The days following the NFL Draft are usually a quiet period for betting on the most popular sport in the country.
Preseason camps are still months away, with actual competition even further down the road. We're still closer to last season's Super Bowl than next season's opening game. But suddenly, bettors are making moves and oddsmakers are on their heels as the calendar moves into May. And it's all based around one question: where will Aaron Rodgers play next season?
The reigning NFL MVP threw the markets on their head last week just hours before the opening round of the draft, when he indicated that he wanted out of Green Bay after years of friction with the team's general manager. The drop off for the Packers would be steep, and adding Rodgers would transform any number of rosters into instant contenders. Bettors began to speak with their wallets, and now oddsmakers are trying to adjust based on speculation and scraps of information. Some of those adjustments include removing team-specific markets from the board entirely.
"We pulled the Green Bay win total, just because that market now is just throwing stuff against the wall, really," said Jay Croucher, head trader at PointsBet Sportsbook. "There's no way to price that, given the uncertainty around Rodgers."
Prior to the Rodgers rumors, Green Bay's O/U for next season's 17-game slate was set at 10.5, with the over juiced to -120. For now they're off the board, as are one other team: the Denver Broncos. PointsBet received a bevy of interest in the Broncos as the Rodgers news swirled, with their odds to win Super Bowl LVI plummeting from +6000 to +2200 while the Packers drifted from +1100 to +1800. The Broncos' season win total was originally set at just 7.5, but they're also currently off the board until the Rodgers situation becomes more certain.
Denver is certainly not the only potential suitor in the mix. The future Hall of Famer has also been linked to teams like Las Vegas, among others. But it's the current composition of the Broncos that has oddsmakers taking a more cautious approach while leaving other win totals on the board, with Croucher contending that Rodgers' addition would put the Broncos, on near-equal footing with last season's Super Bowl participants overnight.
"The thing with Denver is if they get Rodgers, the rest of the roster is pretty stacked," Croucher said. "It obviously would depend on what they had to give up for him, but if they get Rodgers then they immediately become probably a top-3 Super Bowl favorite. Whereas potentially other teams in the mix like Las Vegas, they would seriously increase their chances but they're not going to be in the same level as Denver just because the rest of the roster is a bit more lacking."
One market where the money is still flowing in on (and against) Green Bay is the odds to win the NFC North. The Packers were a clear favorite ahead of the draft, listed at -210 ahead of Minnesota at +320. The Bears were +650, with the Lions at +2700. Even though Rodgers hasn't changed uniforms, the speculation alone was enough to throw those numbers into chaos: the Packers are now a slim -120 favorite for the division, with Minnesota at +240 and Chicago at +315 with Detroit languishing at +2200.
But those numbers won't be around for long. If the uncertainty calms down and it's clear Rodgers will return to Green Bay, expect the prices to return to their pre-draft pecking order. But if somehow he ships out of town, Croucher expects the Vikings to quickly become division favorites.
"If Rodgers does stay, they're the clear, clear favorite to win," he said. "If it's Jordan Love starting in Green Bay, then there's a chance they could slide to third favorite behind the Bears, to be honest."
That outcome remains a relative outlier. Rodgers still has three years left on his existing contract, and Packers GM Brian Gutekunst has made it clear that he has no plans to shop around the franchise's top player. The vast majority of scenarios will have Rodgers returning to Lambeau Field in the fall.
But it's fun to speculate, especially as the dog days of summer approach and football enters its nadir of interest. While a trade would likely send Green Bay's short-term prospects plummeting, Rodgers' addition could inject some serious relevance into a team like Denver. Croucher sees some parallels between a hypothetical Rodgers-to-Denver deal in the AFC West and the situation that played out last year when the Buccaneers signed Tom Brady.
"My thought would be that the Chiefs would still be slight favorites for the division over the Broncos (with Rodgers), in kind of the same way that last season the Saints were still favored over the Bucs in the NFC South," Croucher said. "Kind of a similar dynamic, really, where you've got the incumbent team with all the continuity, and then you've got the new team that has signed the superstar quarterback."
Given the calendar there hasn't exactly been a flurry of action to send these markets and numbers into flux. But with months to go until futures bets are graded, the majority of bettors have been drawn to high-priced wagers as opposed to options that carry both less risk and less payoff.
"These futures aren't going to settle for 7-8 months. So there's a little reluctance to really tie up money when there is so much uncertainty," Croucher said. "That's why I think if people have a strong stance on Rodgers, they're not likely to bet the Bears to win the NFC North. They're more likely to bet the Broncos at +6000 for the Super Bowl, just because you're tying up less money that way and getting a bigger collect as well."
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