NFL Betting Odds: Week 9 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
We sent in our Monday Opening Line Report story just about simultaneously as to when the news first came out that the Cleveland Browns had fired head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley - if you watched "Hard Knocks" this summer, it was pretty clear those two guys weren't on the same page (Jackson's an offensive guy too).
This absolutely had to be done as the Browns and their offense in particular had been regressing the past few weeks after a solid start to the season. Jackson's career .205 winning percentage is second worst in NFL history among all coaches with at least 40 games. His 3-36-1 record with the Browns is the worst head-coaching record for one team in NFL history (minimum 40 games). Seven QBs had started under Jackson in Cleveland and the only one without a losing record was Tyrod Taylor, who was 1-1. That win shouldn't even belong to him as rookie Baker Mayfield relieved Taylor in Week 2 and led a comeback victory.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will be the interim coach the rest of the way, but I doubt he has much chance of getting the full-time gig. He has that Bountygate scandal with the Saints plastered to him like a scarlet letter. Coordinator, OK, but he can't be the face of a franchise.
Naturally, BetOnline has a prop on the next full-time Browns coach. Williams is on there at +1200. By far the name that jumps out first is Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley at +300. Of course, Riley knows Mayfield well and the NFL is lusting after Riley with his offensive mind. If I'm an OU fan, I'm hoping the Sooners DON'T win it all this year because that might push Riley out the door if he already accomplished what Bob Stoops did in nearly two decades.
Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor is the +250 favorite. He also was an NFL OC in Miami and Cincinnati for a year each. You may also remember Taylor played QB at Nebraska. Any new coach surely will be an offensive/QB guy to cater to Mayfield. Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo (a one-time Browns OC) is +450 - he got a few head-coaching interviews this offseason as he was the Eagles' QBs coach a year ago before leaving for a promotion in Minnesota. I've actually heard chatter that Green Bay's Mike McCarthy (+700) is a realistic candidate because it sure seems his time with the Packers will end. Two other interesting but unrealistic names: Jim Harbaugh (+1400) and Urban Meyer (+1400).
On Sunday vs. Kansas City, the Browns are +8.5 from an opening of +8 on Monday - we liked them then to cover and do even more now. The Jackson/Haley dynamic was bringing the team down. I can see Cleveland hanging tight but losing late. Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 9.
Lions at Vikings (-5, 49): This opened with Minnesota at -6.5 and a total of 50.5. I honestly am shocked this spread is moving down. Everywhere I've looked, the Vikings are taking a very heavy lean. Plus, the Lions players are probably ready to lie down after management traded the team's best receiver, Golden Tate, to the Eagles for a 2019 third-round pick. Is it smart business to get a third-round pick for a guy who was going to be a free agent and unlikely to re-sign? Sure. However, the Lions are only a freaking game out of first in the NFC North. Was Detroit likely to make the playoffs or somehow win a game if so? Nope. The Vikings are pretty banged up. No. 2 WR Stefon Diggs sustained an injury to his ribs last week vs. the Saints but says he'll play. RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis this week, as did CB Xavier Rhodes (foot) and OLs Andrew Sendejo (groin) and Riley Reiff (foot). Still not clear if they will go. I still like Minnesota to cover here.
Bucs at Panthers (-6, 54): Really no line movement here, but we have learned that the FitzMagic is back as Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for Jameis Winston. Not a shock after Winston threw four picks last week and Fitzpatrick led a huge rally, only for Tampa to lose at the end. The Bucs have exercised the fifth-year rookie option on Winston that would pay him in the ballpark of $20 million next year, but they can walk away from that for nothing if they want to. The only caveat is it would be guaranteed if Winston is still injured in March from something suffered this season. Thus, I don't think he takes the field again in 2018 unless Fitzpatrick goes down. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson had asked to be traded by Tuesday's deadline, but that wasn't granted. Fellow WR Mike Evans missed practice early this week with a knee issue but was there Thursday so should play barring a setback. Carolina looks to be without WR Torrey Smith a second game in a row.
Bears at Bills (+10, 37.5): This was no line on this Monday because of Buffalo playing that night vs. New England; it opened at 8.5 and quickly shot up to double digits because Nathan Peterman is set to start under center - and that's seriously funny. Look, Nate Pete obviously has some skills as he played well at an FBS school (Pitt), got drafted and won the Buffalo starting job in camp. But he should NOT be in the NFL with his interception problems. He looks like a deer in the headlights. The Bears coaches had to be laughing to themselves when they heard the news that Derek Anderson had suffered a concussion in Monday's loss to the Patriots. Bills rookie Josh Allen still isn't ready return from his injury. Who will Peterman's backup be? The just-signed Matt Barkley, a former Bear who hasn't been on a roster since the preseason in Cincinnati. The Bears haven't said if top WR Allen Robinson or defensive star Khalil Mack will play after both sat last week. I would guess the team sits them again presuming it can beat this sorry Bills bunch regardless. BTW, this is the biggest the Bears have been favored on the road since that famous "They are who they thought we were!" Denny Green Cardinals game on a Monday in 2006. The total is the lowest of the season.
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