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How Has COVID Affected the Point Spread?

December 21, 2021
Covid affects point spread in the NFL

Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant, is spreading pretty quickly throughout the world and, of course, here in the U.S. Just one look at professional sports and you can see its impact. The NHL just recently put a pause on their season electing to take a week off and allow teams to attempt to get back to full strength. 

On Monday, a record 47 NFL players were placed on the Reserve/COVID list. Since last Monday, nearly 200 players have tested positive for COVID. The NFL has new testing protocols in place to allow players to get back on the field quicker.

In the NBA, it’s a similar story. More than 70 players are currently in the league’s health and safety protocols. Five games have been postponed just this week. Surely, COVID has had a dramatic impact on play in all the professional sports leagues, but how has it affected point spreads?

 

NFL COVID Impact

The Cleveland Browns were a 5-point home favorite against the ailing Las Vegas Raiders. The Browns were scheduled to play a nationally televised game on late Saturday afternoon, but a number of additions to the COVID list forced the league to move the game to Monday.

With starting quarterback Baker Mayfield out as well as backup Case Keenum – both due to positive COVID tests – it was up to third-stringer Nick Mullens to lead the Browns to victory. Oh, the point spread in that game? When lines closed just before game time, the Browns were a 3.5-point home underdog, an 8.5 point swing!

The Washington Football Team had really turned things around with four straight wins before a loss last week to Dallas. Washington headed into this week’s game against the Eagles as a 2.5-point underdog. Then, just like in Cleveland, the number of players on the COVID list forced the NFL to move Sunday’s game to Tuesday night. 

Washington starting QB Taylor Heinicke and backup Kyle Allen are both still on the list and remain out. That means Kyle Shurmur or Garrett Gilbert will start for Washington. The line on the game was as high as Eagles -12 on Friday but has been bet back down to Philly -7.5 at most online sportsbooks. Bettors and sportsbooks alike are waiting with bated breath to see if Heinicke and Allen will be cleared at the last minute. The final test is at 4pm EST.

 

The Latest in the NBA

Covid spread in NBA

Covid has affected NBA spread betting as well

Phoenix is pretty good this season. The Suns are currently 24-5 and have the NBA’s best record right now. On Tuesday, they play the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, the Lakers have had their share of struggles, but they are currently 16-15 and in seventh place in the Western Conference standings. 

Last year, the two teams met in the NBA playoffs. The Lakers, of course, get a lot of love from the betting public, but in the final three playoff games last season played in L.A., the Suns were a 6.5-point underdog twice and a 3.5-point underdog once. The teams have played once this season back in October. The game was also in L.A. and the Suns were a -1 favorite.

Fast forward a couple months and the Suns play in L.A. again on Tuesday night. As of this writing, the Suns are a 7-point favorite. Yes, part of it has to do with Anthony Davis being out for the Lakers. Davis has an MCL injury that will keep him out for a while, but the Lakers have six players in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Without the impact of COVID, a 7-point spread in this game just doesn’t seem possible.

 

Bottom Line

The bottom line for bettors in all sports is make sure you know who is playing and who isn’t before making your wagers. On Tuesday night, the Seahawks travel to face the Rams. Seattle WR Tyler Lockett is still on the COVID list. He may come off of it, but the smart bettor is going to find out before placing that bet. Read your injury reports and bet wisely.