Believe it or not, the 2016 NFL season is right around the corner with the first exhibition game already on Sunday, Aug. 7. One popular NFL prop annually is which QB leads the league in passing yards, and the Saints’ Drew Brees is your +450 favorite on NFL football odds.
Lucky No. 7 For Brees?
How could anyone but Brees, a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer, be favored on NFL odds for this prop? Even though the Saints struggled to a second straight 7-9 record in 2015, it certainly wasn’t Brees fault as he led the NFL with 4,870 passing yards despite missing one game due to injury.
It was the first time in Brees’ Saints career he did miss a game because he was hurt. Brees beat out San Diego’s Philip Rivers, the guy who replaced Brees with the Chargers, by 88 yards. It was the NFL record sixth passing yardage title for Brees.
Perhaps no offense in the league is more tailored to its quarterback than for Brees. He and head coach Sean Payton, who calls the plays, both arrived in New Orleans before the 2006 season, and the franchise immediately was turned around.
Brees won his first yardage title that year with 4,418 and also led the league in 2008 (5,069 yards), 2011 (then-record 5,476), 2012 (5,177) and tied for first in 2014 with Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (4,952).
Brees has four career 5,000-yard seasons — he also had 5,162 in 2013 but didn’t lead the NFL that year as Peyton Manning set the record with 5,477 yards to break Brees’ 2011 mark — and no other quarterback has more than one. Brees should move into third on the all-time passing list this year.
Hall of Famer Dan Marino currently resides there with 61,361 yards and Brees has 60,903. He would probably have to play at least three more seasons to break Manning’s career record of 71,940. It’s quite possible that Brees does so as he has stated he wants to play into his 40s and he’s in good health at 37.
The Steelers’ Roethlisberger is the +500 second-favorite in NFL odds. As noted, he tied with Brees for the yardage total in 2014 with 4,952, which is a career high by far for Big Ben. Roethlisberger had 3,938 yards in 2015 but missed four games so he actually led the league in yards per game at 328.0.
On the plus side, Roethlisberger plays in perhaps the NFL’s best offense heading into 2016 and has the league’s best receiver in Antonio Brown. On the negative side, Big Ben has played all 16 regular-season games just three times in his career and the Steelers’ second-best receiver, Martavis Bryant, is suspended for all of 2016.
The Chargers’ Rivers is +700 on NFL odds. He won his only passing title in 2010 with 4,710 yards. Rivers’ 4,792 yards last year were a career high.
What you worry about with Rivers is that he has not much of a running game to help keep defenses honest and that San Diego’s offensive line was terrible last year. Rivers took a beating and was sacked 40 times. But Rivers has been durable, playing all 16 games every season since 2006 when he took over for Brees.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is +900 on NFL odds. If Roethlisberger doesn’t have the NFL’s best receiver then Ryan does with Julio Jones as he caught 136 passes (tied for first in NFL with Brown) for 1,871 yards (first in NFL and second-most ever) in 2015. Ryan threw for 4,591 yards last year and his career high is 4,719 in 2012.
The favorites on NFL odds are rounded out by Arizona’s Carson Palmer (+1000), the New York Giants’ Eli Manning (+1200), Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (+1400) and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (+1400). None of those four have led the NFL in passing yards previously.
One name you don’t see among the favorites on NFL odds is New England’s Tom Brady even though he was third in the NFL last year with 4,770 yards and has won two passing titles. That’s because Brady is suspended the first four games of 2016. So he’s a +6000 long shot on NFL odds. Losing four games, or approximately 1,200 passing yards, is simply too much of a deficit to make up.
NFL Free Pick: I usually recommend a quarterback who plays his home games in a dome for this prop as that obviously eliminates any bad weather games at home. So guys like Brees, Ryan or Palmer. But Eli Manning is good value here as he’s going to throw a ton and has a potentially very good group of receivers led by the incomparable Odell Beckham Jr.