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QB injuries and NFL handicapping

By Adam Burke  ( 

November 21, 2021 10:35 AM

The NFL is the most popular sport in the nation by far and only soccer really surpasses it worldwide in terms of betting interest and handle. Yet, as we go into the Sunday card, there are still major QB questions and some late-breaking news that most bettors didn’t know about.

The toe injury for Aaron Rodgers was the latest quarterback note to hit the wire. The line gradually came down for Packers vs. Vikings throughout the week, which looked like sharp interest at first (and probably still is to a degree), but it turns out that Rodgers was extremely limited in practice with an injury deemed pretty serious.

Unlike the updates with guys like Baker Mayfield (hurting from every bone in his body), Lamar Jackson (needs more Vitamin C) and Ben Roethlisberger (flew separately to LAX), we heard very little, if anything, about the limitations for Rodgers. We were also led to believe that Kyler Murray (ankle) had a good chance to play. Now that seems like it won’t be the case.

The coaches and the teams don’t really care about gamblers, and gamesmanship will always be part of the equation, but these things are incredibly frustrating and can really tilt NFL bettors.

This is a very tight, very efficient market that is hard to beat no matter what, but when you factor this late, surprise injury stuff into the mix, it feels like running up an icy hill with your bare feet. Discerning between sharp action and inside info is a challenge.

Market entry is something I talk about a lot. The timing of when you place a bet and what number you get is vitally important. Some would say it’s more important than the handicap and the statistical analysis. All of the injuries make it something of a guessing game.

So, here’s my suggestion. Try to control what you can control. Your bankroll is yours and yours alone. If there are lingering concerns or questions about a star player in a game, consider all the factors and make a decision based on the information that you have. If waiting for more clarity is the move, do that, even if it means costing yourself some line equity.

Arizona is a prime example. That line at -2.5 was somewhat suggestive of Murray’s return. You have to weigh the risk-reward. What’s better? Sure, holding Cardinals -2.5 is outstanding if Murray plays. What if you speculated on it, took -2.5 and now the line is 3 with Colt McCoy? Was it better for you to rush to -2.5 and be holding a bad number with the backup QB or to wait and see how it plays out and maybe end up with Arizona -3 or -3.5 with Murray?

I’m not sure that’s where the line would have ended up, but you get the idea.

As more and more players get banged up and beat up, especially with the laundry list of key personnel already dealing with something, you’ll have a lot of these decisions to make. Try not to complicate matters by getting into a bad headspace and have an isolated incident affect your other wagers.

By focusing on what you can control, even if it means not betting a game, you should be able to be at peace with your decision and that’s the best we can really do.

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