NFL bettors were handed a reminder as to just how quickly a pandemic can alter the sports landscape after two COVID-19-related postponements made for a lighter Sunday schedule last weekend. The effects will reverberate into Week 5 according to analysts for TheLines, which tracks odds in the US regulated sports betting markets.
In the last week, the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans was postponed, and the highly anticipated showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots was pushed back after Cam Newton tested positive. That leaves active rosters in flux for at least two teams — the Titans and the Patriots — and puts Week 5’s game between the Titans and Bills very much in doubt.
As a consequence said The Lines the questions about the schedule, coupled with a murkier view of who will be on some active rosters should the games go ahead, have made the oddsmakers’ jobs that much more difficult.
“The first few weeks in the NFL went so well, it would have been easy to forget that a single positive test can send waves through the schedule,” said Brett Collson, lead analyst for TheLines.com. “Oddsmakers are accustomed to factoring in injuries, but both bettors and oddsmakers are dealing with an extremely fluid situation where active rosters and schedules can change in a flash. So far, it appears that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm for bettors overall.”
As for this week’s games, a consensus of the nation’s largest legal online sportsbooks — including FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, SugarHouse, and BetMGM — place the Baltimore Ravens as 13.5-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals, the week’s heaviest favorite.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles upset of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night hasn’t swayed oddsmakers, as the 49ers open the week as 7.5-point favorites over the Miami Dolphins while the Eagles are 7.5-point underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to The Lines, the consensus point spreads for Week 5 games, as of the beginning of this week were:
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5.5) at Chicago Bears; over/under 44.5
- Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) at New York Jets; over/under 47.5
- Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5); over/under N/A
- Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-13.5); over/under 52
- Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans (N/A); over/under N/A
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (-6.5); over/under 54
- Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-11.5); over/under N/A
- Los Angeles Rams (-8.5) at Washington Football Team; over/under 46
- Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5); over/under 46.5
- Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (-7.5); over/under N/A
- Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (N/A); over/under N/A
- Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) at Cleveland Browns; over/under 48
- New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5); over/under 54
- Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks (-7); over/under 57.5
- Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints (-8.5); over/under 52