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Perverse incentives – If an NFL player tests positive for COVID and then returns, he is not tested again for 90 days. Since players can come back from a positive test in five days, this gives NFL teams a huge incentive to test their team frequently this week. Those that test positive should be back for the playoffs with a clean bill of health.
In the wild ride of this pandemic, this might be the craziest thing yet: the incentive for an NFL team to encourage positive tests so that their players are almost guaranteed to play when the games count the most.
This conversation came up on the Covering the Spread podcast. Guest Drew Dinsick had his usual sharp takes, including some on big underdogs in NFL week 18.
Playoff Motivation – There are several Week 18 games in which a team is vying for playoff positioning, going up against a team already eliminated from contention. “Motivation” is a buzzword this time of year, suggesting the eliminated team will simply fold, letting their opponent win and cover the spread.
But historical trends suggest otherwise. The Action Network looked into it, and uncovered that teams needing to win in the final week of the regular season to get into the playoffs have gone 16-26 (38.1%) against the spread (ATS) when playing eliminated teams. This trend affects the Colts and Saints. These ideas were discussed on my weekly appearance on BetQL Daily.
Injuries – This list is double checked with the ESPN NFL injuries page.
- Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow was limited in practice Thursday and is listed as questionable against the Browns. The Bengals have moved from a 3 point favorite to a 6 point underdog.
- Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson will miss the regular-season finale with an ankle injury. Tyler Huntley will start in his place.
- Chicago QB Justin Fields was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Andy Dalton will start.
- Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield will reportedly have surgery on his shoulder, ending his season. Case Keenum will start.
- Detroit QB Jared Goff is considered “probable” by coach Dan Campbell because of a knee issue.
- New York Giants QBs Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon are sidelined with different injuries. Jake Fromm will start.
- San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo is questionable to play with a thumb problem. He was listed as limited in all three practices this week, but given that the 49ers can make the playoffs with a win (or a Saints loss or tie), there’s extra motivation for him to play through the injury.
- Alabama WR John Metchie III and CB Josh Jobe will miss the national championship game against Georgia. Metchie was their top receiver, and Jobe was an important player in the secondary. OL Darrian Dalcourt is questionable. Georgia does not have any injuries to key players.
College Basketball Futures – If you’re already betting on who will win college basketball’s National Championship, you may have noticed chalk at the top of KenPom, Bart Torvik, etc. The top three (in different orders) were Final Four participants last season: Houston, Gonzaga and Baylor.
However, the Power Rank has a different team ranked second in our Elo rankings: Arizona. The Wildcats currently have the seventh-lowest odds at +2100 at the FanDuel Sportsbook. While COVID-19 issues have affected every team on the West Coast, Arizona should be able to shake off the rust and showcase one of the more complete teams in the country.
Seven-foot-one Christian Koloko is averaging more than 13 points and seven rebounds a game, sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin has excelled finishing around the rim and forward Azuolas Tubelis has been a valuable assist guy even with his tall frame.
For a limited time, the member college basketball rankings page, updated daily, is available to the public.
The Kansas City offense – On The Football Analytics Show podcast, Josh Hermsmeyer of FiveThirtyEight discussed the up and down season of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Josh described how the defensive schemes seemed like a novel attempt to stop deep threats like WR Tyreek Hill. However, the ideas are not new.
Josh and host Ed Feng also discussed Josh Allen, Carson Wentz and meat.
AB Sounds Off – The weirdest departure from an NFL team may have happened last weekend when Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Brown took off his jersey and pads, then left the sideline before the end of the Buccaneers’ game against the New York Jets. He claimed his ankle was not healed enough to play and that head coach Bruce Arians was forcing him to play through the injury.
Then, an OnlyFans model posted on her Instagram account Brown had a positive COVID-19 test, suggesting the rest of the team may have an outbreak. While a couple of players are on the COVID-19 list, no major outbreak has been reported.
However, Brown has since appeared on a podcast complaining about his contract with the Bucs. Suffice to say, this divorce has been odd. Perhaps more importantly, Tom Brady relied upon Brown during last season’s Super Bowl run, and maintaining a successful offense has become more difficult without AB.
Sale of The Athletic – The New York Times bought The Athletic and its 1.2 million subscribers for $500 million.
The Athletic has become a go to source for in depth coverage of all major North American sports teams, although this coverage has yet to lead to profitability. The purchase helps the Times deal with massive volatility in news media, as website traffic as declined 34% in the past year.
Data driven betting information
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