Accounting for Injuries in the NFL

Accounting for Injuries in the NFL


Monday Night's Washington/Dallas game has been in the news a lot all week because of injuries. Tony Romo announced Sunday he would be able to play despite suffering a cracked rib and a punctured lung last week. A few other guys will either play hobbled, or sit the game out entirely.

  • Dallas receiver Miles Austin is listed as "out" because of a hamstring strain. He always seems to be involved in big plays just when the Cowboys need his absence will be felt.

  • Dallas receiver Dez Bryant is listed as "questionable" because of a bruised quadriceps. He's obviously a big time talent. But, he's such a target that he's become injury prone.

  • Dallas running back Felix Jones is listed as "questionable" after suffering a dislocated shoulder. I'm sure that was as painful as it sounds.

How should handicappers deal with a game like this? Should you just bet the other side because there's likely to be a drop-off from the normal level of play for Dallas. Should you bet on the Cowboys because everyone's going to bring extra motivation for a big game like this...and your money should always go on the most motivated team? Should you pass the game and wait for a better spot next week? There's no rule that says you have to bet every game.

For me, the key is finding line value. What's great about Las Vegas is that the oddsmakers DO have to come up with something in every game! They can't just take a night off and go home early to watch "Dancing with the Stars." Monday Night is the biggest betting night of the week during football season...and sportsbooks need the traffic. Oddsmakers will do what they can to post a good number. Sports bettors are in a true position of power. They get to see the number before deciding what to do.

I'm not going to talk too much specifically about Monday's game because I need to protect my released play for my paying clients. I'm happy to outline my general strategies for handicapping matchups like this where injuries are likely to be a big factor.

  • First, I focus on motivation. Shorthanded teams will pick their spots very carefully because you don't want to make things worse by getting MORE people hurt! If this week's game is relatively unimportant in the big picture (maybe it's a road game you were supposed to lose anyway, or the opponent is from the other conference), then I'll fade a shorthanded opponent. If the game is important, then I'd expect to get a big effort.

I may end up fading Dallas tonight, but it won't be because I think they're going to take the week off. A home game on national TV against an archrival is about as big as it gets. There will be other games later in the season though where I fade an injured team because I don't expect any emotional fire. In fact, I can almost assure you now that a PINNACLE  or two in the NFL will be keyed off that edge down the road.

  • Secondly, I look at depth at the positions in question. Houston lost Arians Foster late in the Preseason to a hamstring injury. They had some depth at running back...and they also run the classic Denver schematic that always seems to work for whoever is carrying the ball. Remember I had Houston for a huge play in their season opener against the Colts, even though Foster was out. That wasn't an injury that scared me at all in that spot (and, a home opener against a divisional rival would guarantee I'd get a motivated effort from the whole team).

If a team doesn't have quality reserves at a position that's been hit hard by injuries, then I'm much more likely to fade them.

  • Thirdly, I look at the opponent. Is the other side well-positioned to exploit any weakness created by the injuries? Let's say a defensive secondary has a couple of backups on the field. Tom Brady will humiliate that team. A bad quarterback probably won't. A great defense may absolutely stifle a backup running back, whole a softer defense won't. Football is a lot like chess in terms of play-by-play schematics. Think about how injuries have affected how the pieces may or may not be able to attack.

You can purchase my Monday Night play...and all of my pro and college football selections here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about my service, call my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946. Be sure and check on my rates for postseason baseball too. I don't get to talk much about baseball during football season here in my articles...but the playoffs begin later this week. (And, that great PINNACLE record you keep hearing about that goes back several months includes a lot of baseball!)

Don't let the injuries in tonight's game psyche you out. If you're having trouble making a final decision, go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT on the most important betting night of the week!


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