Point spreads soared at sportsbooks after the Denver Broncos announced on Saturday that they’d be facing the New Orleans Saints on Sunday without a true quarterback.
The calamity in Denver was an exclamation point on a weekend filled with hard-hitting COVID-19 news. After several weeks of relatively smooth sailing, the NFL is wrestling with some major issues as it heads into the stretch run of the season.
First, the primetime Thanksgiving showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens was moved to Sunday and then to Tuesday. With continuing COVID issues, that game is off the board at some sportsbooks.
Second, on Saturday, Santa Clara County – the home of the San Francisco 49ers – announced a three-week ban on “all recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household.” That means the 49ers, who play at the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, can neither practice nor play at their usual home.
Finally, on Saturday night, the ultimate calamity struck the Broncos.
No Quarterbacks for Broncos
Denver quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. The team’s other quarterbacks were deemed high-risk close contacts and deemed ineligible to play. So, the Broncos will line up against the Saints without a true quarterback.
Instantly, point spreads soared at sportsbooks.
How are they going to score?” was the question asked to Casino.org by Glenn Herzog, the senior sportsbook risk manager at Circa Sports.
The Broncos reportedly will use practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton as their quarterback. He played quarterback his first three seasons at Wake Forest, throwing eight touchdowns in 251 career attempts, before shifting to receiver as a senior in 2019.
Huge adjustment, obviously. The line moved from 6.5 to 14 and is now at 15.5. I still think that’s not enough. I’m interested to see where it closes. We’re taking a lot of Saints money since the news and it will be all Saints money until kickoff,” Patrick Eichner, the direction of communications for PointsBet, told Casino.org.
While the point spread widened, the total plunged from 42.5 to 36. Not only will the Broncos be playing without a quarterback, but Taysom Hill will make his second consecutive start at quarterback for the Saints in place of injured Drew Brees.
“Anytime there’s more running attempts, you’re going to have a lower total. With Taysom Hill, it’s a compounding effect,” Herzog said. “With a low total, the points get more and more valuable. You always expect a spread so large to come back. As a bookmaker, in the back of your mind, you’re preparing for the ceiling. Eventually, there’s value on the other side. Where’s that happening? That’s the question.”
Rest of Week 12
Pittsburgh at Baltimore was supposed to be a centerpiece of a massive Thanksgiving weekend for sportsbooks. Where the game is available for betting, the undefeated Steelers are 8-point favorites at DraftKings and 9-point favorites at Circa. The line opened about 4 but swelled when star quarterback Lamar Jackson was among the Ravens’ positive tests.
Here are the lines from Circa. All times are Eastern.
- Raiders at Falcons (+3.5), 1 p.m.
- Chargers at Bills (-4.5), 1 p.m.
- Giants at Bengals (+6), 1 p.m.
- Titans at Colts (-3), 1 p.m.
- Browns at Jaguars, (+7) 1 p.m.
- Panthers at Vikings (-3), 1 p.m.
- Cardinals at Patriots (+2.5), 1 p.m.
- Dolphins at Jets (+7), 1 p.m.
- Saints at Broncos (+14.5), 4:05 p.m.
- 49ers at Rams (-6.5), 4:05 p.m.
- Chiefs at Buccaneers (+3.5), 4:25 p.m.
- Bears at Packers (-9.5), 8:20 p.m.
- Seahawks at Eagles (+5.5), 8:15 p.m.
- Ravens at Steelers (-9), 8 p.m.
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