NFL Betting Odds: Week 15 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
Each week in this space, we try to address either the biggest news or top line moves for Sunday's games. It's rather nice when the two apply to the same game.
That would be Sunday night's Eagles at Rams matchup. Los Angeles opened as low as -7.5 and now can be found as high as 12.5. The total has dropped around 54.5 to 52.5. Sometimes, it's not always crystal clear why a line moves so massively, but it's 100 percent known here: Carson Wentz.
In news that largely came out of nowhere, the Eagles announced that Wentz has a fractured vertebra in his back. If Wentz simply rests, that should heal on its own and he won't need surgery or anything. Of course, the problem is that the 6-7 Eagles have to win out to have any shot at a chance to defend their Super Bowl title. As of this writing, Wentz hasn't been ruled out Sunday, but nearly every major NFL reporter is saying he's not playing. You can't risk your franchise quarterback for a long-shot chance to reach the playoffs as a wild-card team - especially in a game you are likely to lose anyways.
The irony here is that 53 weeks ago, Wentz's season also ended in Los Angeles when he tore his ACL in a Week 14 victory. Nick Foles led Philly to its unlikely first Super Bowl title. Foles is no doubt a pretty good backup, Top 5 in the league in that regard and maybe even No. 1. However, if you saw him play this preseason and early on in the regular season before Wentz was fully back, well, I give the Eagles no shot Sunday. Actually liked them getting more than a TD when I thought Wentz was playing because Philly has to play with mega-desperation.
The Rams will surely be glad to be back in the nice warm weather after laying a massive offensive egg last Sunday night in Chicago. L.A. is very fortunate it will most likely not be playing an outdoor cold-weather playoff game this year because Jared Goff, a California boy, looked completely lost in the frigid temperatures. Obviously, the Bears' defense had a bit of a role his career-worst game, but Goff has a history of cold-weather issues. The Rams would assure no outdoor cold-weather games for Goff in this postseason with a victory on Sunday and Bears loss earlier in the day at home vs. Green Bay. That would give L.A. no worse than the No. 2 seed, and its only possible road game would be in the Superdome in New Orleans.
Here are other line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 15.
Lions at Bills (-2.5, 39.5): This has the second-biggest line move as it opened as a pick'em. Speaking of players who don't like playing outdoors in the cold, the Lions' Matthew Stafford historically has been terrible in those elements because he of course plays at home in a dome (and is from the South). Not sure why the Lions would put up much of a fight here with nothing to play for. Detroit likely will be without rookie running back Kerryon Johnson again, and WR Bruce Ellington (hamstring) is expected to sit. Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who played 2018 on the franchise tag, was placed on IR this week and his Lions career is probably over. Buffalo top running back LeSean McCoy is questionable with a hamstring injury, although he's not the team's best runner. That would be rookie QB Josh Allen, who has topped 100 yards on the ground in each of the past two games.
Patriots at Steelers ( +2.5, 52): We previewed this game in depth here at Doc's but want to give two Steelers updates. Kicker Chris Boswell, who has not been his usual excellent self this year, will keep his job for now. He apparently won a tryout against free-agent Kai Forbath, but I promise you that Boswell will be unemployed if he misses one kick in this huge game. Top Pittsburgh running back James Conner (ankle) remains very much in question, although offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Conner would be allowed to play without practicing. Some coaches won't allow that (except for stars).
Bucs at Ravens (-7.5, 46.5): Even though former starting quarterback Joe Flacco will be active this week off injury, rookie Lamar Jackson will get the start again for the Ravens. Flacco, the former Super Bowl MVP, will serve as the No. 2 and as the highest-paid backup in NFL history. He's played in 163 games for Baltimore, starting each one. Most likely, he won't ever start another. Although, the Ravens are likely to get Jackson hurt as he and Cam Newton lead all NFL quarterbacks in rushing attempts with 96. Newton has been playing all season. Jackson has started four games. His 336 yards rushing are the most by a quarterback in his first four starts in the Super Bowl era. Baltimore could find itself in first in the AFC North by Sunday night with a victory and Steelers home loss to New England.
Dolphins at Vikings (-7.5, 44.5): Minnesota was in the news this week as Coach Mike Zimmer fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the Vikings were inept on that side of the ball in a loss at Seattle. Crazy fall from grace for DeFilippo, who nearly got a couple of head coaching jobs this offseason and was considered a rising superstar. Kirk Cousins got off to a great start this year but has really tailed off. Zimmer didn't like DeFilippo passing the ball so much. QBs coach Kevin Stefanski was promoted to offensive coordinator. Fins QB Ryan Tannehill is dealing with an ankle injury but should play. Ditto running back Kenyan Drake (shoulder), he of the miracle touchdown last week vs. New England. Top cornerback Xavien Howard is expected to sit again.
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