NFL Betting Odds: Week 4 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
Roger Goodell is clearly a very smart man who worked his way up to run the most powerful professional sports league in the world. He has done many good, innovative things in his tenure. But, man, sometimes he just can't get out of his own way and it blows up in his face.
I'm not talking about the National Anthem issue or his random suspensions of various players. No, today we're here to deal with these ridiculous roughing the passer calls in the NFL this season. Sports writing isn't an especially lucrative profession, but I get to order things like Sunday NFL Ticket or League Pass, etc., as a tax write off. My point is that I watch a ton of football on Sundays, and this rule has gotten ridiculous. More than once this season, I've found myself screaming at the TV for a roughing call on a team I either don't like or bet against. You'd think I'd be happy!
If the Green Bay Packers miss the postseason by a game, they can look back to a joke of a roughing call on Clay Matthews late in their Week 2 tie against the Vikings. More on him in a second. The league apparently is tone deaf, too, because the NFL Competition Committee met this week. We all hoped this rule would be relaxed. Nope. Here's what NFL Executive VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent had to say after that meeting:
"The committee reviewed video of roughing the passer fouls from both this season to date and 2017. In reiterating its position on quarterback protection, the committee determined there would be no changes to the point of emphasis approved this spring or to the rule, of which the body weight provision has been in place since 1995."
Whatever. Maybe the referees themselves will take this into their own hands. I bring this up because Bovada does have a few specials this week on roughing calls. There was an "over/under" of 12 total entering Thursday's game, with the under a -165 favorite. The two I like better involve Matthews, who has been flagged for one in each game. He deserved one Week 1 vs. Chicago, but his one vs. Minnesota and last week vs. Washington were textbook ways to bring down a quarterback.
Matthews is given +.5 roughing calls at +160 against Josh Allen -.5 TD passes at -230. The Packers are hosting the Bills if you are wondering how the site came up with that random number. Allen's actually quite mobile, so Matthews might not get to him. That Matthews gets a roughing call is +375 with no at -650. He has been the poster child for this problem, so I doubt it. Unless some ref just wants the spotlight.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 4.
Dolphins at Patriots (-6.5, 48): If you are a Patriots backer, you are thrilled the spread has dropped from 7.5 to the magic 6.5 at some books - I know that I'll be betting them under a touchdown. I don't know if the Patriots have ever been three games out of first in the Tom Brady era, but they would be with a loss here -- plus obviously down the tiebreaker to the 3-0 Dolphins. Miami fans should know that nearly 74 percent of teams to start 3-0 under the current playoff format (since 1990) have reached the postseason. I'm still not sold, although it should be noted that Ryan Tannehill is 10-1 in his past 11 starts; of course, he missed all of last year. Miami, which is -200 to make the playoffs at Bovada (+150 not to), is looking for its first 4-0 start since 1995 but has lost its past nine at the Patriots. Brady is six TD passes away from 500. The Pats are really thin at running back with Rex Burkhead joining Jeremy Hill on IR. That means a major workload for rookie Sony Michel.
Seahawks at Cardinals (+3, 39): I'm hoping this falls under 3 for my Seattle lean, but it hasn't moved yet. The total actually has risen a point. This might be the most unwatchable game on the schedule if Josh Rosen wasn't making his NFL starting debut. He was supposedly the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year's draft just in terms of his size, playing in a pro-style offense (which Baker Mayfield didn't), etc. Rosen is given O/U of 225.5 yards, 1.5 touchdowns and 1 interception. I'm not going to address whether Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) plays again this year because he's clearly going to practice on a limited basis all season. When you are a future Hall of Famer, you get those privileges. Russell Wilson might get his top receiver back this week as Doug Baldwin has been practicing on a limited basis this week off his knee injury. Safety Earl Thomas is skipping some practices this week per usual with his contract unhappiness, but he'll be out there. Bovada offers a prop on whether he's traded during the season: yes -250 and no +170. I think it largely depends on where Seattle is at the trade deadline. Losing record, and he's gone. Winning record, he probably stays.
Bucs at Bears (-3, 46.5): One team will be a surprising 3-1 and potentially a sole division leader - Chicago already is alone atop the NFC North, while the Bucs are in a three-way tie atop the South with New Orleans (could lose at Giants) and Carolina (on bye). Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps the starting QB job for one more week. He became the first QB ever to throw for at least 400 yards in his team's first three games of a season on Monday, but he somewhat reverted to journeyman form with three picks - one returned for a score - in Tampa's home loss to Pittsburgh. In a clever prop, there's an O/U of 3.5 games in which Fitzpatrick throws for 400 yards this season, with the under a -260 favorite. I believe this is his last start, barring a huge game and victory. The Bucs are on the bye in Week 5 and that's the best time to get Jameis Winston reacclimated. Winston is given an O/U of 6.5 games, with the under a -165 favorite. I'd go over (+125). He's still the future of this team. You can also bet on how many games Chicago's Khalil Mack has a sack and forced fumble. He has done it each of the first three. The O/U is 4.5, with the under a -220 favorite. Obviously, he'll have many sacks, it's the forced fumble that's trickier.
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