Two AFC QB situations remain in limbo, but the betting market has had two wildly different reactions to them. While the line has swung all over the place for Bills vs. Dolphins, the Lamar Jackson injury has barely caused a ripple as of Wednesday morning. This despite news that makes it sound as if the former NFL MVP is an underdog to go on Sunday.
Finally, Wednesday afternoon and evening saw some steam come in on the Bengals. Those looking to get a one-score line on Cincinnati have missed their opportunity. The market has settled at a consensus of Bengals -8.5.
Lamar Jackson News Finally Moves Market On Wednesday
The game line opened with the Bengals -6.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. What’s fascinating about that number is an immediate and direct frame of reference exists, because the two teams also met in Week 18 in Cincinnati. There, the Bengals prevailed 27-16 thanks to a hail of turnovers by Ravens third-string QB Anthony Brown.
Most notably, that line closed as high as Bengals -12 in some spots. And early Wednesday reporting from Ian Rapoport and Mike Garofolo suggests Jackson is an underdog to suit up this week, despite last appearing in a game on Dec. 4.
Yet, the Bengals remained as low as -7 favorites until Wednesday afternoon. Some -7.5s popped up, but the consensus line remained -7 as of around noon EST on Wednesday.
Contrast that with the Dolphins, dealing with QB uncertainty of their own. With the market seeming to believe at least one of Teddy Bridgewater or Tua Tagovailoa would have a chance to play, the line steamed hard to Miami on Tuesday, going from about +10.5 to +9. Then, when the team announced on Wednesday it was prepping for another Skylar Thompson start, the market zoomed the other way. The Bills settled at -13, a massive move.
Then, the movement on Cincinnati finally came in the afternoon and evening. Already at -7.5 at DraftKings, the line moved to -8 at around 3:30 p.m. EST. About three hours later, a further more caused it to hit -8.5, where it settled for the time being.
Market Still Unsure?
There are a few ways to potentially read the lack of market response.
For one, perhaps the market always expected a Tyler Huntley start here. And maybe the market believes he’s just that big an upgrade over Anthony Brown, worth multiple points to the spread. That seems like a bit of a stretch, but keep in mind Brown is an undrafted rookie who has completed less than 45% of his professional passes thus far. He may have a decent career ahead of him yet, but he just isn’t at the level needed to start NFL games right now.
Huntley has not wowed anyone. But, he does appear to meet the threshold for an NFL backup, completing 65.6% of his passes for 5.8 YPA while adding 454 yards (4.5 YPA) rushing and 3 TDs.
At this point, it seems far more likely than not that Jackson isn’t playing. Perhaps missing practice was the signal the influential bettors needed to make their move.
Total Does See Some Action On Under
While the market didn’t see a ton of initial movement on the Bengals despite the seeming good news for Cincinnati, the total has moved a good deal toward under.
Once as high as 44 after opening 43.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook, the total now sits at .
The Ravens offense has sputtered to an extreme degree in recent weeks. While the Week 18 game did clear the closing number, that was the first time a Ravens game had gone over since Week 12 against the Jaguars. Unless you hopped on a late number, the Ravens also haven’t gone over their implied team total since that same Week 12 game.
Meanwhile, their defense has rounded into form thanks in part to the acquisition and continued integration of LB Roquan Smith. The unit ranks among the league leaders in DVOA and has played as big a role as the offense in the under streak.
Just last week, even allowing 27 points to the Bengals doesn’t tell how strong they were. Cincinnati scored one of its TDs on a fumble recovery. MVP candidate Joe Burrow had just 4.6 YPA dropping back.
Even if the Lamar Jackson injury leaves the market in a state of uncertainty about the spread, it appears the influential bettors do expect a low-scoring affair no matter what happens with the Ravens QB situation.