NFL Week 3 line moves: How much is your QB worth?
It wasn't quite a bloodbath for NFL quarterbacks on Sunday, but more like a soft tissue injury shower. As a result, there's a theme to this week's look at how point spreads have shifted: how much is your starting quarterback worth?
The lookahead line for Thursday night had the Panthers favored by three points on the road in Houston. Carolina's 2-0 start attributed to this line move, but the big bump comes from Tyrod Taylor's hamstring injury forcing him to the injured reserve. Now rookie third-round pick Davis Mills gets his first career start on a short week.
Is Taylor worth five points? The reopen at -7.5 and subsequent move to -8 indicates the market is looking at the Texans - with Mills at the helm - the same way it did prior to Week 1 before they soundly beat Jacksonville and their respectable showing in Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Panthers are being evaluated at their high point. I'll be looking to see if this can hit +10, which would warrant a bet on the Texans.
It looked really bad for Carson Wentz as he was bent backward by Aaron Donald. You can't pick a worse guy to be grabbing ahold of you, so Wentz should consider himself fortunate if he got away with just two sprained ankles. This line was at -3.5 last week but has nestled in no man's land at -5 while we wait to see if Wentz can play. We'll likely see this rise higher if Jacob Eason gets the start. If it doesn't move, the Titans would be the play.
Unlike the Texans with Mills and the Colts with Eason, the Dolphins have a veteran option at quarterback. As a result, I'll likely be on Miami, no matter who plays under center. The lookahead line for this game had this matchup as a pick'em. Excitement is building in Vegas after the Raiders' 2-0 start, and sure enough, the line reached as high as -5 early this week. We've seen this line dip back to -3.5 after reports of Tua Tagovailoa's ribs being bruised instead of broken. With a full week of Jacoby Brissett getting starter's reps in practice, getting over a field goal with the Dolphins would be a bet worth making. We're still not at a point where the downgrade to a replacement-level QB should be more than a field goal.
Andy Dalton's injury opened the door for Justin Fields, and while he didn't exactly fly through it like Cosmo Kramer, the interesting element is how little this line has moved. The Browns were lined as 9.5-point favorites for this matchup in the summer, and now it's actually down to -7. Despite Fields' rough showing against the Bengals, perhaps the market thinks his dual-threat ability gives the Bears a better chance to hang with the Browns in the Dawg Pound.
The Buccaneers are on the move. The champs were deemed slight underdogs in this game during the summer and still weren't considered the favorite last week. However, this line has jumped the fence from being a PK to the Bucs now acting as the favorite. Will it get to -3? The Rams have to garner some attention if it does, especially after a decisive win last season in Tampa.
What a ride it's been for the Saints. They've gone from no one believing they could beat the Packers, to dismantling the cheeseheads, to getting handled by the Panthers. It's rare to see a team go from home underdog - where they were before the opening game's move to Jacksonville - to road favorite, and then back to underdog; especially considering this game was a PK as recently as last week.
The Patriots' defensive domination of the Jets, combined with the Saints' injuries and coaching COVID-19 issues, has New England as a full three-point favorite. This feels like an overreaction, though, and one that could see the Saints get attention later in the week, depending on how the injury report looks.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on twitter @mrussauthentic.