Tony Romo is healthy and the Cowboys are NFL Odds favorites to win the NFC East. What can bettors expect from Romo from a passing standpoint in 2016?
Many NFL odds experts are expecting big things from the Dallas Cowboys with Tony Romo finally fit and rearing to go. Following surgery on his twice-broken left collarbone in the offseason, team insiders report he is more mobile now than in recent years after building added strength in his fragile back. However, the four-time Pro Bowler is 36 with a long history of injuries. The primary question from this point forward is if he can remain healthy for an entire season. If so, what can bettors expect passing-wise from Romo in the 2016-17 campaign?
Value & Expectations
Every NFL fan knows how valuable Romo is to the Cowboys, especially after last season. Dallas is 23-11 SU the past three years when he starts, but 1-13 with any other quarterback. Under center, the team is 70-44 all-time with a 3.5 average winning margin. Dallas’ best year behind Romo came in 2014 when it went 12-4 in the regular season, losing to the Packers 26-21 in the NFC playoffs divisional round. The plan in Jerry World this year is to draw up a nearly identical blueprint in hopes of replicating that success.
Offensively, that means a heavy dose of run and fewer passes for Romo. The run game’s primary intention is to minimize the workload on Rod Marinelli's defense, but it is also meant to keep their franchise quarterback upright and healthy. Fewer drop backs equal fewer hits. For those considering gambling on the already-risky +4000 offer at Bovada Romo leads the NFL in passing yards this season, do note that he tossed 100 fewer passes than usual in this system in 2014.
Like two years ago, the Cowboys field one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The backfield, though, is much different. Ezekiel Elliot, the fourth selection overall in this year’s draft and +110 favorite to win NFL Rookie of the Year, is expected to start at tailback. Many believe the former Buckeye will surpass 1,000 yards on the ground, but question whether he can handle such a big workload in his first full season in the pro ranks. Moreover, the NFL is investigating alleged assault claims by a former girlfriend, which could cause a suspension if found liable. Nonetheless, Jason Garrett has two veteran bulls as a backup: Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Don’t expect the game plan to change if Elliott’s season is cut short.
Will the 2014 blueprint guarantee success for Romo this year? Possibly, but there are some ominous signs it may not. The Cowboys led the NFL in team total QBR in 2014, but his performance slipped late in that season into next. Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded six of Romo’s last seven games near average. In 2015, he recorded a career-low 93.2 NFL QB rating when not under pressure, his lowest in the PFF era (since 2007). Granted Dez Bryant and he were on the field together for only 123 of the team’s 969 offensive snaps (12.7 percent), the team was adjusting to Murray’s absence, Jason Witten has lost a step, and Romo was probably playing through pain in a few games. Still, this metric points to the need for the system to operate like a well-oiled machine for Romo to be at his best, and until the unit hits the field, it’s only speculation.
Individual season-long prop bets are not available yet, but bettors will likely see similar figures from last year’s offerings for Romo: over/under 4,000 yards passing, over/under 12.5 interceptions, over/under 29.5 touchdown passes. Without knowing the exact figures in 2016, UNDER on yards and interceptions is a strong lean with understanding the Cowboys will run and protect Romo at all costs this upcoming season.
As for individual offerings, lean on UNDER for passing yards on a game-by-game basis too. Depending on conditions, the over-under for Romo is typically offered in the 260-to-270 range. In fact, Romo is near split at the 270 mark lifetime, tossing equal to or more than the in 59 regular-season games as a starter, while going below in 55 contests. Since a high-water mark of 306.4 passing yards per game in 2012, his passing yards have been in gradual decline, despite high-efficiency gains in 2014 with 8.5 yards per attempt.
Since 2013, Romo has tossed less than 270 yards in 23 regular-season contests versus 11 for more. One situation to zero in on is when Dallas is expected to be a close affair and conservative play calling likely the norm. In the last three seasons, when kicking off between a spread of 4 and -4 points, Romo has thrown for 270 yards just three times as opposed to staying under the mark in 16 contests. Overall, the Cowboys average low 219.1 passing yards in this spot, out-rushing their opponents by nearly five carries and 20 yards per game.