Sports betting winners and losers: Preseason hype for Tom Brady and Buccaneers was real, after all

Frank Schwab
·6 min read

Sometimes, offseason buzz is worthwhile.

We’ve seen plenty of teams win the offseason and disappoint when games start. There wasn’t a team that got more buzz — or Super Bowl bets — over the 2020 offseason than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs got all the headlines in the offseason after signing Tom Brady, then trading for Rob Gronkowski after he agreed to come out of retirement to play with Brady. Their Super Bowl odds at BetMGM went from 60-to-1 to 16-to-1 when they signed Brady. They dipped a little under +1600 as the season approached and their win total was 9.5. They easily beat that, going 11-5.

The Buccaneers have lived up to the hype and are now BetMGM’s biggest liability in the Super Bowl futures market.

The Bucs and the Chiefs are the teams BetMGM is worried about winning the Super Bowl. Heading into the divisional round, any of the other six teams winning it all would have also been a win for BetMGM. The Chiefs had a lot of bets on them, but at low odds after they won last season’s Super Bowl. There are a lot of tickets out on the Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl and many of them have a potentially large payout.

The Buccaneers still have a long way to go. They’re four-point underdogs at the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship game on Sunday and if they make Super Bowl LV, they’ll presumably be underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills. But they’ve made it this far. Those who took the Buccaneers to win it all should feel good about holding those tickets right now.

There will be a team or two that wins the upcoming offseason. If Deshaun Watson changes teams, whoever lands him will get a ton of attention. Some other team who looked pretty good late this season will sign an impact free agent or two and their odds will get a lot shorter.

The Buccaneers showed that postseason buzz is not always just smoke.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) leads his team into the NFC championship game. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) leads his team into the NFC championship game. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Here are the winners and losers from the sports betting world over the past week:


Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden experiment, so far: The Nets made a big splash in trading for James Harden, and their NBA championship odds went all the way down to +300 at BetMGM, just behind the Los Angeles Lakers.

So far, the Nets look pretty good.

Despite not having Kyrie Irving back yet or not having much time to practice together, the Nets are 2-0 with Harden. They won but didn’t cover a 9.5-point spread against the Orlando Magic in Harden’s first game, but then won a statement game over the Milwaukee Bucks as 3.5-point underdogs on Monday night, 125-123.

The Nets were ahead most of the game and came up with big shots down the stretch to secure the win.

There are questions about the Nets, most notably their defense, but they just beat the Bucks and should keep getting better. The Lakers, at 21%, have the most tickets at BetMGM to win the NBA title, but the Nets are second at 12%. Perhaps they’ll be able to live up to the hype.

That Boston championship futures bet: If Boston (and Tom Brady) sweeps all the championships this year, someone is going to have a lot of money for championship T-shirts.

This is a fun parlay that BetMGM took last week:

For the record, it’s $101,745 if the Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins and Tom Brady’s Buccaneers win championships.

Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still alive, and presumably most of New England will be rooting for him. The Bruins are one of the NHL’s better teams and when healthy the Celtics could make a run. Oddly it’s the Red Sox that seem to be the toughest team to trust of the four. But it’s a fun bet.


A hockey bad beat on the Kings: There aren’t many hockey games that can honestly be put in the bad beat category, but we had one on Saturday.

The Los Angeles Kings were a +115 underdog and ready to cash when they were up 3-2 late in the game and shooting at an empty net to put it away. And an empty net shot somehow hit the post.

The Wild still needed to score to send the game into overtime and time was running out. With 1.4 seconds though, Minnesota got the tying goal. Ouch.

If Kings fans and bettors were still able to watch after all of that, the Wild won it with another dramatic goal in overtime. Marcus Johansson scored with 11 seconds left in overtime for an improbable Wild win.

That’s rough, but not the worst beat over the past week.

Baylor bettors: If you bet basketball long enough, you understand the math involved late in games. You know when you’re cooked. When the Baylor Bears, the No. 2 team in the nation who were beating Kansas from wire to wire, led by 13 points with a little more than 30 seconds left, all Baylor -8.5 bets were as safe as they could get.

What happened next was a miracle for Kansas bettors.

Kansas, which had stopped fouling, got a steal and a layup. Still, they trailed by 11 and the difference between the game clock and shot clock was only a couple seconds. It wasn’t even assured Kansas would shoot at the end. The Jayhawks shot at the end.

Chris Teahan, a senior who had three points all season before Monday night and played only one minute against Baylor, fired up a shot just inside the half court at the buzzer. He banked it in for the Kansas cover.

Given all of the ridiculousness that had to happen in the last 35 or so seconds of the game for Baylor to blow the cover, that might stand as the worst beat of 2021 even though we’re less than three weeks into the year.

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