We know the “composite wisdom” of betting markets believes that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is at least 2 points better than Nick Foles. This summer, when it was believed Wentz would likely be ready for the regular season, the Eagles were -4 over the Atlanta Falcons in Thursday night’s NFL season opener. Now that Foles is the confirmed starter, the line has settled at Eagles -2.
You’ll note that we said, “at least 2 points.” That’s because a fall from -4 to -2 is often bigger than it seems at first glance. Any line that crosses the key number of 3 (the most common final margin in competitive football) jumps a chasm percentage-wise. A 4-point favorite will win straight up about 67% of the time. A 2-point favorite will win about 55% of the time. We may find in future action that the market sees the difference at 2.5 or 3 points.
With the season imminent, it would behoove handicappers and bettors to start thinking about quarterback point-spread impact NOW. There are going to be injuries to starters. If not this week, soon enough. There could be some early benchings given experimentation going on with a few teams. (We’re looking at you Buffalo.) You should have your own adjustments in mind, so you can bet vulnerable openers when oddsmakers first put up their guesses.
A few tips:
*Don’t fear the worst
*Don’t assume elite QBs are irreplaceable
*Think about how team strategy will change
*Isolate possible breakout surprises
It was late last season when many assumed the worst after Foles replaced the injured Wentz. Worked out okay for the Eagles, and for bettors who didn’t overreact. Philadelphia went 3-0 straight up as underdogs in the playoffs, beating the spread by 7.5 (Atlanta), 34 (Minnesota), and 12.5 points (New England).
Easiest way to work through the process is to imagine that backups are getting starts this week. You know Foles is -2 over Atlanta “with Matt Ryan.” What would you make line if Matt Schaub had to start for Atlanta?
Go right down the official rotation schedule. Pittsburgh has been bet down this week to -4 at Cleveland. That’s Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tyrod Taylor. What would you make the line with Josh Dobbs of the Steelers vs. Taylor? How much would the Steelers’ line rise if it was Roethlisberger vs. Baker Mayfield of the Browns?
Lock down your evaluations now so you can stay ahead of the chains.