If you're looking for injury news to significant players in the National Football League, Houston got a lesson on Tuesday morning — follow the smoke from the gambling community. Tuesday morning, bettors had to check and make sure they weren't still drunk from Sunday night, as several sports books drastically swung the line of the Texans game this Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills from around 8 or 9 points down to the Texans being favored by one point.
It doesn't take a professional bettor to know that that is monstrous swing, one that can only occur with an injury to a quarterback. As it turns out, the Texans happen to have a starting quarterback, the spectacular Deshaun Watson, who's been sacked 18 times and hit another 53 times, not to mention the numerous tackles he's sustained on several of his 34 rushing attempts. Also, Watson was spotted being check out by a team physician with a stethoscope during Sunday night's 19-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
As it turns out, those line moves (many sports books removed the game from betting availability altogether) were warranted, as the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson reported this shortly after the gambling brushfire:
A few things to consider here:
4. I don't know what it says that I actually feel okay that "day to day" is the news, when you consider that the tweet we all received about a Deshaun Watson injury was about a torn ACL ending his season. "Chest" is a little vague, as that could mean a chest bruise, a rib injury, or even a punctured lung, theoretically. (In case you're wondering, I Googled "time to heal from punctured lung" and "6 to 8 weeks came up.)
3. Whatever the injury may be, Deshaun Watson was healthy enough to throw a picture perfect pass to DeAndre Hopkins in overtime. That may have been the adrenaline talking, but that combined with his seemingly casual demeanor during his postgame press conference, not to mention his answers brushing off the effects of the violent contact, should give optimism that he could play Sunday. Tomorrow's Watson media session should be interesting.
2. With the limited information we have, my choice would be for Watson to skip the game this Sunday against Buffalo — I think they can win that one at home with Weeden under center — and have him ready (or ready as he can be) for the most important game of the season, Week 7 at Jacksonville. (Not sure if I'm in the minority or not. I feel a Twitter poll coming on!)
1. From a gambling perspective, we can use the books that moved the line from eight points down to one point to get a feel for Watson's betting value. The thing to keep in mind is that the value of a starting QB is based as much on the quality of his backup as the quality of himself. My friend R.J. Bell, founder of pregame.com, points out all the time that Joe Montana's betting value was maybe half a point in his heyday, because his backup was the nearly-as-great Steve Young.
Considering the spectacular game-breaking qualities of Watson, the pedestrian nature of his backup (Brandon Weeden), and the sieve the offensive line has been and how disastrous an immobile backup would be, I think seven points is underselling Watson's worth in the betting community. The data from 2017 supports that. Let's hope we don't have to find out how accurate the 2018 assessments of Watson's value are.
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