Injuries continue to change marketplace of NFL

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It gets repetitive after a while but again bears repeating. Injuries are the great equalizer in virtually every sport but especially in the NFL when the injury involves one of the stars of the game.

In last week’s 23-10 loss at Minnesota, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone and is likely lost for the season. Not just favored to win the NFC North but considered perhaps the favorite to win the Super Bowl the Packers have been reduced to an ordinary, if not below average, team that will struggle just to finish with a .500 record, much less make the Playoffs

Considering the surrounding talent on their rosters and the quality of their head coaches not even New England’s Tom Brady is as valuable to, or instrumental in, the success of his team. Quarterbacking chores are now in the untested hands of former UCLA QB Brett Hundley barring a trade or the signing of another QB. Could Colin Kaepernick be the answer?

The out of work QB has initiated legal proceedings accusing the league and its owners of collusion. Kap has experience and still has the talent to direct an NFL offense with both his arm and his legs. Let’s see if the initiation of legal proceedings prompts the Pack to look in his direction in an effort to save their season, make the Playoffs and take their chances in the post season.

Rodgers joins such stars as Giants’ receiver Odell Beckham Jr and Houston defensive lineman J J Watt as players who are expected to miss the rest of the season. Injuries also wreak havoc with those of us who make futures plays on Season Win Totals or to win Division, Conference or Super Bowl titles. Often those teams that make Conference Championship Games are among the teams that have avoided key and lengthy injuries over the course of the 16 game regular season.

Through Sunday night underdogs were 11-2 ATS in Week 5, beginning with Philadelphia’s upset of Carolina last Thursday and the Giants’ stunning upset of Denver Sunday night. Nine of the underdogs won outright including 2 of 3 double digit dogs (Miami and the Giants). The only favorites to win and cover were Houston (over Cleveland) and New Orleans (over Detroit).

Only two teams have their Byes this week, Detroit and Houston.

Here’s a look at the 15 games that comprise the Week 7 schedule.

Thursday

KC -2.5 at Oakland (47): Kansas City has the better roster and does three things that winning teams do – run the football, avoid turning over the football and play fundamentally sound defense. The Raiders have issues on defense and despite the home field and the short week are not as well suited to bounce back from a loss than are the visitors. KANSAS CITY

Sunday

Tennessee NL at Cleveland: Tennessee hosted the Colts on Monday night with QB Marcus Mariota listed as ‘probable’ for that contest. It’s hard to make a case for Cleveland even if the line is close to a full TD but it is equally as difficult to lay point with the Titans on the road. The better case may be for a low scoring game. Cleveland has topped 18 points just once and the Titans have scored 16 or less three times prior to Monday night. UNDER

Jacksonville NL at Indy: The Colts are still a work in progress as QB Jacoby Brissett leads the offense awaiting the return of Andrew Luck. Jacksonville is strong defensively and could confuse the young Colts QB with varied looks and by bringing pressure in less than obvious situations. Both of the Jags wins stateside have been on the road. JACKSONVILLE

Cincy +5.5 at Pittsburgh (41): Both teams have average offenses but outstanding defenses. The Bengals rank first in defensive yards per play, allowing just 4.2 ypp. The Steelers rank third, allowing just 4.6 ypp. Each team has played just 1 UNDER this season, going a combined 9-2 to the UNDER. The familiarity between these Division rivals also tends to favor these defenses. UNDER

Baltimore +5.5 at Minny (39.5): Baltimore’s offense has had success running the football, gaining 130 yards per game (number 6). This game shapes up as a defensive chess match. Minnesota has held each of its last 4 foes to 17 points or less and only Pittsburgh has scored more than 19. If this line reaches 6 or higher a case can be made for the underdog but better play right now is on the Total. UNDER

NY Jets +3 at Miami (38.5): This is a rematch of their Week 3 game in which the Jets upset Miami 20-6 with the Dolphins’ score coming on the final play of the game, after which they headed to London where they lost to New Orleans. They’ve now won two straight including their home opener two weeks ago over Tennessee. Miami is the better team and should exact revenge now that those non-football issues are behind them. MIAMI

Tampa Bay NL at Buffalo: The status of Tampa QB Jameis Winston keeps this game off the boards on Monday. The Bills have several key edges in this game that include the better rushing game, a defense allowing a yard per play less than Tampa allows and an offense that has avoided turnovers. Both of Tampa’s losses have been on the road and an opening win and cover over Chicago at home the Buccs are 0-4 ATS since. BUFFALO

Carolina -3.5 at Chicago (41): At 2-4 Chicago could easily be 4-2, suffering competitive losses to Atlanta and Minnesota, both on this field. Carolina is the better team and likely finishes the season with the much better record. But right now the Bears are energized and playing with energy and enthusiasm behind their new QB, making for an attractive home pup. CHICAGO

New Orleans -5.5 at GB (48): Packers backup QB Brett Hundley will have a full week of preparation for this game and will not be asked to win the game by himself. New Orleans still has defensive flaws and while Brees is the more capable QB the Packers are an experienced and veteran team that can be trusted against this type of opponent. GREEN BAY

Arizona +3.5 vs. LA Rams (47) in London: Considered a strength entering the season Arizona’s defense has been average at best but still rates better than the Rams’ in several key categories, including yards per play and yards per rush. That makes getting a FG or more against a Division rival attractive, even though the Rams are improved over last season. ARIZONA

Dallas -6 at SF (47): Given their play over the past month a case can certainly be made for again taking the points with the hosts. But the Bye week will have seen the Cowboys make tweaks to what has been a leaky defense while also fine tuning the offense. At some point frustration has to set in with the 49ers and all those close losses but with Dallas needing to get a win they may play a fully focused game for a full 60 minutes. DALLAS

Seattle -6 at NY Giants (42.5): Seattle is off its Bye and is just 1-2 on the road, losing at Green Bay and Tennessee before winning 16-10 at the Rams prior to the Bye. The Giants had lost 3 close games prior to the win at Denver. They don’t have to win to cash a ticket here but will be facing a Seattle team that, while solid on defense, has not performed well on offense but for the second half of games at Tennessee and versus Indianapolis. NY GIANTS

Denver +1.5 at LA Chargers (42.5): The Chargers do have the edge at QB with Philip Rivers better than Trevor Siemian but have one of the weakest rushing offenses and one of the worst rushing defenses. The early money on Monday has come on the Chargers after the game opened pick ‘em and this line may rise a bit more before Denver money shows, so patience may pay off in more ways than one. DENVER

Atlanta +3.5 at New England (54.5): The much awaited rematch of Super Bowl 51. The Pats have been vulnerable at home, losing 2 of 3 games and needing a late rally to win the third (over Houston). They were not at their best in defeating the Jets which will allow coach Bill Belichick to have their full attention this week during practice. As has been the case for many years, expect the Pats to make adjustments and improve as the season progress. The defense is the major concern this season. NEW ENGLAND

Monday

Washington +4.5 at Philly (48.5): The stats are very similar across the board which makes taking the points look attractive. And if this line happens to rise to 6 that may be a prudent course of action. But the preferred play early is to expect a high scoring game. Both QBs, Carson Wentz of Philly and Washington’s Kirk Cousins, have been effective at leading their respective offenses. OVER

Last week: 6-7

Season: 49-40-1

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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