NFL MVP discussions are always fun, but in the eyes of the oddsmakers, there is no debate. No player’s absence influences his team’s odds more than Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Three different Vegas oddsmakers told us Rodgers was the most valuable player on NFL odds in the league.
“I think that he is the most impactful on his team odds,” Jason Simbal, CG Technology vice president of risk, told Covers. “One book had the Packers at -6.5 against the Saints before the injury and now it’s 5 the other way (Saints -5). No other player would have that impact.”
The New Orleans Saints are only the second team since the start of the 2014 season to be favored at Lambeau Field.
"With Aaron Rodgers in the lineup, the Packers are 6-point favorites at home (vs. New Orleans)," Wynn Las Vegas sportsbook director Johnny Avello told Covers. "Now they're a 5.5 point underdog, so do the math. That's 11.5 points. That's what he's worth. It's actually around 10, but it could be a littler higher, certainly in this circumstance, looking at how the backups are."
Green Bay was a 3.5-point favorite at Bookmaker.eu’s in-game betting to beat the Minnesota Vikings the play before linebacker Anthony Barr crashed into Rodgers and forced the quarterback to leave the contest with what turned out to be a broken collarbone. The next play the in-game odds changed to Packers +2.5 and then quickly to +3. The score of the game at the time of the injury was still 0-0.
Bettors and bookmakers alike weren’t overly impressed with what Rodgers’ understudy, Brett Hundley, did in the rest of the game against Minnesota.
“Most starting quarterbacks are worth three or four points (to the spread),” Mirage sportsbook manager Jeff Stoneback told Covers. “Rodgers is worth over a touchdown (seven points) himself. There’s sometimes not as much of a drop off because there isn’t a big gap between the starter and the backup. That’s not the case here.”
Rodgers’ injury doesn’t just affect the Packers weekly game odds. Green Bay was among the top favorites to win the Super Bowl at +500 in Vegas at the Westgate SuperBook and +700 offshore at Bookmaker.eu. When the books reopened their Super Bowl odds on Monday morning, the Packers had dropped to +1600 at the Westgate and +2500 at Bookmaker.eu.
Rodgers, a two-time winner of AP NFL MVP Award, was the favorite to take home the honors again this season. Entering Week 6, Sportsbook.ag listed A-Rod at +180 with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith the next closest at +300.
HOW DOES AARON RODGERS’ VALUE COMPARE TO OTHER TOP QUARTERBACKS
Measuring how much a player is worth to a pointspread or total is never easy. There are many variables which alter the week-to-week impact of a particular player’s absence.
“Yes, of course, the best players are worth the most on the line but there are so many facets to figuring out how much the bettors think the player is worth,” former Las Vegas line consultant Pete Korner told Covers. “Is there a quality backup? Who are they playing this week?
“If it’s a top team, the missing player will be worth more than if they are playing a horrible team where anyone capable can step in and do the job.”
We surveyed a number of oddsmakers over the summer on the value of a number of NFL quarterbacks who were entering the season coming off an injury. The chart below paints a clearer picture of where the rest of the league’s top quarterbacks stack up in terms of value according to Vegas.
Tom Brady – arguably the greatest professional quarterback – isn’t on the list above. We couldn’t nail down a specific number for Brady’s worth to the Patriots pointspread, but oddsmakers were in agreement it would be lower than Rodgers’.
“Brady’s not the same thing (as Rodgers),” Stoneback says. “We’ve seen the Patriots win games without him as recently as last season.”
New England went 3-1 straight up and against the spread in the first four games of the 2016 campaign while Brady served a four-game suspension. Going back even further, the Pats went 10-6 SU and 9-7 ATS in 2008 when Brady missed all but one quarter of the season and Matt Cassel filled in.
Rodgers has started all but eight games for Green Bay since he became the team’s starting quarterback in 2008. The Packers are 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS in those eight contests without Rodgers under center. The Packers are 94-48 SU in regular season games Rodgers has started and 84-56-2 ATS.
The closest comparison to the level of dependency Green Bay has with Rodgers would be Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2011. The Colts were a perennial Super Bowl contender with "The Sheriff" calling the shots, but they went 2-14 SU and 6-10 ATS in 2011 when a neck injury forced Manning to sit out the year.
The Colts closed as 9-point road dogs Week 1 that season against the Houston Texans, but oddsmakers told us the line would have been closer to a pick’em had Manning playing.