The Packers vs. Chiefs game was expected to be one of the closest games of Week 9. Oddsmakers had the Chiefs listed as a slight favorite for most of the week, but by Tuesday night the spread had dropped to be a virtual pick ’em matchup.
Then, some massive news came in. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will miss the game as a result of a positive COVID-19 test.
Naturally, that had an immediate impact on the betting line.
There’s no position in football that’s more important than quarterback, so when a player like Rodgers is knocked out of action, betting lines can move quickly and are often volatile. Once the dust settles and the rapid line movement comes to an end, gamblers can properly assess whether there’s an advantage with either side by comparing it to the initial point spreads.
Here’s a look at the line movement that has come after Rodgers’ positive COVID test.
Tracking Packers vs. Chiefs odds, point spreads
The point spread of the Packers vs. Chiefs game has moved steadily throughout the week. The game started with the Chiefs being slight favorites, became a more even matchup and then rocketed back up after the Rodgers news.
Here’s a look at the notable changes in the line movement over the course of the past few days.
Advanced point spread: Chiefs (-2.5)
The Week 9 advanced point spreads for each game were available before Week 8 action began. They were then altered based on the results of Week 8’s action to better reflect what happened during that week of play.
Before beating the Giants by just three points, the Chiefs were favored by less than a field goal against the Packers. Green Bay had already knocked off Arizona at the time these spreads were made available, so it makes sense that oddsmakers wouldn’t want to make them three-point underdogs or higher.
If the Packers were three-point underdogs, that would give them a good chance to push in a close game, as a three-point winning margin is the most common in the NFL. Per The Action Network, 14.8 percent of NFL games have been decided by three points since 2003. Bettors were likely to roll with the Packers either way, so the sportsbooks protected themselves by ensuring that a three-point Chiefs win wouldn’t end up being a Packers cover or push.
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Point spread before Rodgers is ruled out: Chiefs (-1)
There was a lot of action on the Packers before the Rodgers news. After all, the Packers are on a seven-game winning streak and the Chiefs have been up-and-down and are coming off a poor showing on “Monday Night Football” against the Giants.
As more money came in on the Packers, the line continued to shift toward them. In some sportsbooks, it fell as low as a true “pick ’em” game. Over at FanDuel Sportsbook, however, the Chiefs leveled at one-point favorites.
Point spread after Rodgers is ruled out: Chiefs (-7.5)
Once Rodgers was declared out, this line moved to make the Chiefs more than a TD favorite. It’s an understandable shift. Rodgers is the reigning MVP and Jordan Love has thrown seven career passes, so it’s hard to know what to expect from him.
While before the books were trying to capitalize on the public’s desire to bet the Packers, they’re doing the opposite now. The public will want to bet the Chiefs more now with Rodgers out, so oddsmakers are moving the Chiefs line to be a two-score game.
A 7.5-point spread isn’t ideal to bet the favorites on. A seven-point win is the second-most common result in football to only a field-goal win, so again, if this spread is accurate, it seems like that the Chiefs will win by a touchdown. That wouldn’t be enough to earn the cover here.
Packers vs. Chiefs best bets, expert picks, prediction
Though the Packers (+7.5) are without Aaron Rodgers, they should still probably be the pick here. The Chiefs haven’t played well of late and just struggled to beat the Giants. They will eventually bounce back, but the Packers are a good enough team to compete without Rodgers. And we’ve already seen backup quarterbacks have their share of success this season.
Just last week, Cooper Rush started a game for the Cowboys in place of Dak Prescott. Like Love, Rush was unproven. But with a solid supporting cast, he was able to win (and cover) against Kirk Cousins and the Vikings.
Love may not be lucky enough to win, but he should have a chance to keep the Packers’ offense moving. And all he has to do is keep this within a margin of seven points.
That seems doable. Seven has been the margin of victory in 9.4 percent of NFL games since 2003, making it the second-most common outcome next to only three. That means if this game is close to the spread, odds are it will be decided by seven points. So, we’re getting the 0.5-point hook here with the underdog, and that’s some solid line value.
Also, Matt LaFleur has been elite against the spread since taking over as the Packers’ head coach. They are 29-15 ATS under his watch, good for a 65.9 percent cover rate. That’s the best mark in the NFL during that time. He is 7-3 as an underdog in that time too, so that bodes well in this matchup.
Conversely, the Chiefs are just 23-22-1 ATS in that same span and have posted a 10-17 ATS mark since 2020. That cover percentage of 37 is second-worst in the NFL to only the Jets.
The Packers have a rest advantage over the Chiefs as well. They’re coming off a mini-bye while the Chiefs just played on “Monday Night Football.” The Packers will have to get Love ready to start, but they still have extra time at their disposal.
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If the Chiefs were playing better, you could make the case for them. But for now, go with the Packers. Love should be able to keep this one close.
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