Family roots for Brady run deep and strong in Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Tom Brady has never lost in Minnesota, with his latest game in the land of lakes this weekend at the Super Bowl of course looming as the largest yet.

Well, long before all this football success, Brady actually endured a couple of memorable failures in the state. They came during those treasured visits to his family’s farm outside the tiny town of Browerville.

First, there was his grandfather’s dog, Tippy. Little Tommy ignored the advice of his elders one day and decided to feed Tippy a bone.

“I bent down to give him a kiss, and he bit through my lip,” Brady said. “That was pretty rough.”

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Then there was his ill-fated debut with chewing tobacco, which he persuaded his uncles to let him sample during the half-hour ride back to the farm from their fishing expedition on the lake.

“They said, `Look, if we give it to you, you can’t spit it out until you get home,’ Of course they give it to me, and within five minutes I’m outside of the car, throwing up all over the place,” Brady said. “And I don’t think I’ve had much chewing tobacco since then.”

Brady spent plenty more time in central Minnesota as he aged into a star quarterback and eventually one of the most famous people on the planet. He still makes a priority to visit in the offseasons with his wife and children, trying to continue a tradition he reflected upon fondly and often during news conferences this week.

“I’ve come here my entire life since I was a baby. I’ve been coming to Minnesota in summers and winters. I loved the experience. I loved the life here,” Brady said. “Some of my greatest memories as a kid were coming here and milking cows with my grandpa; hanging out in his silos and in the haystack above his barn; going out to where he would pasteurize the milk and pull the cream off the top of the milk in the morning; and shooting his (.22-caliber rifle) at targets in the backyard, and catching sunfish with my uncles. It was great. I love being here. It’s a great state. Obviously, I love the people. Being that my mom’s from here, I’m proud of that.”

Galynn Johnson was the middle child between two boys, the 1961 homecoming queen at Browerville High School who moved to California and met Tom Brady, who would later add senior to his name when a certain five-time Super Bowl winner was born. The couple returned to Todd County, where the prairie meets the forest a little less than a 2+-hour drive northwest of downtown Minneapolis, in 1969 for their wedding.

Brady and the Patriots will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, when several family members will be in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“These tickets are pretty tough to come by,” Brady said. “But I’m trying my best to accommodate everyone. It is very special.”

The group will include Paul Johnson, who at age 50 is 10 years older than his quarterback cousin. He’s an entrepreneur who has stayed around his whole life. After CBS announcer Jim Nantz mentioned Browerville to Brady during New England’s AFC championship celebration, Johnson has been the subject of a barrage of media coverage that’s highly unusual for a quiet burg of 793 people.

“It’s fun. I wouldn’t want to be a celebrity, I know that,” Johnson said, conducting an interview with The Associated Press from his ice-fishing shack on one of the region’s bounty of frozen lakes, with the clinking of his propane tank audible in the background. “We’re just so proud of him.”

The Johnsons of Browerville quickly became Patriots fans after Brady was drafted in 2000, veering away from the home-state Vikings.

“We clearly remember the game where Drew Bledsoe got hurt,” Johnson said, “and the rest is history.”

Johnson’s 22-year-old son, Benton, is a University of St. Thomas senior in St. Paul who was fortunate enough to get on the ticket list for Sunday, too. This will be his first in-person Super Bowl, but he and his 25-year-old sister, Kenley, have been lifelong fans of the Patriots.

“It was probably the coolest thing on earth to say that Tom Brady was your cousin,” said Benton, who always carried photo evidence of his relation to disprove any doubting peers at school.

Even for young Benton, visits to Browerville from the Brady clan made a major impression.

“It was always like, `Mom, when are they coming?”‘ Benton said. “I always told my parents I would move to California because I just loved seeing them and the stories they would tell.”

Brady’s mother underwent breast cancer treatments in 2016 and made a stirring appearance on the field this season before New England’s game against the Atlanta Falcons . Brady has beamed this week every time he’s spoken about his family, proudly reporting that his mom remains cancer free.

“My parents mean everything to me,” Brady said. “They’ve been here by my side every step of the way.”

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Giants among odds favorites for final week of NFL preseason action

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Just like in those Super Bowls a few years back, the New York Giants have got the better of the New England Patriots in their preseason matchups.

The Giants are 2.5-point favorites on the NFL preseason odds against the Patriots with a 38.5-point total for their meeting on Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

It’s the 14th consecutive year they have concluded the preseason against each other and the Giants are 8-2 straight-up and 6-2-2 against the spread in their last 10 preseason meetings against the Patriots, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, with the total finishing UNDER in seven of those matchups.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning hasn’t played in the preseason finale since 2014, which could leave the duties to Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta. For New England, it’s a near-certainty Tom Brady will be an onlooker, leaving the options to either career backup Brian Hoyer or third-stringer Danny Etling.

Elsewhere, the New York Jets are 1-point road favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 34-point total. The Jets are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven preseason road games. The Eagles are 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three preseason games against the Jets.

The Baltimore Ravens are 6.5-point favorites against the Washington Redskins with a 35-point total. The total has gone UNDER in seven of their last 10 preseason meetings, with the Ravens owning a record of 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS.

The Cleveland Browns are 2.5-point road favorites against the Detroit Lions with a 35.5-point total. The total has gone UNDER in six of the Browns’ last seven preseason road games. The Lions are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as preseason home underdogs.

The New Orleans Saints are 5.5-point favorites against the Los Angeles Rams with a 34.5-point total. The Saints are 1-6 SU and ATS in their last seven preseason games as a favorite of 3.0 or more points, with the total finishing UNDER all seven times.

The Tennessee Titans are 1-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings with a 36-point total. The Vikings are 4-2 ATS in their last six preseason road games. The total has gone OVER in six of the Titans’ last seven preseason home games.

The Houston Texans are 4-point betting favorites against the Dallas Cowboys with a 34.5-point total. The Cowboys are 0-9 SU and 3-6 ATS in their last nine preseason games as a road underdog. The Texans are 8-0 SU and 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight preseason games as a home favorite of at least 3.0 points.

The San Francisco 49ers are 3.5-point favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers with a 35.5-point total. The Chargers are 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven preseason games as a road underdog of 3.0 or more points. The 49ers are 8-0 SU and 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight preseason games against the Chargers.

And the Seattle Seahawks are 3-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders with a 34.5-point total. The Raiders are 1-11 SU and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 preseason games as a road underdog. The Seahawks are 10-2 SU and 11-1 ATS in their last 12 preseason games against the Raiders.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

NFL preseason odds: Cardinals road favorites at Cowboys for Sunday

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Indications that neither Dak Prescott nor Ezekiel Elliott will be exposed to injury while working behind a banged-up offensive line have made the Dallas Cowboys an underdog at home – and that’s proven to be a telling indicator in the preseason over the years.

The Arizona Cardinals are 1-point road favorites on the NFL preseason odds against the Cowboys with a 40.5-point total in a matchup on Sunday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. It’s only the fifth time the Cardinals have been road favorites in the preseason in the last 25 seasons.

The Cowboys are 3-8 straight-up and 3-7-1 against the spread in their last 11 games as  home underdogs in the preseason, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, with the total going UNDER on seven of those last 11 occasions.

With center Travis Frederick (auto-immune disorder) and guard Zack Martin (knee) each out of the lineup, the Cowboys may follow suit with their quarterback and leading rusher. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen (swollen thumb) might also be a game-time decision for Arizona, which is 7-3-2 ATS on the road in the preseason since 2013.

The Cleveland Browns are 3-point betting favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 41-point total in a Thursday matchup. The Eagles are 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS in their last 11 games as an underdog of 2.5 or more points in the preseason. The Browns are 2-5 both SU and ATS in their last seven preseason games as a home favorite, with the total finishing UNDER all seven times.

The New York Jets are 2.5-point favorites against the New York Giants with a 41.5-point total in a Friday matchup. The designated road team is 5-0 ATS in their last five games in this annual preseason matchup, with the total finishing OVER in four of those five games.

The Carolina Panthers are 1-point favorites against the New England Patriots with a 45.5-point total. The total has finished UNDER in five of the Patriots’ last eight preseason road games. The total has finished UNDER in four of the Panthers’ last six preseason home games.

The Minnesota Vikings are 3.5-point betting favorites against the Seattle Seahawks with a 40-point total. The Seahawks are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 preseason road games as the underdog.

The Chicago Bears are 2-point favorites against the Kansas City Chiefs with a 47-point total in a Saturday matchup. Since 2010, the Chiefs are 2-9 SU and 3-7-1 ATS in 11 preseason matchups as a road underdog, with the total going OVER eight times.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 45-point total. The Titans are 3-5 SU and ATS in their last eight preseason road games as the underdog. The Steelers are 0-6 ATS in their last six games as a home favorite of 3.0 or more points.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 3-point favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 40-point total. The Falcons are 2-10 SU and 5-7 ATS in their last 12 preseason games as a road underdog. The total has gone OVER in six of the Jaguars’ last nine preseason games when they were favored at home.

And the Buffalo Bills are 1.5-point betting favorites against the Cincinnati Bengals with a 41.5-point total in a Sunday matchup. The total has gone UNDER in six of the Bengals’ last eight preseason games as a road underdog. The Bills are 3-7 SU and ATS in their last 10 preseason home games

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.