/Gridiron Digest: Patriots Reloaded and Ready to Dominate (Again)

Gridiron Digest: Patriots Reloaded and Ready to Dominate (Again)

Bill Feig/Associated Press

Be patient, wagerers: Games worth betting on will be here soon enough. In the meantime, we’ve scoured the big board for some team and player futures worth your attention. All over-unders and moneylines from Caesar’s Palace Sportsbook, as of August 11.

      

Bears over 26.5 takeaways (-105)

The Bears defense intercepted 27 passes last year, the highest total since the 2013 Legion of Boom Seahawks intercepted 28 passes. They’re not going to sustain that takeaway level, but that’s not necessary to clear this manageable over. The Bears look poised to record another 50 sacks or so, which will cause plenty of errant passes, fumbles and turnover mayhem.

One note of caution: The Bears don’t face many weak quarterbacks this year. Opponents like Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers won’t provide easy interception opportunities. But maybe the Giants can pick up the slack in Week 12.

            

Lamar Jackson over 826.5 rushing yards (-110)

Only six quarterbacks in NFL history have rushed for more than 800 yards in a season: Michael Vick in 2006 (1,039), Bobby Douglass in 1973 (968), Randall Cunningham in 1990 (942), Vick in 2004 (902), Russell Wilson in 2014 (849) and Robert Griffin III in 2012 (815).

It’s not exactly a safe bet that Jackson will average the 51.7 rushing yards per game necessary to clear the over, but it sure is a fun one. With the Ravens reconstructing their offense to give Jackson more rushing opportunities, he could go over if things go right (he has a dual-threat season like the young Griffin), if things go wrong (he runs around in circles like Cunningham) or somewhere in between (he develops as a passer but gets little support, like Wilson).

         

Christian McCaffrey over 1,849.5 combined rushing and receiving yards (-110)

The “scrimmage yards” numbers for running backs are set very high this year, and the house never offers appealing moneylines on esoteric futures bets. Still, scrimmage yardage bets are fun because they give you something to root for every time the quarterback dumps off to a checkdown pass.

Saquan Barkley at 1,899.5 (-110) will break your heart when he rushes 15 times for 50 yards and catches eight passes for 68 yards each week in a dysfunctional offense and misses paying off by 12 yards. Alvin Kamara looks a little ambitious at 1699.5 (-110), since Kamara has capped out in the 1,500s two straight years and the Saints are still expected to use a committee backfield.

Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner plans to keep McCaffrey’s workload steady, and a healthier Cam Newton should increase McCaffrey’s efficiency as a rusher and receiver. McCaffrey gained 1,965 scrimmage yards last year, so this over even provides a bit of wiggle room.

            

T.J. Hockenson under 45.5 receptions (-110)

Oh, what a wondrous world we live in, where satellites allow you to lounge on your sofa, tap a few buttons on your phone and (in certain states) legally wager on the number of footballs a Lions rookie tight end will catch in a season!

This wager probably doesn’t appeal to you; the Gridiron Digest readership isn’t full of folks actively rooting for a rookie tight end from Iowa to fail. But this wager does illustrate just how much science goes into establishing the over-under for even a minor bet.

Only 11 rookie tight ends since the merger have caught 46 or more passes—most recently Evan Ingram (64) in 2017. Lower the number to 42, however, and 23 rookie tight ends have cleared the bar, including George Kittle (43) in 2017, Jordan Reed (45) in 2013 and Rob Gronkowski (42) in 2010.

So even if you think Hockenson is a Kittle, Reed or Gronk, the under is the smart play. But the number is set at just the right place to balance out the (very little) money the house takes in on this play.

          

Jalen Ramsey: Under 2.5 interceptions (+140)

Take this one to the bank. No quarterback is gonna challenge Ramsey this year. He’ll make the Pro Bowl with one interception.

For the sake of reference, after Darrelle Revis’ first All-Pro season in 2009, he only intercepted more than two passes once in the next five years. Ramsey will get the Revis treatment this year.

Hold on a sec, my wife is calling me. What’s that dear? You say someone named J.R. slid into your DMs saying “Take the over”? Eh, just block him.