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Injuries, Holdouts as 2018 NFL Season Kicks Off

2018 NFL Betting Preview at Bovada Sportsbook

The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to be without star quarterback Carson Wentz when they open the NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football as 3-point favorites on the NFL odds for Week 1.

Wentz has yet to receive medical clearance to return to action after seeing his 2017 campaign ended prematurely by a serious knee injury. The second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft will watch from the sidelines as the hero of Philadelphia’s Super Bowl victory, Nick Foles, gets the call in Thursday night’s matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.

Despite the absence of Wentz, the Eagles have shown slight improvement on the Super Bowl LIII odds in recent days, and now trail only the favored New England Patriots as a +850 bet.

And the Eagles might not be the only team that will be minus a star player to open the 2018 NFL campaign. Le’Veon Bell has yet to report to Pittsburgh Steelers camp, and could be unavailable when the team hits the gridiron for a Week 1 clash with the Cleveland Browns.

This marks the second straight year that Bell has been a holdout from Steelers camp. The three-time Pro Bowl rusher reported to camp just days before last season’s opening contest, but looks prepared to drag his current holdout into the regular season as he seeks a lucrative contract extension.

Like Philadelphia, the Steelers have held steady at the sportsbooks. Pittsburgh is perched as a heavy -210 favorite to claim a third straight AFC North divisional crown, and closely trails the Eagles at +1000 on the Super Bowl odds.

While Bell remains out of camp, two of the NFL’s top defensive players have ended preseason holdouts by signing lucrative contracts.

Aaron Donald briefly became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history late last week, signing a six-year, $134 million contract that will ensure he will be in the lineup when the Los Angeles Rams visit the Oakland Raiders on Monday night as 5-point chalk on the NFL odds.


Rams Also Riding High on Super Bowl Odds

Pegged as a +600 co-favorite to repeat as NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Donald’s return is huge news for the Rams, who enter the season alongside Philadelphia as a +850 bet on the Super Bowl betting odds. The Rams have set their sights on their first Super Bowl win since 1999 with the offseason acquisitions of receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and are listed as a solid -130 bet to equal the 11 wins they tallied last season.

However, Donald’s reign as the NFL’s highest paid defensive player proved to be short lived. Linebacker Khalil Mack’s increasingly bitter holdout from Raiders camp came to a close this weekend with a trade that sent him to the Chicago Bears, where he subsequently came to terms on a six-year, $141 million contract extension.

The addition of Mack gives a shot in the arm to a Bears squad that won just five games last season. The deal has had an immediate impact on Chicago’s Super Bowl 53 odds, which have rocketed to +6600, well ahead of the team’s +10000 opening odds. Conversely, the Raiders have tumbled to +3500 after opening at a respectable +2100.


*Odds as of September 4, 2018

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