One NFL team was forced to start a player who had not played quarterback since he was in college, another had its county health officials declare a moratorium against contact sports, and numerous players are awaiting clearance to play after positive COVID-19 tests.
It all amounts to a new level of difficulty for bookmakers for Week 13.
According to analysis from TheLines.com, which tracks odds in the US regulated sports betting market, there is tremendous uncertainty as sportsbooks release their opening lines.
The Denver Broncos began last week with four quarterbacks. But one tested positive for COVID-19, and the other three were deemed high-risk contacts because they were observed not wearing masks around each other. So the team was forced to start Kendall Hinton, a wide receiver on its practice squad. The results were predictably bad: one completion in nine pass attempts, 13 yards, two interception, and a 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Santa Clara County over the weekend banned contact sports for three weeks. Santa Clara is home to the San Francisco 49ers, who now will be forced to play two “home” games during that span in Arizona.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to play 26 November but numerous positive tests by Ravens players forced the game to be postponed twice, first to 29 November, then to 1 December. With the team’s 30 November practice cancelled, questions remain whether the game will be played this week, and who will play quarterback for Baltimore.
“Oddsmakers knew before the season that playing a full schedule in a pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges,” Brett Collson, lead analyst for TheLines.com, said in a statement. “During the last week, though, we have seen just how pronounced those questions can be. This is a week when odds could shift significantly, and that will likely be a fact of life for the rest of the season.”