In 2022, information is not hard to come by, especially when it comes to the NFL. All it takes is one tweet for word to spread quickly across the globe. We witnessed that first hand on Friday afternoon in relation to the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert.
Last Thursday night, Justin Herbert took a shot to the ribs that left him in noticeable pain. Remarkably, he missed just one snap. On one play, he was too injured to scramble for a yard. However, on the very next play he unleashed a 35-yard rope down field. It was truly remarkable to watch. Chargers' bettors were especially big fans, as he led Los Angeles down field to get the backdoor cover.
Herbert was diagnosed with fractured rib cartilage. He was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It looked like he was on track to play this weekend against Jacksonville. Los Angeles was a 7-point home favorite against the Jaguars on Friday morning. However, that changed Friday afternoon.
Tweet causes market movement
Friday is the most important practice day of the week across the NFL. A lot of players are limited early in the week as they tend to bumps and bruises they've accumulated. However, if you're not practicing on Friday, it's not a good sign for your availability on Sunday.
When Los Angeles hit the field for practice on Friday, Daniel Popper, who covers the Chargers for The Athletic tweeted this:
Justin Herbert is not throwing today during period of practice open to media. Chase Daniel taking first team reps for routes against air.
— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) September 23, 2022
Within minutes of Popper's tweet, the Chargers went from a 7-point favorite to a 3-point favorite. Obviously, Chase Daniel taking first team reps on the last practice of the week is not a good sign when it comes to Herbert. Officially, Herbert is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
The spread will move more if Herbert is ruled out
While a four-point drop in the spread is newsworthy, Justin Herbert is worth a lot more than 4 points. Earlier this season, we saw that Dak Prescott was worth around 10 points to the spread for the Cowboys. That seemed like an overreaction by the betting market, but it happened. Herbert is even better than Prescott.
By moving the spread four points, the betting market has recognized the real possibility that Herbert doesn't play. If he's officially ruled out, I'd expect this spread to drop even lower. It wouldn't be surprising to see Jacksonville as a road favorite in this one if Chase Daniel is under center for Los Angeles.
By not practicing Friday, it also shines light on how much pain Herbert is dealing with. Playing through this injury might have an even bigger impact on his play than originally expected. However, if Herbert does play, I'd expect this line to move back up in favor of Los Angeles. If you think Herbert battles through the injury and plays, you can take that gamble and bet Los Angeles at the current depleted number.
However, if you think Herbert misses the game, there's still value on the Jaguars getting three points. If he's officially ruled out, you'll no longer be getting a free field goal in all likelihood. Of course, you can wait until closer to game time for more clarity. By playing it safe, you'll have more information at your disposal but you'll also lose out on the potential closing line value.
This line movement tells us that there's certainly a chance Herbert doesn't play on Sunday. At the very least, that possibility is a lot higher than many thought on Friday morning.