Burke: Last-minute Sunday thoughts

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

December 26, 2021 11:03 AM

The betting board is lit up like it’s the holidays with lots of late action, including news on who’s in and who’s out as COVID keeps chugging through NFL teams. Just like last week, some AFC playoff contenders are dealing with the illness in a big way, including the Ravens, who are now all the way up to a 7-point underdog against the Bengals, as that line started around 2.5 or 3.

The Chiefs’ COVID concerns seem to have lessened enough to return to being a double-digit favorite, but that line got as low as 7.5 in the middle of the week. Kansas City will be without Travis Kelce, but did get Tyreek Hill back from COVID protocols.

I don’t think this will be the last week with COVID issues for teams, but one thing that hasn’t been talked about enough is the adjustment made to totals. The spreads get far more attention, especially because it has always been an interesting talking point to discuss what Player X is worth to the line and whatnot. But, to me, while the spreads are running several points in one direction, totals movement is not as extreme.

The Ravens are down Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley, yet the total has only fallen from 44.5 to 43 with Josh Johnson at QB. Doesn’t that speak loudly about Cincinnati’s offensive projection in this game? Wouldn’t that mean you could find a more creative way to bet the Bengals than lay the -7 and get the worst of the number? Maybe player props with the bad Ravens secondary or a team total over?

I mentioned how KC’s COVID picture looks a bit better now, so the spread has gone back up, but the total has not. Isn’t that another good indicator? It is a game with wind in the forecast. Could that be outweighing the latest COVID news?

Think critically about the games, especially on Sunday morning, when a lot of line value is gone. The vast majority of bettors are betting on game day, despite our requests, and the requests from other media outlets, to bet early and try to get the best of the number possible. Don’t settle for a bad number when you can attack a game in a different way. Be creative. There are so many different kinds of bet types and betting lines out there. Use them to your advantage.

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