The rookies getting all the publicity in the NFL this season are the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, the top two picks in the 2012 draft. They certainly both deserve it as both are on record-setting rookie seasons and might get their teams to the playoffs (unbelievable in the Colts’ case). But a guy you don’t hear too much about is Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson, a third-round pick out of Wisconsin via NC State. Perhaps it’s because Seattle is nestled way up in the Pacific Northwest, but Wilson is having a season that normally would be Rookie of the Year worthy – just not this year.
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One of Bovada’s Week 14 specials is which rookie QB among the trio listed above finishes with the most touchdown passes this year. Wilson is the 5/6 favorite with Luck and Griffin at 9/4. Wilson currently has 19, two ahead of the other two. The Seahawks close with three of four at home, so that bodes well for Wilson has he has 11 touchdowns in five home games (and Seattle is 5-0). But he faces three good defenses to close the year: Cardinals (this week), 49ers and Rams. The lone patsy is at Buffalo, but the weather could obviously be a big factor there.
The choice is Luck, if for no other reason that he throws a ton more than either Wilson or Griffin, partly because the Colts have no running game. In fact, Luck could lead the league in attempts as he is currently tied for No. 2, 31 behind Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. Luck should have a big game at home this week vs. the Titans. Then the Colts finish at Houston (proven to be susceptible vs. the pass of late), at Kansas City and home to Houston (Texans won’t have anything to play for then and likely will rest starters).
Peyton Manning led the NFL in interceptions when he was a Colts rookie, and Luck could do the same. He’s currently tied with the Saints’ Drew Brees for the NFL lead with 16. Bovada offers a prop on which player will lead the NFL in that category: Luck (9/4), the Browns’ Brandon Weeden (5/2), Brees (3/1), Cowboys’ Tony Romo (4/1) or Chargers’ Philip Rivers (4/1). I like Weeden as the Browns finish vs. Chiefs, vs. Redskins, at Broncos, at Steelers. He could have six in those final two games alone, and all but K.C. will have plenty to play for.
As for overall TD pass leader, Brees leads by two with 31 over Manning and Aaron Rodgers. The betting options for the 2012 winner are Brees (2/3), Manning (2/1) and Rodgers (13/4). Brees’ consecutive games with a TD streak ended last week and he was picked off a shocking five times in Atlanta. The Saints are likely to be eliminated from the postseason in the next week or two, so I wonder if perhaps they shut Brees down at some point. Why risk him with nothing to play for? Regroup for next year when Sean Payton is back. I like Rodgers here. The Packers are likely going to have to play hard the rest of the way. And I love their schedule: home vs. Lions (Rodgers could have five TDs), at Bears (Chicago’s defense beaten up and struggling), vs. Titans and at Minnesota.
Staying with the QBs, Bovada offers a prop on whether the Jets’ Mark Sanchez will be pulled this week in Jacksonville for non-injury reason: “No” at -300 and “yes” at +200.
Of course, Sanchez was pulled last week after throwing three picks against the Cardinals, and third-stringer Greg McElroy led the Jets to their only touchdown and a one-point win. However, Ryan said Wednesday that Sanchez would start against a pretty lousy Jaguars defense. Presumably McElroy will go back to third-string because Tim Tebow is likely to be active after missing two games with a rib injury. Ryan seems to have something against Tebow, who has thrown only seven passes all season. He is from Jacksonville, so I wonder if Ryan will at least give him a few plays.
The coach said that he would pull Sanchez if he keeps turning the ball over. Considering he has thrown a pick in all but three games this year, it seems likely. However, Sanchez’s confidence would be shot and the team still owes him more than $8 million guaranteed next season after recently locking him up on a stupid extension. Yet if Ryan were to do it, wouldn’t it make sense to do it on the road and save Sanchez embarrassment that the New York fans would rain down on him? I would lean toward Sanchez finishing the game, however.
Sportsbook.ag Week 14 Leaders
Andrew Luck led the NFL in passing yards last week with 391 – my pick, Tom Brady, had an off game against the Dolphins. Yet again Adrian Peterson paced the field in rushing with 210 yards in a loss to Green Bay. My choice, Chris Johnson, was held to 51 in a loss to Houston. Calvin Johnson continued his amazing tear by leading the NFL in receiving yards again last week with 171. My guy, Dez Bryant, finished with 98 against the Eagles. The Cowboys were the highest-scoring team with 38. The Patriots, the favorites and my choice, had 23 against Miami.
This week, I like Tampa Bay (+500) to score the most points of the week against an Eagles defense that has been destroyed of late. On rushing yards, go with chalk and take Peterson (+300 favorite with Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin) against the Bears. AP is just unstoppable right now and averages more than 100 yards per game vs. Chicago, which will be without Brian Urlacher. On the receiving yards, I like chalk again with Johnson (+350) against the Packers. Johnson has set an NFL record with four straight games with at least 140 yards and he had a career game in Week 17 at Green Bay last year. On the passing yards, I like Josh Freeman (tremendous value at +1500) against those Eagles.
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