But what you may not be aware of is that they were accused of deflating footballs earlier in the 2014 NFL Season as well, and may have been doing so the entire year. In fact, the New England Patriots have been accused of cheating in so many different ways since Bill Belichick took over as head coach, that it's earned him the nickname "Beli-cheat." So it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to assume they've been deflating footballs for years. In fact, there's plenty of statistical evidence that suggests that this just might be the case.
Tuck-gate - 2002
In the AFC Championship Game against the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots were losing in the 4th Quarter when Tom Brady lost the ball as he got sacked by Charles Woodson. The Raiders would simply have to run out the clock from there as time was running out. However (bear in mind that this was before Coach's Challenges were reinstated), the referee crew convened and determined that Brady's arm was moving forward. The "tuck" rule was invoked and the Patriots wound up winning a game that most critics believe they shouldn't have.
Spy-Gate, Chapter 1 - 2002, 2004 & 2005 Super Bowls
The St Louis Rams accused the Patriots of illegally video-taping their practices. The Rams' players and coaches stated that during game time, the Patriots seemed to have "inside knowledge" of their playbook. Other teams' coaches and players publicly stated the same sentiment. The matter is unofficially determined to be unsubstantiated, and both public and NFL sentiment is to dismiss the issue. Many football critics, analysts, professional football players and various NFL employees believe that the New England Patriots only won those Super Bowls by having an illegal edge over their opponents.
Spy-Gate, Chapter 2 - 2007
The New England Patriots were forced to forfeit a 1st-round draft pick and were fined $250k by the NFL for illegally video-taping the New York Jets to decipher their hand signals. Patriots' Head Coach, Bill Belichick, was personally fined another $500k for the incident. This time the allegations were substantial enough for the NFL to perform a proper investigation to determine that the New England Patriots did in fact cheat. Ironically, 2007 is the year that Bill Belichick and the Patriots went undefeated in the regular season; however, after the cheating was exposed, exploited by the media and brought to public attention, New England miraculously lost to the heavily underdogged New York Giants. Speculation suggests that the Patriots were unable to cheat as usual, and played like the team they truly were.
Following the New England Patriots' playoff victory against Baltimore, Ravens' head coach, John Harbaugh, publicly announces that New England cheated by using "illegal" formations to purposely deceive Baltimore's Defense of which players were legal receivers. Accordingly, Harbaugh stated that the Patriots "would announce the eligible player and Tom [Brady] would take it to the line right away and snap the ball before [we] even figured out who was lined up where....that was the deception part of it. It was clearly deception." Public sentiment was that the practice was not fair in competition, but once again NFL Officials declared it was. When Tom Brady was asked about it, he said, "Maybe those guys gotta study the rule book and figure it out."
Deflate-Gate - ? - 2015
The New England Patriots are fined $1,000,000 and Tom Brady is suspended for four games (which he is appealing) after an official NFL investigation determines that the Patriots did indeed deflate footballs for the purpose of gaining an illegal edge over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. How long the football deflating has been going on is questionable. The Indianapolis Colts complained that New England's footballs felt deflated earlier in the season as well. Studies have indicated that the Patriots may have been deflating footballs for at least a couple of seasons.
Why Did The Patriots Deflate Their Footballs?
The advantage to having possession of a deflated football over a regulation-inflated football is huge. The reasons are simple... to have a better grip on the football. This makes it easier for a quarterback to throw the ball, and for running backs to keep a tighter grip on it, thus fumbling much less or not at all. It also makes it easier for receivers to catch the ball. If only one team is playing with the deflated footballs, there is a clear and unfair advantage.
It's common knowledge that the New England Patriots have been one of the most winningest NFL Football Teams over the past decade and a half. Nobody is more aware of this than oddsmakers, both in Las Vegas and on the internet. Usually, this fact will catch up to such a publicly bet on team like the Patriots. Linemakers will usually adjust the betting lines accordingly over time so that the public will usually win only 50%, or often less, of their bets on such teams. Instead, Bill Belichick owns the highest ATS record of all NFL coaches since 1978. Since becoming head coach of New England, he has maintained a remarkable home ATS Record. In addition, according to an article in the NY Times, Belichick's Patriots are an unbelievable 80% victorious against the spread when playing in wet weather.
Hmmm... what is usually the biggest concern when playing football in wet conditions? Controlling the football! If you took that concern away, it would be easy to win an outrageous 80% of covers against the spread.
The Bottom Line For Football Betting In The Wake Of Deflategate
Don't expect New England to continue to have as much success, either ATS or SU (Straight-Up) this season. Most sharp bettors will probably be staying away from betting on the Patriots, at least until they see how they perform. The NFL, opposing teams, the media and fans alike will be keeping a strict eye on them looking for the slightest possibilities of cheating or deflating. But more importantly, sports bettors and oddsmakers will be keeping a stricter eye on them.
If this deflategate scandal has been going on for as long as some suspect it has, the Patriots and their backers are in for a rude adjustment this year at the betting windows. If a team no longer has the illegal advantage that it once had, that it's accustomed to, that has helped design the betting numbers that surround it, how can it continue to carry on with it's impressive winning percentages on the football field, let alone in Vegas?
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