles by a single player.
seven Super Bowl rings since 2002
While Brady was busy making history in the NFL, sportsbooks across the US were breaking records of their own. With multiple states choosing to legalize betting, US sports fans wagered an unprecedented $21.5bn throughout 2020. Now, the sector is larger than ever before as we approach the beginning of the new season, and sportsbooks are eager to capitalize on the return of the country’s favorite sport.
As we look toward the first game of the 2021-2022 NFL season on September 9, what prices are sportsbooks offering for Brady to claim a staggering eighth championship, and can he really do it once more?
What are the odds?
For some, seven titles may seem like a perfect time for 44-year-old Brady to hang up his cleats. But shortly after he recovered from the tequila-fueled celebrations of Super Bowl LV, he told reporters he would return to the Bucs for another season. Now, bettors must decide whether to place their money elsewhere or take heed from 2020 and back the NFL legend to take another ring.
bettors must decide whether to place their money elsewhere or take heed from 2020 and back the NFL legend
Last season, gamblers could have turned a tidy profit if they had wagered on the Bucs. DraftKings initially priced them at +5000 to win the Super Bowl. The odds shortened to +2000 when Tampa Bay signed Brady, eventually settling at +1200 before week one. By the time the Super Bowl rolled around, the sportsbook offered odds of +143 for Tampa Bay to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the final.
Understandably, following last season’s victory, the odds are a little different for Tampa Bay this season. At the time of this writing, DraftKings has the Bucs at odds of -200 to finish on top of the NFC South Division. That represents an implied win probability of close to 70%, up almost 20% from pre-season odds in 2020. Meanwhile, Brady is priced at +1400 to take home the Most Valuable Player (MVP) title this season, an accolade won by the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers last season. These odds have only fallen slightly from 2020, with Brady at +1600 for MVP 12 months ago.
To win the Super Bowl itself, DraftKings has Tampa Bay priced at +600, while FanDuel is offering +650 and BetMGM +700. The odds have halved from last season, increasing the Bucs’ implied win probability to around 14%. Despite these short odds, bookmakers are not favoring Brady to take home an eighth win, instead backing the Chiefs to do one better than last season. Kansas City is the favorite at odds of around +500 with most betting companies.
if anyone can do it, it’s the quarterback that led that Patriots team to victory
Unlike a lot of other teams that have welcomed new faces, the Bucs return this season with all 22 starters, having re-signed key players. Whether they can achieve the same result with an unchanged recipe is up for debate. No team has secured a championship repeat since the New England Patriots in 2004, but if anyone can do it, it’s the quarterback that led that Patriots team to victory.
Can anyone stop Brady?
As eager as Brady is to secure an eighth win, others are equally desperate to get in his way. Chief among these is Kansas City, which has a score to settle after just losing out last season. The team benefited from the efforts of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce in 2020-21, making up one of the fiercest passing game trios in modern NFL history. With a few recent additions helping the offensive line, they are favorites to take the championship this season.
DraftKings has the Bills at +1000 to win the Super Bowl
The odds are a little tighter between the next favorites. Sportsbooks have tipped the Bucs as the second most likely to win this year, followed by the Buffalo Bills in third. Veteran Bills receivers Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and Emmanuel Sanders provide 25-year-old quarterback Josh Allen with plenty of options down the field. As a result, DraftKings has the team at +1000 to win the Super Bowl, while BetMGM has them at +1100.
Last season, the Green Bay Packers came up short against Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game, losing 31-26 to the ultimate Super Bowl winners. However, legendary Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back this season for what is potentially his final season in Green Bay, and he will be eager to make it one to remember. With the reigning MVP on the team once more, FanDuel has priced Green Bay at +1200 while DraftKings has them at +1300.
Then, among the teams with an outside shot according to the line markers are the Baltimore Ravens. Eight seasons have passed since the Ravens last made it to the Super Bowl, but they do have two Vince Lombardi Trophies to their name. With players such as Lamar Jackson, Sammy Watkins, and Marquise Brown in their ranks, they have enough ability to go far this year. They are at odds of +1400 with most sportsbooks.
Historic record breakers
While Tom Brady may be alone in his NFL accomplishments, he is certainly not the only athlete to have demonstrated unrivaled excellence in a sport. Just in the sphere of North American major leagues, Brady is joined by the likes of Henri Richard, who has secured the most NHL titles, and Bill Russell, who has a record 11 NBA championship rings to his name.
sportsbooks have offered around -275 on the British champion
For more recent records, it is possible to compare odds with those offered on Brady’s Bucs this year. In Formula 1, for instance, racing driver Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s World Drivers’ Championship record in the 2020 season, taking his seventh title. Bettors who wagered on the Mercedes driver before any racing would have secured odds of around -556. This year, he has a chance to break the record completely, and sportsbooks have offered around -275 on the British champion.
In the world of professional road cycling, Isle of Man-born sprinter Mark Cavendish made a defiant comeback in the Tour de France this year. The 36-year-old matched the record for stage wins held by Eddy Merckx since 1975, only just missing out on surpassing the total in a final sprint in Paris. Sportsbooks didn’t offer odds on Cavendish to break the record before the Tour began, but they priced the ‘Manx Missile’ at -137 to take the win on the final day. That’s a significant shift from the +700 offered for him to win his first stage of the year.
Meanwhile, US tennis player Serena Williams only needs two Grand Slam wins to surpass Margaret Court’s 24-win singles record. Sportsbooks priced her at +500 to do so before she suffered an injury in 2020.
International soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has a chance to secure his sixth UEFA Champions League title with Manchester United after recently returning to the club, equaling the record for most wins by an individual player. Sportsbooks are offering odds of +1000 for the English Premier League team to lift the trophy.
In darts, bookmakers offered odds of +1400 for world-renowned player Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor to secure a record 17th World Darts Championship in his final tournament before retirement in 2018. He ultimately missed out on the win, failing to break his own record for championship titles.
Notably, for the majority of these record-breaking feats, sportsbooks have provided shorter odds than those for Tom Brady to win the next Super Bowl. Priced at +600, the Bucs have an implied win probability of 14.3%, higher only than those for Cristiano Ronaldo and Phil Taylor. Meanwhile, the odds for Hamilton, Cavendish, and Williams correspond to win probabilities of 73.3%, 57.8%, and 16.7%, respectively.
American NFL betting fever
As Tom Brady prepared for his final match last season, more US-based gamblers placed bets on the final than ever before. According to American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates, Super Bowl LV would generate “the largest single-event legal handle in American sports betting history.” The industry body said that 23.2 million Americans planned to bet on the game, with wagers totaling around $4.3bn.
In part, this is due to the increased number of US residents who had access to legal sports betting in their home states. In the year following Super Bowl LIV, an additional 36 million American adults gained access to sports betting in their own jurisdictions. This included the citizens of Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Montana, Virginia, and Washington. Even more look set to join them this season, with Arizona, Connecticut, Wyoming, and South Dakota among those to have recently passed betting legislation.
This week, VegasSlotsOnline News spoke with Jon Price, famed sports bettor and CEO of Sports Information Traders, to get his take on the opening of new markets across the US. Price noted the importance of the approaching introduction of stadium sports betting in Arizona this year. “On opening day, Arizona is going to have in-stadium sports betting for the first time and this craze is only going to grow exponentially as valuations of ancillary businesses continue to rise,” he commented.
Arizona is going to have in-stadium sports betting for the first time and this craze is only going to grow exponentially.”
— Jon Price, Sports Information Traders CEO
As US betting continues to grow, companies in different sectors have decided to dip their toes into the sector. Media company Fox Corporation has launched its wagering app FOX Bet, while magazine publisher Sports Illustrated plans to launch a sportsbook later this year.
Added to this, Price pointed to the expansion of Fanatics, a sports memorabilia brand that recently made clear its intention to enter the industry. Reports this month have suggested that world-renowned rapper Jay Z helped the company raise $325m ahead of its betting expansion, something that Price believes will also help the NFL itself. He noted: “This also benefits the NFL as they have a 3% stake [in Fanatics] that was purchased for $95m in 2017, so the incentives to grow sports betting are everywhere.”
New opportunities for sportsbooks
Another notable difference in regard to the upcoming American football season is the NFL’s decision to finally embrace the sports betting industry. In April, the league struck its first three sports betting partnerships with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel. It has since added four more companies as authorized gambling operators, these being FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet, and WynnBet.
We’re expecting another record-breaking year for various reasons. Betting on football is one of our biggest offerings. DraftKings is now in more states”
— Johnny Avello, DraftKings sports ops director
Speaking with VegasSlotsOnline News, DraftKings sports operations director Johnny Avello noted the NFL partnership as one reason for the company’s high expectations for the coming season. Hugely optimistic about upcoming betting activity, he said: “We’re expecting another record-breaking year for various reasons. Betting on football is one of our biggest offerings. DraftKings is now in more states, with others like Arizona upcoming, and the NFL has expanded the regular season an extra week.”
Avello added that, as an official partner of the NFL, DraftKings will have “more content on our betting site than ever before.” Similarly, Renie Anderson, chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnerships, said fans will have “new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.”
In part as a result of these new opportunities, sportsbooks are expecting even greater returns this time around for NFL wagering. Whether or not Tom Brady manages to break his own record again, sportsbook operators are certain that they are going to have a historic year of their own. Now, as we approach the first game on September 9, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the ride.