When New England quarterback Cam Newton was ruled out of Monday’s game at Kansas City after testing positive for COVID-19, the line shifted 4½ points in favor of the Chiefs.
Kansas City closed as an 11½-point favorite after the line opened at 7.
“It was about a 3½-point adjustment for the quarterback,” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said. “The rest was money.”
After Patriots backup QBs Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham each finished with two turnovers in a 26-10 loss, Bogdanovich said he would increase the line move from Newton to Hoyer/Stidham to 4½ points.
In May, South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews made point values for all 32 NFL starting quarterbacks based on a one-game adjustment to the line from each team’s starter to backup. At the quarter mark of the season, I asked him, Bogdanovich and Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Ed Salmons which quarterbacks mean the most and least to the point spread.
Wilson, Mahomes, Rodgers
Opinions differ on the number of points, but all three longtime Las Vegas oddsmakers put Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers near the top of the list.
“It’s mostly based on the backup,” Salmons said. “If Russell Wilson went out, you could probably literally take 10 points off their numbers. He’s a one-man show. He does everything.”
Andrews and Bogdanovich each assigned a value of at least seven points to Wilson, whose backup in Seattle is Geno Smith.
“Geno has been a horror show,” Bogdanovich said.
Bogdanovich considers Mahomes, whose backup is Chad Henne, the most valuable to the line at seven or eight points.
“There can’t be a bigger difference than Mahomes to Henne,” he said. “I know one thing. Chad Henne ain’t no bargain.”
Andrews assigned a value of five points to Mahomes in May and is sticking with it, partly because of coach Andy Reid.
“Andy Reid has always been great with backup quarterbacks,” Andrews said. “For one game, he’d probably do great again because they have so many weapons.”
If Mahomes missed Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Salmons also projected a five-point adjustment to the line, which is Kansas City -12½.
“Obviously, Mahomes is the best player,” he said. “But with the way the Chiefs are playing right now, if they did play Chad Henne this week, they’d probably still be 7½-point favorites over the Raiders.”
The Packers drafted QB Jordan Love in the first round this year, but Rodgers’ backup is Tim Boyle. Bogdanovich said Rodgers is worth seven or eight points to the spread.
“With the way Rodgers has played, he’s at least seven,” Andrews said.
Big Ben, Brady
Andrews also assigned seven-point values to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, and Salmons also puts them near the top of the list. Big Ben’s backup is Mason Rudolph, and Brady’s is Blaine Gabbert.
“Pittsburgh has a huge drop-off. Roethlisberger is an NFL quarterback, but the two kids behind him are beyond awful,” Salmons said. “Tampa Bay is another team with a huge drop-off. Blaine Gabbert is so bad.”
On some teams, a quarterback change has virtually no impact on the line, such as the Jets starting Joe Flacco in place of injured Sam Darnold this week against Arizona.
“I don’t think there’s any difference there,” Bogdanovich said.
In other cases, a quarterback change can attract more support on a team, such as Washington starting Kyle Allen on Sunday against the Rams after benching Dwayne Haskins. Los Angeles opened as a 9-point favorite, but money on the Football Team has caused the line to drop to 7.
“The professional (bettors) think it’s an improvement,” Bogdanovich said.
Salmons sees virtually no adjustment to the line from Drew Brees to Saints backup QBs Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston or from Philip Rivers to Colts backup Jacoby Brissett.
Andrews assigned a two-point value to Raiders QB Derek Carr in May over backup Marcus Mariota. But he would bump that number up now that Carr’s backup is Nathan Peterman.
“It’s getting close to six now,” Andrews said, “because Carr has played really well and Peterman is not a very good quarterback.”
If the Patriots play the Broncos as scheduled Monday, oddsmakers have to account for both teams’ quarterback situations, as Denver starter Drew Lock is questionable. Brett Rypien is expected to start, and Jeff Driskel also is in the mix.
“Lock is 2½ or three points better than those yo-yos,” Bogdanovich said. “There’s all kinds of stuff going on with COVID and two quarterbacks possibly out. Everything else is good.”