LAS VEGAS — As many did around the country, DraftKings patrons jumped on the Dallas Cowboys on Monday when news broke about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and his sprained right (throwing) shoulder.
From 1-point opening favorites, the Cowboys’ advantage was pumped to 6 points in DraftKings’ 20 jurisdictions before sportsbook director Johnny Avello saw customers buying the underdog.
Steady smart and square cash was responsible for that boost, according to Avello.
“Anybody that could lay the early number did so,” he says. “As bookmakers, we know something’s up when we start seeing a number moving up, and everyone is on one side. They bet it at 1.5, and they bet it at 3.
“At (Eagles +6), there’s a take-back. That’s probably some sharp stuff. Sharps will take either side in a game, as long as it’s beneficial to them.”
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Betting Lines
Here are current odds from top US sportsbooks on this NFC East tussle.
NFL · Sat (12/24) @ 4:25pm ET
|AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
Hurts News Impacts Odds
Dallas money reportedly began flowing into shops two hours before mainstream media caught onto the news.
At BetMGM, Hurts began Monday as the -145 MVP favorite, trailed by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (+140). After the news hit the airwaves, Mahomes (-300) overtook Hurts (+550).
Late Tuesday afternoon, the DraftKings’ MVP order was Mahomes at -330, Hurts at +425, the Bills’ Josh Allen +600, and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow +650. They remained that way Wednesday afternoon.
“Hurts might not play this week, and he might not play next week,” Avello says. “So if you miss a game or two, that hurts your chances in the MVP. Mahomes will be out there this week, so will Allen, so will Burrow.
“Hurts will miss a week, and that’s not good when you’re chasing the MVP [award]. You don’t have the full gamut of games.”
Current prices: NFL MVP odds
Regarding the game spread, no doubt some finagled a comfortable middle window covering the 3 and 4.
Philly announced Hurts’s tweaked right shoulder Monday afternoon on the East Coast. Then the games began. Will he miss just this week’s game at Dallas?
What about the Eagles’ final two regular-season games, at home against the Saints and Giants? And what if all this is just a Hoboken Hustle, and Hurts plays inside Jerry World?
The Eagles (13-1 straight up, 8-6 against the spread) hold a two-game lead over Minnesota for the NFC’s best record and a first-round playoff bye, and a three-game advantage over Dallas (10-4 SU, 8-6 ATS) in the NFC East.
“Well, the game doesn’t mean much to the Eagles,” Avello says. “They’ve still got the lead in the NFC. I don’t know if anybody will catch them. They could take the day off, and it wouldn’t cost them.
“The only thing is, Hurts might want to play. If he’s 80 percent, he’ll go. But I don’t think [he’ll play]. They say the injury isn’t threatening, for the rest of the season. But why would you risk it? I wouldn’t. Too much is on the line.”
Should Hurts not play, Gardner Minshew will get the nod. The 26-year-old native of Mississippi has played in 30 NFL games, starting 22. Most of that was with Jacksonville.
He’s 8-14 in those 22 starts, with a career completion percentage of 63.2. He has 41 touchdown passes, and 12 of his 861 throws have been intercepted.
For the Eagles this season, he’s played in three games, completing two of four attempts, for 34 yards.
“It’s a whole different game with Minshew,” Avello says. “They’ll probably be more on the conservative side. Remember, Hurts can run. He ran three in (for TDs) Sunday, and he passed for 300 yards.”
In Chicago, Hurts threw for 315 yards. He has 22 passing TDs and five picks on the season, and he’s run it in 13 times.
Minshew has 107 runs in his career for 516 yards, an average of 4.8 yards, and has scored once.
Quarterbacks adept at running add that wrinkle but inevitably take punishment.
“I think so,” Avello says. “Allen runs a lot, and I’m not so sure he’ll continue to do that throughout his career. Look at a guy like Cam Newton; you get dinged up a few times, you start backing off a little bit.”
The Eagles have lost their past four games in Jerry World, yielding an average of 36 points to the Cowboys.
These are two of the NFL’s top three teams in seasonal PPP margin, Dallas being No. 1 at 0.139, Philly third at 0.134. Plus, games involving the Eagles are part of a four-team group whose games are a league-high 9-5 to Over.
Here’s more of Avello’s insight on the NFL Week 16 betting card:
New York Giants (8-5-1, 10-4 ATS) at Minnesota Vikings (11-3, 6-7-1 ATS)
In one for the ages, the Vikings trailed the Colts, 33-0, at halftime last week before winning, 39-36, in overtime, the largest come-from-behind triumph in NFL history.
“Those things can happen every 20 or 30 years,” Avello says. “Seems like the Vikings have been struggling of late, even though they have an 11-3 record. The Giants are certainly capable of putting 20, 24 points on the board.”
Vikings, Giants Both Trending to the Over
Avello expects Minnesota to have “no problem” moving the ball inside the warm confines of its own dome, so he wasn’t surprised that this total was pumped up from 45.5 early in the week.
Nine of the past 12 Vikings games have gone Over their totals, including six of their previous seven home tilts. The past five Giants games are 3-1-1 to Over.
In addition, on the road, New York allows 7 yards per pass attempt, in the league’s bottom 12 away from home. Over his past two games, Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown for 885 yards; over his previous four, he has 10 TD passes and three picks.
Justin Jefferson, the third-year receiver out of LSU who has an NFL-high 1,623 receiving yards, has nabbed 23 of 31 targets his past two weeks for 346 yards, but only one touchdown.
In recent weeks, receivers Adam Thielen (three TDs) and KJ Osborn (two) have benefited from extra attention paid to JJ, even though he has still produced stellar yardage figures.
Seattle Seahawks (7-7, 6-8 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3, 3-10-1 ATS)
Sat (12/24) @ 1 p.m. ET
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Betting Lines: Chiefs -10, Total 49
The Seahawks have won only two of their previous 22 games in Kansas City, the average score being Seattle, 27-15.
Of course, the Chiefs have become quite the public play in recent years, ballooning its lines, and they are 3-10-1 against the number, tied with Tampa Bay in the basement of the NFL.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-4, 11-3 ATS) at New England Patriots (7-7, 7-6-1 ATS)
Sat (12/24) @ 1 p.m. ET
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Betting Lines: Bengals -3, Total 41.5 (Un -115)
During the Bengals’ current six-game winning streak, quarterback Joe Burrow has thrown 14 TD passes, and just four of his 207 attempts have been picked off. He even ran it into the end zone twice, and he has five rushing TDs this season.
This is his first game against the Pats and Belichick, who are currently out of the playoff picture.
Cincinnati’s 11-3 mark against the number is tops in the league. And in an efficiency factor we prize, which melds points with yardage, the Bengals are third in their past three games with a points-per-play margin of 0.151.
The Patriots? In a tie game last week in Vegas, they must have thought they were trailing when their fire-drill pass-back routine turned into the Raiders’ game-winning play.
“They lost their thought process there,” Avello says, “and that’s very uncharacteristic of a [Bill] Belichick-coached team.”
Washington Commanders (7-6-1, 7-6-1 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4, 9-5 ATS)
Sun (12/24) @ 4:05 p.m. ET
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Betting Lines: Niners -7 (-115), Total 38
Receiver Deebo Samuel (ankle) has been ruled out, but that doesn’t mean the Commanders will be able to take it any easier.
Over its past three games, San Francisco has a top-rated 0.242 PPP margin with essentially its third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy, in the pocket.
Seven consecutive Niners foes have failed to score at least 18 points, a run that includes a shutout of the Saints. This defense has also tallied at least one turnover in six games in a row, in which it’s racked up 13 overall.
“That kid’s looking pretty good,” Avello says of Purdy. “He seems to have a lot of confidence. Throws the ball well when needed, and he’s making good decisions. Of course, that defense certainly helps. They’ll shut down opponents.”
Christian McCaffrey has run 40 times over the Niners’ past two games, for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and he has a receiving TD in there, too.
And last week in a victory in Seattle, super tight end George Kittle caught four passes for 93 yards and two TDs.
Washington has won only three of its past nine games in San Francisco, but one came last time out, in 2020, a 23-15 victory for the Washington Football Team.
Green Bay Packers (6-8, 6-8 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (8-6, 7-7 ATS)
Sun (12/25) @ 1 p.m. ET
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Betting Lines: Dolphins -3.5, Total 49.5
The Packers lost their first six trips to Miami Beach but have won their past two games in the Fins’ aquarium, in 2006 and ’14.
While the home team is battling to keep a playoff foothold, the visitors are down to a shred of postseason hope.
“Packers lose, and they’re out,” Avello says. “If Miami loses, they still have an outside shot. Four, four and a half is probably the right number.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers’ moneyline is at play in this game. Anytime you get an Aaron Rodgers team at plus money … especially when it looks like they might be putting it together a little bit. That’s what I expect on our network.”
This flirted between 3.5 and 4 in the first few days of the week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, 3-10-1 ATS) at Arizona Cardinals (4-10, 6-8 ATS)
Sun (12/25) @ 8:20 p.m. ET
State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Betting Lines: Bucs -6.5, Total 41
Tom Brady against the league’s bottom-feeder, with a -0.118 PPP margin. Over their past three games, however, the Bucs are an NFL-worst -0.266.
Which sets this up as perhaps the season’s ugliest prime-time affair.
“The Bucs know they have a chance to win the division, because there’s nobody else in that division that’s any good,” Avello says. “They just have to win two of their next three games, and they’ll probably be okay.
“But the way Brady is playing, it looks to me like he’s old, doesn’t have it anymore. Sure, he can throw the ball, but he can’t move. He looks lost to me at times.”
In the pathetic NFC South, Tampa is a game ahead of Atlanta, Carolina, and New Orleans, all 5-9.
Brady, 45, owns league highs with 623 attempts and 411 completions. In his past three, though, he has six TD passes and five interceptions. He did have an eight-game stretch this year with no picks.
Arizona is so lowly thought of, this opened at 3 and cash has flowed into DraftKings’ coffers all week.
“A lot of it has to do with how bad this Arizona team is,” Avello says. “They don’t have a lot of players. It’s a lot to do with them alone.”
Los Angeles Chargers (8-6, 8-5-1 ATS) at Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1, 6-8 ATS)
Sun (12/26) @ 8:15 p.m. ET
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Betting Lines: Chargers -5, Total 46
Avello mentions “shell-shocked” in relation to what the Colts experienced last week against the Vikings.
“The Colts just haven’t had a good season,” Avello says. “Jeff Saturday certainly isn’t the answer [at coach]. I think they know that now, and the Chargers are suddenly in the playoff hunt.
“I think we’ll continue to see Chargers money. Our network likes to bet those home dogs, but the Colts are one of those teams that you just can’t rely on. Matty Ice [quarterback Matt Ryan], it looks like he might be finished.”
Under in primetime games have covered at a 58.7-percent rate (27-19-1) this season.
Up next: NFL Week 17 odds