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Let’s break down the top injury issues that may put you on the right side. The assumption is that talent and scheme are incorporated into lines but health is not always properly accounted for.
While our Sunday morning five picks last week resulted in the first losing record, overall there is a documented robust 23-11-1 tally.
As mid-season is here, the effects of training camp injuries and COVID opt outs are blunted as teams have adjusted. The health trend of a team may be as or more important than the grade of a squad.
Finally, we will showcase how early action on injuries we tell you about on the ProFootballDoc Podcast at Outkick will let you jump on lines before they move. We will document the line movements but for purposes of score keeping will use the less favorable current lines as of article posting.
Bengals offensive line issues
Four out of five starters on the O line are out. Three of these are new absences this week. This will make life tough for Joe Burrow as he is also without starting RB Joe Mixon again, The line opened at Titans -3.5 and on the news of the injuries has risen to -7. We hand out only or second league-wide “D” grade of the season with the Bengals run offense at a “D+”. If you followed our lead seven days ok, you could have an extra 3.5 points for free but the Titans still seems to be the right side of this one at -7. The total has also plummeted from an open at 56 to now 51 but the under is still attractive with the Bengals blocking woes.
NFC West battle with clear healthier side
The attention is on the Seahawks injured trio of running backs but it really should be on the 49ers depleted defense. (Click upper left to flip offense/defense view and use the hover feature) Chris Carson is said to be a game-time decision (I don’t believe he will play). Carlos Hyde is doubtful with a hamstring. Travis Homer is the most likely of the three to play thru a knee strain. However, Russell Wilson is healthy and is a de facto running back. The San Francisco defense is missing half of its starters. They have their own RB injury issues but Tevin Coleman has been activated for return and will have to deal without their top WR Deebo Samuel. Here the line opened at Seahawks -6 but has dropped to -3 on the running back injury news. Take advantage of Seattle -3 as the betting public is focused on the wrong area of injury.
NFC North shootout
Both defenses for the Vikings and Packers have their injury issues. Minnesota’s offense is very physically healthy coming off a bye and have Dalvin Cook back. Green Bay is healthy enough even though they will be minus Aaron Jones. The total has dipped to 50 and over seems to be the right side of this one.
Patriots injuries mount in AFC East battle
The COVID opt outs hit the Patriots harder than any other team and now injuries are piling up. Center David Andrews is back after a broken snapping hand but the rest of his linemates are questionable or out. New England will also be without its top two wideouts in Julian Edelman (knee IR) and N’Keal Harry (concussion) and has missed top RB Sony Michel but Damien Harris is likely back. Might be tough for Cam Newton to turn it around this week. Defensively, top corner Stephon Gilmore is out as we predicted and that means the top three defenders are missing (Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung opted out). This is the Bills year to break the Pats AFC East dominance. The line started at -3 but the Bills now laying 4 but that still seems to right side of the health equation.
NFC East injury showdown
The Eagles and Cowboys battle for the top of the division and are fighting to see who is more injured as well. There is no question that Philadelphia has had more injury issues this season but Dallas is getting hit worse now. The Eagles are getting healthier with the return to Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor. Lane Johnson is going to try to play thru a MCL sprain and chronic ankle issue. For the Cowboys, they start a rookie at QB but get back Zack Martin and Sean Lee. Here the market seems to have over-reacted to injury at the QB position. The line opened at Eagles -3 (which I would have loved) but was off the board much of the week and sky-rocketed to now -11 on news of Andy Dalton being ruled out for concussion as I expected. An ideal play would be to have taken Eagles -3 and now come back with a huge 8-point middle to take Cowboys +11 for a free chance to post a double win. The bottom line is there may be an 8 point differential between Dak Prescott and Ben DiNucci at QB but is Dalton to DiNucci an 8 point swing? I think with both squads injured, the smart play is to take the 11 points and hope for a closer than expected game or a back door cover.
Other conclusions that can be drawn are that the Chiefs might struggle to put up points with three offensive linemen out and 20 points is a lot in the NFL anyways, even against the Jets or just take the under 49. The Raiders +2.5 over seems enticing.
Better yet, Outkick readers should take advantage of the free injury analysis website www.profootballdoc.com to make you own fantasy/DFS/wagering decisions. So far this season, using the unseen health advantages has us on the right side over twice as often as the wrong.