June 5, 2018; Stanton, DE, USA; At 1:30 p.m. today Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Delaware launches the country's first full-scale sports betting operation outside of Nevada as people roll into the Casino at Delaware Park in Stanton, Del. to wager their bets. Mandatory Credit: Suchat Pederson/The News Journal via USA TODAY NETWORK

Record 45.2M Americans expected to bet on NFL in 2021

A record 45.2 million Americans are expected to wager during this upcoming NFL season, a 36 percent increase year-over-year, the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced Tuesday.

The increase is largely due to eight more states where fans can legally bet compared to 2020. Americans can wager in 26 states versus 18 one year ago.

Further, three more states (Arizona, South Dakota, Washington) are expected to come online by Thursday’s regular season kickoff and two more by the end of the season.

“Importantly, when the 2021 NFL season begins, more than 111m American adults will be able to wager safely with regulated sportsbooks in their home states rather than with the predatory illegal market,” AGA president and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement.

Based on its research, AGA projects that five million Americans will place a bet online (up 73 percent YOY) while seven million will bet with a bookie (up just 13 percent).

The Kansas City Chiefs are the most popular Super Bowl bet among Americans, followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; A Denver Broncos helmet on the ground before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos’ Super Bowl odds shorten with Teddy Bridgewater, Patrick Surtain

Oddmakers took favorably to the Denver Broncos’ moves after the first day of the NFL draft, shortening the team’s odds to win Super Bowl LVI in February.

Draft Kings adjusted the Broncos’ odds to +1600 — they were +6000 on Tuesday — after Denver’s acquisition of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the Carolina Panthers and selection of Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the No. 9 overall pick in the opening round of the draft on Thursday night.

The Broncos join the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers at +1600 — the seventh-shortest odds in the league.

The Chiefs (+500) remained the favorites with DraftKings, followed by the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who dropped to +700 from +750 in the latest odds, then the Baltimore Ravens (+1300), and the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, all at +1400.

The 49ers opened the week at +1600 and saw their odds shortened after their selection of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.

Green Bay’s odds got longer on Friday, moving from +1100 on Tuesday, after reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers reportedly said he no longer wants to play for the Packers.

The odds also got longer for the Arizona Cardinals, who moved from +3300 to +4000, and Panthers (+6000 to +6600). Despite taking quarterback Zach Wilson of BYU with the No. 2 overall pick, the New York Jets saw their odds of winning the Super Bowl lengthen from +8000 to +10000 — the same as the Cincinnati Bengals.

The embattled Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions remained the longest shots in the field at +15000.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Bruce Arians shows off Super Bowl tattoo

Coach Bruce Arians is the latest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl victory with a tattoo.

Arians, in fact, took to social media on Tuesday to show that he made good on his promise.

“I’m a man of my word- ‘when we win the Super Bowl, I will get a tattoo’ well I got mine and I love it!! #SBLV #superbowlLVchamps,” the 68-year-old Arians posted on Twitter.

The tattoo on Arians’ upper back features the Super Bowl LV logo with the Lombardi trophy. That rests atop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ logo, with the numbers 31 and 9 featured. The Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs by that final score on Feb. 7.

Arians claims he told tight ends coach Rick Christophel that he would get the ink should the Buccaneers win the title.

Arians is not alone about receiving some ink following the title win.

Rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and wide receiver Mike Evans reportedly also commemorated the Super Bowl win with tattoos.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) taunts Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bucs’ Antoine Winfield Jr. fined for SB taunting

The NFL has fined Tampa Bay defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. $7,815 for taunting Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill during Super Bowl LV last week, according to NFL Network.

Winfield held up two fingers in a peace sign directed at Hill with the Buccaneers comfortably ahead late in the game. It mimics the signature gesture Hill frequently uses against defenders that he left in his rearview mirror.

That includes a Week 12 meeting between the teams when Hill racked up 269 yards and three touchdowns. Hill flashed the peace sign at Winfield as he ran past him in that game and also embarrassed the Buccaneers by back-flipping into the end zone on one of his touchdowns.

That game apparently stuck with Winfield.

“He back-flipped in front of my face, gave me the peace sign. So it was only right that I gave the peace sign right back to him,” Winfield said after the Bucs’ 31-9 win last Sunday.

“It felt amazing to be able to do that, not even gonna lie.”

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce during practice as they prepare for Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mandatory Credit: Steve Sanders/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs fired up in final full practice as WR Demarcus Robinson returns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A brisk cold, with Friday morning temperatures in the low 30s, didn’t stop the Chiefs’ enthusiasm during an outdoor practice.

A Ric Flair-like “Woo!” and thunderous applause from players following virtually every play on either side of the football filled the air.

The effort had Kansas City head coach Andy Reid coming away pleased with the Chiefs’ performance in the final stages of preparations before they square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV on Sunday in Tampa.

“Listen, it’s a shorter practice today, so they’re fired up to get through it and get going,” Reid said.

The Chiefs’ workout included wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who returned from the Reserve/COVID-19 list after clearing the NFL’s mandated safety protocols. Robinson hit the ground running and impressed Reid.

“He was good,” Reid said. “He’s been working out.”

The Chiefs listed left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles) and rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (knee, ankle) as out for Sunday’s game, while wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) is officially designated as questionable.

Reid, however, doesn’t appear concerned over Watkins’ availability against the Buccaneers after seeing the veteran wide receiver return to a full practice Friday after limited sessions the previous two days.

“He did good,” Reid said. “I’m encouraged to have him on Sunday. I think he’ll be there.”

Backup running back Darwin Thompson missed Friday’s practice because of an illness, Reid said. The Chiefs did not assign a game designation on Thompson on the injury report, indicating the second-year running back will be available for action barring a setback. Backup center Daniel Kilgore remains away from the training facility while he continues to go through safety protocols after landing on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week.

In the meantime, the Chiefs are scheduled for a Saturday morning walk-through practice before boarding an afternoon flight for Tampa.

With less than 48 hours to go before Super Sunday and almost two weeks since the last time the Chiefs played in the AFC Championship Game, Friday’s practice provided a sign of the excitement level knowing what comes next.

“It’s been two weeks,” Reid said. “I think both sides want to play each other and get it on.”

(The Super Bowl pool report was produced by Herbie Teope of the NFLPA and distributed to accredited media.)

–Field Level Media

Feb 2, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. during NFL football practice, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.  Mandatory Credit: Tori Richman/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers ‘ready to roll’ into Super Bowl

TAMPA, Fla. — A little more than two days before kickoff to Super Bowl LV, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and his staff put some of the final touches on the game plan for the Kansas City Chiefs and pronounced his team nearly prepared.

“They’re ready to roll. They’re ready to go,” Arians said of his team. “It’s just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and finalizing it all the way until game time.”

Under sunny skies and a temperature of 70 degrees, the Bucs flags were flying Friday thanks to a strong west wind.

The Bucs practiced for about 90 minutes, working on various situations such as short yardage and goal line on both sides of the football. But instead of full-speed, Arians decided to make Friday’s practice a glorified walk-through.

“We had enough full speed workouts,” Arians said. “We just decided to jog through it with goal line, short yardage and all that situational stuff.”

There weren’t too many changes on the injury front. However, tight end Cameron Brate did not practice after injuring his back Thursday.

Arians said he will be listed as questionable for Super Bowl LV.

Receiver Antonio Brown, who missed the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury, had full participation in practice Friday and has shown no ill-effects of his increased reps.

Linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring) also practiced for the third straight day.

Safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) and Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) also practiced. Whitehead did not need to wear a non-contact jersey Friday.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul did not practice Friday, which has been their routine as part of a veteran’s day off.

Practicing at the AdventHealth Training Center, Arians said it has been unusually seamless for a Super Bowl week.

“It’s been normal, but so abnormal for a Super Bowl,” ArIans said. “But it’s easy for both teams. It’s like an away game for them and for us it’s a home game. It’s great for preparation — on our fields, in our locker rooms, eating our own food.”

The Bucs have a walk-through practice Saturday and will board buses at their facility later in the afternoon for a short ride to a team hotel where they will remain until Sunday.

Excitement is building for the Bucs, but they know there is still many more hours before Super Bowl LV.

“We’ve been telling them you’ve got to control your emotions until game time,” Arians said.

(The Super Bowl pool report was produced by Rick Stroud of the PFWA and distributed to accredited media.)

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2021; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; A general view of the Super Bowl LV official football on the beach at Anna Maria Island.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Heads or tails? Super Bowl bettors split from coin toss to champion

Super Bowl LV is already unlike any of its predecessors as the world’s most-watched annual sporting event takes on a unique shape during a global pandemic.

That certainly includes the sports betting market. While retail sportsbooks are expected to take a hard hit due to COVID-19, the record number of U.S. states with legalized online sports betting is driving record numbers for regulated sportsbooks.

More than two days before kickoff, BetRivers.com reported the Super Bowl to already be the heaviest wagered-on NFL game of the season. The FanDuel Sportsbook is now available in 12 states and along with many of its competitors is offering hundreds of betting markets for Super Bowl LV.

The Kansas City Chiefs remain the 3-point favorites at most books. That includes DraftKings, where the defending champions are being backed by 69 percent of the bets. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have now split the handle — or total money — wagered on the spread line. And the Bucs’ +140 moneyline has drawn 58 percent of the bets and 51 percent of the handle.

Before covering against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs had failed to cover at BetRivers.com in nine consecutive games. They enter the Super Bowl 7-10-1 ATS this season. Meanwhile, the Bucs have covered in seven of their past 10 games, including each of their past two playoff victories.

The money has started to also flow toward Tampa Bay at BetRivers, where the Chiefs are still being backed by 68 percent of the spread line bets, but that’s down from 73 percent last week. Kansas City’s -162 moneyline is also being backed by 55 percent of the bets and handle at the book, up from 43 and 47 percent a week ago.

At FanDuel, Tampa Bay’s moneyline is being backed by 54 percent of the bets and is bringing in more action than the Chiefs in nine of the sportsbook’s 12 states.

The one area where bettors aren’t split is the Over/Under.

There was so much action on the Over at FanDuel, the total points line has moved from 56.5 to 55.5. The Chiefs have hit the Over at BetRivers.com in exactly half of their 18 games this season, with the sportsbook also seeing the total move from opening at 57.5 down to 55.5 by Thursday afternoon with the public backing the Over at 70 percent.

The Over remained at 56 at DraftKings as of Friday, with the Over being backed by 70 percent of the bets and 73 percent of the handle.

Of course, the Super Bowl spawns the widest variety of betting options on an annual basis — from squares to office pools to the seemingly endless number of prop markets being offered by online sportsbooks.

Bettors can begin the day wagering on the coin toss (52 percent backing tails at DraftKings) and end it predicting the color of the Gatorade the winning coach will be showered with. Orange has the shortest odds at +125 by FanDuel, with purple providing the +900 longshot odds.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains the overwhelming favorite to win MVP honors. He’s being offered at -106 by DraftKings, where he is being backed by 35 percent of the bets and 48 percent of the handle. Behind him is counterpart Tom Brady (+210), who is being backed by 29 percent of the bets and handle.

But why go the conventional route when you can grab +30000 odds at FanDuel on Brady scoring at least three combined rushing and receiving touchdowns?

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) smiles after scoring a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs WR Antonio Brown makes progress toward playing

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown took a step toward playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs when he was a full practice participant on Thursday.

Brown has been bothered by a knee injury that caused him to miss the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 24.

He was limited in practice on Wednesday so the upgrade in status increases the chances that Brown will be part of the active roster on Sunday.

One setback for Tampa Bay was the addition of tight end Cameron Brate (back) to the injury report. He was limited in Thursday’s session.

Safeties Jordan Whitehead (shoulder) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) and linebackers Lavonte David (hamstring) and Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) were also limited participants.

Linebacker William Gay (knee/ankle) again missed practice for Kansas City. He will be formally ruled out of the Super Bowl when Friday’s injury report is released.

Running back Le’Veon Bell (knee) and receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) were limited in practice. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle/hip) and cornerback Rashad Fenton (foot) were full participants.

Also, receiver Demarcus Robinson and center Daniel Kilgore are on track to be removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the game, according to NFL Network.

The two players had their hair cut Sunday by a barber who tested positive but both have returned negative tests each day. Robinson will be able to rejoin the team Friday if he continues to test negative and Kilgore will be eligible to return Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Feb 3, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.  Mandatory Credit: Kyle Zedaker/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Vita Vea didn’t let a bad break halt his season

Nobody would have blamed Vita Vea if he had called it a season and began looking forward to the 2021 campaign.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers mammoth defensive tackle suffered a gruesome right ankle injury in a contest against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 8. The ankle was badly fractured and the overwhelming belief was that Vea’s season was over.

His next important football game was supposed to be 11 months away.

But Vea recovered to play in the NFC Championship Game victory over the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 24 and will be back in the trenches in Super Bowl LV when the Buccaneers play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Tampa.

A key component of the situation was this: While nearly everybody was ruling Vea out for the season, he wasn’t declaring himself done.

“I think it was the next day or that night — I think I had it in my head,” Vea said of making it a goal to return during the playoffs. “Obviously, I was down and out that night, but I think that night I told myself, ‘If you just push through this, push through rehab, you might have a chance.’

“They told me I might have a small chance of making it, so I took those chances of what they said, and I really took it to heart. That’s what I stuck with.”

The payoff occurred when the 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea returned against the Packers and played in 33 snaps. The strong run-stopper helped limit Green Bay to 67 rushing yards with a long gain of 12.

Vea, who turns 26 on Friday, didn’t suffer any setbacks and said he is healthy and ready for an increased role in the Super Bowl.

“I think I’m completely healed,” Vea said. “Otherwise, I don’t think I would be playing if I wasn’t.”

Having Vea adds another standout to a defensive unit filled with top-line players.

The Buccaneers led the NFL in rushing defense (80.6 yards per game) even with Vea missing the final 11 regular-season games. Putting him back in the interior next to elite run-stopper Ndamukong Suh only makes the Tampa Bay defense more stout.

Vea was sidelined when Kansas City recorded a 27-24 victory over host Tampa Bay in Week 12 but Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is well aware of his prowess.

“He’s a guy that you’ve got to know where he’s at every single play,” Mahomes said. “He obviously is super disruptive in the run game, but he’s just as good as a pass rusher. You don’t see guys like that — playing that position, that can rush the passer like that — that much.

“For him, he’s a special talent and I’ll have to know where he’s at every single play in order to not let him disrupt the entire game.”

Vea was a first-round pick (12th overall) in 2018 out of Washington. In 34 NFL games (29 starts), he has 73 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

He had 10 tackles and two sacks before the injury, which occurred when he was tackling Chicago running back David Montgomery. Teammate Devin White also was closing in to help make the tackle and Vea’s right ankle got caught under White’s body.

Nearly four months later, Vea will play in the biggest game of his career. He looks back at the journey and understands that his positive mindset played a big part on why he made it back this season.

“I don’t think it was that hard, honestly,” Vea said of his attitude. “I’ve got a good group of people around me — I had my family and friends in my ear the whole time, my teammates over here. I stayed over here and I stayed in meetings. I was coming to position meetings, defensive meetings and stuff like that.

“I think that just helped me stay locked into football, really keep my mind off the injury and focus on learning more about football.”

–Field Level Media