NFL Handicapping: Quarterbacks That Could Drain Your Wallet
by Trevor Whenham - 9/4/2009
As we look towards the NFL regular season, wishing it would finally get here after an endless and mostly dull preseason, we have to look for ways to pass the time - I'm certainly not going to watch the final preseason games. To pass the time and get ready for the season I've been staring at stats until I'm almost blind.
Lots of different things emerge when you do that. One thing that has jumped at me is that there are some quarterbacks that should owe bettors money. These are guys that aren't as good against the spread as they should be. In some cases they are just average, and in other cases they are just terrible, but in all five cases these guys are likely to draw more bettor support than they probably deserve based on their betting performance over the last couple of years. Here's a look at five quarterbacks who bettors should put on notice until they show they can turn things around:
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears - The way they have been talking about Cutler since he has shown up in Chicago you'd think that he could walk on water. He will certainly make the Bears a more explosive offensive team, but it remains to be seen if he can reform his money-burning ways now that he is in a new city. Cutler was just 4-11-1 ATS last year, and 5-11 ATS the year before. That's 9-22-1 ATS in his career. Brutal. Now, Cutler hasn't been with overwhelmingly good teams in Denver, but he's put up big numbers personally, and there's no good reason why this team should have consistently underachieved as much as the Broncos have. We'll have to see what happens, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if Cutler continued his bettor-abusing ways in Chicago. Expectations are higher than his receiving corps is talented, so it seems quite possible that the Bears will see both lines and totals that are beyond their offensive capabilities early on.
Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams - Remember back when the Rams used to be a competent team and Bulger was looked at as a good to very good quarterback? Those days are long gone. So far gone, in fact, that Bulger probably doesn't belong here because he isn't expected to be anything other than lousy. I include him, though, because I can't ditch the feeling that Bulger's talent should be enough to make him a far better player than he has been. I blame the team as much as anything - Bulger can only work with with what he is given. Bulger is only 7-17 ATS in the last two seasons - or at least the parts of the seasons that he has been healthy. Maybe it's just me, but I look for Bulger to be a value pick from time to time - a guy who can exceed public expectations. I need to get over that habit.
Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins - This one is probably less of a concern than it has been in the past. Now people seem to be thinking that Campbell isn't going to become an elite quarterback, and his team certainly doesn't seem to be committed to him for the long-term based on their flirtations with pretty much every available quarterback over the summer. Up until recently, though, Campbell was seen as a guy on the rise - a future star. Any bettors who have thought that, though, have suffered a hit to their pocketbook. He was only 6-8-2 ATS, and 4-7-2 ATS the year before. It's particularly telling, too, that when Campbell was hurt for the last three games of the 2007 season Todd Collins went 3-0 ATS in relief.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys - If Romo spent as much time trying to cover spreads as he does finding blonde girlfriends then he'd be a bettors' best friend. It's not that Romo has been disastrous against the spread over his career. It's just that he's not nearly as good as people would expect him to be based on the amount of press coverage that he gets. He is 20-18-1 ATS over the course of his three-year career. That's almost exactly a break even win rate. He's not getting any better recently, though - his 6-7 ATS mark last year was the worst of his career.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts - You would be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn't accept without hesitation that Manning is one of the two best quarterbacks in the league. He's certainly the funniest. He's also consistently been at the helm of one of the top teams in the league. The problem, though, is that he is much better at winning than he is at covering the spread. Over the last three years Manning has been 25-22-1 ATS. That's not Cutler-bad by any means, but like Romo it's barely break even, and it's likely not nearly as good as bettors would guess he would be. that makes him dangerous.
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