It was another good NFL Sunday for sportsbooks in Las Vegas and in the offshore world.
Underdogs had an 11-2 ATS mark in Week 6 of the NFL with many public squads failing to get the job done in the favorite roles this week including Denver, New England, Oakland, Washington, Kansas City and the Green Bay Packers which leads into the main theme that I want to discuss.
Let’s examine the injury to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and its impact on the betting markets. Rodgers left the game in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings due to what turned out to be a broken collarbone injury leaving his season very much in doubt. Rodgers is out indefinitely and that means former UCLA standout Brett Hundley takes over at the QB spot for Green Bay. He had his share of struggles on Sunday in relief of Rodgers albeit he was facing a very tough Vikings defense.
Hundley finished 18-of-33 for 157 yards, with a touchdown and three interceptions and he was sacked four times. It was not a good start for Hundley in place of Rodgers and the team collectively appeared deflated following Rodgers departure but Hundley isn’t devoid of talent. He has a solid enough arm and has dual threat capabilities which can allow him to scramble out of the pocket when it collapses around him.
The question now is how have the betting markets treated next Sunday’s home game for the Packers against the New Orleans Saints pre and post-Rodgers injury? Prior to Sunday, the look ahead line for next week’s New Orleans/Green Bay matchup was Green Bay -6.5 as home chalk. At the time of this writing, New Orleans is now favored on the road in this game at -5.5 across the board. The betting markets based on that extreme line shift are saying that Aaron Rodgers is worth 11 points to the number.
We know that Rodgers is one of the best QB’s in the NFL and means as much if not more to any team as any single player in the league but is this now a bit of an over adjustment? From a historical perspective, Green Bay hasn’t been this big of an underdog at Lambeau Field at any other point during the Aaron Rodgers era since Jan. 1, 2012 in a meaningless Week 17 regular season finale against the Detroit Lions in which Green Bay closed a 6.5 point home underdog with Aaron Rodgers being rested from that game.
Even without their star QB and other key starters resting, Green Bay won that game outright as underdogs by a score of 45-41. The Green Bay offensive line is still battling injuries (tackle Bryan Bulaga left Sunday’s game to injury) which is a concern playing in front of an inexperienced QB moving forward but this current line of the Saints laying 5.5 points on the road indicates the value to go against a Packers squad without Rodgers simply may not be there anymore.
Turning to the College Football ranks, we saw one of the craziest Friday nights in some time. A pair of Top 10 teams went down to defeat with Clemson getting stunned by Syracuse 27-24 as 21.5 point road favorites and Washington State getting drubbed 37-3 by California as 16.5 point road favorites.
Washington State faces a much tougher road back to playoff contention than Clemson following their respective setbacks. The Cougars play in a PAC-12 conference that has not received the utmost respect from the College Football playoff committee in recent years which basically ensures that Wazzou will have to run the table and become PAC-12 champion from here in order to even garner consideration for the 4 team playoff.
Clemson is by no means out of the conversation even after is being deemed as a “bad” loss. However, the Tigers face a litany of concerns in the weeks to come highlighted by the injury of QB Kelly Bryant who left Friday’s loss due to a concussion. Bryant entered that game leading Clemson in both rushing and passing and averaging 276.6 yards of offense per game which speaks to his significance to an offense that does not have the same skill position weapons around the QB this season while relying on a dominant defense to get the job done.
The positive for Clemson is that Coach Dabo Swinney stated earlier today that Bryant was progressing well from that concussion and with the Tigers on a very nicely timed bye week, there is still a shot Bryant could be back on the field for Clemson’s next game which is at home against Georgia Tech on Oct. 28. My opinions on these teams moving forward differs.
I’m not sure Washington State has the poise and experience of being a top tier squad and a team filled with expectations to necessarily bounce back easily from their blowout loss suffered against Cal. I think it is a different story for Clemson. The Tigers have shown their mettle on more than occasion during the Swinney era and have a recent history of winning and success.
The bye week that Clemson is now enjoying couldn’t have possibly come at a better time and I expect to see the best that Clemson has to offer when they return to the field on Saturday, Oct. 28th to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at home in a key ACC battle. From a betting perspective, I’d feel more comfortable hitching my wagon to the Clemson train than Washington State in the aftermath of what was a very freaky Friday the 13th of College Football action.