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Behind the lines

Status of several star players generates havoc for bettors

September 14, 2007|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

The NFL season is only a week old and injuries have already begun to create havoc with Las Vegas oddsmakers.

From New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's mysterious shoulder injury to Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams' injured ribs to Baltimore quarterback Steve McNair's nagging groin injury, betting lines have been moving all over the place heading into Sunday's Week 2 because of the questionable health status of several key players.

Take the Giants game against Green Bay at the Meadowlands. If Manning is able to play, the Giants will probably be a four-point favorite on Sunday.

But if Manning sits and his backup Jared Lorenzen gets the call, the game may be switched down to a pick.

If that happens, it would be because of Lorenzen, a large-size former standout at Kentucky who has limited NFL game experience.

In the case of Williams, who is doubtful for Sunday's game against New Orleans, Tampa Bay -- which lost its season opener last week -- is listed as a 3 1/2 -point underdog.

But that line is expected to grow before kickoff if Williams does not play, which may be what longshot gamblers are looking for when you consider that the Buccaneers are playing at home and have a respectable proven backup running back in Michael Pittman.

McNair's groin problem is probably the most intriguing injury to watch out for this week. Listed as day-to-day, McNair has a history of getting injured, and oddsmakers are well aware of that..

But with the Ravens playing against the New York Jets -- expected to start Kellen Clemens at quarterback in place of injured Chad Pennington -- the line for this week's game has actually been taken off many boards.

College football

The days when Troy sneaked up on larger, better-known football programs have ended. The Trojans are 0-2 heading into tonight's game against Oklahoma State and have been outscored, 105-57, by Florida and Arkansas while giving up nearly 1,000 yards of total offense.

The Cowboys, who are 1-1, are 10-point favorites with a lot of positive trends on their side. In its last six games against teams with losing records, Oklahoma State is 5-1 against the spread and the Cowboys are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the spread when they are road favorites.

Another bad sign for Troy? The Trojans are 1-4 against the spread in their last five home games.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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