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Opening Line Report - Week 7

LAS VEGASThe human statue, Brad Johnson, is back.

The 40-year-old, 15-year NFL veteran is now the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. It was a busy Monday morning for bookmakers following the news that Tony Romo is out an estimated four weeks because of a broken pinkie on his throwing hand.

Some books opened Dallas as high as 11-point road favorites against St. Louis before taking the game down based on the Romo news.

The oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants initially suggested an opening line of Dallas minus 9 ½ with an ‘over/under’ of 48 ½. Now their recommendation is Cowboys minus six and a total of 44 ½.

Ed Salmons, sports book manager at the Las Vegas Hilton, said the adjustment from Romo to Johnson against the Rams is worth between three and four points with the total being lowered between 5 ½ and six points.

“The Rams look to be a completely different team with a new coach (Jim Haslett),” he said.

Only half of the 14 NFL games were up on the betting board Monday afternoon. Bookmakers were awaiting more definite news on quarterbacks Trent Edwards (concussion), Carson Palmer (elbow), Matt Hasselbeck (knee) and Jon Kitna (back).

The Houston Texans host Detroit. The highest the Texans ever have been favored in their franchise history is seven points. That was last year versus Jacksonville in the regular-season finale when the Jaguars rested many of their starters in anticipation of the playoffs.

LVSC senior oddsmaker Mike Seba said the difference between Kitna and backup Dan Orlovsky is one-half-to-one point. If Kitna can’t go, Seba said the Texans could be favored by 8 ½ or nine points.

The Lions have yet to win this season in five games. They have been outscored by 83 points. But Seba said he would be reluctant to lay so many points with Houston.

“I wouldn’t want to lay more than seven with the Texans,” he said. “You just can’t trust them. It is uncharted waters for them.”

There were a number of three-point spreads. That’s the margin Miami is favored over Baltimore, Chicago is favored over Minnesota, Carolina is favored over New Orleans, the visiting New York Jets are favored over Oakland and New England is favored over Denver in the Monday night matchup.

Seba was prepared to make the Patriots a bigger favorite until New England laid an egg in the Sunday night game to San Diego, losing 30-10.

There’s probably a greater possibility of some of these matchups, especially the Broncos-Patriots, closing at 3 ½ rather than 2 ½.

“It’s obvious New England is not as bad as it looked against San Diego,” Seba said.

Seba thought the right number should be Patriots minus 3 ½ considering Denver’s multiple injuries on offense.

It wouldn’t surprise Seba if Miami closed minus 2 ½ against Baltimore. The Dolphins’ lone victory last season came against the Ravens. So Baltimore has a revenge motive for this non-division contest. Baltimore also is giving up the fewest yards per game.

“I think you either take three or leave the game alone,” Seba said. “Any time you can get three with a defense this good against Miami, it’s tempting.”

It appears Indianapolis has settled in as a one-point road favorite versus Green Bay. Some books opened the Packers minus one on Sunday night. LVSC’s recommendation was pick’em, although Seba didn’t agree.

“I think the Colts should be favored, although by less than three,” he said.

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