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Opening Line Report - Week 5

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The Green Bay Packers have been very fortunate during the last two years at avoiding injuries.

That luck, though, has caught up to them this season.

Cornerback Charles Woodson is playing with a broken toe. And he’s the healthiest starter in Green Bay’s secondary with Al Harris (spleen) out and safeties Atari Bigby (hamstring) and Nick Collins (back) questionable along with injured linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin) and lineman Cullen Jenkins (shoulder).

But these assorted defensive injuries aren’t why there is no line up yet on the Atlanta-Green Bay matchup.

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Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a right shoulder sprain. The drop from Rodgers to untested rookie Matt Flynn is worth around 4 ½ points in the line, according to Las Vegas Sports Consultants senior oddsmaker Mike Seba.

Dealing with a quarterback injury is something new for a generation of Packers fans.

Perhaps you can defend Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson for not putting up anymore with Brett Favre’s annual retirement indecision. Thompson believed in Rodgers and had the guts to act on his opinion.

However, to not back up Rodgers, who has had a history of injuries with the Packers, with a veteran is unfathomable. If Rodgers can’t go, rookie Matt Flynn most likely will get the call above another rookie, Brian Brohm. Flynn and Brohm could be the least ready backups in the league when it comes to facing NFL defenses.

“I don’t know what they expected,” Seba said of the Packers. “Rodgers gets hurt every year.

“So you don’t want Favre. Fine. But how you can not sign someone else is one of the great faux pas in NFL history.

“They do catch a break getting Atlanta at home this week.”

A Matt Flynn versus Matt Ryan matchup would have been good – a year ago when the two were at LSU and Boston College.

The New England Patriots are back in action after being idle last week following their disastrous and embarrassing 38-13 home loss to Miami two weeks ago.

Bookmakers opened the Patriots 3-point road favorites versus the San Francisco 49ers. Seba’s number on the game was New England minus six despite no Tom Brady.

“I know New England isn’t the same team, but this is a class thing,” Seba said. “The 49ers beat a crippled Seattle team and Detroit. They’re getting too much credit for those wins.

“They (the 49ers) got heavy backing (from bettors) against the Saints, who had a lot of injuries. But San Francisco showed it wasn’t ready.”

It doesn’t hurt New England’s case either when master defensive strategist Bill Belichick has two weeks to prepare.

Philadelphia opened as a six-point home favorite versus Washington. Seba thought that line was too high, especially if Brian Westbrook doesn’t play a second straight week. He said the Eagles shouldn’t be more than minus three if Westbrook is out.

Bookmakers were waiting on Monday for more information about Carson Palmer’s elbow injury before putting out a Cincinnati-Dallas line. On the Las Vegas Hilton’s early line, put out last week before this past Sunday’s games, the Cowboys were minus 14 ½. That was factoring in Palmer.

Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna looks recovered enough from a knee injury to start against Chicago. The Bears opened three-point road favorites. That could move up to minus 3 1/2. The good news for Detroit is general manager Matt Millen finally has left the building for good.

“You have to give Detroit the benefit of the doubt with a new general manager starting fresh,” Seba said. “I wouldn’t want to lay more than 3 ½ with that Chicago offense.

“But as bad as the Bears are, you have to make them the favorites to win that division (NFC North) if Rodgers has a serious shoulder injury.”

Seba was surprised Arizona opened a one-point home favorite against undefeated Buffalo. Several LVSC oddsmakers had the Bills favored by 2 ½-to-three points.

The Cardinals are home after being on the East Coast for nearly two weeks. They could be without star wide receiver Anquan Boldin, though.

“If you look at what these two teams have done this season, Buffalo has to be the favorite,” Seba said.

  
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