Expert NFL Handicapping and Betting Advice: Concerning QB Situations
Starting quarterbacks in the NFL get hurt. It's an unavoidable truth. When things go well, the transition from starter to backup can be fairly seamless - the Patriots were mostly fine when Tom Brady was lost for the Patriots for a year, and the Eagles won a Super Bowl last year after losing their QB. But when things go poorly then real problems can arise and a season can wind up to be much less promising than it was looking - you don't have to look further than the Texans, Colts or especially the Packers last year to see what can happen when a backup is not up to the challenge.
Some backup quarterback situations are obviously better than others, and the ones that are a concern need to be on the mind of bettors. There is nothing worse than betting on a team only to be sabotaged when the starter is sidelined early in a game. Here are five backup situations that concern me heading into the season - or at least before the inevitable trades of guys like Josh McCown happen closer to the start of the season:
Carolina Panthers: Derek Anderson is a free agent and isn't looking like he will be with the team after seven years as backup. I would be more okay with that if the alternative was inspiring, since Newton is far from the most durable QB in the league - he has gone down to injury as recently as last year's playoffs. Garrett Gilbert joined the active roster of the team last October, and it was his first time on an NFL roster. He has yet to throw a pass in the league, and it's not like he was a dominant force in college. And the other option right now is Taylor Heinicke, a former Old Dominion QB who has bounced around practice rosters since 2015. Surely the team will be in the market for a discarded backup from somewhere, because going into the season with a team that won 11 games last year and has a fragile QB with backups like that would essentially be malpractice.
New York Giants: Eli Manning is a total trainwreck, and at some point he won't be starting anymore, so they need to be thinking about the future. And they clearly didn't get that memo. Davis Webb is their top option right now. His biggest accomplishment is having solid-enough-but-far-from-stunning numbers in two very passer-friendly offenses in college. And their next best option is Kyle Lauletta, a rookie out of Richmond. Are the Giants even trying? Do they want to be the first team to play without a quarterback? How stupid can a team be?
Buffalo Bills: A.J. McCarron is unproven. Josh Allen has a lot of work to do to prove he is ready for this league. And Nathan Peterman was just an epic disaster as a starter when given the chance last year. There is that saying that if you have two starters to decide between then you don't actually have any. Well, in Buffalo's case they don't really have any options to choose from. I guess McCarron could come through as he has promised at times for years. Or Allen could suddenly find the accuracy in the NFL he never really had in college. Or not.
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton has probably reached his ceiling - and that is the kindest thing I am willing to say about him right now. But this team, which seems destined to be quite lousy, and has the worst coach in all of football to guide them to the cellar, seems fully committed to their veteran. Why else would you bring in Matt Barkley as your backup or have epic projects like Logan Woodside or Jeff Driskel as the other options? The last couple of years make me think that the Bengals are jealous that the Browns are getting all the negative attention in Ohio.
Dallas Cowboys: I'm not a big Dak Prescott guy - he feels like one of those guys who peaked as a rookie. He's not awful, but I just don't see a lot of upside here. He can be better than a placeholder, but I just don't see him as the starter for the Cowboys for the next decade - the next Troy Aikman or Tony Romo he is not. And the backup situation is far from ideal right now. Cooper Rush threw three passes for the Cowboys last year in his first year as an undrafted player from Central Michigan. And Mike White, picked in the fifth round, put up some big numbers in his last two years at Western Kentucky, but he is not ready for primetime yet. They seem to be hoping that if Prescott falters or falls that they will get lucky again. Good luck with that.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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