After the end of the 2021 regular season with playoffs kicking off, there’s no better time to look back at some of the highlights of 2021. The NFL season was unlike any other; not only was it one of the least attended in history, but it introduced a 17-game regular season. Before we start to ponder NFL betting predictions for the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium, let’s look at our favorite moments of the past year.
1. Tom Brady’s seventh Super Bowl title
Tom Brady’s Super Bowl victory was one of the biggest NFL moments in 2021 and an equally big moment for American football betting. The 44-year-old quarterback switched teams to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and led them to a magnificent 31–9 win in Super Bowl 55. 2021 is considered to be the year of the sport’s veterans, and Brady proved it by showing no signs of slowing down.
In the Buccaneers’ 48–21 win against the Falcons, Brady broke a record owned by his former team, the Patriots, by winning nine straight games with over 30 points. Brady started the year on a high when he broke another of his former franchise’s records for the most touchdown passes in a single season in January. The 41 passes contributed to his unparalleled achievements.
In just four years, Tom Brady is expected to surpass George Blanda and become the oldest NFL player of all time.
2. Justin Tucker sets the NFL kicking record
Last September, in a game against the Detroit Lions, Justin Tucker saved the day with a 66-yard field goal with only three seconds left on the clock. The kick gave the Baltimore Ravens their win with a close score of 19–17. But that’s not all he did. Tucker’s 66-yard goal also broke the record for the longest field goal in NFL history. The record was previously set by Matt Prater in 2013 for 64 yards.
The record-breaking goal cemented Tucker’s status as the most talented placekicker of all time, ensuring his place as a Hall of Fame candidate. As incredible as the moment was for fans and bettors alike, Tucker had delivered a great performance throughout the game. Not only was he responsible for 13 of the Ravens’ 19 points, but the unbelievable kick was his fourth of the day. It was preceded by a 39-, 50- and 32-yard kick.
After such a display of consistency, this won’t be the last time Justin Tucker turns football betting odds on their heads.
3. Cleveland Browns winning an NFL playoff game
The next entry involves no broken records, no trophies, no bells and no whistles. The Cleveland Browns made it to this list purely by the element of surprise. Jaws dropped when Cleveland won their first playoff game this year since 1995. The game was their first playoff match since their loss in 2003. After 2003, the team endured 14 double-digit loss seasons. This led to their 17 seasons away from the playoffs and is part of the reason NFL betting trends couldn’t have predicted their 48–37 victory against the Steelers.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield sealed the deal with a 3-yard dash on 3rd-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 42-yard line. The unlikely win kicked the 2021 year off with a moment NFL fans are not likely to forget or believe.
4. Odell Beckham Jr. leaves Cleveland
If you’re an online sports betting aficionado, you’ll know that what happens outside the field is often just as important as what happens on it. Such is the case with Odell Beckham Jr.’s unexpected exit from the Cleveland Browns team. After a social media post from Beckham’s father was discovered describing tension with QB Baker Mayfield, the Browns had no choice but to let the wideout go to protect team morale and sportsmanship.
The player agreed to a $4.25 million settlement and later signed with the Rams. After a slow start, Beckham found his footing in week 12 with a season-high of 10 targets and a touchdown.
5. Mac Jones silences critics
Truthfully, the whole world could’ve been a tad kinder to Mac Jones after he was announced as the Patriot’s 15th pick last year. He was at the tail end of the five first-round quarterbacks chosen in the 2021 NHL draft. What followed, instead of celebration, was what can only be described as a doubt-fueled roast. The internet was filled with mockery of his awkward Draft Night gait and circulating pictures of his child modeling days.
However, Jones silenced all the skeptics with a beautiful performance in November. He managed to complete 19 of 23 passes for 198 and topped it with three touchdowns. The game was his first three-touchdown game and ended with a victory against the Cleveland Browns. His performance set his team apart in football spreads leading up to the next game.
After beating out the preferred candidate, Cam Newton, for the position, he’s proven to be the best rookie in the game this year. Jones finished a game with a passer rating of 100 five times this season, which no rookie before him has accomplished.
6. Michael Dickson’s double punt
In October last year, something miraculous happened. A single kick defied NFL odds. In a move that left TV announcers frozen, Michael Dickson scooped up a spinning ball that had been blocked by Jamir Jones. He picked up the ball in stride with one hand and punted it again. It flew 68 yards to the Rams’ 10-yard line. The double punt is considered the best play of the Seattle season.
NFL rule books were consulted mid-game and confirmed that the daring move was legal; the ball didn’t cross the line off the block. Dickson is ranked No. 1 in the league, with 80 punts and 3,772 punting yards.
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