QB shuffle causes rework of futures odds

The dust is starting to settle after the Brett Favre saga came to a head last week with his trade from the Green Bay Packers to the New York Jets. Former Jets signal caller Chad Pennington then accepted a new deal to chunk the pigskin for the Miami Dolphins. Favre's arrival in the Big Apple shifted the Jets' to immediate postseason contenders, while the Packers saw their chances diminish on the futures front.

In an NFL world gone mad, one thing is certain: The regular season opener between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins just got a lot more interesting.

Both these AFC East also-rans should be more competitive in 2008, thanks to the man in the eye of the sports media storm. Brett Favre accepted a trade from the Green Bay Packers to the Jets, who released Chad Pennington, who was picked up by the Dolphins. The betting odds suggest good times ahead for only one of these three clubs.

With Favre at the helm, the Jets are in contention for an AFC Wild Card. Their total for wins has bumped up from seven to eight, with the over priced at -155. The Dolphins have adjusted slightly upward with Pennington’s arrival, from five wins to 5½ (under -130). But there isn’t much optimism for the Packers under Aaron Rodgers. Fans boo him, children shout obscenities at him, and oddsmakers have Green Bay pegged at eight victories (over -135). The Packers opened at nine.

From a value standpoint, you have to love Pennington. He wasn’t treated quite as poorly as Rodgers, but Pennington’s lack of arm strength was more than enough for New York fans to overlook his more positive attributes. Playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, Pennington lost his starting job halfway through the 2008 season to rifleman Kellen Clemens. Let’s compare:

  • Pennington 2008: 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 86.1 passer rating
  • Clemens 2008: five touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 60.9 passer rating

Favre should improve on those numbers, but so would either of those two gentlemen, thanks to the upgrades (most notably perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca) the Jets made to their offensive line during the offseason. And this line is still unlikely to perform as well as Green Bay’s did last year, allowing just 19 sacks on the season.

I’ve been a big Favre fan since the beginning, and I made a lot of moolah when the Packers went 12-3-1 against the spread last year. But this is a classic fade situation. The Dolphins and revenge-minded Pennington are 3-point home dogs for their Week 1 matchup on Sept. 7. Green Bay, meanwhile, is a 3-point chalk at home against the hated Minnesota Vikings.

While Favre and Pennington were switching uniforms, another big-name quarterback was on the move – although his impact should be limited to preseason betting. Byron Leftwich was signed to a one-year deal by the Pittsburgh Steelers after backup Charlie Batch broke his collarbone in Friday’s 16-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles (-2). Leftwich was a bust for the Atlanta Falcons last year with a 59.5 passer rating in two starts, but he’ll get better protection from Pittsburgh’s offensive line (albeit minus Faneca), and he should still be competent in exhibition play against the opposition’s second unit.

By winning at Heinz Field on Friday, the Steelers avoided the parade of away teams marching to the pay window. Heading into Week 2 of the preseason, the home side is 10-6 straight up, but only 4-9-2 ATS. Underdogs are 10-3-2 ATS, as the betting public failed yet again to put a proper value on the second- and third-stringers who play the bulk of Week 1 exhibition contests. In a bit of a surprise, the over is 9-6 thus far after starting last year at 7-9-1.

Week 1 of the 2008 preseason officially ends Monday night with the Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay. The Packers have excellent QB depth with Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn backing up Rodgers; they’re 3-point faves with a total of 36.