Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) looks up during National Anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021 in Indianapolis, Ind.

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A.J. Brown trade triggers shift in Eagles’ odds

The Philadelphia Eagles swung the biggest trade during the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft, which in turn swung their futures odds at sportsbooks.

The Eagles sent the 18th overall pick and a third-round selection this year to Tennessee in exchange for wide receiver A.J. Brown, who also reportedly agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract.

The 6-foot, 226-pound Brown is the big, physical target the Eagles were seeking to pair opposite 170-pound 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith, who proved to be a dynamic playmaker as a rookie.

After the first round concluded, DraftKings reported that Philadelphia’s odds to win next year’s Super Bowl shortened from +4500 to +3500. While that doesn’t put the Eagles in the top half of the NFL just yet, it did move them toward the middle of the pack.

More important, they closed the gap on division rival Dallas.

Philadelphia entered the draft +2200 longshots to win the NFC title and +300 to claim the NFC East. After acquiring Brown, the Eagles are now +1800 to reach the Super Bowl and +275 to win the division.

Dallas remains the -110 favorite at DraftKings to win the NFC East, with Philadelphia ahead of Washington (+250) and the New York Giants (+650).

The Eagles made a massive commitment to Brown – reportedly $57 million in guaranteed money – to provide quarterback Jalen Hurts with one of the league’s premier downfield threats. Brown, who turns 25 in June, caught 185 passes for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns in 43 games (36 starts) over three seasons with Tennessee.

Coming off a 2020 Pro Bowl selection, he had 63 catches for 869 yards and five scores in 13 games last season despite missing four games due to a chest injury.

The Eagles’ Super Bowl odds remained +4000 at BetMGM, where the title futures did not change following the first round of the draft.

The sportsbook did report that it took a hit when Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker went to Jacksonville after only emerging as the likely No. 1 overall pick earlier this week. That pushed Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson to Detroit at No. 2 while LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. landed with Houston at No. 3.

“The NFL draft was a success for many BetMGM bettors,” BetMGM sports trader Seamus Magee said. “Travon Walker to go first overall, Derek Stingley Jr. third overall and Kayvon Thibodeaux fifth overall were bad outcomes for the book. Drake London as the first receiver was the best prop for the book.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Divisional Playoffs could feature historically low point spreads

After a wild-card weekend marked by several blowouts, the divisional round is shaping up to feature four of the closest combined matchups in NFL playoff history.

The lowest combined point spreads for four divisional playoff games was 13.5 points in 1971, according to data from TheLines.com. This weekend’s games opened with a combined consensus point spread of 14 from opening odds at DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars and PointsBet.

According to TheLines.com, the combined opening point spread average for the divisional round over the past 15 years has been 27 points, with the lowest during that span being 21 points last season.

Tight contests would be a welcome sight for fans after four of six wild-card games were decided by at least 16 points.

The divisional round will begin with Cincinnati traveling to Tennessee on Saturday. The Titans opened as 3.0-point favorites but the line has moved to 3.5 at several books including BetMGM, where Tennessee is being backed by 62 percent of the bets and 71 percent of the spread-line handle.

The 3.5-point spread at DraftKings has seen an even amount of bets but 66 percent of the money is backing the Titans.

San Francisco will travel to Green Bay for the second game Saturday, with the Packers opening as the biggest favorite of the weekend. The 49ers were the only underdog to win last weekend, but the Packers are also well-rested as the NFC’s top seed.

Green Bay opened as a 5.5-point favorite and is being backed by 77 percent of the bets and 78 percent of the spread-line handle at BetMGM. The spread is 6.0 points at DraftKings with the Packers supported by 74 and 75 percent, respectively.

Fresh off their resounding victories to open the playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams and Buccaneers will square off in Tampa on Sunday.

Tampa Bay is a 3.0-point favorite at both sportsbooks with the Bucs backed by 64 percent of the bets and 67 percent of the spread-line money at BetMGM. However, the action has been split at DraftKings, with the Bucs backed by 53 percent of the bets but the Rams drawing 58 percent of the early handle.

The divisional playoffs will conclude with a heavyweight bout between the Buffalo Bills and Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

Kansas City is a 2.5-point favorite and is being backed by 54 percent of the bets and 60 percent of the handle at BetMGM. The story is similar at DraftKings with the Chiefs supported by 54 and 52 percent, respectively.

The Bills and Chiefs also feature the highest Over/Under of the weekend at 54.5 points at BetMGM and 55.0 points at DraftKings. That hasn’t dissuaded the public, with the Over backed by 90 percent of the bets and 95 percent of the money at the former and 71 and 95 percent, respectively, at the latter.

“All four of these games have the potential to be classic NFL playoff games and we expect to see bettors pay significant attention to this weekend,” TheLines.com lead analyst Brett Collson said. “The home team is the favorite in all four games, but the relatively narrow lines show just how tight these matchups could be.”

Super Bowl LVI Odds (preseason odds)
–Green Bay Packers +375 (+1400)
–Kansas City Chiefs +400 (+500)
–Buffalo Bills +500 (+1150)
–Tampa Bay Buccaneers +550 (+650)
–Los Angeles Rams +750 (+1500)
–Tennessee Titans +750 (+3000)
–San Francisco 49ers +1000 (+1400)
–Cincinnati Bengals +1200 (+15000)

BetMGM reported that the Packers are the sportsbook’s biggest Super Bowl liability with 10.2 percent of the bets and 10.2 percent of the money placed on Green Bay. Second is the Bucs, who have been backed by 9.9 and 11.8 percent, respectively.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) drops back to pass against the New York Jets during the second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Trilogy metting between Patriots, Bills splitting public

A rare third meeting between Buffalo and New England will settle the score between the two AFC East rivals as the third-seeded Bills host the sixth-seeded Patriots in an AFC wild-card matchup on Saturday night in Orchard Park, N.Y.

The Bills opened as 4.5-point favorites at DraftKings and BetMGM, where the line has moved to 4.0 points with the action split and Buffalo backed by a slight margin at 52 percent of the spread-line money. Meanwhile, Buffalo has been backed by 60 percent of the bets and 65 percent of the money at DraftKings.

After splitting their two regular season meetings, the Bills and Patriots are set to meet in the playoffs for the first time since Dec. 28, 1963. Back then, a Boston Patriots team overcame the Bills 26-8 at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo in a divisional round matchup.

“Playing at home in the divisional round against our division rival — a team that’s been the standard for long-term success in the NFL for the last 25, 30 years — it’s going to be a great challenge,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said. “It’s going to be another dogfight.”

New England has dominated the all-times series with Buffalo, posting a 77-46-1 record. In Buffalo, the Patriots are 38-23-1 and have gone 31-17 at the Bills’ current venue of Highmark Stadium.

However, the departure of Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady has opened a window for the Bills. Buffalo ended New England’s 11-year reign as AFC East champions one year ago as the Patriots finished 7-9 in their first season without Brady.

This year, a revamped New England team bounced back to make the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons after finishing 10-7.

Yet even finding Brady’s successor in former Alabama champion quarterback Mac Jones and a nearly $200 million free agent spending spree wasn’t enough to keep the Bills from a second straight division crown after an 11-6 season.

Buffalo ended the regular season with four consecutive victories while New England limped to the finish line with three losses in its final four contests.

“Regardless of what level you’re playing on, you understand what’s at stake (in the playoffs),” Jones said. “We know the Bills are a really good team, they have a great defense — top in the league — and we understand that they have great players.”

On the heels of its first AFC East title since 1995 last season, Buffalo forged a deep playoff run with a narrow win over Indianapolis in the wild-card round and a statement victory against Baltimore in the divisional round before ultimately falling short at Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game.

This season, the Patriots and Bills each took different routes to winning on the others’ home field.

On Dec. 6, New England used an unorthodox and weather-altered game plan to win at Buffalo 14-10 in snowy and windy conditions. Jones attempted a franchise-record-low three passes and totaled 19 yards as Damien Harris’ 111 rushing yards paced the Patriots’ powerful run game to a victory.

In the rematch on Dec. 26 in Foxborough, Mass., Allen got his revenge after completing 30 of 47 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns in Buffalo’s 33-21 triumph. With their receiving corps depleted, lesser known wideout Isaiah McKenzie had a breakout performance for the Bills with 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Conditions for the completion of this season’s trilogy between the teams appear more likely to be similar to those of the first meeting in Buffalo. Forecasts are calling for bitter cold temperatures in the single digits at the time of kickoff.

New England starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn (hip/ankle) was ruled out on Friday. He could be replaced by Yodny Cajuste, who has two starts among seven career appearances. But their options to replace Wynn also include veteran Trent Brown, who’s been starting at right tackle, and second-year lineman Michael Onwenu, who has played both guard and tackle.

Several other key New England players remain questionable for the game, including center David Andrews (shoulder), defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee), linebacker Jamie Collins (ankle), kicker Nick Folk (knee in non-kicking leg), running back Damien Harris (hamstring) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee).

The Bills are largely healthy, with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (knee) able to practice fully all week.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals heavily backed against Raiders on short rest

The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season, while the Raiders franchise now housed in Las Vegas last claimed a postseason victory during a 2002 season run to the Super Bowl.

A long drought will end for one of the franchises on Saturday when the fifth-seeded Raiders (10-7) battle the fourth-seeded Bengals (10-7) in an AFC wild-card contest in Cincinnati.

The Bengals opened as 5.0-point favorites at BetMGM but the line moved to 5.5 with Cincinnati being backed by the most tickets at the sportsbook. The Raiders have now been backed by 43 percent of the bets and 44 percent of the handle at BetMGM.

The line has remained at 5.0 at DraftKings, where the Bengals are being backed by 63 percent of the bets and 73 of the spread-line bets – both are the highest among the six games on Wildcard Weekend.

The Bengals have dropped eight consecutive playoff games, a skid that began with a 20-10 loss to the then-Los Angeles Raiders in the 1990-91 divisional round.

In recent years, Cincinnati locals have attributed the lack of postseason success to the “Curse of Bo Jackson.” In that game against the Raiders 31 years ago, linebacker Kevin Walker tackled Jackson after a 34-yard gain and Jackson injured his hip and never played another down of football.

The curse was news to third-year Bengals coach Zac Taylor when he was quizzed about it.

“We’re just way more focused on 2021, the present and going forward,” Taylor said. “So it’s OK to be aware of what’s gone on previously, but that’s not anything that takes up our time or our focus.”

The Raiders are in the postseason for just the second time since being clobbered 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.

They reached the postseason as the Oakland Raiders during the 2016 season, but quarterback Derek Carr missed the 27-14 wild-card loss to the Houston Texans due to a broken right fibula.

Carr and running back Jalen Richard are the team’s only players left from the 2016 squad.

“I hurt for him back then in 2016 when he wasn’t able to finish the season the way he wanted to finish it because again he was having such a stellar season,” Richard told reporters. “But now he’s coming in and he’s glowing. … I can’t wait to see him out there.”

Carr passed for a franchise-record 4,804 yards this season to go with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

He helped the Raiders win their last four games — each victory pivotal as Las Vegas didn’t clinch a berth until the final second of a 35-32 overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. The Raiders went 4-0 in OT games.

They now travel to Cincinnati on a short week to play another must-win game.

An unpleasant memory for Carr was the home game against the Bengals on Nov. 21 when Cincinnati pulled away in the fourth quarter for a convincing 32-13 victory.

Carr passed for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Bengals back Joe Mixon was the star with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.

“I felt that we didn’t put our best foot forward,” Carr said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to take anything away from them because they beat us and they did a good job of stopping us and getting the ball from us and all those things.

“It will be an exciting challenge for us.”

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow passed for a career-low 148 yards in the November contest. However, the second-year pro was hot down the stretch with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions over his final four appearances.

Burrow passed for 971 yards in his last two games — a career-high 525 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16 and 446 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs the following week.

Overall, Burrow set franchise records of 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns while being intercepted 14 times.

However, the 25-year-old quarterback is more interested in snapping that long stretch of feebleness in the postseason.

“I grew up in Ohio,” Burrow said. “I knew exactly everything that everybody says about the Bengals. I had a bunch of friends that are Bengals fans growing up, and I knew they hadn’t won a playoff game in a long time.”

The Bengals likely will be without defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee), who was listed as doubtful after not practicing all week. Defensive back Ricardo Allen (concussion) and wide receiver Stanley Morgan (hamstring) are questionable after taking part in limited practice Wednesday and Thursday.

The Raiders will be without defensive tackle Darius Philon, who sustained a season-ending knee injury against the Chargers. Defensive tackle Johnathan Haskins (back, knee) returned to limited practice Thursday and is questionable.

Tight end Darren Waller (knee), running back Josh Jacobs (ribs) and cornerback Casey Hayward (ankle) were limited all week but are expected to play.

The Raiders are 2-0 in the postseason against Cincinnati, also prevailing 31-28 in the divisional round of the 1975 season playoffs.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings favored vs. Steelers in must-win game for both

The playoffs don’t start until the middle of January, but according to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, his team has essentially started the postseason now.

“We keep saying when I talk to you all every week, it’s a must win,” he said Tuesday. “Because of the hole or whatever you want to say that we’ve kind of dug ourselves into, even though we’re not really in the hole because of the way the AFC is, we’re still behind some teams and have to do some work.”

At 6-5-1, the Steelers are presently on the outside looking in with five games left in the season, making their trip to Minnesota on Thursday night a crucial game. Thanks to that home tie last month with 1-10-1 Detroit, even a win against the Vikings would leave Pittsburgh trailing the Chargers, Bengals and Bills in the wild-card standings.

That’s why Pittsburgh’s 20-19 win Sunday over AFC North rival Baltimore was so critical. A loss would have ended any realistic hopes of making the playoffs, even in a 17-game season. The victory gave the Steelers a path, even though their last four games are against teams with records of at least .500.

And this one comes against a foe that is arguably even more desperate than them.

Minnesota (5-7) also failed to take advantage of a date with the Lions, as the Vikings became Detroit’s first victim of a terrible season on Sunday. The Vikings fell 29-27 in Detroit when Jared Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown for an 11-yard touchdown pass on the game’s last play.

Defense was Minnesota’s major issue. On a day where its offense finished with 426 total yards, including 340 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Kirk Cousins, the defense was carved up by Goff for 296 yards and three scores.

Poor coverage and a lack of pass rush marked the final drive: On 12 pass plays, the Vikings mustered real pressure on Goff just once, and that was only with help of a blitz.

“Weren’t tight enough in coverage,” safety Harrison Smith said of the last drive. “He did make some good throws, but whether our (pattern) matches were a little off or we weren’t tight enough, it was kind of a mixture of those things.”

The Vikings are 3.0-point favorites at home Thursday night by DraftKings, where Minnesota is being backed by 52 percent of the bets and 65 percent of the money. The line opened at 3.5 points and has not moved at PointsBet, where it’s the Steelers who have been supported by 72 percent of the bets and 82 percent of the money.

Minnesota should have reinforcements on defense Thursday night. Cornerback Patrick Peterson (COVID-19) and linebacker Anthony Barr (knee, hamstring) were full participants at practice this week, meaning they’ll likely play.

Running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) was a limited participant after sitting out against the Lions, but reportedly will play. Wide receiver Adam Thielen (ankle) didn’t practice this week and has been ruled out.

The Vikings enter this one a game behind Washington and San Francisco for the final NFC playoff spot. Their schedule features two remaining games with Chicago along with contests against playoff-bound teams in the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers.

This will be the only 19th meeting all-time between the teams, including Super Bowl IX won by the Steelers 16-6. The series is tied at nine, with Pittsburgh winning the most recent meeting 26-9 win in 2017 behind two touchdown passes by Roethlisberger.

–Field Level Media

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in East Rutherford.

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Giants, Daniel Jones heavy underdogs to snap prime-time drought

Playing under the lights in prime time hasn’t been a good situation for Daniel Jones.

The New York quarterback will look to earn his first win in eight such career starts when the Giants (3-6) visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) on Monday night.

Part of the 0-7 mark are two setbacks this season — a 30-29 loss to the Washington Football Team on a Thursday in September and a 20-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on a Monday earlier this month.

“I really haven’t thought about it,” Jones said of the dubious streak. “I didn’t realize it until recently, but we’re preparing for this week. Each game is different. Each game is a different opportunity, so we’ll look to prepare for this one.”

Overall, New York has lost nine consecutive night games — five on Mondays, three on Thursdays and one on Sunday — since Eli Manning guided the Giants to a 27-23 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Nov. 12, 2018.

They are heavy underdogs to break that streak Monday night. The Bucs are 11-points favorites at most sportsbooks, with Tampa Bay backed by 61 percent of the bets and 54 percent of the handle at DraftKings.

However, New York is the more popular spread-line bet at BetRivers, where the Giants are being backed by 65.74 percent of the bets and 62.09 percent of the handle.

AI-driven analytics company Quarter4 has forecast the Bucs with a 58 percent probability of winning the game outright.

The Giants had a chance for a victory over Tampa Bay last season when the teams played on a Monday night. New York led 14-3 late in the first half before the Buccaneers rallied for a 25-23 victory.

Tampa Bay leads the NFC South by one game, but the mood is a bit uneasy after consecutive losses to the New Orleans Saints and Washington.

The Buccaneers gave up 65 points in the two outings to see their ranking in scoring defense (23.6 points per game) slide to a tie for 17th.

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who has a team-best 5.5 sacks, said the focus this week has been on fixing what’s wrong.

“Start by looking in the mirror and just get back on track and get back to the mindset that we have to go out there and earn every play,” Barrett said. “We have to grind it out. Nothing is going to be given to us. Nothing is going to be easy, so we have to work for everything that we want.”

The offense continues to be solid as Tampa Bay ranks third in scoring (31.0 points per game). Quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL with 27 touchdown passes and has thrown for 2,870 yards and seven interceptions.

Receiver Mike Evans is second in the NFL with nine touchdown catches this season and has 70 in his career.

The 28-year-old Evans’ next score will tie him with team legend Mike Alstott (71 from 1996-2006) for the most total touchdowns in franchise history. Alstott, a fullback, rushed for 58 scores and had 13 as a receiver.

“For Mike (Evans) to do it, it shows an unbelievable level of consistency and availability,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said of the eighth-year pro. “He doesn’t miss many games. When you put those two together, with seven years of 1,000 yards, it’s availability and consistency at a very high level.”

As for New York, the Giants had a bye last week after beating the Las Vegas Raiders 23-16 on Nov. 7. The team also is hopeful running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) can return after a four-game absence.

Barkley was hurt during a 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 10. He has rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Barkley was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. Giants coach Joe Judge wasn’t ready to say the Giants can count on having Barkley against Tampa Bay, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is surely eager to call Barkley’s number.

“He’s just a great football player,” said Garrett, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. “I was on the other side of this for a couple of years against him, and he’s one of those players that can just really impact a game.”

And on the home sideline, tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to be active for the Bucs (6-3).

Both players are officially listed as questionable, and both are dependent on not having any pregame setbacks, per a report by ESPN on Monday.

Gronkowski, 32, has essentially missed the past six games with a back injury. He played just six snaps in Tampa’s Week 8 loss at New Orleans before exiting. He has 16 catches for 184 yards with four touchdowns in four games.

Also for the Bucs, WR Antonio Brown has been ruled out, nose tackle Vita Vea is doubtful, and cornerback Dee Delaney (ankle, concussion) and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (ankle) are questionable.

For the Giants, Lorenzo Carter, Nate Ebner, Logan Ryan and Sterling Shepard are all out. Running back Devontae Booker (hip), fullback Cullen Gillaspia (calf) and TE Kaden Smith (knee) are all questionable.

The Giants did activate left tackle Andrew Thomas from injured reserve Monday.

–Field Level Media

New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) runs off the field with the game ball after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-31, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in East Rutherford.

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Jets well-backed as 10-point underdogs at Colts

Mike White woke up as a relative unknown on Sunday but he’ll be soaking up the national spotlight four nights later when the New York Jets visit the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.

The 26-year-old White became an instant cult hero when he started in place of an injured Zach Wilson. He completed 37 of 45 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns during a 34-31 home win over the Cincinnati Bengals in his first career NFL start.

White tossed the decisive 13-yard scoring pass to tight end Tyler Kroft and he joined Cam Newton (422 yards in 2011 for the Carolina Panthers) as the only quarterbacks to top 400 yards in their first career starts.

He even received one of the ultimate New York compliments — a stadium full of fans chanting his name.

“At first, I kind of had to listen again,” White said with a smile. “Like, are they chanting my name?”

With Wilson (knee) still ailing, the Jets (2-5) are again calling on White to start against the Colts (3-5).

New York is being well-backed as a double-digit underdog. The 10-point line at DraftKings has seen 63 percent of the bets and 56 percent of the money placed on the Jets, while the opening 10.5-point line at PointsBet has also moved to 10 while drawing 67 percent of the bets and 69 percent of the money on New York.

AI-driven analytics company Quarter4 has forecast Indianapolis with a 59 percent chance of winning, but with a win the Jets would actually pass the Colts – a preseason favorite to win the South – in the AFC standings.

It’s even being floated that the fifth-round pick in 2018 by the Dallas Cowboys could remain the starter even after the return to health of Wilson, the 2021 No. 2 overall pick.

“That’s for you guys to talk about,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “I know exactly how we’ll operate. I know exactly what we’re looking for. If it’s something you want to play with and have fun with, I mean, it doesn’t surprise me.”

White split his college career at South Florida and Western Kentucky. He passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of his two campaigns with the Hilltoppers and the Cowboys took a flier on him.

Dallas released White among the final cuts prior to the 2019 season. The Jets later added him to the practice squad but he didn’t see the field until Wilson departed with a sprained right knee during a 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots on Oct. 24.

White did low-key preparation for the start against the Bengals and even caught a two-point conversion pass on a trick play.

“The only difference is that I got more reps at practice,” White said. “It felt normal, nothing out of the ordinary. I didn’t stay up watching film and put too much into my brain and get stressed out.”

PointsBet has set the Over/Under for White’s passing yards Thursday night at 255.5, with 59.5 percent of the bets on the Over but some large wagers leading to 89.4 percent of the money backing the Under.

The Colts are in must-win mode as they enter a two-game stretch of games against the lowly Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Indianapolis lost 34-31 in overtime to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw one interception with less than two minutes left in regulation and another in overtime.

“I feel like I beat us with those turnovers,” Wentz said. “As a competitor and my hardest critic, you feel that weight and you let your guys down even though I have the utmost confidence in our defense and they did a great job stopping them, but they were already in field-goal range.”

Wentz had been intercepted just once all season before the double dose of miscues. He has passed for 1,926 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The second-year duo of running back Jonathan Taylor and receiver Michael Pittman Jr. have been thriving for the Colts.

Taylor ranks second in the NFL with 649 rushing yards and is the favorite at +400 at PointsBet to score the first touchdown Thursday, with 33.9 percent of the public backing him.

Pittman leads Indianapolis with 45 receptions and 594 yards and is tied for the team lead with four scoring catches. The vastly improved Pittman has already surpassed last season’s figures of 40 catches for 503 yards and one touchdown.

“I think it’s just familiarity with the offense, but I don’t think that I am a different player from last year,” Pittman said. “I think that there is more opportunity, but I mean, there’s not a big difference. I didn’t all of a sudden take a magic pill.”

The 45.5 Over/Under at DraftKings has seen lopsided action with 62 percent of the bets and 63 percent of the money. The market opened at 46.5 points at PointsBet but has moved to 45 with 59 percent of the bets and 79 percent of the money backing the Over.

Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton (concussion) will miss the game after being hurt against Tennessee. Star guard Quenton Nelson (toe) didn’t participate in Tuesday’s walkthrough but is expected to play Thursday.

New York offensive tackle George Fant (ankle) and receiver Corey Davis (hip) were among the players who didn’t practice. Fant was injured against the Bengals while Davis could miss his second straight game.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

NFL announces partnership with Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel

The National Football League named Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel as its first-ever U.S. betting partners on Thursday night.

Specific terms of the agreements were not announced, but the negotiations reportedly involve five-year deals that will pay the league just shy of $1 billion. The NFL has opt-out clauses it can invoke toward the end of the deals if desired.

The NFL could sign additional operator partnerships at a lower tier going forward, according to reports.

“As the sports betting landscape has continued to evolve in the United States, we have been thoughtful with our strategy and are excited to announce three partners who share the NFL’s vision and goals,” said Renie Anderson, NFL chief revenue officer and executive vice president of NFL partnerships in a release. “Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.”

Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel will have permission to use the NFL logo and team marks on their platforms. Additionally, the three companies receive the right to integrate sports betting content directly into NFL Media properties, including NFL.com and the NFL app.

Previously, the NFL had partnered with sportsbooks in Australia and Latin America.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide players celebrate the victory against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Rose Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama-Ohio State action rolling in on Crimson Tide

Alabama, but not in a shootout.

That is the overwhelming sentiment among sports bettors less than a week out from the College Football Playoff title game.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide are 7.5-point favorites at DraftKings, where Alabama is being backed by 71 percent of the spread line bet and 76 percent of the handle. However, bettors are leaning toward No. 3 Ohio State’s +325 moneyline, which has attracted 55 percent of the bets compared to Alabama’s 45 percent at -305.

After the teams combined for 80 points in their respective semifinal victories, DraftKings installed the Over/Under at 76 points. The Under is currently being backed by 65 percent of the bets and 68 percent of the handle.

Alabama scored 50-plus points in three consecutive games before being “held” to 31 by Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl. The Crimson Tide raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and led 28-7 midway through the third before putting the offense largely on cruise control.

The bigger x-factor is Ohio State, which produced a stunning 49-28 win over No. 2 Clemson in the second semifinal in the Sugar Bowl

Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields threw six touchdown passes against the Tigers. That came after scuffling a bit in a 22-10 win over Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game.

Ohio State has averaged 43.4 points per game this season. But the Buckeyes’ body of work has been limited in a seven-game schedule to date, and they have yet to face a defense as deep and loaded with as much NFL talent as the Crimson Tide’s.

Alabama is also a 7.5-point favorite at PointsBet and BetMGM, where the Over/Under was being offered at 75 and 75.5, respectively, on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Bears biggest wild-card weekend underdogs

The Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record, but it’s the Chicago Bears who were installed as the biggest underdogs on Sunday night for wild-card weekend.

Fourth-seeded Washington will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who earned the NFC’s top wild-card spot. The Bucs were installed as 7.5-point favorites by DraftKings shortly after Washington secured the final playoff spot with a win over Philadelphia in the final regular-season game on Sunday night.

The Bears lost to top-seeded Green Bay on Sunday but qualified for the postseason at 8-8 when the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Chicago is a 9.5-point underdog at the New Orleans Saints by DraftKings.

The other NFC matchup will pit the Rams at the Seattle Seahawks, who are 4.5-point favorites.

The final AFC order was established when the Tennessee Titans won the South division with a last-second win over the Houston Texans. That relegated Indianapolis to the seventh seed in the conference, and the Colts have been installed as 6.5-point underdogs at No. 2 seed Buffalo in the first game on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Baltimore joined Tampa Bay as the only road favorites next weekend, with the Ravens favored by 3.5 points at Tennessee.

Wild-card weekend will conclude with Cleveland playing its first playoff game since 2002 at Pittsburgh, with the third-seeded Steelers installed as early 3.5-point favorites by DraftKings.

–Field Level Media