Among its Week 8 specials, Bovada is offering odds on the 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, so let's take a look.
To no surprise, Rams running back Todd Gurley, who was chosen No. 10 overall despite coming off an ACL tear in his final season at Georgia, is the -150 favorite. Gurley missed the first few games as the Rams wanted to make sure he was 100 percent. Throw out his first game in Week 3 against Pittsburgh as he got only six carries. But in the past three weeks, Gurley has averaged a stellar 6.4 yards on his 68 carries. You don't do that in the NFL. He is one of 39 players since 1960 to have three straight games with at least 125 yards on the ground -- and those were his first three games as a starter. Gurley leads the NFL with 213 yards in the fourth quarter and is the only player with three runs of at least 45 yards. The Rams are riding him hard, rushing the ball on 50.6 percent of their plays since Gurley has been starting, second-highest rate in the NFL behind Carolina.
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Gurley was a fairly long shot on the OROY prop entering the season because no one knew when he might be ready. Some estimates were not until Week 7. And many were surprised he went as early as he did in the draft because of that injury. Gurley should be the betting favorite, and I believe he wins this award.
Oakland receiver Amari Cooper is the +225 second-favorite. The former Alabama star and Heisman finalist has 33 catches for 519 yards and three scores. The Raiders face the Jets this week, and New York receiver Brandon Marshall had this to say about Cooper: "He's a stud muffin. ... He's so smooth. He's like a ... I don't even know how to explain this guy. It's like a mix between Ocho Cinco and A.J. Green."
The rest of the betting options are Minnesota receiver Stefon Diggs (+900), Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (+1200), the former favorite before Gurley started going off, and Bucs QB Jameis Winston (+1200).
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 8.
Lions vs. Chiefs (-3.5, 44.5): This was Chiefs -6 at one point. I touched on this game in my Opening Line Report . I asked then if Lions coach Jim Caldwell might lose his job if Detroit were to lose this game in London. After that story was posted, Caldwell dumped several offensive assistants (after saying early on Monday there would be no changes), including offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. His replacement is quarterbacks coach and the excellently named Jim Bob Cooter. I'm not sure if those changes are the impetus for the line move or not, but the Lions are taking a small lean.
Seahawks at Cowboys (+5.5, 41.5): Touched on this Monday, and the line hasn't moved, although the total has risen a point. Might that be due to the fact that Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant is expected to play for the first time since breaking his foot in Week 1? I think that's a mistake as Dallas isn't winning this game with Matt Cassel at quarterback. Let Bryant heal up one more week. But what do I know? I also mentioned Monday how Greg Hardy got into a confrontation with the Cowboys' special teams' coach and Bryant on the sideline last week. Well, Bovada has a special on Hardy now: -300 that he will re-sign with Dallas after this season (or during) and no at +200 he won't. Owner/GM Jerry Jones has said he wants to sign Hardy to a long-term deal even though the defensive end clearly has anger issues.
Vikings at Bears (+1, 42.5): Sometimes I have no explanation for why lines move. This would be one. This opened with Minnesota at -2.5, and the Vikings are taking a big lean. Maybe some bettors are worried about if Adrian Peterson plays -- and he has dominated the Bears in his career -- because he missed some practices this week. But that's just the Vikings being cautious with their star, and it happens every week. He's playing. Chicago hasn't lost at home in this series since 2007 and does come off a bye week. Minnesota is looking for its third straight win for the first time since 2012. That Vikings defense is tied for second in the NFL in points allowed at 17.0 per game. I love the "under" here.
Jets at Raiders (+3, 44): Here's another one I can't really explain, as it opened as a "pick'em" -- although the Jets are taking a solid lean. I could see New York being a bit flat after playing pretty well last week against hated rival New England but coming up a touchdown short. Be fun to see if the Jets put arguably the NFL's top cornerback, Darrelle Revis, on the rookie Cooper to shut him down. And how about 39-year-old Raiders cornerback and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson? He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October. No defensive back Woodson's age has made the Pro Bowl, but he's going to barring injury.
Bengals at Steelers (-1.5, 48.5): Now this line I know why it moved from an open of Bengals -1.5. That's because Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to return from a sprained MCL suffered in Week 3. That means the Steelers will have their full offensive complement of weapons -- Big Ben, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant -- for the first time all season because of injury/suspensions. Still a bit surprised the unbeaten Bengals off a bye are dogs, even in Pittsburgh. Be aware of this: The Steelers are 2-4 in Roethlisberger's career in his first games back after injury. If Cincy wins this, the AFC North already is over.
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