Griffin injury is weekend's final twist


It's tempting to fast forward to next weekend, because what we just witnessed was not easy on the eyes. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning can't come back soon enough.

The opening act of the NFL postseason is memorable for what didn't happen.

Three lame games were in the books, three favorites had covered, and it all came down to Robert Griffin III on one good knee. When his bad knee buckled in the wrong direction - something that was tough to watch - the Washington Redskins folded, too.

The last shot for underdog bettors went down with Griffin, who collapsed in agony late in the Redskins' 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

"With four favorites winning, you would think it would be a disaster," MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said.

The weekend was a disaster neither for the books nor the bettors, but it was a total loss for the Redskins, who blew a 14-0 first-quarter lead by continuing to play an obviously lame rookie quarterback.

Jimmy Vaccaro, director of public relations for William Hill sports books, called it a "major factor" in the game, not to mention a major mistake by Washington coach Mike Shanahan.

Griffin said he was hurt, not injured, and wanted to stay on the field. I commend him for that, because Jay Cutler never would have done it.

But the coach's job is to determine what's best for the team, and it never occurred to Shanahan to make a change until he had no choice and it was too late. By the time backup Kirk Cousins was called into emergency relief, the game was lost.

"I think Cousins would have done much better than Griffin with one leg," Vaccaro said. "If he would have come in with the lead, they probably had a better chance to win, you never know."

Griffin's injury, and the Redskins' eventual demise, will be the soap-opera topic of the week for columnists and talk-show hosts. What did not happen - Shanahan pulling Griffin from the game - was the most memorable event of the weekend.

"They should have pulled him after the first quarter and put in Cousins, I think," Rood said. "The guy couldn't run, and he couldn't throw because he couldn't plant on his leg. I guess maybe they thought he would make it happen out of thin air and be Houdini out there."

The Seahawks, laying 3 points, finished off a 4-0 wild-card weekend for the favorites, a weekend that was anything but wild and hardly entertaining. Football bettors expect a lot more, especially this time of year. We got a lot less.

The Cincinnati Bengals were eliminated, and nobody cared. The Green Bay Packers beat a team with a backup quarterback. The Baltimore Ravens grinded out an ugly win, as usual.

On a weekend when all four favorites covered, you'd think the betting public cleaned house. But the books avoided disaster mainly because of the totals - four low-scoring games went under.

Four favorites and four "unders" basically led to break-even results for the books. "It's pretty much a sister kisser," Rood said.

Vaccaro, referring to all of the favorite-and-over parlay tickets that went straight to the trash, said, "Obviously, the favorites covering was no good. But we got saved by the totals going under. I've never seen anything like it. That was the bailout of the weekend."

Andrew Luck did not survive the weekend, because three field goals just won't cut it. The Indianapolis Colts, 24-9 losers to the Ravens, were a good story but a mediocre playoff team.

So, now, let's fast forward to the next round. Russell Wilson is the last rookie quarterback standing, and the Seahawks will strike fear into the Atlanta Falcons, 2-point home favorites on Sunday.

"I'm impressed by Seattle, I know that," Vaccaro said. "I'm rooting for Atlanta for a lot of reasons. There is absolutely no money on them in the futures. I think we'll pay out two tickets if the Falcons win the Super Bowl."

In the first NFC matchup Saturday, the Packers are 3-point underdogs at San Francisco. It's Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has to be sweating, even if he won't show it.

Brady and Manning appear headed for a super-sized showdown in the AFC. Manning and the Denver Broncos are 9-point favorites over the Ravens, and Brady and the New England Patriots are 9½-point favorites over the Houston Texans.

Something good is about to happen next weekend, when all four favorites are unlikely to sweep the board and the games won't be so boring.

Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts "The Las Vegas Sportsline" weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

 

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