NFL’s burning questions generate betting props at the sportsbooks

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The revolving door that is the Cleveland Browns quarterback job and props predicated on whether brilliant but sometimes brittle superstars Rob Gronkowski and J.J. Watt can stay healthy comprise some of the best NFL preseason betting props.

With the Browns holding what is tantamount to an open competition for their quarterback job, Cody Kessler is the -165 favorite on a prop based on who will be Cleveland’s Week 1 starter at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Kessler started eight games in 2016 before his season was cut short by a brain injury, and he’s been demoted in practice. Brock Osweiler (+130), whom the Houston Texans essentially paid the Browns to take off their hands, does have starting experience and has started so far in the preseason. Osweiler might be the safe pick for Cleveland coach Hue Jackson and bettors alike.

However, rookie DeShone Kizer (+800) out of Notre Dame offers the best value and has been splitting first-team reps at practice. But most teams are loath to start a rookie right away unless forced to by injury, like the Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott after Tony Romo got hurt in 2016.

Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt (+250) is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year after an injury-shortened season that led to two back surgeries. Two other pass rushers extraordinaire, the Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack (+400) and Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller (+400), are also high on the board.

If Watt is able to play a full season, he’s a reasonable chalk pick, especially since he should have a lot of sack opportunities going against some weak pass blocking groups in the AFC South, as well as the NFC West, the division’s cross-over opponent.

Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (+1200) will likely sign at some point and join what is a very strong D. While only three interior linemen have won DPOY in the last 40 years, Donald is just that good, though. No player on a losing team has won since recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor (2006 Miami Dolphins).

The total on how many games Gronkowski will play is 10.5, with over at -150 and the under pegged at +120. Gronkowski has played half the regular season or less twice in the last four years. The law of averages would push one toward the over; “Gronk” has never had two shortened seasons in a row.

Last but not least, the Washington Redskins’ failure to lock down QB Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal has led to oddsmakers taking bets on where Cousins will play in 2018. The San Francisco 49ers (+175) are favored, with Washington (+300) high on the board. The Miami Dolphins (+2000) might be in play as a darkhorse with starter Ryan Tannehill out for the season with a torn ACL.

The New York Jets (+2500) have the highest available price, but chances are they will look for their next QB in the 2018 draft.

Tony Dungy on NFL players, coaches protesting: These are not unpatriotic men

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NFL players and coaches responded in their own way on Sunday to President Trump’s comments about player protests.

Many teams across the league had players or coaches taking a knee or locking arms during the national anthem. Some teams even stayed in the locker room during the anthem.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy shared his thoughts on the protests around the league before Sunday Night Football on NBC.

“There was a lot of passion, a lot of emotion,” Dungy said. “You look at these guys and their response. These are not unpatriotic men. They’re men who care about their country, they care about their sport, they care about their neighborhood. I think we got to take a lesson from the two men we featured in Miami. Make a difference. Go forward. Bring things together, not push things apart. It’s a tough, tough time. But I think the NFL responded the right way today.”

Sunday Night Football: Raiders road favorites vs. Redskins

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Perhaps fittingly for a franchise headed for a new home, the Oakland Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr have been an outstanding road team recently.

While West Coast teams playing three time zones from home can make bettors uneasy, the Raiders are listed as three-point road favorites against the host Washington Redskins with a 54.5 total in their Sunday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Raiders are 10-3 against the spread in their 13 most recent road games. They are also 3-0 straight-up and ATS in their last three games as a favorite on the road. Washington, led by Kirk Cousins, has been a poor prime-time performer lately, going 3-11 SU and ATS in their last 14 games at night.

The Raiders, who are 2-0 SU and ATS for the first time in 15 seasons, expect to have a full contingent of offensive threats complementing Carr. Running back Marshawn Lynch has a good matchup against a Washington defense that has allowed the 11th-most rushing yards in the NFL since the start of last season.

Assuming Washington shutdown CB Josh Norman (shoulder) plays, it should be a great matchup in the passing phase with the Raiders’ Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree going against Norman and CB Bashuad Breeland.

Oakland’s offensive line has allowed only two sacks through two weeks and it looks like TE Jared Cook is good to go after getting in a full practice on Friday.

With the Redskins, who are 1-1 SU and ATS, there are some concerns with the offense, which was a top-5 unit in 2016. Cousins and his receivers, including newcomer Terrelle Pryor, have yet to connect on a deep ball – something Oakland doesn’t defense particularly well. Bettors should keep on eye on whether TE Jordan Reed (ribs/sternum), who is key in the short- and intermediate-range game, suits up. Even if he’s good to go, Reed might play limited snaps.

Washington’s offensive line will have to contain Oakland OLB Khalil Mack, one of the game’s best pass rushers. However, it has been run-blocking very well and that should continue whether Rob Kelley (ribs), Samaje Perrine or Chris Thompson is in the backfield.

The total has gone over in 18 of the Raiders’ last 23 games after a win. The total has gone under in 10 of the Redskins’ last 11 games when hosting a West Coast team.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.