NFL Betting Odds: Week 4 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
I really, really didn't want to get involved in this whole NFL National Anthem protest thing. I wouldn't do it and don't really like it, but this is America so you can protest however you want as long as it's peaceful. I thought some of President Trump's comments last weekend were a bit unpresidential, and that clearly spurred players/teams into action.
You knew the sportsbooks were going to get involved with some props on all this, and they have. BookMaker has a prop up on whether the entire Steelers team - including former U.S. Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva - will stay off the field of play before the anthem this Sunday in Baltimore. The entire team did last week except for Villanueva, who said he accidentally ran too far out of the tunnel and didn't want to disrespect the anthem by moving when it started. You can bet on whether guys like Julius Peppers or LeSean McCoy take a knee or stay in the locker room or something else.
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There are props for how many NFL/anthem-related tweets that President Trump puts out before the 1 p.m. kickoffs on Sunday. Which will be the next sports championship team to skip a White House visit? The WNBA is a -139 favorite simply because those Finals are about over (maybe they already are, I honestly don't pay attention to the WNBA). The NBA is +207, NFL +227 and MLB +959.
Bovada asks an interesting prop question on what happens first in the 2017 regular season: Trump attends an NFL game (+150) or Colin Kaepernick, the guy who started all this, signs with an NFL team (-200). It's going to take an owner with a big pair of you-know-what - not to mention a quarterback injury - to sign Kaepernick these days with how much these protests have divided the country.
Let's just play some football, guys. This is getting old! When I looked at ESPN.com/nfl recently, the first five stories under Top Headlines were all protest related.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 4.
Saints at Dolphins ( +3, 50.5): This opened as a pick'em. I know my choice for this 9:30 a.m. ET game in London will depend on whether Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi will play. He has been bothered by a knee injury for a couple of weeks and had just 16 yards on 11 carries in last week's loss to the Jets, but Ajayi says he will go this Sunday. He really wants to play considering he was born in London. I wouldn't touch Miami without Ajayi because then you are counting on Jay Cutler, and that's never a good thing. I do think the Saints have one advantage here in that they left for London after last Sunday's action. Miami didn't head over until Thursday. New Orleans welcomes back a weapon for Drew Brees in receiver Willie Snead, who was suspended the first three weeks. Snead was third on the team with 72 catches and 895 receiving yards last season. Coach Sean Payton is still unclear what role Snead will have this week. Running back Adrian Peterson could be in question after missing Thursday's practice with a minor knee injury, but Peterson really isn't a difference-maker any longer.
Panthers at Patriots (-10.5, 49.5): I'm putting the 5Dimes line here because it's so much higher than any of the other listed sportsbooks at Doc's. Frankly, I liked the Panthers getting 8.5 points earlier this week on my Opening Line Report but I would jump all over 10.5. Carolina will have top receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the game barring a setback with his left knee. He was hurt in the second quarter of last week's blowout loss to New Orleans. That's good news for struggling Cam Newton, and there's a Bovada special on him for Week 4. It asks which will be higher for Newton this season: touchdown passes (-300) or interceptions (+200). It's tough for a QB who plays a full 16 games to throw more picks than touchdowns. Blake Bortles is one of the most interception-prone QBs in the NFL, and he did it as a rookie in 2014 but not the past two years. Newton is at two TD passes and four interceptions. He hasn't thrown more than 14 picks since his rookie year and hasn't had fewer than 18 TD passes since.
Giants at Bucs (-3, 44.5): Here's hoping you bet this early if you wanted New York as it opened as a 4.5-point dog - I likely would have taken those points. I'll simply never bet a game right on 3 (or 7), so my inclination is to buy this down to 2.5 and take the Bucs, even though they are really banged up on defense. Linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and pass rusher Noah Spence are among those dealing with new issues. David won't play this week, but the latter two are expected to give it a go. Three defensive starters -- linebacker Kwon Alexander (hamstring), tackle Chris Baker (flu) and cornerback Brent Grimes (shoulder) -- were inactive against Minnesota last Sunday.The Giants could be without star defensive end Olivier Vernon after he left in the fourth quarter of Week 3 in Philly with an ankle injury. An MRI ruled out serious injury. There's an interesting Bovada prop involving the Giants as it asks whether Big Blue (-2000) or the Jets (+750) win more games this season. Gang Green has a one-game lead, but I'm not sure they win again. The Giants could win Sunday and should next week vs. the Chargers but they likely will be no better than 2-6 entering their Week 8 bye. I might roll the dice on the Jets here because what if Eli Manning does down with a season-ending injury soon? His backup is former Jet Geno Smith. Enough said.
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