The 2020 NFL season is still about 5 months away, but it’s never too early to talk about football, is it? Super Bowl 54 feels as though it happened 6 years ago, but in reality it hasn’t even been 2 months since the Chiefs toppled the 49ers in South Florida.
Obviously, Andy Reid and co. will be looking to use 2019 as a springboard to a potential dynasty. Kansas City has the best player in football, Patrick Mahomes, and the fact that he’s still only 24 years old is pretty terrible news for the rest of the league. Assuming he stays healthy, there is no limit on what the Chiefs may be able to accomplish in the coming years.
You’ll have to wait a while before you can actually cash any bets you place on the upcoming NFL season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get started on your research ahead of schedule.
Bovada has already released a bevy of player props in anticipation of the new season. Let’s dive into a few of the new wide receiver props in an attempt to unearth some value.
DeAndre Hopkins Receiving Touchdowns
One of the many “wow” moments we’ve already had during this NFL offseason was when the Houston Texans stunningly traded DeAndre Hopkins. A Hopkins trade wasn’t really on anybody’s radar, yet Houston shipped the former All-Pro to Arizona in exchange for David Johnson and a couple of future picks. The fact that the Texans didn’t even recoup a first-round pick in exchange for arguably the best receiver in football is downright criminal.
Regardless, it should be interesting to see how Hopkins fits into the Cardinals’ high-octane offense. Arizona wasn’t overly efficient with a rookie quarterback at the helm, but they did play at one of the fastest paces of any offense in football. The addition of Hopkins gives Murray one of the most dangerous weapons in the game, but I’m a little skeptical that he will be able to rack up the kinds of gaudy numbers we saw from him in Houston.
Hopkins has been targeted at least 150 times in each of the last 5 seasons. Last year, Larry Fitzgerald led all Cardinals pass-catchers with just 109 targets. That put him just ahead of Christian Kirk (107) for the team lead.
Will Fuller ranked a distant second with 71 targets to Hopkins’ 150 among Texans a season ago. Hopkins had a down year from a scoring perspective with 7 touchdown catches, but he has piled up at least 11 TDs in 3 of his 7 pro seasons to this point.
I expect the Cardinals to spread the wealth once again with Hopkins joining Fitzgerald and Kirk in the passing attack. While I’d be surprised if Hopkins didn’t lead the team in targets, I don’t expect him to be quite as dominant in that regard as he was in Houston. Murray threw just 20 touchdown passes as a rookie, with no pass-catcher hauling in more than 4.
Even if Murray improves in that regard during his second pro campaign, I’m having a hard time imagining Hopkins getting enough volume to score at least 10 touchdowns in 2020. Arizona’s fast-paced offense should be fun to watch, but I feel pretty comfortable betting the under on this one.
NFL Bet:Under 9.5 (-115)
Tom Brady Passing Touchdowns
Tom Brady leaving the Patriots to join the Buccaneers was another “wow” move, but given all of the rumors it wasn’t exactly completely out of nowhere, either. It sounds as though Brady was excited to make the move, rather than simply settling on Tampa Bay. By making the switch from Jameis Winston to Brady, the Bucs’ odds to win Super Bowl 55 skyrocketed to +1000. Earlier this offseason, you could get Tampa Bay around +5000 to win next year’s title.
I would imagine a big part of why Brady chose Tampa Bay is that he’ll be working with a known quarterbacks guru in head coach Bruce Arians. Brady will also be teaming up with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, which has quietly become one of the most prolific pass-catching tandems in the league over the past couple of years. Godwin finished third in the league in receiving yards (1,333), while Evans finished 13th (1,157). Evans would’ve ranked even higher if he hadn’t missed 3 games due to injury.
Tampa Bay averaged 39.4 pass attempts per game last season under Arians, which was the fourth-highest mark in the league. Brady and the Pats ranked fifth (38.5) in the same metric. Brady threw just 24 touchdowns, which was his lowest output since matching that total way back in 2006. Winston, meanwhile, threw 33 TDs for Tampa Bay.
The over/under of 31.5 for Brady in 2020 looks a little high. While he’ll be working with more talent than he was last season in New England, it’s also worth wondering how much the soon-to-be 43-year-old has left in the tank. Brady has defied the aging process for quite some time, but a physical decline has to come eventually. There’s certainly a chance he enjoys a bounce-back statistical season, but a minimum of 32 touchdown passes is a tall order.
Once again, I’ll have to side with the under.
NFL Bet:Under 31.5 (-125)
Carson Wentz Passing Yards
The Eagles underwhelmed last season given their Super Bowl aspirations, but Philly still managed to win the NFC East despite finishing just 9-7. The Eagles averaged just over 23 points per game, which was middle of the pack. Carson Wentz quietly put up a strong individual campaign, topping 4,000 yards passing with 27 touchdowns to 7 interceptions.
2019 marked the first time in Wentz’ first 4 years that he topped 4,000 yards passing, but it was also just his second fully healthy campaign. He was limited to 13 games in 2017 after tearing his ACL in December of that season, and he played in just 11 games the following year.
Betting on any player prop is inherently risky considering football is a violent game. Injuries can pop up at any time and completely doom your bet. That said, it’s not like we can predict injuries, either. That’s why I’m rolling with the assumption that we’ll get a full 16-game season out of Wentz in 2020. Philly led the NFL with an average of 68.5 offensive snaps per game last season. The Eagles are a fast-paced offense, which obviously increases the number of opportunities for Wentz in the passing game.
I’m optimistic that he can top the 4,000 yard mark once again next season. The Eagles were ninth in pass attempts per game. Assuming they maintain that pass-happy offensive style, Wentz has the potential to put up some gaudy numbers once again.
NFL Bet:Over 3,999.5 (-115)
Philip Rivers Passing Yards
Brady wasn’t the only big-name quarterback to change teams this offseason. Philip Rivers, who has spent the entirety of his 16-year career with the Chargers, signed with the Indianapolis Colts earlier this month. The 38-year-old obviously isn’t Indy’s long-term replacement for Andrew Luck, but the Colts clearly think they have a team capable of winning right now. So, they splurged $25 million to ink Rivers to a 1-year contract.
Rivers has never won a Super Bowl, but he has been putting up hefty numbers for years. The veteran has played in every single game every year since 2006, and he has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in every season since 2013. Rivers has topped 4,300 passing yards in each of the last 5 seasons.
Rivers and Colts head coach Frank Reich have worked together in the past, which bodes well for Rivers’ chances of picking up Indy’s offense from the jump. Reich was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach in 2013 and served as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. The Colts’ offensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni, also worked with Rivers for 5 years with the Chargers.
Rivers will be working with one of the more unheralded WR1s in football in TY Hilton, and he should stay upright more often than not thanks to one of the best offensive lines in all of football. Assuming Rivers doesn’t age too rapidly, I see little reason to believe he can’t keep putting up sizable numbers even with a different uniform on.
Bet the over on 4,399.5 passing yards for Rivers next season.
NFL Bet:Over 4,399.5 (-115)
Patrick Mahomes Passing Touchdowns
While we will always remember the 2019 season as the year Patrick Mahomes claimed his first Super Bowl title, the path to the championship wasn’t always an easy one. It’s easy to forget that Mahomes actually missed 2 regular season games due to injury, and he was hobbled for several more. The former Texas Tech Red Raider still topped 4,000 passing yards with 26 touchdown passes across his 14 games, but those numbers are a far cry from his record-breaking 2018 season. That year, Mahomes threw for nearly 5,100 yards with 50 touchdowns on his way to league MVP honors.
The over/under on touchdown passes for the reigning Super Bowl MVP has been set at 36.5 heading into 2020. Kansas City’s offense will look an awful lot like the one we just saw win the Super Bowl. All of Mahomes’ primary targets (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson) will return. The offensive line will remain intact.
Assuming he stays healthy, I see little reason to expect Mahomes to endure another “down” season next year. Let’s also not forget that Hill, his most dangerous deep threat, was limited to 12 games in 2019. Mahomes should be able to top the 26 TDs he threw last season, but I’m not totally convinced he’ll throw 37 or more. There’s a decent chance the Chiefs will be on the right end of a number of blowouts. If that’s the case, he may not need to put up the same video game numbers we saw from him 2 seasons ago.
36.5 seems like an aggressive over/under, so I’ll side with the under for Mahomes in 2020.
NFL Bet:Under 36.5 (-115)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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