The regular season is in the rearview mirror, NFL Wild Card Weekend odds are up, and several betting factors are already in play. That includes the typical injury information, most notably surrounding Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff for a Saturday showdown against the Seattle Seahawks.
This week’s NFL Cheat Sheet serves as one-stop shopping for that information and more. Covers checks in on NFL Wild Card Weekend injuries, weather, consensus picks, Pros vs Joes and more. Check back throughout the week for NFL injury updates, popular picks, and notable contrasts between sharp bets and public money.
Wild Card Round Injuries
Cleveland Browns: Tuesday brought COVID news out of Cleveland camp, with coach Kevin Stefanski having tested positive, which rules him out for Sunday's game. Likewise, wideout KhaDarel Hodge and offensive guard Joel Bitonio are out, and the Browns closed their practice facility. Reaction at The SuperBook was swift, as the line moved straight from Browns +4.5 to +5.5, then onto +6 a short time later, in a game that opened Browns +3.5. SuperBook executive director John Murray said the move doesn't necessarily indicate that Stefanski's presence has line value. "The market drifts up a little based on the news of the facility being closed and speculation that there may be more issues to come out of this," Murray said. Defensive end Olivier Vernon, who had nine sacks this season, tore an Achilles in Week 17 and is done for the year. Fellow defensive end Myles Garrett (shoulder) is questionable. Cornerback Denzel Ward is in COVID protocol, so his status is uncertain, and wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones came off concussion protocol Friday and is questionable.
New Orleans Saints: Star running back Alvin Kamara tested positive for COVID last week, but could return for Sunday's game if he successfully gets through league protocols. On Thursday night, Kamara tweeted, "See y'all Sunday," so it appears he's likely to play. Wideout Michael Thomas (ankle) might also return for the playoff tilt against Chicago. The Saints are -10 at The SuperBook.
Chicago Bears: Wideout Allen Robinson (hamstring) was limited in Friday's practice but did not have an injury designation, so he appears set to play Sunday at New Orleans. Linebacker Roquan Smith (elbow) and cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), both starters, are questionable. The SuperBook crept from Bears +9.5 to +10 Thursday afternoon.
Los Angeles Rams: Shortly before kickoff, the Rams announced that John Wolford will start at quarterback against the Seahawks. But the line didn't move off Rams +3 at William Hill US, The SuperBook, Circa Sport and others. Jared Goff is active, after sitting out the Week 17 home victory over Arizona. Goff injured his right (throwing) thumb in Week 16 and subsequently having surgery. The SuperBook opened at Rams +5 and has been at +3 since Thursday. Also, on Wednesday, wideout Cooper Kupp came off the reserve/COVID list, and he's expected to play.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Top wide receiver Mike Evans learned Monday his knee injury suffered in Sunday's win over Atlanta was not as serious as first thought. On Thursday, Evans was listed as questionable, with coach Bruce Arians terming it a game-time decision, but eports Friday indicated Evans will play. The SuperBook opened Tampa Bay -6.5 and got to -8.5 Tuesday before inching back to -8, then hit -8.5 again for a few hours Thursday before dipping back to -8.
Washington Football Team: About three hours before kickoff, quarterback Alex Smith (calf) was ruled out for the Saturday night game against Tampa Bay. The line had already been on the move today at The SuperBook, going from -8 this morning to -9.5 this afternoon, and the Smith info helped bump it to -10 shortly after 5 p.m. ET. Washington opened +6.5. The total was up a point this morning, from 44.5 to 45.5, and it's now at 45. Running back Antonio Gibson (toe) and wideout Terry McLaurin (ankle) are expected to play.
Buffalo Bills: Wideouts Stephon Diggs (oblique) and Cole Beasley (knee) are questionable for a Saturday home game against Indianapolis, though both are expected to play. Buffalo opened -6.5 at The SuperBook and spent several hours Monday at -7 before returning to the opener, then dipped to -6 Thursday afternoon. On Friday night, the number returned to the opener of Bills -6.5.
Covers NFL betting analysis
Wild Card Round Weather
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans: Nashville should see partly cloudy skies and very light wind for Sunday's Wild Card Weekend contest, with a high in the low 40s. The total was at 55 almost all week at The SuperBook, but on Friday morning ticked to 54.5.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers: A night game in January in Pittsburgh can hardly expect to be warm, and it won't be, with temperatures in the low 30s Sunday evening. But that's the only issue in the forecast. The total ticked from 47 to 46.5 Monday morning at The SuperBook, then rebounded to 47.5 by Tuesday and stuck there all week.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills: The forecast notes Saturday will be chilly, but nothing more, which isn't bad for Buffalo in January. The high will be in the mid-30s, with 5-10 mph breezes. The total moved from 52.5 to 51.5 to 52 by Monday afternoon at The SuperBook, then back to 51.5 Tuesday.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks: Seattle could see cloud cover Saturday afternoon, but the projection includes just a 10 percent chance of rain during the day. The total inched from 43 to 42.5 Tuesday at The SuperBook, then went to 42 Thursday night.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team: The temperature should be in the mid-to-high 30s for this prime-time Saturday game, with almost no chance of precipitation, but winds of 10-15 mph. The total opened 46.5 and was down to 45 by Tuesday at The SuperBook, then fell to 44.5 Friday night.
Wild Card Round Consensus
Wild Card Round Pros vs Joes
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills: The public is on Buffalo at PointsBet USA, with the Bills getting 87 percent of spread bets and 77 percent of spread handle. "Sharp guys got bets in on Indianapolis at +7, and the line has since moved into Buffalo -6.5. It will be interesting to see which side of the key number 7 this line closes at," PointsBet's Wyatt Yearout said.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks: Respected money showed up on the Rams +4.5 at PointsBet USA, perhaps on the expectation that QB Jared Goff (thumb) gets cleared to play and that number proves to be much better. "The line opened at Seattle -4.5, and although we are seeing 74 percent of spread bets and 68 percent of spread handle come in on the Seahawks, the line has shifted into Seattle -3.5," PointsBet's Wyatt Yearout said. "The sharp side on the Rams does not seem to be scared away by the QB uncertainty."
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