With the way the NFL has evolved over the last 20 years to be more of a pass-happy league, passing yardage for quarterbacks has become a blossoming stat for fans (and bettors) to monitor. In anticipation of the upcoming season, oddsmakers have capped who they think will lead the NFL in passing yards, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady topping the oddsboard at +450.
Online sportsbook Bovada has Brady at the top of its list followed by Drew Brees (+550), Philip Rivers (+750), Aaron Rodgers (+1000) and Ben Roethlisberger (+1000) to round out the top five on the odds table.
Let’s break down the odds for the favorites and identify some decent value for other quarterbacks to potentially make it rain from the pocket.
Brees and Brady’s Juice isn’t Worth the Squeeze
I get why both Brady and Brees are at the top of oddsboard as the favorites as Brady was the leader last season when he threw for 4,577 yards while Brees has either led or finished in the top three in this category every season since 2010. In fact, Brees was riding a four-season win streak of leading the NFL in passing yards until last season when Brady overtook him.
Drew Brees has finished in the top three for passing yards in a season each year since 2010.
I’m fading Brees in this category as I think the years of him topping 5,000 yards in a season as a means to keep the Saints in the game is old news. The Saints now have a semi-competent defense and don’t need Brees-us and the offense to outscore teams as they have a fairly balanced attack thanks to the emergence of running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. When you factor in that nine of New Orleans’ games in 2018 are against teams that finished in the top 10 for fewest passing yards allowed per game last season, I find it hard to envision him topping the category with these variables in play.
As for Brady, I’m not as down on his chances as TB12 seems to be getting better with age (shout-out to the inventors of avocado ice cream) and in his most recent game (Super Bowl 52), he threw for over 500 yards to break the Super Bowl record for passing yards in a game.
However, the two reasons that give me pause are his age and how the Patriots reconfigure their offense week to week. No quarterback over 40 years old had ever led the NFL in passing yards until 2017 and while it’s safe to say Brady will continue to sling it, the Pats may lean on their running backs this upcoming season after drafting one in the first round (Sony Michel). Reports coming out of New England suggest the Patriots plan to feature him and Rex Burkhead much more in the running game and potentially give Brady some rest from having to carry an offense that is now void of a true No. 1 wide receiver after dealing Brandin Cooks to the Rams.
Passers from Houston and KC are Intriguing
An exciting thing I’m looking forward to for the upcoming NFL season is seeing if Deshaun Watson was a fluke or is a sign of things to come. The second-year signal-caller was electric in his brief stint in the NFL when he threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns in 6.5 games. Projecting those numbers over a 16-game season would’ve seen him break the 5,000-yard barrier and lead the league in passing yards. Watson has a pair of great weapons on the outside in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller and with his ability to scramble and keep drives alive, the value at +2500 can’t be ignored.
Moving over to Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes II was touted as a gunslinger coming out of Texas Tech and in head coach Andy Reid’s offense, Mahomes will have every opportunity to air out the football. The Chiefs added wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the squad and he should pair nicely with jitterbug WR Tyreek Evans and All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. These weapons could give Mahomes plenty of chances to lead this offense with a revamped passing attack compared to the last four seasons with Alex Smith at the helm, as the 12-year vet has only topped 4,000 passing yards once in his career. His odds aren’t as juicy at +1500 but with the top dogs like Brady and Brees getting up there in age, it’s time for bettors to start considering some new blood.
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