In 2019, there may be no more dangerous occupation than playing quarterback in the NFL.
After Andrew Luck retired before the season, we saw Nick Foles go down with a shoulder injury in Week 1, then Sam Darnold get sidelined in the middle of the week due to mononucleosis. After Cam Newton didn't look right on "Thursday Night Football" and ended up being diagnosed with a foot injury, we saw future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger go down with major injuries that will sideline them for weeks, and in Roethlisberger's case, the entire season. If that wasn't enough, the Jets lost their backup quarterback as well on Monday night.
As a result of the injuries Sunday and Monday, we saw three lines change massively from where they sat on the lookahead number before gameday (with Newton's status up in the air, that line remains off the board as of filing). For those unaware, the Westgate puts out a 12-day number every Tuesday for the following week's games, and that can be a good measuring stick for how surprise performances or major injuries move the lines once they reopen on Sunday night.
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Let's dive into each of those three cases and see how much the line moved and compare it to my preseason number for.
Ben Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph
- Lookahead line: Steelers -1 at 49ers
- Current line: 49ers -6.5
- Market's QB value: 7.5 points
- My QB value: 7.5 points
Based on my previous analysis, this line move was right on the money. But here's the thing: Roethlisberger looked nowhere near as good as expected through six quarters, while Rudolph came in and looked competent running the offense, keeping the Steelers in the game on the fly. With that knowledge, I would make the downgrade a few points less, and I wouldn't be shocked if the market bets this line down to somewhere around 49ers -4 or -4.5 by Sunday.
Drew Brees to Teddy Bridgewater
- Lookahead line: Seahawks PK vs. Saints
- Current line: Seahawks -4
- Market's QB value: 4 points
- My QB value: 3.5 points
Not much of a difference here, but this number assumes that Bridgewater is one of the best backups, if not the best backup, in the NFL. But when you look at his play Sunday (56.7% completion rate with only 165 yards on 30 attempts) and in his previous Week 17 start last year (63.6% completion rate with 118 yards on 22 attempts), I don't know that we should assume he's something like the 33rd best QB in the NFL. There's a wide range of outcomes to the Bridgewater era in New Orleans, and the market is clearly pricing to the more positive of those scenarios.
- Lookahead line: Patriots -16.5 vs. Jets
- Current line: Patriots -22.5
- Market's QB value: 6 points
I'm not going to tell you to bet the Jets, but what I will say is that valuing this downgrade at six points (I don't have a number myself as my preseason numbers were for Darnold to Siemian) seems like too much. Siemian could get nothing done on offense before his injury, while Falk at least engineered some positive movement once he took over. The six points is likely a mixture of previously underrating the downgrade from Darnold to Siemian on the lookahead line and only partly attributed from the move to Falk.
Each week, I break down what you need to know about each game from a betting angle before you lock in your picks. I'll talk about big line moves, home-field advantages of note, teasers and parlays to consider and more.
If you want to know which sides I like, you can find that info at the SportsLine link below, where all my rated plays appear during the season along with my five SuperContest picks each week and plenty of great analysis from a fantastic collection of experts. You can also check out where all our CBS Sports staff lands on each game each week right here.
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Other big line moves (lookaheads)
The absolute horror that is the Dolphins plus the Cowboys looking like the best team in the NFC after two weeks has combined to move this line a great deal. An interesting nugget: Only five home teams have ever been favored by 21 points or more in the Pro-Football-Reference database, which goes back to the mid-70s. All five teams won but didn't cover, most recently the 2013 Broncos, who beat the Jaguars 35-19 after closing as 26.5-point favorites. So should you run out and bet the house on the Dolphins and Jets this week? Well, the Patriots ended a similar run of futility for massive road favorites last week, so who knows?
The Giants are moving to Daniel Jones at quarterback, and while some would argue the change is an upgrade, we're still talking about a raw rookie out of Duke starting in just his third week in the pros. Combined with the Bucs defense looking good on Thursday, and you can see why the line has grown in this matchup.
The market ended up overcorrecting on the Bengals after their one-point loss in Seattle in Week 1, with their Week 2 line moving significantly when it reopened. But the Bengals might be who we thought they were. Meanwhile, the Bills beat two bad teams in MetLife but have some positive takeaways from Josh Allen's performance after two weeks. The Bills might actually be the favorite for a wild-card spot at this point with how shaken up the AFC landscape is after two weeks.
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Home-field edges to know
Broncos at Packers -7.5
Jets at Patriots -22.5
I talked last week about how the Packers get four points for their home-field, so if you think they and the Vikings are even talent-wise then getting them on a three-point line in Green Bay means value for the home team. They ended up holding on after a fast start and winning by five. Now a Denver team that has looked terrible offensively comes to town, and it appears the market might again be underrating the home-field advantage at Lambeau.
The Patriots also get four points for their home-field and have been cover warriors at home for years. Good luck to you, Luke Falk.
The Bears certainly don't look like they should be seven points better than the Redskins on a neutral field after two weeks, but Washington has proven unworthy of getting the typical three points at home for years. I have them graded as having a 1.5-point advantage at home, but you could argue it's even less. With that context, this line makes some more sense.
Fading the public
If 80% of the action or more is on one side of a line, you want to be thinking about taking the other side, a practice commonly known as fading the public. If the consensus thinks it has a game figured out, that should be flashing warning signs for you. All betting trends data is from BetOnline via Vegas Insider as of Tuesday night.
The Patriots made an appearance in this space last week too, and they had several other red flags that argued against them covering. It didn't matter then, and I'm not sure it'll matter this week either. Similarly, no one wants anything to do with the Dolphins for a second straight week.
The Rams are taking 93% of the tickets in their matchup early in the week, as bettors seem to not read much into Cleveland's easy win on Monday night. This is one definitely worth monitoring to see how the line moves with this one-sided action.
Underdog parlay of the week
Here, we're playing a Lions team that has looked solid for most of the first two weeks, especially on defense, against an incredibly banged-up Eagles team, one that lost its quarterback briefly on Sunday night. By the final injury report Friday, the +260 could be looking like great value on this 'dog.
We're pairing that play with a Ravens team that has beat up on two bad teams but still needs to prove it can hang with a contender. But what if they're not a fluke? If the Ravens are legitimately good, this is likely going to be a much closer game than the line indicates.
We didn't come all that close to cashing here last week with the Giants looking terrible.
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Teaser of the week
Packers -1.5 vs. Broncos
Vikings -2 vs. Raiders
This is the obvious teaser of the week, but that doesn't mean we should avoid it. I love putting the Packers in any teaser you want this week considering how good they've looked at home over the years and how poorly the Broncos offense has performed. The Vikings are certainly worth teasing down through the 7 and the 3 as well to bank on them winning by at least a field goal with that great defense at home.
Other teasable lines worth considering: Taking the Jaguars up to +7.5 on Thursday night, moving the Falcons through the key-number corridor to +8 in Indy, and even teasing Washington to +10 against a Bears team that hasn't proven it can score points.
After the teaser of the week went 12-5 last year, we're 0-2 on the young season due to putting too much trust in the Giants in Week 2 to not lose by eight points.