NFL Betting Advice: Rookie Quarterbacks
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 8/31/2011
Starting a rookie quarterback in the NFL is one of the biggest gambles a team can take. For every trip to the AFC Championship Game delivered by Ben Roethlisberger (2004), Joe Flacco (2008) and Mark Sanchez (2009), there are the growing pains/train wrecks with the likes of Josh Freeman (2009), Colt McCoy (2010) and Jimmy Clausen (2010).
We mention Clausen largely because he went 1-9 SU and 3-7 ATS last season while throwing three touchdowns to nine interceptions. That set the stage for another rookie quarterback to grab the reins in Week 1, Cam Newton for the same Carolina team that employs Clausen, now a backup.
Since 2003 five rookie quarterbacks have been christened starters heading into Week 1. This season we are likely to see two rookie quarterbacks under center on Sunday, Andy Dalton for the Bengals and Newton for the Panthers.
Since Roethlisberger took the NFL by storm by winning 13 consecutive regular season games in 2004, 11 rookie quarterbacks have handled the majority of the starts for their respective teams, but only Matt Ryan (2008), Flacco, Matthew Stafford (2009), Sanchez and Bradford were the starters entering the season.
Trends show that is a big difference.
The others, Roethlisberger, Vince Young (2006), Trent Edwards (2007), Freeman, McCoy and Clausen were forced into the lineup either by injury or because the starter was struggling.
One season does not make a quarterback. Even though Freeman went 3-6 SU as a rookie while throwing 10 TDs to 18 INTs, he is now one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. And even though Young went 8-5 SU his rookie season and Edwards went 5-4 SU, both are no longer on those teams and no longer starting on their new teams.
But for the purposes of trying to gauge what Dalton and Newton will mean to their teams value against the number this season, it comes down to a few factors.
It turns out that trying to gauge the success of the rookie quarterback in his first year has less to do with the quarterback himself and all about the situation he is stepping into. Roethlisberger, Flacco and Sanchez all reached the AFC title game their rookie year (coincidentally all three lost, but that is a story for another day.) The trio of quarterbacks also happened to be on a team with a defense that ranked either first or second in the NFL that season.
Sanchez completed 54 percent of his passes as a rookie and he threw 12 TDs as opposed to 20 INTs. Those are not AFC Championship numbers but it didn’t matter as he still went 8-7 SU and 8-7 ATS in the regular season and 2-1 SU and 2-1 ATS in the playoffs.
Flacco completed 60 percent of his passes as a rookie and threw 14 TDs to 12 INTs. Those are decent numbers, but those numbers also translated into records of 11-5 SU and 12-4 ATS in the regular season. And when you include the playoffs those numbers jump to 13-6 SU and 14-5 ATS.
Roethlisberger had the best numbers of the group, 66 percent completion percentage, 17 TDs and 11 INTs, but those numbers hardly warrant a 13-0 SU and 10-2-1 ATS record in the regular season.
So once again, it comes down to the defense.
The good news for Newton and Dalton is that their teams had respectable defenses last year. Cincinnati ranked No. 15 in yards allowed per game while Carolina ranked No. 18.
Even better news for the duo is that the last five rookie quarterbacks who started as of Week 1, combined to go 39-34 SU and 42-31 ATS. Even more impressive than that is those four teams who started rookie quarterbacks since 2008, (Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, New York Jets and St. Louis), went a combined 19-61 SU and 32-48 ATS the year before the rookies arrived.
The rookie quarterbacks improved their teams win total by 20 games while improving their record ATS by seven games! On top of that, Ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Sanchez and Bradford combined to go 10-5 ATS in their first three starts, so the results are there to see early.
So even though Dalton and Newton are walking into less-than-ideal situations (the Bengals went 4-12 SU and 7-9 ATS last season, Carolina went 2-14 SU and 4-12 ATS), they have decent defenses around them and rookie starters have proved they are better off taking over from Week 1 as opposed to taking over at midseason.
Rookie quarterbacks with eight more starts since 2004
Regular season stats
a-denotes starter at Week 1
a-Sam Bradford, St. Louis – 16 starts, 76.5 QB rating, 18 TD, 15 INT, 7-9 SU, 10-6 ATS
Jimmy Clausen, Carolina – 10 starts, 58.4 QB rating, 3 TD, 9 INT, 1-9 SU, 3-7 ATS
a-Mark Sanchez, New York Jets – 15 starts, 63.0 QB rating, 12 TD, 20 INT, 8-7 SU, 8-7 ATS
a-Matthew Stafford, Detroit – 10 starts, 61.0 QB rating, 13 TD, 20 INT, 2-8 SU, 3-7 ATS
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay– 9 starts, 59.8 QB rating, 10 TD, 18 INT, 3-6 SU, 5-4 ATS
a-Joe Flacco, Baltimore – 16 starts, 80.3 QB rating, 14 TD, 12 INT, 11-5 SU, 12-4 ATS
a-Matt Ryan, Atlanta – 16 starts, 87.7 QB rating, 16 TD, 11 INT, 11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS
Trent Edwards, Buffalo – 10 starts, 70.4 QB rating, 7 TD, 8 INT, 5-4 SU, 7-2 ATS
Vince Young, Tennessee Titans – 13 starts, 66.7 QB rating, 12 TD, 13 INT, 8-5 SU, 10-3 ATS
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh –13 starts, 98.1 QB rating, 17 TD, 11 INT, 13-0 SU, 10-3-1 ATS
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