The AFC Playoff picture is almost set with five teams having already clinched a berth in the postseason; however, four teams are still competing for the sixth and final spot. In fact, earlier this week the popular offshore sportsbook, Bovada, released playoff odds for these four remaining contenders.
— SportsInsights.com (@SportsInsights) December 24, 2014
The San Diego Chargers (9-6) have the easiest path of any team, as they can wrap up the 6th slot in the playoffs with a win over the Chiefs this weekend. The 9-6 Ravens, who are currently 13.5-point home favorites against the Browns this week, would clinch a playoff berth with a win coupled with a Chargers loss. If both the Chargers and Ravens lose, the Texans could sneak in with a victory over the lowly Jaguars (Houston is currently a 9.5-point favorite).
The Chiefs need a near-miracle to continue their season, as they would need all three of these teams to lose this weekend. The odds of that happening took a significant hit on Friday morning when it was announced that Alex Smith would miss Sunday’s game due to a lacerated spleen.
Prior to news of this injury, the Chiefs were receiving 48% of spread bets as a 4-point home favorite over the Chargers. Once it was announced that former Missouri Tigers QB Chase Daniel would be lining up behind center, the game was taken off the board across the sports betting marketplace.
The game re-opened as a pick ’em and, despite 70% of bettors taking the Chargers, KC actually moved to -1 at market-setting sportsbooks such as CRIS and Pinnacle. This indicates that oddsmakers believe Alex Smith is worth 3-points to the spread — the exact same number as Panthers QB Cam Newton.
In his six-year NFL career Chase Daniel has attempted just 48 passes, completing 32 of them for 303 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. His lone attempt this season came during a Week 15 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
It’s interesting to note that Alex Smith isn’t the only starting quarterback to be replaced this weekend. When it was announced that rookie Connor Shaw would replace an injured Brian Hoyer (Shoulder) for the Browns, Cleveland dropped from +8.5 to +13 at Pinnacle. This would suggest that Hoyer is worth 4.5-points to the spread, although it should be noted that oddsmakers likely prefer the veteran Chase Daniel to the inexperienced Shaw.
Week 17 is far and away the most unpredictable week of the NFL season, and we frequently see late-minute scratches leading to massive line movement. For that reason, we would encourage bettors to continually visit our free NFL odds page for the latest odds, public betting trends, injury news and more.
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