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Rodgers, Packers in dead-end relationship

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During his winter, spring and summer of discontent, Aaron Rodgers searched for ways to escape Green Bay. He tried to force a trade, flirted with a career change to “Jeopardy!” and threatened to retire.

The NFL’s reigning MVP tied his long hair in a bun, searched for the meaning of life and did everything but focus on football. And it showed Sunday when the 37-year-old quarterback absorbed the most lopsided beating of his career in a 38-3 loss to the Saints. In reality, mostly for financial reasons, Rodgers had no choice but to return to the Packers, and he appeared uninterested in his season debut.

Is it an overreaction to say the Packers and Rodgers would have been better off going their separate ways? Maybe. Rodgers admitted he was bad but also said it was only one game and there are 16 left. All of that is accurate. In this case, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

The truth is the Packers, off consecutive 13-win seasons that ended in NFC title-game losses, still are good enough to win a bad division, but they are declining from elite status and Rodgers will not be as great as he was last year.

“The Packers looked absolutely awful,” said Vinny Magliulo, Las Vegas oddsmaker and Gaughan Gaming sportsbook director. “We did not see the real Green Bay, I don’t believe, and we did not see the real Rodgers. I think there will be a bounce-back by the Packers.”

Rodgers will rebound and the Packers will follow to an extent. It helps their cause to be in the NFC North, where the Bears, Lions and Vikings took ugly losses in Week 1. Green Bay will get a reprieve as a 10.5-point home favorite against Detroit in Monday night’s finale to Week 2.

It should take some time for the betting public to regain faith in the Packers, a team with problems beyond an unhappy quarterback who threw two interceptions. Injured All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari will miss at least five more weeks, and the running attack was impotent. The defense allowed Jameis Winston to pass for five touchdowns without a sack or interception.

“The Packers will take a beating this week and lose a lot of support,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “This is the NFL, and it’s the toughest league to handicap. The overreactions are what Week 2 is all about.”

It’s unreasonable to expect Rodgers to repeat last year, when he passed for 48 touchdowns with five interceptions and everything went his way until the NFC title-game debacle against Tampa Bay. It’s reasonable to expect the Packers to win nine or 10 games and control a division with no other apparent contenders. But don’t invest in Super Bowl futures on Green Bay because the NFC West has at least three teams that are better.

The Packers are headed for a dead end, and Rodgers needs to move on after this season. That’s not an overreaction from Week 1, after which it’s important for bettors to resist knee-jerk reactions and attempt to separate fact from fiction in search of truths:

— The truth is quarterback Josh Allen will rebound and the Bills will be fine.

Allen was sacked three times and lost a fumble as Buffalo let a 10-0 halftime lead slip away in a 23-16 loss to the Steelers. The game was won by Pittsburgh’s defense and special teams, with the turning point coming on a blocked punt for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Bills finished with a 371-252 advantage in total yards and held the Steelers to 75 rushing yards. The betting public piled on the 6.5-point home favorite, and the result made the day for bookmakers.

“The outright win by the Steelers was our biggest win in a long time,” Kornegay said. “We have not seen a winning number of that size in an NFL game in at least a few years. There were so many people on the Bills, and all of the moneyline parlays and teasers went down. There could be overreactions to the Steelers-Bills game. The Bills are still going to be very good.”

— The truth is rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence is legit, but the Jaguars are the worst team in the league.

There will be good and bad from Lawrence, who passed for 332 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions, and he will do enough to win a few games. But Jacksonville is not going Over its posted season win total of 6.5, not after getting trashed 37-21 by the Texans, who were power-rated No. 32 before Week 1. Urban Meyer has a lot to learn about the NFL, and he’s not coaching a roster full of five-star recruits with Northwestern and Rutgers on the schedule. If you’re betting on Meyer to work a miracle, you’re a fool.

— The truth is the Bears and Falcons are almost as bad as the Jaguars and Texans. Chicago needs to move on from Andy Dalton and start its future with rookie Justin Fields as soon as possible. Atlanta is a hopeless case because Arthur Smith was a bad coaching hire and the franchise has no quarterback of the future.

— The truth is Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is in the MVP race.

BetMGM lists the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes as the + 550 favorite, with Murray the second choice at 9-1. It’s an overreaction to put Murray in front of Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, Allen and Rodgers, but Murray will put up big numbers, and he threw four touchdown passes against the Titans in a 38-13 win. Tennessee is still a playoff contender, though it’s not a team I like.

“I think a lot of people might overreact to the Cardinals’ win,” Kornegay said.

Another truth: Murray is not worth a bet at single-digit odds, yet the Saints’ Winston is worth a look at 25-1.

— The truth is Jalen Hurts shows more promise than Daniel Jones.

While the quarterbacks for the Eagles and Giants have lots of skeptics, Hurts might have more upside. He compiled 326 total yards (264 passing, 62 rushing) in Philadelphia’s 32-6 win at Atlanta. Jones has had more time to prove something but shows little progress, and Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett lacks the imagination to get Jones to the next level.

— The truth is too many bettors will jump to conclusions from Week 1 and bet accordingly in Week 2, when contrarian thinking is a smarter approach.

“Bettors typically overbet Week 1 because they are anxious,” Magliulo said, “and the other thing they do is overreact.”

 

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