NFL Betting Odds: Week 5 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
My marquee Sunday preview this week was Packers at Cowboys , but I nearly went with Kansas City at Houston for two reasons. The first was whether members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins will be able to pop some champagne late Sunday night/early Monday morning if the Chiefs lose. I'm not sure if guys from that team still do that when the last unbeaten loses each NFL season (or how many are even still alive), but you get my drift.
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The second reason was something I would have never expected. Last year, the Chiefs played in Houston and lost 19-12 in an offensively ugly game. Entering 2017, I would have presumed much of the same for their Week 5 Sunday night matchup as both were good defensive teams but mediocre offensively. However, the Chiefs and Texans have both proven that hitting big on one draft choice can change your entire franchise.
Perhaps the two biggest individual player story lines thus far in 2017 have been Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt and Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Bovada has posted an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year prop. In August, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was the favorite. Now he's +1500, and it's a clear two-man race between Watson (-150) and Hunt (+110). I'm a bit surprised Watson is favored because Hunt has dominated from the get-go and leads the NFL in rushing and yards from scrimmage for the NFL's best team. Watson wasn't even the Week 1 starter (he relieved an ineffective Tom Savage) and wasn't very good his first two outings before exploding the past two weeks for the 2-2 Texans.
While quarterbacks usually win the MVP, a signal-caller hasn't won OROY since Robert Griffin III in 2012. Running backs have won the past two years: Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. Lean Hunt here as it's easier for a QB to struggle as a rookie than a running back.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 5.
Ravens at Raiders (-2.5, 39): The big news in the NFL this week was that Oakland QB Derek Carr didn't leave last Sunday's loss to Denver simply due to back spasms but that he had suffered a transverse process fracture in his back. Apparently, as back fractures go that's a pretty tame one. That kind is fairly common in football when there is a direct hit, like a helmet or knee to the back. Carr is not playing against Baltimore but it's not impossible he could return in Week 6. Or he could miss up to six weeks. Cam Newton and former Cowboys QB Tony Romo both suffered the same injury and missed only a game. If Carr misses the full six, I give the Raiders little shot at the playoffs. Already, the AFC West is about out of reach with how good Kansas City has been. Former Bills first-rounder EJ Manuel will take over, beating out Connor Cook in training camp for the No. 2 QB spot. Manuel has a 6-11 career record as a starter and has completed 58.5 percent of his passes with 19 TDs and 16 picks in 29 games - a rating of 76.9. Needless to say, this line and total would look quite different with Carr playing. Bovada does have Manuel props: "over/under" 210.5 yards passing, 1.5 TD passes and 0.5 INTs.
Jets at Browns ( pick'em, 39.5): I won't delve too deep into this one as I touched on it in my Opening Line Report story Monday when the Browns were -2.5 - New York is taking a sizable lean. The big news here is that preseason NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Myles Garrett is expected to debut. The No. 1 overall pick out of Texas A&M suffered a sprained ankle in the week of practice leading to the season opener. Garrett, who will be on a "pitch count," did look great this preseason. The Jets are expected to be without running back Matt Forte again, but he probably is buried on the depth chart now behind Bilal Powell and rookie surprise Elijah McGuire.
Chargers at Giants (-3, 45): Barring a tie, the NFL will have one fewer winless team thanks to this matchup of 0-4 disappointments. The Giants have a couple of major injury concerns at defensive end in Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. Both are iffy as JPP has shoulder and knee injuries and Vernon an ankle problem. New York's defense carried the team to the playoffs in 2016 but ranks 25th in scoring (23.8 points per game) and yards allowed (359.3), and 28th against the run (142.8). Center Weston Richburg is likely out with a concussion. RB Paul Perkins is out and WR Odell Beckham Jr. has a few injuries but will play. I honestly think that Giants coach Ben McAdoo could be fired if his team loses this game. Bovada asks whether he will be the team's coach in 2018: "yes" is +200 and "no" -300. No chance. There's also been some talk that the NFL behind the scenes is pushing the Chargers to move back to San Diego (league says it's not happening publicly). Attendance has been dismal - usually at least half the fans so far in Chargers home games have been for the opponent - and TV ratings even worse. There were six games shown in the L.A. market last week, and Chargers-Eagles only beat one in the ratings: Dolphins-Saints in London, which started at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time. That the Chargers will be playing in San Diego in 2018 is +1000 with no at -5000.
Panthers at Lions (-2.5, 43): This line has been steady. Both clubs are 3-1 and tied for their division lead. Will the whole Cam Newton sexist comment mess distract the Panthers? Why he would laugh and say it was "funny to hear a female" ask a certain question during a media session on Wednesday is beyond me. All Newton had to do to avoid the national spotlight - he already has lost a major sponsor in Dannon yogurt - is substitute the word reporter for female. But, I'm touching on this game because of a Bovada special: Will the Lions have anyone rush for at least 100 yards this season. Yes is -500 and no +300. This comes about because Ameer Abdullah had 94 yards on 20 carries last week in the win over Minnesota and probably gets to 100 if he didn't leave with a minor injury (he'll play here). Somehow, the Lions haven't had a 100-yard back since Reggie Bush on Nov. 28, 2013, against the Vikings. That's 56 straight games without. I doubt it happens this week as the Panthers rank No. 8 against the run, allowing 87.3 ypg.
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