Opening Lines: Week 15

Patriots-Packers Off the Board Pending Rodgers Injury News

Sunday night’s game between the Patriots and Packers in New England is currently not available on most sportsbooks pending news about the severity of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ concussion sustained on Sunday against Detroit.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that Rodgers will be cleared play. That’s mostly out of sympathy for Green Bay fans. If Rodgers doesn’t play, I don’t think a spread exists that would allow me to take the Packers; they haven’t invented a number that large yet. Green Bay’s backup QB Matt Flynn looked more awkward last week than Miley Cyrus in that salvia bong video (if you haven’t looked that one up yet, I will save you the trouble … it’s 10 seconds of her hitting a bong followed by two minutes of nonsensical wasted teenage girl chatter … but it still might be better than watching a Rodgersless Green Bay team). If Rodgers is out, I expect the spread to be about -10.5 for the Patriots, and I’d jump on that like a hungry dog on a meat truck. The Packers have a respectable defense, but without even the slightest hint of a running game, they won’t be able to keep pace if they don’t have Rodgers at the helm.

Even if Rodgers plays, it’s worth noting what happened the last time he suffered a concussion. He was concussed in Week 5 against Washington (which I remember vividly since it led to one of the Redskins’ several ridiculous early-season covers against clearly superior competition … aaaaand I just threw up in my mouth again), and he failed to post a QB rating of 85 in his next three starts. If he’s a little bit foggy or tentative, a well-coached Patriot defense should be good enough to make him pay. Another factor working against the Packers is the likely defensive gameplan for the Patriots. Belichick thrives on taking away an offense’s best weapon. The Packers are a one-dimensional team, and that is a weakness that is likely to become a bigger problem as the weather gets colder and teams bear down for the playoffs.

I think the oddsmakers will be a bit more kind to the Packers if Rodgers plays, but anything less than a 6.5-point spread is still a license to print money. Regardless of whether Rodgers plays or not, I’m picking the Patriots to cover any spread Vegas comes up with. That might sound like blatant homerism, but until the Patriots start showing some real signs of weakness again, I think the smart money is on New England.

Other Lines I Like This Week
Falcons (-6.5) at Seahawks

Leave it to me to find the only home underdog on the board and bet against them, right? The Falcons might be the best team in the NFC, and they are visiting a Seahawks team that just got blown out by a 49ers team with Alex Smith at QB and Frank Gore in street clothes. They might be reduced to pulling people off the street to play wide receiver.
Bills (+5.5) at Dolphins
Since I don’t live in the Boston media market, the Patriots-Bears game was taken off the air at halftime so the audience could watch a competitive game. So I was stuck watching the second half of the Dolphins and Jets. That game was more of a Jets loss than a Miami win. The Dolphins had just 55 yards passing in the game. The Bills have been playing most teams close, and they stand a real chance of winning this game. At the very least, they will be competitive enough to cover the spread.
Under (37.5) on Cardinals at Panthers
The quarterbacks in this game are likely to be Jimmy Clausen and John Skelton. That means both teams will try to run the ball, and neither team will have any real hope of converting on anything longer than 3rd and 7.

2010 Record ATS 13-14-1

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