Quarterbacks are the first players you should look at when making football picks. With this particular NFL prop bet, they're the only players you'll be looking at.
Well, we were right about one thing: Andrew Luck was not the best choice for last year's Most Passing Yards prop. Luck was the 7-2 favorite on the NFL odds board, a young quarterback on the rise with a growing legion of fans. But his Indianapolis Colts weren't very good, and Luck got hurt along the way, leaving him with just 1,881 passing yards in seven starts. Sorry about your damn... um, misfortune.
Our NFL pick did worse, or course, but at 28-1, Tony Romo (884 yards in four starts) was worth a shot. In theory, you want to look for deeper value when you're making these kind of prop bets. Then again, in practice, betting on Drew Brees every year would have been lovely. Brees (11-2) did it again last year, leading the NFL with 4,870 passing yards – that's the fourth time in the last six seasons, and No. 6 since Brees joined the New Orleans Saints ten years ago. At press time, Brees is the +500 favorite at Bet365 to lead all passers in 2016. Deal, or no deal?
New Orleans Is Throwing
Before we jump to conclusions, let's look at what Brees brings to the table. He's one of the greatest passing quarterbacks in football history; Brees shattered all the Big Ten records at Purdue before getting drafted with the first pick – of the second round – by the San Diego Chargers in 2001. He did well there, making the Pro Bowl in 2004, but it wasn't until Brees landed with the Saints in 2006 that he started putting up monster numbers as a pro.
That's what having Sean Payton as your head coach can do for you. Payton is one of the greatest offensive minds in the sport; not coincidentally, he was also a pass-happy quarterback in college at Eastern Illinois – the same place that produced Romo. The Payton-Brees Era has been incredibly productive on offense, and the Saints even won their first and only Super Bowl after the 2009 campaign.
Dennis Dum, Dennis Dee, Dum Dum Dum
But there's one other thing about New Orleans that has allowed Brees to rack up those passing yards: Awful defense. The 2015 Saints were dead last in the league in defensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. When the defense is giving up points, that forces Brees to throw more often than he already does. The 2009 season was one of the rare years that the Saints defense didn't struggle (No. 17 in efficiency), and Brees “only” had 514 pass attempts, easily the fewest of his tenure in the Big Easy.
The Saints D is probably going to improve this year. Dennis Allen will be in his first full season as defensive coordinator; when he took over that same role with the 2011 Denver Broncos, he helped their defense improve from No. 30 to No. 18 on the efficiency charts. So we're going to give Romo another spin at +3300 instead. The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't made much progress under Rod Marinelli, the front seven has been thinned out by suspensions, and Romo will be operating behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Worth a shot.
Free NFL Pick: Tony Romo (33-1)
Best Line Offered: at Bet365
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