The Daily Sweat: NFL divisional odds can move quickly, just look at the NFC East

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Things can change quickly in the NFL.

Week 1 is in the books and it’s easy to overreact to what we saw on the field, especially in a weekend where underdogs went 12-4 against the spread and nine underdogs won outright. There were some really surprising outcomes, but it’s important to remember that it’s just one game and the season will have many ebbs and flows before a champion is finally crowned.

But even with that said, that didn’t stop the oddsmakers at BetMGM from making some substantial moves in the divisional odds across the league. Just take the NFC East for example.

Last week, the Dallas Cowboys were the betting favorites at +135 with the Washington Football Team next at +220 and the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles rounding out the division at +450 and +500, respectively.

It took one weekend for those figures to change quite a bit.

The Cowboys, despite a last-second loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs on opening night, are still the favorites, now at +125. The rest of the division has completely shuffled. The Eagles moved up to +260. Washington dropped to +375. The Giants dropped, too, and are now listed at +500.

Why the changes? Well for one, Washington had a significant injury to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in its loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The franchise brought in Fitzpatrick to provide much-needed stability to the position. That didn’t last long, as the veteran will be sidelined indefinitely due to a hip injury.

Members of the Washington Football Team staff check on condition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) after he was injured on a hit by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Members of the Washington Football Team staff check on the condition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) after he was injured on a hit by Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu during the first half Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Landover, Maryland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Eagles, meanwhile, went on the road and beat the Atlanta Falcons and looked impressive doing so. With Carson Wentz now in Indianapolis, Jalen Hurts is the man at quarterback now for Philly. He played great, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns while tacking on 62 rushing yards in a 32-6 victory.

The Eagles were the division’s only team to win in Week 1 as the Giants were knocked off at home by the Denver Broncos, and did not play particularly well in the process.

And the NFC East wasn’t the only division to see this type of movement. Following a road win over the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers are now not far behind the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns in the AFC North odds. Last week, the Steelers were listed at +425 at BetMGM. Now they are +300, right behind the Ravens (+130) and Browns (+175). The Cincinnati Bengals made a big leap too from +2500 to +1600 following a Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

So what should you take away from this? If you have a strong sentiment about a particular team (and haven’t already placed a preseason wager), you may want to exercise some patience to get the number you’re looking for. It could take only one game for the odds to move considerably — and potentially in your favor.

Ravens vs. Raiders a whirlwind for bettors

Monday Night Football was a whirlwind. The Baltimore Ravens took an early 14-0 lead over the Las Vegas Raiders, but the Raiders battled back to set up a wild fourth quarter.

The Ravens were 3-point favorites and the total was set at 50.5. When the fourth quarter began, the Ravens led 17-10, so Ravens and under bettors were looking good. Things changed quickly.

Three touchdowns were scored in the span of less than six minutes — two by the Raiders and one by the Ravens — to tie the score at 24-24 with 3:44 to play. Under bettors were obviously cooked at that point, and those who had the Ravens covering were biting their nails.

It looked like a push was coming when Justin Tucker nailed a 47-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 27-24 lead with 37 seconds to play, but the Raiders’ offense quickly advanced the ball past midfield and Daniel Carlson sent the game to overtime with a 55-yard field goal of his own.

Overtime was a wacky sequence of events that eventually culminated in a 31-yard, walk-off TD pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones to give the Raiders a dramatic 33-27 victory.

It capped off a historic Week 1 for NFL underdogs, who finished 12-4 against the spread with nine outright victories.

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones (7) celebrates after scoring a game winning touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during overtime in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Zay Jones (7) celebrates after scoring a game-winning touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during overtime Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

No football? Let’s shift back to baseball for a few days

Week 1 of the NFL season has come and gone and there aren’t any football games — pro or college — on the schedule until Thursday. That gives us a few days to turn our focus to the playoff races in Major League Baseball.

The best games are in the AL East where the Tampa Bay Rays have opened up a huge lead in the division. But three other teams are duking it out for the two wild-card spots. The Rays are currently eight games up, but the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are all within a single game of one another.

Toronto has won 15 of its last 17 games, including a 8-1 victory over the Rays on Monday night. The second game of their home series continues Tuesday night and the Blue Jays are -140 favorites with Drew Rasmussen on the mound against Tampa’s Jose Berrios.

The Red Sox and Yankees, meanwhile, are both on the road. The Red Sox, losers of three of their last four, have Game 2 of their three-game set with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners won 5-4 on Monday night, but Boston is the -145 road favorite with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound against Seattle lefty Tyler Anderson.

The Yankees have Gerrit Cole on the mound against the last-place Baltimore Orioles and are huge favorites at -350.

Best bet of the day

I’ll stick with the AL East and take the over nine runs in the Rays vs. Blue Jays game at -105.

The Rays mustered just one hit against Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah on Monday night. Manoah went eight innings and struck out 10, and the only run the Rays scored came via a ninth-inning solo homer from Austin Meadows. It was an 8-1 victory for the red-hot Blue Jays, and I expect a bounce-back effort from the Rays offensively on Tuesday night.

The Toronto bats have been on fire lately, averaging nearly nine runs per game in the month of September. The Blue Jays have either hit the over or pushed in six straight, and I like that trend to continue on Tuesday night.

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