In 2022, information isn’t hard to come by, especially when it comes to the NFL. All it takes is one tweet to quickly spread the word around the world. We witnessed that first hand on Friday afternoon involving the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert.
Last Thursday night, Justin Herbert took an injection in the ribs that left him with noticeable pain. Remarkably, he only missed one snap. On one game, he was too injured to scramble to a yard. However, on the next play he unleashed a 35-yard rope down field. It was truly remarkable to see. Chargers punters were especially big fans as he led Los Angeles to the field to get the back door.
Herbert was diagnosed with fractured costal cartilage. On Wednesday and Thursday he was a limited participant in the training. It looked like he was on track to play Jacksonville this weekend. Los Angeles was a 7-point home favorite against the Jaguars on Friday morning. However, that changed on Friday afternoon.
Tweet causes market movement
Friday is the most important practice day of the week in the NFL. Many players are restricted early in the week because they tend to get bumps and bruises they’ve accumulated. However, if you don’t practice on Friday, it’s not a good sign for your availability on Sunday.
When Los Angeles took the field for practice on Friday, Daniel Popper, who covers the Chargers for The Athletic, tweeted this:
Within minutes of Popper’s tweet, the Chargers went from a 7-point favorite to a 3-point favorite. Obviously, Chase Daniel taking those first team reps in last week’s practice isn’t a good sign when it comes to Herbert. Herbert is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.
The spread will move more if Herbert is excluded
While a four point drop in the spread is newsworthy, Justin Herbert is worth a lot more than 4 points. Earlier this season, we saw that Dak Prescott was worth about 10 points for the spread for the Cowboys. That seemed like an overreaction from the betting market, but it happened. Herbert is even better than Prescott.
By moving the spread four points, the betting market has recognized the real possibility that Herbert is not playing. If officially ruled out, I would expect this spread to fall even lower. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jacksonville as a road favorite here if Chase Daniel is in downtown Los Angeles.
Not exercising on Friday also sheds light on how much pain Herbert is dealing with. Playing through this injury could have an even bigger impact on his game than originally anticipated. However, if Herbert does play, I expect this line to go back up in Los Angeles’ favor. If you think Herbert is fighting and playing through the injury, you can take that gamble and bet Los Angeles on the current depleted number.
However, if you think Herbert misses the game, it’s still valuable for the Jaguars to get three points. If he is officially banned, you will most likely not get a free field goal anymore. Of course, you can wait until closer to game time for more clarity. By playing it safe, you have more information at your disposal, but you also lose the potential value of the final line.
This line move tells us that there’s definitely a chance Herbert won’t play on Sunday. That chance is in any case a lot bigger than many people thought on Friday morning.
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