It’s a quarterback-heavy specials menu for Week 5 NFL player props at Bovada. And fittingly, a few of the props involve the marquee individual battle of the weekend: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady in a matchup of future Hall of Famers with a combined six NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl rings.
It’s the 13th meeting between the two, and, obviously, the first with Manning in Broncos colors. Brady leads 8-4 but is 2-4 in his past six vs. Peyton. With both getting up there in age – Manning is 36 and coming off a missed season and Brady is 35 – this could be the final time the two meet. Some would argue it’s the best individual matchup among QBs in NFL history.
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Brady is the -150 favorite to have more passing yards than Manning (+120) this week, and Brady is also the -130 favorite to have more touchdown passes than No. 18 (“even”).
Both players come off their best games of the season. Brady had season-highs in yards (340), touchdowns (three) and rating (120.1) as New England exploded for 45 second-half points in a win vs. Buffalo. Manning also had season-highs in yards (338), touchdowns (three) and rating (130.0) in a blowout win over Oakland.
Obviously, Brady has the edge of playing at home this Sunday. But Denver has been good against the pass, ranking No. 8 in allowing 221.0 yards per game. The Broncos are No. 24 in allowing eight TD passes. As for Manning, he is 2-8 in his career at New England and has thrown 22 interceptions there compared to 18 touchdowns. But this Pats pass defense is again one of the worst in the NFL. It ranks No. 25 in yards per game (282.0) and No. 26 in allowing nine touchdowns.
I like Manning on the yards. If there’s a chance of a blowout, it’s obviously in New England’s favor and, thus, Manning would have to start throwing a lot. But on the touchdowns, go with Brady as he simply has more weapons than Manning even with tight end Aaron Hernandez likely out again.
A big record is expected to fall in the Sunday night game when Saints quarterback Drew Brees should throw a touchdown pass in his 48th consecutive game, breaking the mark of 47 he currently holds with Johnny Unitas. Because it’s such a special night, Brees asked the NFL to allow suspended head coach Sean Payton to attend in order to see it in person. The NFL agreed (nice PR), and Payton reportedly will, although he can’t have any contact with the team. The league also reportedly approved for suspended GM Mickey Loomis and suspended assistant Joe Vitt to attend as well, but both declined to not be a distraction. Vitt takes over as interim head coach after the Saints’ sixth game.
Bovada’s two props this week on Brees are: will he have a touchdown pass in all 16 games this season (he has to start them all for action): “no” at -180 and “yes” at +140; and will Brees throw a touchdown pass in more than 56 straight games, thus “breaking” the untouchable consecutive games hits record by Joe DiMaggio in MLB. No is -140 there, with yes at even.
Brees has thrown 114 touchdowns in his 47 games, compared to 102 for Johnny U, for what it’s worth. The last time Brees had a game without a touchdown pass was Oct. 4, 2009, against the Jets. He actually also went without a touchdown pass the week before that in a game against Buffalo. I would have to take yes for this season’s prop. I just assume he throws a score in every home game, with the best defensive team to visit the Superdome being the 49ers. I don’t see any road games (Tampa Bay, Denver, Oakland, Atlanta, NY Giants, Dallas) where there’s a great defense to stop Brees. Maybe the Giants only if the weather is wintry come Dec. 9, but I doubt it. If Brees had to play in Pittsburgh or Baltimore outdoors in winter weather, maybe I could see this streak ending. But not this year. Go yes.
As for the DiMaggio comparison, which is very clever, Brees would tie the mark in that Giants game. And he would break it on Dec. 16 against Tampa Bay, which has the worst pass defense in the NFL. In a way, I like the DiMaggio bet even better than the former Brees prop. The one way I could see Brees not throwing a TD pass in every game he starts this season is if the Saints are eliminated early from a playoff spot (looking likely) and he starts a game late in the season but comes out with a minor injury because there’s really no reason to continue and risk serious injury. Like perhaps Dec. 23 at Dallas (doubt he leaves a home game early as the fans are there mostly for him). But take yes here as well.
Finally, the other big quarterback news heading into Week 5 is on the Jets’ Mark Sanchez. He has by far the worst completion percentage of any starting QB in the NFL and is hitting on just over 44 percent in the Jets’ past three games. Last week, the Jets managed 145 total yards in getting shut out at home vs. San Francisco. Bovada offers two props on Sanchez in Week 5: Will he be benched in the Monday nighter vs. Houston (no at -140 and yes at even); and how many yards will the Jets have against the Texans (“over/under” 320.5).
I am in the camp that the Jets simply can’t bench Sanchez because they will wreck his confidence for good; the prop states Sanchez must be pulled out of the game when losing for more than three consecutive offensive plays. Do I think Tim Tebow gets a few more snaps? Probably, but I think Sanchez plays the entire game. As for the yards, Sanchez won’t have top receiver Santonio Holmes after he was lost for the season a week ago. Now the Jets have easily the worst WR corps in the NFL. Houston leads the league by allowing 273.0 ypg. I have to go under here. The other good defense the Jets have faced this year was Pittsburgh, and New York managed 219 yards in that one.
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