NFL line movement: Injuries and COVID shifting Week 16 lines

·4 min read

Three weeks remain in the NFL regular season. In the AFC, there are 10 teams with either seven or eight wins. In the NFC, there are three 7-7 teams and two 6-8 teams competing for the final wild-card spot in the conference. Massive games will litter the schedule over the next three weeks, and this week has plenty of them. With that being said, teams are dealing with unfortunate injury and COVID situations. All of these factors are leading to an active betting market with plenty of noteworthy line movement.

Catastrophic Week 15 for Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were shut out by the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. It was an ugly loss, but a loss isn't the end of the world for Tampa Bay, which sits in a good position. However, the fallout from that loss has been ugly.

Tom Brady went from an odds-on favorite to win MVP to now currently being a toss-up with Aaron Rodgers. The outlook for Brady has been impacted severely by what happened in Week 15.

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 19:  Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches from the sidelines during the 2nd quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tom Brady will be without some of his top weapons this weekend, causing a significant line move. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Chris Godwin is done for the year due to a torn ACL. Mike Evans injured his hamstring and is week-to-week. Leonard Fournette is also likely done for the regular season. On the defensive side, Lavonte David is done for the season.

The line prior to Sunday night's game saw the Buccaneers as 14.5-point favorites in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. After the injuries, the Buccaneers moved down to 11.5-point road favorites. The line keeps falling, as the Buccaneers are currently just 10-point favorites.

Fournette, Godwin and Evans are the top three weapons on this team, so losing them is obviously going to hurt. The team will likely be getting back Antonio Brown, who should join a receiving core featuring Breshad Perriman, Tyler Johnson and Scottie Miller. It's a big-time downgrade from what Tom Brady is used to playing with on this team. The total for this game has moved from 48.5 points to its current total of 44.

COVID issues for the Chiefs

We watched Nick Mullens play an NFL game on Monday afternoon and then watched Garrett Gilbert start an NFL game on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the end of COVID disruptions for the NFL this season.

Kansas City has placed 10 players on the COVID list, including its top two weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Kicker Harrison Butker is on the list as well as defensive players Chris Jones, Nick Bolton and Charvarius Ward.

Kansas City opened as a 10.5-point favorite over the Steelers, but the COVID outbreak has pushed that line down. Currently, the Chiefs are just 7.5-point favorites.

On the bright side for the Chiefs, they announced no new positive tests on Wednesday so there's hope that the worst of the outbreak is behind them. There's still plenty of talent on this team, but losing Kelce and Hill definitely makes a significant impact.

Jacksonville a road favorite?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are road favorites. This is not a drill.

Jacksonville opened as a 2.5-point road underdog against the New York Jets. That seemed fair for a matchup between two very bad teams with struggling rookie quarterbacks.

However, the Jets have been dealing with a bit of a COVID outbreak themselves. Head coach Robert Saleh tested positive on Wednesday, putting his status for this weekend in question. However, I have a hard time believing that a rookie coach with a 3-11 record is worth anything to the point spread.

New York also has some players on the COVID list, most noticeably offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker and defensive end John Franklin-Myers. Again, nothing on the list feels worth anywhere near 3.5 points.

We saw the line move in favor of Jacksonville last week, as it closed as a 6-point favorite over the Houston Texans before losing straight up. Maybe bettors are trying to get their money back from Jacksonville's performance last week? Nevertheless, Jacksonville is now a 1-point road favorite over the Jets.

Other notable moves

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