Packers shorthanded but still capable
Davante Adams is one of the best players in the NFL. Whatever he gets in his next contract extension will be well earned.
And yet, if you haven’t heard this stat yet it’s worth noting before the Packers play Thursday night: Since Matt LaFleur took over as Packers head coach in 2019, Green Bay is 6-0 in games without Adams.
That’s not to diminish Adams’ value. It’s just to point out that bailing on the Packers might be a mistake.
Adams, fellow receiver Allen Lazard and defensive coordinator Joe Barry are likely to miss Thursday night’s showdown against the Arizona Cardinals due to COVID-19 related reasons. The line, which was Packers +3.5 to start the week, jumped up to +6.5 at BetMGM.
The reasons for the shift are justified. The Cardinals are 7-0 and there’s no reason to believe they’re not legit. They have wins over quality teams. The Packers are on a short week and having to travel a couple time zones to the west. Even if the Packers can overcome the loss of their receivers, losing a defensive coordinator is an underrated blow.
And yet, how many times have we seen a team in a seemingly unwinnable predicament surprise everyone? And most of those teams don’t have Aaron Rodgers.
Since the Packers lost in the opener, they’ve won and covered in six straight games. We can probably excuse that 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints to some rust after not playing starters in the preseason. They’ve looked like a Super Bowl contender since then. Rodgers is as good as ever. The defense has gotten better. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon — assuming Dillon’s stay in the doghouse after two fumbles last week is over — can help control the game on the ground. Adams is a great player but he’s not the only reason the Packers are a good team.
The Packers should keep this one close. If they win, that won’t be as big of a surprise as everyone makes it out to be either.
Here’s a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
Some props for Thursday night
Kyler Murray’s rushing yards is set at 28.5 at BetMGM, which seems reasonable until you look at his recent trend of not running. Over the last three games he has 17 yards combined. He had a 19-yard and a 20-yard rushing game this season. His high this season has been 39 rushing yards. It’s possible in a big game he’ll use that part of his game more, but 28.5 will be an easy under if the last three games are any indication.
A somewhat obvious prop is Aaron Jones over 58.5 rushing yards. Jones is going to get plenty of carries with the Packers shorthanded at receiver. The Cardinals have given up 5 yards per carry, second-worst in the NFL (in fairness, their run defense DVOA at Football Outsiders ranks them seventh). Jones hasn’t had many huge yardage games this season, but getting 59 yards shouldn’t be too much of a hill to climb.
What about the NBA and NHL?
There are six games on the NBA schedule, including a very interesting one in Chicago. The New York Knicks are 3-1, seemingly keeping all their gains from last season while introducing a 3-point heavy offensive approach that’s working. The Chicago Bulls are 4-0 after having a good offseason, and Thursday will be a great test. The Bulls are 1.5-point favorites.
There are nine NHL games, and the highlight is the Boston Bruins at the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are 5-0 and the Bruins will be their toughest test at the start of this season. The Hurricanes are -130 favorites.
Who cashed tickets on Wednesday?
The Houston Astros evened up the World Series and with that, they’re back to -140 favorites over the Atlanta Braves.
In the NBA, it was a night to bet underdogs. Seven of the 10 games were covered by underdogs with some wild outright upsets, like the Timberwolves over the Bucks, Cavaliers over the Clippers, Kings over the Suns and Thunder over the Lakers. The Heat also beat the Nets in a game that closed at Miami +3.5 (our Daily Sweat best bet yesterday), which is a sign that the Heat is a team we want to bet on regularly while the Nets might be a fade until they start to figure things out.
What’s the best bet?
I’m willing to take Aaron Rodgers as a 6.5-point underdog, even if the offense will be shorthanded. He has found ways to help the Packers to wins without Adams before.