Hang the stockings, stuff the turkey and cue the drunken uncle. It’s Christmas time for football fans.
With the NFL lockout freezing player movement since March, teams have been like frantic last-minute shoppers from the time the gate was lifted on the 2011 season.
Free agency, which usually plays out over the course of the summer, has been restricted to a small window, with the brunt of those transactions happening over the last two days. Names like Bush, Ochocinco, and Kolb are finding their way to the back of new football jerseys, keeping the roster bee keepers busy for the next week.
Oddmakers also have a close eye on NFL newswire. However, despite the numerous signings and trades, only a few of those deals have actually forced the odds for season win totals and Super Bowl futures to move.
Perhaps the most newsworthy actions over the past two days have been made by the New England Patriots. The acquisitions of disgruntled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, in a deal with the Washington Redskins, and receiver Chad Ochocinco, from the Cincinnati Bengals, has forced books to adjust New England’s win totals and Super Bowl futures.
Jay Rood, sportsbook director for MGM in Las Vegas (the first book to post NFL season win totals), moved the Patriots from 6-to-1 to 5-to-1 to win the Super Bowl and adjusted the juice on the season win total, going from 11.5 (Under -145) to 11.5 (Under -120). Rood feels confident in New England’s moves and believes head coach Bill Belichick can handle two of the league’s biggest egos.
“(Belichick) has proven he can take players with issues from other teams and, at least in the short term, has success with them and reaches the team’s goals,” Rood told Covers.com
Another high-profile player swapping helmets was veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb, who leaves a troubled marriage to the Redskins for the Minnesota Vikings. McNabb is far from his Pro Bowl years in Philadelphia, but that hasn’t stopped early-bird NFL bettors from jumping on the Vikings’ season win totals and Super Bowl odds.
Rood says he’s taken a lot of action on Minnesota at 6.5 wins, moving the juice from Over -140 to Over -155, and dropping the Vikes’ Big Game odds from 30-to-1 to 25-to-1, which he admits is too low for his liking.
“We’ve had a ton of action on the Vikings, but I don’t think they should be that big a favorite,” says Rood. “I see them more around 50-to-1, but we’ve got to make these moves to get action on the other teams’ futures. Wins are going to be hard to come by in that division (NFC North), with the Packers, Bears, and Lions.”
The other big-name free agent on the move was Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was deemed trade bait the second Michael Vick started winning games in Philly. Kolb was widely speculated to be on the move and, as many talking heads predicted, he will be taking snaps for the Arizona Cardinals this fall. The Kolb deal bumped the Cardinals’ win total odds from six to seven, but with nothing but action on the under, Rood adjusted his total to 6.5. The Kolb deal didn’t, however, budge Arizona’s Super Bowl price, staying put at 60-to-1.
Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of the 2011 free agent class is shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha, who will be leaving the Oakland Raiders for the Philadelphia Eagles, despite reports surfacing that he was going to either the New York Jets or Dallas Cowboys.
While Asomugha is an elite pass defender, Rood doesn’t expect his presence to impact the Eagles’ win totals and futures too much. Philadelphia, which has its season win total at 10, has been the sixth-most popular Super Bowl futures bet at the MGM Mirage, priced at 8-to-1.
"It’s not like (opponents) are going to be throwing to (Asomugha’s)
side. He’s not going to impact the outcome with interceptions and
touchdowns," says Rood.
The biggest surprise to Rood over the last two days has been the amount of money fading the Bengals. He’s taken more bets on the under for Cincinnati’s win total than any other NFL team, moving them from 7.5 to 6.5 with money still pouring in on the under.
“The way people are betting the under, you’d think they’re only going to win two or three games,” Rood says. “They could very well do that, but I don’t think they’re that bad.”