Kornegay’s Korner: Bay Watch

October 26, 2022

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Bettors are reacting to what’s happening in the Bay – or Bays, as it were – and the futures are following.

When Christian McCaffrey was traded to the San Francisco during the week, the Niners odds to win the Super Bowl jumped from 20-1 to 14-1, and from 8-1 to 6-1 to win the NFC. After losing to Kansas City on Sunday, the numbers settled back in at 17-1 and 7-1 respectively.

Down in Tampa Bay, where the Bucs were once bettors’ second choice to win the Super Bowl, the odds continue to drop; Tom Brady and Co. currently sit at 18-1 with several other teams. 

While McCaffrey’s new squad lost – perhaps understandably – to the Chiefs (currently at 7-1 to win the Super Bowl), the story reads a little differently in Florida. 

“I’ve written off Brady a few times and we all know how that went,” said SuperBook Sports head oddsmaker Jay Kornegay on Monday morning. “This year looks different and feels different. Brady is getting hit a lot these days – without flags – and his body language isn’t good. It could be the end of a great career.”

Then again, the Bucs odds to win it all remain somewhat respectable – despite the head scratching loss to Carolina (where McCaffrey just departed). Kornegay says bettors believe there’s still time to figure things out in Tampa – primarily because the NFC South is one of the worst divisions in football.

“Bettors don’t like losing, even if it’s on Tom Brady,” Kornegay said. “They’ve been slowly breaking up with the Bucs, but it wouldn’t take much to be reunited.”

Three Things We Learned This Weekend

1.  The Christian McCaffrey effect

It’s just one week of results, but what’s up with Christian McCaffrey? His former team pulled off probably the most-shocking upset of the season, as Carolina took down Tom Brady and the sputtering Buccaneers by a 21-3 score. Meanwhile, his new team couldn’t play a lick of defense, as the 49ers were blasted by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, 44-23.

McCaffrey wasn’t much of a factor, running for just 38 yards on eight carries and catching two passes for 24 yards. He’ll get more involved as he gets more comfortable with the playbook, but San Francisco needs to figure out its defense if they have Super Bowl aspirations.

Don’t look now, but the “tanking” Panthers are just one game out of first in the pitiful NFC South, while the Niners trail the Seahawks by just one game in the surprisingly down NFC West. And no one had Seattle being a contender in that division.

Is it fair to blame McCaffrey for the topsy-turvy start to the NFL season? Of course not. But it is strange how his old team and new team sailed in different directions last week.

2.  Contenders emerge, while pretenders are exposed

Two teams fell from the unbeaten ranks in college football last weekend. UCLA and Ole Miss both lost for the first time this season.

The Bruins simply could not keep up with an Oregon offense that put up 45 points. Chip Kelly’s team scored 30 points of its own, but the Ducks ran away with the game. Oregon has not blinked since its opening week loss to Georgia, with wins over UCLA, Eastern Washington, BYU, Washington State, Stanford and Arizona. As a result, the Ducks are back in the top-10, coming in at No. 8 in the latest poll. With games against Cal and Colorado forthcoming, Oregon is looking good as the season progresses. 

Ole Miss jumped out to an early 17-3 lead, but it was all downhill from there. LSU took over the game, outscoring the Rebels 42-3 the rest of the way. The Tigers have now won back-to-back games against Florida and Ole Miss, respectively, which is important after losses to FSU and Tennessee this season.

The talk of the town the last few weeks has been TCU. The Horned Frogs have won against ranked opponents in four consecutive weeks, with those wins coming against Oklahoma, Kansas, Oklahoma State and now K-State. TCU was down 28-17 at one point, but the Frogs rallied back to win the game 38-28. TCU is now the No. 7 team in the country, sporting a 7-0 record heading into its next game against West Virginia. 

3.  A changing of the guard in the NFC

NFL playoff teams change every year; it’s inevitable. But this year, they will be drastically changing in the NFC. Through seven weeks, it’s safe to say the conference is seeing an overhaul.

As it stands right now, the Eagles, Vikings, Seahawks and Buccaneers are the division leaders, with the Giants, Cowboys and Rams are the wild card teams. The Eagles, Cowboys, Buccaneers and Rams were all playoff teams last year, but it looks completely different.

In the 2021-22 season, the Eagles finished as the No. 7 seed. This time around, they are 6-0 and the No. 1 overall seed. The Buccaneers were the No. 2 seed last year and now they are 3-4 and barely winning their division for the No. 4 seed. At this point, no one would be shocked if the Falcons somehow snuck past them in the NFC South.

As for the three teams who missed the playoffs last year, they are all drastically better. At 6-1, the Giants already have two more wins this year than they had through all 17 games last season. The Vikings were 8-9 last season and now sit as one of the top dogs in the NFC North at 5-1. And the Seahawks are the big surprise. After trading away Russell Wilson,
nobody would’ve thought that after seven weeks, they would be 4-3 atop the NFC West.

The perennial powers are fading. The Rams, Packers and Buccaneers are on the decline. Meanwhile, a new guard is emerging, with the Eagles, Giants and Vikings on the rise. After seven weeks, that’s not a fluke; it’s how the season is shaking out.

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