The NFL announced Monday that Brady will be suspended for four games for his alleged role in the controversy centered on deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start in place of Brady.
Sports books responded by re-opening the Patriots as two-point favorites over the Steelers for the kickoff game on Thursday, Sept. 10. New England was a six-point favorite over Pittsburgh when the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook first posted point spreads on April 22.
Las Vegas sports book operator CG Technology trimmed the line to Patriots minus-1, and William Hill went with New England minus-2.5. The over/under total dropped from 53 to 49 at most books.
"I would not sell this team short whatsoever," Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill, said of the Patriots in the opener. "There has to be an adjustment, but it doesn't have to be huge."
Ed Salmons, head football oddsmaker at the SuperBook, agreed with Bogdanovich and said several factors will help the Patriots' mitigate the loss of Brady.
"They'll have all training camp to get [Garoppolo] ready," Salmons said. "Plus, they're going to be an all-time motivated team, looking to send a message to the whole league."
Garoppolo appeared in three games last season as a rookie. The second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois completed 19 of 27 passes with a touchdown.
Brady's agent Don Yee said he would appeal, so there's still a chance of a reduced suspension. With that in mind, the SuperBook took a cautious approach with the Patriots' season win total, which opened at 10.5.
The win total was moved down to 10 late last week, after two $3,000 limit bets and another four-figure wager were placed on the under. The book held at 10 wins after the announcement Monday, but did increase the juice on the under from minus-130 to minus-150. Salmons said, even if the suspension is upheld, he doubts he'd lower the Patriots' win total to 9.5.
The Denver Broncos' Super Bowl odds saw the biggest improvement with the Brady news. William Hill took a bet last week on the Broncos to win the Super Bowl at 12-1 that Bogdanovich said would pay six figures. The Broncos are now 8-1 to win the Super Bowl at William Hill.
In addition to the opener against the Steelers, Brady will miss games against the Buffalo Bills (Sept. 20), Jacksonville Jaguars (Sept. 27) and Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 11), before returning to face the Indianapolis Colts in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game that kickstarted the deflategate drama. The Colts are listed as 3-point favorites in that game at the SuperBook.