October 21, 2010
By Micah Roberts
The top story in the NFL centers around concussions with debates on the egregious fines levied on the defensive players who are essentially doing what they’ve been taught to do. The league’s stance on protecting players with head injuries was intensified last season and has carried over to this year with more care and caution for player‘s well-being than ever before.
The league’s strict concussion testing procedures now make it possible to have prominent players out weekly, when in seasons past they might have played through it. The usual candidates to get their bells rung are the star offensive players, which places a burden in making sound betting lines.
The Jaguars will likely be without quarterback David Garrard at Kansas City this week taking a line that had the Chiefs as 4 ½-point favorites to being closer to -8 when the line re-opens after all information is accumulated. What makes it tough for the Jaguars is that back-up Trent Edwards has a thumb injury that might make him unavailable which would leave them with third stringer Todd Bouman. The Chiefs were a good play this week even with Garrard playing. After watching their performance Monday night against the Titans with Edwards throwing, the Chiefs could still be a good play laying up to -9 ½.
The Titans opened at -3 (even) and the line hasn’t moved. I do feel the loss of Jackson will be felt in the Eagles offense and side with the Titans in part because of it.
Over in Oakland they have some injury issues at quarterback, but they have just good old fashioned knee and shoulder problems and not the trendy concussions. Denver opened as 6 ½-point home favorites and it’s climbed to -8 with the possibility that Kyle Boller could be the Raiders starter. Jason Campbell is listed as ‘questionable’ while Bruce Gradkowski is ‘doubtful.’ Regardless who is the quarterback, the Raiders should still score on Denver in what should be a very entertaining game with lots of big plays. The thin air of Denver always gets the best effort out of the Raiders.
San Diego has almost their entire receiving corps banged up. Malcolm Floyd is ‘doubtful’ while tight end Antonio Gates is expected to play. The Chargers opened -3 (even) and are down to -2 ½ against New England. The game was already tough to handicap just because the Chargers have been so Jekyll and Hyde home and away. At home, they look like the best team in football. Away, they resemble one of the worst. Factoring in Floyd’s absence and Gates bad foot with a team that has to throw in order to be successful kind of makes the Patriots look like a slight lean.
Bettors have a dilemma with New Orleans this week. Is what we saw out of the Saints last week at Tampa Bay the real Saints we will see for the remainder of the year, or will they resort back to their stalled drives and score less than 25 points again? The Browns’ Colt McCoy will get the start at quarterback again as both Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are ‘out’ with ankle injuries. McCoy was actually quite impressive in his first start, on the road, against the league’s best defense. The opener had the Saints -13 ½ and it’s down to -13. Thanks to the Steelers defense, McCoy’s throwing options are limited without Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs. The bulk of McCoy’s success at Pittsburgh was going to his tight ends.
The Seahawks have jumped from 4 ½-point favorites to -6 at some places for their home game against the Cardinals. It’s hard to believe the Cardinals, with Max Hall at quarterback, are playing for the NFC West division lead in this game, but here they are. Seattle looks to have a pretty good offensive structure in place with the addition of running back Marshawn Lynch. An extra week of work for Hall working with the first string during their bye week should also benefit the Cardinals.
The Vikings are playing the Packers this week, but rather than talking about Favre’s second visit to Lambeau Field as a visitor, everyone seems to be more fixated on Favre’s alleged misconduct. How can there be any investigation when no one reported it. There’s no police report and no court involvement, so where’s the story.
Anyway, the Packers opened -3 (+105) and are now -2 ½ as they try to work out some of their own problems. There were times last week when QB Aaron Rodgers looked as though he was still suffering from his mild concussion from the previous week. Green Bay doesn’t have a running game and misses tight end Jermichael Finley’s impact over the middle. Not making a deal for Marshawn Lynch three weeks ago may turn out to haunt the Packers, a team many of us had going to the Super Bowl this year.
The only other move of the week in the NFL had the Bengals being dropped from +4 to +3 ½. The early Sunday line at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book had the Falcons as 5 ½-point home favorites.
College Football Early Line Moves of the Week
Oregon opened as -22 home favorites against UCLA and closed at -26
Louisville opened +2 ½ at home against Connecticut and are now favored -2 ½
Akron opened +9 at home against Western Michigan and are currently +7
Stanford opened -34 at home against Washington State and are now -36
Texas Tech opened -1 at Colorado and are currently -2 ½
Fresno State was bet from -18 ½ to -20 at San Jose State, bet then bet against at +20. The line currently sits at -19 ½
Arkansas State opened -6 ½ at home against Florida Atlantic and it’s now -8 ½.