LAS VEGAS — Aaron Rodgers has been in the news the entire NFL offseason with all the speculation about where he would play in 2021, his stint as guest host of “Jeopardy!” and, of course, the “leaked” story last Friday that he was going to retire.
Many sportsbooks took Packers games and futures off the boards while others raised Green Bay from 12/1 to 40/1 to win the Super Bowl. Of course, that all changed with Monday’s announcement that the Packers were reworking Rodgers’ deal and he was staying in Green Bay after all, and the odds went back to 12/1.
I’ve been asked if I’ve ever seen anything like this, and my reply is, “Yes, last year with Tom Brady.” There was widespread speculation about whether Brady would really leave the Patriots, and then news leaks caused adjustments to the Buccaneers’ future-book odds before and especially after it became official that he was taking his talents to Tampa.
There used to be a time when Hall of Fame QBs rarely changed teams, but even then there have been plenty of times when oddsmakers were kept on their toes when it came to monitoring future-book prices.
In the 1993 offseason, Joe Montana was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs. Of course, the 49ers still had Steve Young, who was the MVP the prior season with Montana sidelined, so their odds were unchanged.
As early as 2002, speculation about Brett Favre’s retirement began and affected the Packers’ future-book prices for several years, escalating after the 2006 season and lasting until he left for the Jets in 2008. Of course there was further uncertainty leading up to him joining the Vikings in 2009 before finally retiring after the 2010 season.
In 2012, Peyton Manning left the Colts for the Broncos in a move that shook up the future markets.
This Rodgers situation feels different, though, because, well, with the increase in overall sports coverage, especially social media, where every bit of minutiae is overanalyzed and in the proliferation in the coverage of sports-betting future odds, it just seems like everything is bigger news nowadays.
As for the betting implications, I’m not too bummed about not grabbing the Packers at 40/1 (though I guess it would be nice to be selling it on PropSwap for a quick profit) as I’ve long maintained that Rodgers has been carrying the team on his shoulders and the Green Bay defense is overrated. It’s a credit to Rodgers that he’s taken his team to the NFC title game the past two years, but I wouldn’t be thrilled to be holding a Super Bowl future ticket on the Packers at any price.
Why I’m a ‘dog lover
I woke up early Monday during “Follow the Money” on VSiN.com to hear Mitch Moss say, “Dave Tuley in the NFL, 99.5 percent of the time he’s betting dogs” and Matt Youmans follow up with, “You can’t ignore the favorite column. You’re taking out half your options.” Believe me, I wasn’t offended in the least that they were discussing my ’dog-or-pass approach. Heck, I’ve worked hard to gain my reputation as the “dogmatic” underdog bettor around here.
However, with football season coming up, this seems good a time to clarify my position, especially as we have new readers joining all the time.
I won’t dispute Mitch’s comment except to say it’s closer to 98.9 percent if you consider I averaged around one favorite a year in contests such as Circa Sports Million and the Westgate SuperContest, which at the time required 85 picks a season.
As for Matt’s comment, I agree with what he’s saying. I know there are good favorites and I always try to point those out in Point Spread Weekly when I believe the value is on the side of the chalk (note: I’ve had many readers tell me over the years that when I can’t make a case for the underdog, they see it as an endorsement to bet the favorite). However, the reason I’ve adopted the ’dog-or-pass approach is because far too many times when I’ve bet favorites, they’ve let me down. When that happens, I feel doubly bad because 1) I lost money when going against my own mantra, and 2) I wasn’t able to sniff out the live underdog when I’m the supposed ’dog whisperer!
I’m not as all-’dog as most people paint me. I’ve had a lot of success with underdogs in the Super Bowl in recent years, but I didn’t take the Rams against the Patriots in 2019 or the 49ers against the Chiefs in 2020 when everyone was assuming I’d be on the ’dogs.
Even though I rarely, if ever, list a favorite with my published picks, I actually bet more of them in real life as part of my overall sports betting portfolio. I don’t consider these “best bets” from a handicapping standpoint but more like “market buys”. For instance, when I made my NFL Week 1 bets when the 2021 schedule came out, I included the Jaguars -2.5 at the Texans, as I fully expected the line to move in my favor and set up a potential middle if I play back the underdog closer to game time.
So, yes, I’m going to stick with the overall ’dog-or-pass approach, but there are exceptions to every rule.
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