Bovada really hit it out of the park this week in terms of their weekly specials -- after a few weeks of not such great options -- so I will break them into two stories this time. Here are my Week 14 recommendations on quarterback props.
Johnny Manziel's Status Week 1 of 2016 NFL Regular Season
Will Manziel Start The Final 4 Games of Season?
This prop is relevant because the sad-sack Browns have decided to go back to Johnny Football as their starter this week against visiting San Francisco. Manziel had been benched the past two games in the wake of that video of him imbibing with his pals in Texas during the team's bye week. Former starter Josh McCown was hurt last week so Austin Davis got his first start as a Brown and he was pretty terrible as Cleveland was crushed by Cincinnati. Really Browns coach Mike Pettine has no choice here but to start Manziel so the team can see if he's worth salvaging for next season or if the Browns need to take a quarterback in the draft -- they would have the No. 1 overall pick if they lose out. One problem: there's really no true franchise-type QB like an Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston in the 2016 draft. So perhaps Cleveland waits until the second round. Your options on this prop are: Manziel playing for Browns in 2016 (+250), backup for Browns (+250), backup for any other team (+300), starting for any other team (+500) or none of those (-200). It really depends on how Manziel plays in the final games -- assuming he doesn't get hurt or do something stupid off the field again -- on how to project this. If Manziel plays well vs. the 49ers, at Seahawks, at Chiefs and vs. Steelers, then he's probably back. It should be noted that McCown is under contract at a salary-cap hit of $5 million next season. As for the second prop, yes is +110 and no -150 for our NFL picks.
NFL Picks: Backup for another team and yes. I think Manziel has burned too many bridges in Cleveland and I expect a new coaching staff there. It will want to build around its own quarterback. Manziel perhaps in Dallas to back up Tony Romo? And I do think Manziel will start all four. There's no point in putting Davis back in there and McCown is done for the year.
Will Blaine Gabbert Start Week 1 of 2016 Season For 49ers?
No is -200 on NFL odds and yes +150. The 49ers' Gabbert was a huge bust as the No. 10 overall pick in 2011 with Jacksonville but has somewhat proven simply a change of scenery can save a career. I'm not saying Gabbert is a Pro Bowler, but he has played competently in four starts for San Francisco since replacing Colin Kaepernick (out for season) as the team's starter. Gabbert goes against Manziel on Sunday in Cleveland. If the 49ers wanted to cut Kaepernick before April 1 this offseason, they would be on the hook for a little over $7 million in terms of the salary cap but save more than $9 million compared to keeping him. It's more likely the team tries to trade him and that Kaepernick restructures with someone else. How about Kaepernick for Manziel?
NFL Picks: No, but Gabbert has solidified himself as a solid backup option for the Niners.
Will Marcus Mariota Throw For At Least 3 TDs In Game Rest of Season?
Yes is even money on NFL odds and no at -140. Last week in a shootout win over the Jaguars, Marcus Mariota threw for three touchdowns, the fourth time this season he has tossed at least three. He became the second player in NFL history to record three touchdown passes four times during his rookie season, joining Peyton Manning (four in 1998). Tennessee is at the New York Jets this week, then at New England, home to Houston and at Indianapolis. So three good defenses (Colts aren't). Mariota actually has been much better on the road than at home this season.
NFL Picks: No. Not sure the Titans will even score three TDs in any of those games. And if Mariota suffers a minor injury, the team may just shut him down.