NFL Prop: Gotta Catch Em' All - Who Wins the NFL Picks Battle in 2015?

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 6:22 PM GMT

With the NFL becoming more pass-happy you'd think interceptions would be on the rise, but it's not the case. Somebody has to lead the league though & Seattle is a +600 favorite at 888sport.

Numbers Game
The record for most interceptions by any team was set by the 1961 San Diego Chargers in their second season in existence in the old AFL. Those Bolts, who reached the AFL Championship Game, picked off a whopping 49 passes in 14 games. That defense also set records with 929 interception return yards, nine picks returned for touchdowns and 66 total takeaways. The team that picked off the fewest passes ever in a season was three by the 1961 Houston Oilers.

Meanwhile, the mark for most picks thrown by a quarterback in any season was 42 by Houston's George Blanda in 1962. The modern record was 35 by Vinny Testaverde in 1988 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  That was his first full season as a starter in the NFL after being the No. 1 overall pick by the Bucs in 1987. Vinny would lead the NFL in picks four times overall in his career. San Diego's Philip Rivers and Chicago's Jay Cutler tied for the lead last year with 18.

The most interceptions by a player belongs to the 1952 Los Angeles Rams' Dick "Night Train" Lane, who picked off 14 passes. Since the merger, the most has been 13 by Lester Hayes of the 1980 Oakland Raiders. The most in any game is four, which is held by several players. Only one of those guys is active: DeAngelo Hall. He did it with Washington against Chicago on Oct. 24, 2010.

In 2014, the team that led the league in picks was San Francisco with only 23. The Niners didn't make the playoffs, however. Kansas City, the New York Jets and Jacksonville tied for the fewest with six. None of those three made the postseason. The 2014 individual leader was Detroit safety Glover Quin with seven. He made some news this week when he said this about the season-ending injury suffered by Packers star receiver Jordy  Nelson on Sunday: "God had meant for Jordy to get hurt." Yeah, I don't think Quin will be warmly welcomed at Lambeau Field. Quin just meant that God has a plan for everyone.

 

Legion Of Boom One To Beat
So why are the Seahawks the betting favorites on this prop despite finishing with only 13 picks last year? That was tied for 18th in the NFL. Certainly Seattle has the NFL's best defense. The Seahawks have led the league in total, scoring and passing defense each of the past two seasons. They topped the NFL with 28 picks in 2013.

And clearly the Seahawks have the best secondary in the league in the "Legion of Boom." The stars back there are cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, Pro Bowlers all. The question is whether we see Chancellor this season. He continues to hold out for a new contract even though he has three years left on his current deal. Chancellor reportedly is ready to sit the entire season. I find that hard to believe. Chancellor already has been paid $17 million in guarantees from an extension signed in 2013. He is due to make $4.55 million this season. You simply can't cave to a guy with three years left on his contract or every player is going to hold out. If Chancellor sits, second-year Dion Bailey would start at strong safety. In 14 games last year, Chancellor had 78 tackles and a pick.

Cleveland is a +800 second-favorite on this prop with the 49ers at +900. The Browns had 21 interceptions in 2014 and also have one of the NFL's best cornerbacks in Joe Haden. He had three interceptions last year but doesn't get thrown at all that often. Perrish Cox led the 49ers with five picks a season ago. But that defense looks much weaker now with so many losses this past offseason, especially at linebacker (Chris Borland, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith).

The other two favorites are Cincinnati and Houston at +1000. Both teams picked off 20 passes  in '14

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NFL Free Pick: You want to presumably pick a team on this prop that's stout against the run, thus forcing the opposition to throw more. I would think an outdoor cold-weather team also would have a slight advantage here in terms of forcing more bad throws by the opposing QB. And you have to look at the QBs a team will face during the season. Thus I'm going with Houston here (Texans don't play outdoors in cold, but oh well). The Texans get a  handful of games against teams with either young or shaky quarterbacks: the Jaguars twice, Titans twice, Bucs, Jets, Bills and Bengals (yes, I think Andy Dalton is shaky). Plus the presence of J.J. Watt is going to force some QBs into some throws into traffic.