West Virginia sports betting fans, what does Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger mean to the wagering line?
At least three points.
And he is responsible for an enticing wagering variable.
NFL Week 10 betting preview
The Steelers’ spread of -9.5 against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals this week abruptly moved to -6.5 when Big Ben landed on the COVID-19 list.
Those who bet the Bengals early, at +9.5, receive a substantial bonus if Roethlisberger doesn’t play. Steelers backers who wager at -6.5 now receive a bonus if he does play, because that line will probably rise if he’s in the lineup.
Some already took “the middle,” betting Cincinnati +9.5 and then Pittsburgh at -6.5, hoping Pittsburgh wins by seven, eight or nine points. They hope for the rare achievement of hitting this bet twice. The line did drift late to Pittsburgh -7 on Wednesday afternoon. Bettors will watch this line like hawks to find an edge.
The Steelers will determine Roethlisberger’s status throughout the week, and his return would bolster the undefeated Steelers, one of the NFL’s great stories this year.
But here’s a logical thought that few would endorse: Roethlisberger would be well served to sit a game anyway.
He was injured significantly in the second quarter of the Steelers’ 24-19 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Roethlisberger limped off the field. Upon returning, he hesitated to put all of his weight on his left leg. With sheer guile, he led the Steelers back to victory.
He did look better at the end of the game than when he was injured, but the sight of Big Ben walking gingerly reminds Steelers fans of last year. He was hurt, and the Steelers missed the playoffs.
The Steelers are gambling as much as the online betting apps if Big Ben plays now.
But, of course, Roethlisberger wants to play.
Is anyone still holding that prop for a Steelers undefeated season? It’s in the neighborhood of +900 across the major sportsbooks.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals are the darlings of the NFL sports betting world. Gamblers don’t care that the Bengals have two actual wins. This team is a league-best 7-1 against the spread and crossed a major hurdle in defeating the established Tennessee Titans, who reached the AFC championship game last year, in their last game.
Betting aside, the Bengals have matched their entire win total from last season, and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, the top pick in the draft, keeps them in games.
The Bengals have jumped a major notch from last season and should become a threat to make the playoffs next year.
Can the Ravens notch two straight?
The Baltimore Ravens, beaten the previous week by the Steelers, righted their ship with a 24-10 triumph over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Now they visit the New England Patriots, who salvaged their season with an improbable come-from-behind victory over the New York Jets on Monday night.
Both teams have something to hang their optimistic hat on.
The Ravens defense provided a fumble-return TD when the Colts were about to go up two scores on them in the first quarter. And the defense kept Indianapolis scoreless the entire second half.
The offense made the two plays it had to. One was the blocking leading to the go-ahead touchdown on third and goal from the Indianapolis one-yard line in the third quarter. The second was Lamar Jackson selling the handoff on third-and-inches, enabling him to scamper around the end to score a touchdown, putting Baltimore up 21-10 in the final quarter.
The Patriots, meanwhile, had four long scoring drives against the Jets in the second half. They stole a game with 13 fourth-quarter points and would turn a corner if they can put two wins together. If the NFL expands the playoffs for any COVID-related reason, the Patriots would be on the periphery of consideration.
Cleveland Browns: Check the forecast
It seems early to watch the Cleveland weather, but that mattered two weeks ago when the Browns hosted the Las Vegas Raiders. Sportsbooks were expecting a shootout between two talented offensive teams.
And then came the winds, gusting up to 50 mph. A game ticketed for the 50-point range ended with 22, and the Browns lost 16-6.
Should meteorologists set the line for these games?
Sunday is projected for 20-30 mph wind and rain when the Browns host the Houston Texans. Put that into your handicapping equations, and it will pay to wait until Sunday for the biggest action on this game. Perhaps the winds will die down.
Two other notes concern individual players. Nick Chubb, a major part of the Cleveland Browns’ offense, is expected to return. This will not be a moment too soon, as Chubb and Kareem Hunt comprise the best backfield in the NFL. The Browns are without playmaker Odell Beckham Jr. for the rest of the year. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, placed on the COVID-19 list last week, will return if he tests negative this week. Watch the line on this one; he’s probably at least three points to the line if he can’t play.
The Washington Football Team visits the Detroit Lions and tries to rebound after flopping as the favorite against the New York Giants. Washington suffered a slew of uncharacteristic errors, including a fumbled punt return and a lost fumble in Giants’ territory that resulted in points scored.
Washington had the chance to take a major step forward but did not.
Around the league
Week 10 starts with an excellent Thursday night matchup between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Titans come off a razor-thin, half-point cover against the Chicago Bears, while the Colts lost to the Ravens.
The Titans have been the worst defensive team in the league on third down and have been bad at rushing the passer.
Many games involving Indianapolis concern the fate of quarterback Philip Rivers. He usually makes one extremely bad play per game. Can he avoid that against a weak Tennessee defense, and can Indy’s defense stop top running back Derrick Henry?
The Titans also have a strong passer in Ryan Tannehill and a big-play threat in A.J. Brown.
There are two must-see games with exciting young quarterbacks.
Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert — the fifth and sixth overall picks in the NFL Draft in April — meet on the same field Sunday.
Tua’s Miami Dolphins are slight favorites against the hard-luck Los Angeles Chargers, who have lost consecutive games on the final play and also had a game-winning field goal rattle off the goal post a couple of weeks earlier. Herbert has done an excellent job for the Chargers, but they can’t close the deal.
In Arizona, Kyler Murray of the Cardinals and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills may produce a rushing sideshow. They are two of the best running quarterbacks in the league. Buffalo has been closing these types of games all season; Arizona has not been lately.
Both teams, incidentally, have a victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Here’s the lock of the year you can take to the bank. The winless New York Jets positively won’t lose this week.
That’s what bye weeks are for. Good luck!