Bills quarterback Josh Allen  walks of the field after fumbling the snap that turned into a Vikings touchdown.

OT loss costs Bills ground but still Super Bowl, AFC favorites

From a prohibitive favorite to narrowly leading the pack in a matter of hours on Sunday, oddsmakers are adjusting futures markets following Buffalo’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Still listed as the team to beat in the AFC East division, the Bills would be the No. 6 seed in the AFC if the playoffs began Monday.

At 6-3, they’re behind the Miami Dolphins (7-3) and New York Jets, who are also 6-3 but own a head-to-head win over the Bills.

Before Sunday’s kickoff, FanDuel had the Bills at -450 to win the division. By the time the Vikings recovered a fourth Buffalo fumble and pushed the game into overtime, the Bills dipped to -150 with the Dolphins +240 and Jets at +1100.

The Bills are still +200 and atop the AFC champion futures at FanDuel, with the Kansas City Chiefs +240 and the Baltimore Ravens +650.

Miami is +950 at FanDuel.

Buffalo also is the favorite to win the Super Bowl, but at +380 their odds are lower than they have been at FanDuel since July.

The Eagles and Chiefs are +500 and the Minnesota Vikings are +1300, even with the Ravens.

Caesars Sportsbook has the Bills at -180 in the division, +190 in the conference and +380 for the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs closed to +220 in AFC winner odds and +475 for the Super Bowl.

Minnesota is the largest favorite for a division title at -6000 in the NFC North. But Philadelphia is the big favorite in the NFC: +190 to claim the conference title and +500 to win the Super Bowl at Caesars.

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators wide receiver Justin Shorter (4) dives but comes up short on big pass play in the second half. The UCF Knights defeats the Florida Gators, 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl Thursday, December 23, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner]2021

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Florida WR Justin Shorter to return in 2022

Wide receiver Justin Shorter will return to Florida for his senior season in 2022.

Shorter, who sustained what could have been a potentially serious injury near the end of the Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday, made the announcement Saturday on Twitter.

“Unfinished Business… One more year. #GoGators,” he wrote.

The redshirt junior was carted off the field late after taking a hard hit from a defender while attempting to make a leaping catch in Florida’s 29-17 loss to UCF. He spent the night at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla.

The Florida football program shared a statement from Shorter’s family on Twitter on Friday.

“We are happy to share that Justin is doing well, is clear to head home today and is on his way to a full recovery! We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of prayers, love and endless support — he is going to be fine!”

Shorter caught three passes for a team-high 54 yards in the bowl game. He finished the season with 41 catches for 550 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

His return is good news for new head coach Billy Napier and Florida, which lost 2021 leading receiver Jacob Copeland to the transfer portal. Copeland announced Friday that he’ll play next season at Maryland.

–Field Level Media

Apr 28, 2021; Canton, Ohio, USA; A general overall view of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Long, DeMarcus Ware among first-year football Hall of Fame nominees

Ten first-year candidates are among the list of 122 modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022, announced Wednesday.

The first-year player list is made up of wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson and Steve Smith, as well as Devin Hester, who was best known as a kick and punt returner; offensive linemen Jake Long and Nick Mangold; linebacker DeMarcus Ware; defensive linemen Robert Mathis and Vince Wilfork; and defensive back Antonio Cromartie.

The group of nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January. Induction ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will be held in August.

Also on the list are nine finalists from 2021 who fell short of the votes needed for enshrinement: receivers Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne; tackle Tony Boselli; defensive linemen Jared Allen and Richard Seymour; linebackers Zach Thomas and Sam Mills; and defensive backs LeRoy Butler and Ronde Barber.

Other nominees include Boomer Esiason, Donovan McNabb, Gary Anderson, Eddie George, Herschel Walker, Hines Ward, Jeff Saturday and Simeon Rice.

The 49 members of the selection committee will consider the 15 player finalists and three special finalists — senior finalist Cliff Branch, contributor finalist Art McNally and coach finalist Dick Vermeil — when they choose the 2022 class. Under Hall of Fame regulations, between four and eight candidates will be enshrined.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; A general view of Allegiant Stadium before a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Las Vegas Raiders. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2022 NFL league year to open March 16

The 2022 NFL league year will begin March 16 at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

Clubs and agents received the early portion of the NFL 2022 calendar on Wednesday. NFL Network revealed the key dates it said were agreed to by the league and the NFL Players Association:
–Franchise/transition player designation period, Feb. 22-March 8 (4 p.m. ET)
–2021 league year ends, March 16 (3:59 p.m. ET)
–2022 league year begins, March 16 (4 p.m. ET)
–Start of offseason workout for teams with new head coaches, April 4; for all other teams, April 18
–Last day of restricted free-agent signing period, April 22
–Last day to match restricted free agent offer sheets, April 27
–NFL draft, April 28-30.

The 2022 NFL Draft will be held in Las Vegas.

It was scheduled to be in the city in 2020, but the in-person draft was scrapped in favor of a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

–Field Level Media