The NFL just got through the most intense free-agent signing period in its history.
While the initial thought from Las Vegas sports books and bettors alike was that there wouldn’t be too many changes on team power ratings based on one or two players being added during the period, one team went from being a possible contender to being the co-favorite to win the Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles had odds of 12-1 to start the season based on last year’s, sometimes dominant performances by super-quarterback Michael Vick. There was always the possibility the Eagles would upgrade, but it wasn’t until they signed three of the top six free-agents that they became one of the favorites heading into training camp.
The Eagles are now 6-1 to win the Super Bowl at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book, thanks in part to the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the top-three cornerbacks in football.
Cornerbacks are rarely part of any handicapping or bookmaking equation. Generally, they don’t account for much in the weekly odds like a quarterback or other star offensive players do. They are usually considered part of a cohesive unit that continues to prosper, sometimes, even without them.
Ultimately, a cornerback’s success is dependent on how quickly the front seven can get pressure on the quarterback. Deion Sanders raised the bar to what a great shut down corner can do while with the great teams in Dallas and San Francisco.
Opponents changed their entire offensive game plans and rarely challenged Sanders side of the field. Before arriving on the Super Bowl winning teams, Sanders was in Atlanta where the team had moderate success.
Asomugha is in a similar situation coming from Oakland. He has gotten a tremendous amount of recognition just because of his coverage skills on the league’s best receivers even though the Raiders haven’t had much success collectively during his tenure. He was great on a team that didn’t get the type of pressure on the quarterback requiring him to cover a few seconds longer than most.
This will be Asomugha’s first chance at playing with a very good team and his legacy could be raised to an entire new level because of the expected success, much in the same way Darrelle Revis has gained his while playing for the aggressive Jets defense.
The Hilton rapidly adjusted their odds on all the Jets future prices after the additions of Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Cullen Jenkins. In addition to being the co-favorite to win it all, the Eagles are now 13-5 co-favorites to win the NFC and 5-8 favorites to win the East.
MGM Resorts opened their season win totals last Monday with the Eagles posted at 10 wins and immediately bumped the total up a half on news of the signings.
“Having a player like that (Asomugha) on the corner should make a big difference because opposing teams will have to account for him in their game plan, especially within their own division,” said MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood. “The Eagles needed a player like Asomugha in their division with two pretty good quarterbacks (Eli Manning and Tony Romo) they’ll be playing twice a year.”
The only other team Rood made an “air move” on the totals (meaning bets didn’t force the move) was the Cardinals going from six wins to seven on the news of quarterback Kevin Kolb coming from the Eagles. Bets came quickly on the UNDER settling the number at 6½.
It shows how much respect the Las Vegas sports books have for Asomugha’s ability that they have moved odds and numbers so much because of his arrival, almost to the same degree a new quarterback has, the player on the field that has the most impact on all spreads and odds.
Only time will tell how much of an impact Asomugha will have in Philadelphia, but it’s a little easier to accept the opinions of the Vegas books over talking heads on TV just because the sports books actually take bets on their opinions.
The overall opinion from Las Vegas is the Eagles will be a major player this season with Asomugha being one of the main reasons.