Raiders-Broncos Line Shrinks With News Antonio Brown to Play
The Antonio Brown soap opera in Oakland continues to be one of the biggest storylines entering the 2019 NFL season, one that caused the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders line to ping-pong on Thursday and Friday.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday that the Raiders were planning on suspending the four-time All-Pro receiver after he was involved in an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock. Brown was fined by Mayock due to missing practices. The reported suspension caused the line to swing 3.5 points, all the way to Denver -2.5.
The Raiders discussed moving on from their star receiver before Week 1. It appeared that the Brown era with the Raiders was coming to an end.
But on Friday, ESPN's Josina Anderson reported that Brown issued an apology to the team and the front office for his actions during the week and specifically with Mayock. Shortly after, head coach Jon Gruden announced that Brown had returned to the team and will play in the team's Week 1 matchup against the Broncos. The line immediately shifted to Denver -1.
"We're happy to have him back."— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) September 6, 2019
Coach Gruden briefly addressed Antonio Brown's status on Friday. pic.twitter.com/RHtEuIGSnM
Betting Impact of Antonio Brown Drama
When the news first surfaced that Brown was facing a possible suspension from the team, the Raiders odds for Week 1 and the season dropped considerably. Most sportsbooks removed all Brown player props and lowered AFC and Super Bowl odds for the Raiders. One of the most significant line movements was in their initial matchup with the Broncos, as noted above. News of Brown and Mayock's fight created immediate movement.
Typically, odds don't move that much for non-positional players, but Brown isn't your typical skill player either. He's arguably the best receiver in the league and can change the outcome of a game in a moment's notice. However, part of the reason the line likely shifted so much was due to the ongoing distraction he has caused in Oakland.
But now that the team has announced that Brown will play in Week 1, the line has moved back down to Broncos -1, and it wouldn't be a total shock if that line continues to climb over the weekend in Oakland's favor.
Despite the Week 1 odds moving back in a positive direction for Oakland, oddsmakers aren't convinced everything is stable for the Raiders. Most of the futures odds that moved during the initial suspension news, such as Oakland to win the AFC (+4000 on 888Sport) haven't lowered even after Gruden announced that Brown has returned to the team. There appears to be some uncertainty about how long Brown will last with the Raiders and/or if he will continue to be a distraction.
It will be fascinating to see how sportsbooks create lines knowing full-well that Brown's status with the team could change at any moment. But as of now, it appears he is on track to play in Week 1, and he helps give Oakland a great chance to beat their division rival on Monday Night Football.