Sunday, August 1, 2010

Las Vegas Sports Books Don't Even Flinch With Owens Signing

The Bengals signing of wide receiver Terrell Owens may have sent shockwaves through Cincinnati and had the folks at VH-1 salivating over a possible ratings spike for the reality shows of him and Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco air on the network, but in Las Vegas Sportsbooks, the reality is that the bookmakers didn’t even blink.“We opened the Bengals at 30/1 at the beginning of the year to win the title,“ said Lucky’s Sports Book Director Jimmy Vaccaro, “and now that they got Owens, they should be at 300/1.”

Vaccaro said so in a half jokingly manner, but he’s not alone with his perception of Owens and the detrimental role he could play within a team. Last year with the Bills was the first team where he was somewhat quiet in regards to chastising his teammates. In years past, Owens has questioned everything from his quarterbacks’ sexuality, ones desire to win, to conspiring secret plays with another player, and worst of all, everything played out in the media while Owens and his teams were in contention.

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Perhaps last year -- with the Bills losing -- Owens wasn’t on a big enough stage to warrant the media attention he craves that somehow forces him to say exactly what’s on his mind. Or, maybe he’s just grown up a little over the years and now he sees that he has to plead for a near league minimum contract from anyone, and that his past antics have blackballed himself.
“I don’t think Owens makes a difference either way to the Bengals,” says Vaccaro, “but the public does have some interest in him in regards to what he’ll actually do on the season, so we are going to put some individual ‘over-under’ props on him with maybe a season matchup prop between him and Ochocinco.”

Vaccaro and his ace staff lead by the dynamic proposition master, Adam Pullen, immediately offered a few props on the hot topic. The over-under on Owens touchdown receptions was set at 6 (over -145) with receiving yards set at 770 (under -120). Lucky's also posted a duo prop with Ochoconco and Owens asking how many combined receptions the reality stars will have in 2010 with an opening number of 126 (under -120).

The main question to be asked regarding the props, and how well Owens does this year, is how quarterback Carson Palmer is going to have enough balls to go around within their ground orientated offense to satisfy the trio of alpha-dog personalities at wide receiver.

Does the signing of Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant -- a player they paid much more to get than Owens in a four year deal -- mean that the Bengals are now willing to scrap the winning formula from last year to accommodate their high profile wide receiver signings. Something tells me that the Bengals are going to be closer to what they were last season rather than a high flying aerial attack like some believe the case to be because of the signings.

Palmer finished the 2009 season as the 16th rated passer with less pass attempts (466) and yards (3,094) than the top 15 in front of him. Only Donovan McNabb had a lower completion percentage than Palmer (60.5%) among the top-16 rated quarterbacks.

On only one occasion last season did Palmer throw for more than 300 yards, a Week 15 loss to the Chargers (24-27), and in only two instances did Palmer have 40 or more pass attempts.

Then you have the durability of the former USC standout to consider. He missed nearly the entire 2008 season and it’s quite possible that the team felt the best way to keep Palmer healthy in games was to become a run orientated team and not force him to throw so much. The formula worked as the Bengals won their division with Palmer healthy all season.

Last season Owens proved to be valuable once Bills head coach Dick Jauron was fired. Owens gained most of his yardage and touchdowns in the second-half when they decided to use their best weapon, but the Bills still lost more than they won.

Owens is now 36 coming off his worst statistical year of any season since his rookie year that he played 15 games or more. His one-year contract is worth $2 million with another $2 million based on personal incentives. By looking at what direction the team is going in and by having too many receivers who want their catches to achieve their own bonus incentives, look for Owens to come up with a low, but respectable 45 receptions, 750 yards, and 5 touchdowns.

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