Line shifts caused by Rodgers, Romo

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Line shifts caused by Rodgers, Romo

Injuries have always been a part of the game. When a key player goes down, it not only alters the fate of his team but drastically changes things from a handicapping perspective.

With that said, Week 17 this year may take the cake. Not only are there a pair of de facto playoff games on the slate – do-or-die contests between the Eagles and Cowboys for the NFC East title and the Packers and Bears for the NFC North – but in each matchup, the game itself has taken a back seat to a massive injury revelation.

In the NFC East play-in, Dallas – after clawing back last week vs. Washington to reach this juncture for the third straight year – officially revealed on Friday that Tony Romo was undergoing back surgery and is done for the season. On the other end of that spectrum, Green Bay announced on Thursday that Aaron Rodgers – after missing the past two months with a broken collarbone – had been given the green light to return for the NFC North play-in vs. Chicago.

Naturally, the implications for all four teams can’t be overstated: The Cowboys and Bears have seen their playoff hopes dealt crushing blows before even taking the field, while the Eagles and Packers now have their paths to Wild-Card Weekend mapped out.

As for the reverberations in Vegas, oddsmakers wisely refrained from posting a number on the Green Bay-Chicago game until Rodgers’ status was revealed. What was likely going to be open close to a pickem line sans Rodgers was instead hung predominately as Green Bay -2.5 with him.

Not surprisingly, bettors jumped on the Packers, with 74 percent of tickets coming in on the Green Bay side as of Saturday afternoon. All that action forced many books to push the line onto the key number of 3.

While the books were able to protect themselves in the case of the Packers game, they weren’t so fortunate with Dallas. Unaware of Romo’s injury, most oddsmakers opened the Eagles as 2-point favorites before beaming the line up to a full touchdown upon news of Kyle Orton getting the start.

For sharp guys – or anyone, for that matter – who laid the points with Philly early on, a huge middling opportunity was created by the 5-point adjustment. In other words, you can be sure the books will be pulling hard for a blowout in Dallas on Sunday night.

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