Social media went bonkers when veteran Sunday Night Football announcer Al Michaels referenced a Vegas line during last Sunday night’s 45-10 trouncing of the Cincinnati Bengals by the Kansas City Chiefs. Some Twitter fans even acted as if Michaels was the only prime-time gridiron announcer to ever do such a thing.
Actually, the sly reference to gambling is a tradition among national broadcasters. Michaels even stole former Monday Night Football host Frank Gifford’s famous line, “What happens on the next play will be of great interest to many of you watching at home.”
But it’s less common for head coaches to reference NFL betting, which is what Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy did in a presser this week. The skipper asked for the current spread for Sunday’s afternoon kickoff in Los Angeles, and was told that the Rams are favored by (-10). “So you’re taking…” the coach smiled, implying that he would pick the Packers and the points.
Coaches of teams playing in the event don’t make great handicappers of said event’s odds. But what if McCarthy is right?
Who: Green Bay Packers at L.A. Rams
When: Sunday, October 28th, 4:25 PM EST
Where: LA Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Lines: GB (+10) vs LA (-10) / O/U Total: (56.5)
As usual, the trick when it comes to betting on Aaron Rodgers and his popular NFL team is separating the aura of the club from its real chances.
NFL betting clarifies the game for those taking part. Once real cash is being won or lost, any shallow hype or myth-making is exposed as bunk. Bettors are forced to deal with the facts or lose their shirts ignoring them. Dispassionate analysis comes in very handy when judging a captivating NFL team that nevertheless doesn’t always win.
The facts have not been as kind to the 2018-19 Green Bay Packers as the mythology. Those who witnessed Aaron Rodgers’ brave endurance of a leg injury in the Pack’s miraculous Week 1 comeback against rival Chicago – and the breathless reaction of the sports media – probably convinced themselves that it’s impossible to beat Rodgers in the 4th quarter even if he’s undergone reconstructive knee surgery at halftime.
Instead, the iconic signal-caller’s squad has proven to be fallible over the last several weeks. The Packers followed-up Week 1 with a disappointing tie vs Minnesota, lost to Washington and Detroit on the road, and finally squeaked past visiting San Francisco to run their record to a curious 3-2-1.
Rodgers has been seen wearing a knee brace, practicing with the 1st-team offense as much as possible despite not being at 100% mobility.
Sean McVay’s L.A. Rams are faring much better at a perfect 7-0. Jared Goff has thrown for 2000+ yards and 14 touchdowns while RB Todd Gurley has looked like a franchise player in the backfield, posting a 200+ yard rushing day against Denver on October 14th. The Rams have accumulated 19 sacks on the year, not a crushing number, but opponents have only managed 12 sacks against an elite offensive line. 7 interceptions – including 3 for safety John Johnson III – is more indicative of the discomfort rival QBs are feeling while trying to keep up with the L.A. attack.
Green Bay’s moneyline is not optimistic at (+350), while an Over/Under of (56) is high for a National Football League contest. Bookies and the betting public appear to agree that the Pack’s only real shot of winning is for Rodgers to go crazy, and somehow out-gun an unbeaten dynamo.
Sounds like a tall order, considering that Green Bay can’t block and tackle quite as well as the Rams, especially when playing on the road. But the Packers have at least looked consistent (if nothing else) compared to some other clubs with Pro Bowl-level QBs in 2018.
The Patriots, Falcons and Eagles have suffered lopsided losses and hapless slumps. By contrast, Green Bay’s defense is allowing only just over 230 passing yards per game, and the offense has had a chance to win every outing. The D was lousy while giving up 28 1st half points to the Redskins in late September, but recovered to allow only a lone FG in the 2nd frame. Meanwhile, 5 early-season misses from PK Mason Crosby have helped hold the Pack back from scoring more points of their own.
I would love to be able to recommend taking the Packers ATS. Rodgers deserves all the credit in the world for playing through pain, and Los Angeles doesn’t look like a club that is going to be 16-0 and blowing everyone out at the end of the season.
McVay is among the top handful of coaches in the league, causing the L.A. players to be over-valued athletically in the same way that the Ohio State Buckeyes are considered the biggest, fastest, most agile squad in college football until Urban Meyer finally screws up a game plan and loses to Purdue.
The Rams aren’t going to lose to Purdue any time soon, though I think they’ll be a little more vulnerable in November. There’s no blunder in picking a talented underdog to take them to the limit over the next 2-4 weeks.
But the Packers are the wrong girl for the date.
Green Bay must prove it can take its show on the road. Until then, no way they’re a clever wager against the NFL’s best team going into the halfway mark.
Take the L.A. Rams to cover (-10) on Sunday.