In basketball, it's the LeBron effect, the impact that King James has on any team that he eventually joins. Apparently we now know that the football version features Tom Brady.
Brady, now universally recognized as the greatest winning quarterback of all time, is expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His arrival on the Tampa roster could be imminent. And he's already driving one of the most dramatic betting shifts in Super Bowl odds we've seen in ages.
Before Brady announced he was leaving New England and it later leaked he was headed to Tampa, the Bucs' 2020 Super Bowl odds stood at +4000 at Bovada.com. Now they sit at +1100, fourth best in the league. The difference is Brady and only Brady.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers odds to win Super Bowl 55 jumped from +4000 to +1100 (per Bovada) with the news of the Tom Brady signing.— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) March 18, 2020
Meanwhile the Patriots are, predictably, headed in the opposite direction. Before Brady made his announcement that he was leaving New England, the Patriots were expected to land his signature. Obviously that didn't happen, and the Pats' Super Bowl odds have taken a strong dip as a result. New England was at +1400 on Monday evening, with the slight expectation that Brady would be back. The Patriots are now at +2500 according to BetOnline, good for a tie for seventh in the rankings with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Patriots odds to win the Super Bowl 55 have dropped from +1400 to +2500, per BetOnline.— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) March 17, 2020
Is this a clear case of two franchises trading places? Perhaps. There's little question that the Buccaneers have better offensive weapons (though their offensive line could prove a major setback for Brady if they don't improve at guard), but projecting excellence from the defense takes a leap of faith. They play in the NFC South, which has the talent to be tough but more likely won't be. Sounds a bit like the AFC East, huh?
Then there's the quarterback-less Patriots (relatively speaking; Jarrett Stidham has yet to start a single game), who will have to find a way to remain competitive without Brady, two key members of their vaunted linebacker corps (Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins are gone) and even key role players like Elandon Roberts and Nate Ebner. To put it mildly, it has not been a good free agency period for the Patriots.
And yet, there they are, sitting seventh in the Super Bowl odds standings despite so many unanswered questions.
Are the Bucs or Patriots legitimate Super Bowl contenders? That probably depends largely on what happens in the days and weeks ahead ... provided that teams are eventually allowed to practice and play football again. With reports that a number of NFL veterans want to sign in Tampa to play with Brady, it wouldn't be a shock to see the Bucs keep climbing, and the Patriots fading in the days to come.