It's an interesting story topic I was given by my editors at SBR here: Which quarterbacks should you trust when betting on NFL games. Well, the ones that play on good teams! But let's get a little more in depth on the subject.
The team with the best against the spread record in the NFL last season was the Minnesota Vikings at 13-3 ATS in the regular season. They were surprising winners of the NFC North Division with an 11-5 overall mark, ending Green Bay's four-year reign atop the North thanks to a Week 17 upset in Lambeau. Minnesota's season ended in heartbreaking fashion, however, when kicker Blair Walsh hooked a potential game-winning 27-yard field goal in the wild-card round against the Seattle Seahawks. If the Vikings played that game in their new domed stadium that opens this season instead of outdoors at the University of Minnesota, I can all but guarantee you that Walsh makes that kick. So including playoffs, the Vikings were 14-3 ATS on NFL picks (they were 4-point home dogs vs. Seattle).
Does that mean you should trust Teddy Bridgewater more than any other QB from a betting perspective this year? Certainly not as Bridgewater wouldn't be on anyone's list of even a Top-15 overall guy. He completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 3,231 yards, only 14 touchdowns and nine picks in 2015. The Vikings kept covering because they had a great running game behind NFL rushing king Adrian Peterson as well as a terrific defense. In hindsight, they were also underdogs more often than they should have been.
It definitely depends on what a player has around him. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers was named the NFL's MVP in 2014 for the second time in his career and the Packers were a very solid 11-5 ATS in the regular season. But Rodgers missed No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson last year when Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. The Packers' offense suffered without Nelson and they slipped to 9-7 ATS.
One of the most underrated NFL quarterbacks in terms of covering the spread the past few seasons has been Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. His Bengals looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender last season before Dalton broke his thumb in Week 14 against Pittsburgh, which would end his season. The Bengals were a stunning 10-1-1 ATS on NFL odds entering that Steelers game. Dalton was hurt early in it and Cincinnati lost that game and then again to visiting Pittsburgh in the wild-card round. It's in the playoffs where Dalton has been shaky with his 0-4 record, but A.J. McCarron was under center last year.
Another statistic when looking at quarterbacks to wager on is how clutch they are in the fourth quarter. Most NFL teams are pretty even overall in terms of talent level -- it's not like college football. So more often than not, the games are decided in the final quarter. Peyton Manning leads the NFL in his career (since 1960) with 45 fourth-quarter comeback wins during his days with the Colts and Broncos. Of course Manning retired this offseason after leading Denver to the Super Bowl. He led four fourth-quarter comebacks in 2015, including in the divisional round against the Steelers.
New England's Tom Brady, who will be suspended the first four games this year, is second in history with 37 fourth-quarter comeback wins. He had two last year, against the Jets and Giants. The other current leaders among active quarterbacks at Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Tony Romo. Since 2006, no quarterback has had more fourth-quarter comeback victories than Romo's 25, and his passer rating in the fourth quarter is a stellar 102.9, five points higher than the No. 2 Rodgers. The Cowboys totally fell apart last year with Romo being limited to four games.
The quarterback I least trust in the NFL right now? Chicago's Jay Cutler. His ATS record overall in his career is worse than any active quarterback who has played at least three seasons. Last year, Chicago was 8-7 ATS with him as the starter with Cutler missing one game against Seattle. The year before, with Cutler also missing one game, it was 5-10 ATS. And the year before that it was 2-8-1 ATS as Cutler missed five games. Cutler has the arm talent to match anyone but continues to make poor decisions in the fourth quarter of games.
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