The biggest crime you can commit in the NFL, it seems, is to let a little air out of footballs. Or maybe do so in ways that can only sort of be proven if you can accept some very suspect circumstantial evidence and science that would get a failing grade for execution in a middle school science fair.As it sits now, Tom Brady will miss four games for his alleged part in the “Deflategate” spectacle. As a drama the whole thing is getting tired.

For bettors, though, the impact of this whole situation is just beginning to come into focus, and we won’t know for weeks or months what it all really means to how we should be betting this team.

tom_bradyAs we try to wade through all the muck, here are five factors to consider that will potentially have a big betting impact going forward:

We still know nothing

While everyone has an opinion in this case — mine is that this is a ridiculously overblown non-story, and the ridiculous way it has been magnified and turned into something it’s not kind of makes me sad for society — the fact is that we don’t know what is going to happen yet. Brady is appealing and has assembled a powerful legal team. He certainly has grounds for his concern.

We don’t know if that appeal will be successful. We don’t even know who will hear the appeal — Roger Goodell is supposed to, but there is pressure on him not to in some quarters. The suspension could stand as it currently is. It could be reduced. It could be overturned completely. The process could also take longer to resolve than we have until the start of the season — especially if Brady takes legal action along with his league appeal.

Therefore we don’t know how long he’ll be suspended or when it would happen. It should be obvious, then, that making any strong conclusions about what will happen to this team, and especially about how to play them in futures betting markets, is very premature at this point.

The public will overreact:

This one is a given for a simple reason — the public always overreacts. Give them a situation involving a high-profile team and a star player and they will always assume the worse. If Brady is indeed suspended and misses games then it will be a setback for the team in all likelihood but not as much of one as the public, and by extension the media, will think it will be — especially in the first game or two he misses.

Garoppolo is an unknown:

If Brady does miss time then Jimmy Garoppolo, at this point, is in line to take over. In the New England tradition, Brady would be replaced by a young and unproven starter who previously has only limited experience in mop-up duty. It worked out very well with Matt Cassel last time Brady missed significant time, so there is precedent for the team to be hopeful here.

The public isn’t likely to judge Garoppolo fairly or accurately early on. It would be different if he was a Heisman winner or had played at a high-profile program in college. Aside from being where Tony Romo went, though, Eastern Illinois is as far off the radar as a school can be. Most people haven’t seen him play and hadn’t even heard of him until draft speculation started last year. They aren’t likely to give him a lot of respect early on — another reason to expect a public overreaction to a suspension.

Future impact:

Maybe the most interesting part of this drama is what it could mean for the future of Brady in New England. Robert Kraft threw Brady under the bus when he caved and accepted the league’s punishment this week after first talking about how mad he was. There isn’t a team in the league that makes personnel moves with less emotion than the Patriots have over the years. It is possible that this move by Kraft was the first step in the inevitable move towards the post-Brady era — a calculation that the position of the franchise and the status of his influence in the league is more important than the legacy of his 37-year-old QB.

Even if that wasn’t actually part of the scenario, it would be easy for it to be perceived that way. That could provide a distraction around a team that has very effectively avoided them over the years.

Recent betting performance:

An important thing to remember is that it isn’t exactly like the Patriots have been a joy to bet on in recent years, anyway. They have been fine but barely over break-even during the last four regular seasons. They were 8-8 ATS in 2013 and 9-7 ATS in three of the last four years.

It’s no surprise that they haven’t been better because they are such a public team. In fact, it’s a credit to them and how good they have been lately that they haven’t performed worse for bettors given the attention they get. The point, though, is that in a lot of cases it was tough finding value in New England games in recent years anyway, so there is not necessarily a reason to pay a ton of attention to them this year until we know what to expect from them.