- Patrick Mahomes became just the third QB all-time to throw for at least 50 touchdowns in one season
- Andrew Luck returned from a shoulder injury to throw 39 majors for the Colts
- What’s the best bet to make?
it’s time to point out the pivots, again.
After taking aim at what QBs were going to lead the NFL in passing yards this upcoming season, the folks at Bovada have just listed their picks as to who will lead the NFL in touchdown passes.
2019 NFL Regular Season Touchdown Pass Leader Odds
|Player||Team||2018 TD Passes||Odds at Bovada|
*Odds taken 07/10/19. Click the link in the table for the full list of quarterbacks available.
At first glance, it seems like it should be a race between reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes and Indy star Andrew Luck. One is coming off an electric year, redefining just what can be accomplished from the pocket, while the other is just getting his sea legs back under him, while nearly putting together the best season of his career.
But is one of them the winning bet?
Variance and Regression Reign in this Category
As we come to the end of this decade, Mahomes became the seventh different quarterback to have laid claim to the TD pass title.
There are only 3 players in NFL history to pass for more than 50 TD’s in a season
Brady, Manning and Mahomes
But only one of them did it in their first season.
— Bruce Hollis (@brucehollis8) July 5, 2019
Since the 2010 season, only two pivots have been multiple winners: Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Mahomes will try to become the first repeat winner since Brees completed the double in 2012.
And almost always this decade, a quarterback that has led the league in TD passes has seen a regression the next year.
The outliers? Brady followed up his league-leading 36 TD tosses in 2010 by firing 39 the next year, which was good for fourth. The only other player was Russell Wilson, who led the NFL with a career-high 34 strikes in 2017, and upped his career best to 35 this past year. He needed binoculars to find Mahomes, though, finishing 15 TDs back in a tie for third.
— Green Bay Turf (@greenbayturf) August 24, 2017
One last interesting note: even in this pass-happy NFL, you’d be surprised at how the 40 TD-pass mark comes to define excellence vs really good. Of last season’s top 15 TD pass leaders, a grand total of two have multiple 40+ TD seasons: Brees and Aaron Rodgers. That list includes stalwarts like Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Philip Rivers.
What’s the Best Bet to Make?
Mahomes is the current “it” star in the NFL. He’s just the second pivot to ever complete the 5,000-yard, 50 TD pass double in a single season, and he’s a wizard in Andy Reid’s free-flowing, find-the-right-weapon system. That Mahomes injects unreal athleticism and arm strength into the equation makes that offense almost unguardable – and that was just his first year as a starter in the league.
This is not normal. Look at the arm angle and the window. Even Robinson looked completely stunned when he turned around and the ball was landing in Ware's arms. pic.twitter.com/94ZV4ypEzf
— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) July 2, 2019
While the Chiefs QB is the new age, Luck is the old-school prototype: the big, powerful pocket passer that was crafted in the “what a quarterback should like like” lab. Injuries basically ruined his throwing shoulder, and regaining strength and limiting his hits was the Colts’ top priority. Both were achieved, and he came up just shy of his second 40+ TD season.
— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) November 20, 2018
Both are excellent choices, and I think Mahomes, even with a regression, is that talented to repeat.
But don’t drop all your dough into one thoroughbred, as there’s value all over the board.
Drew Brees becomes the 4th player in NFL history with 500+ TD passes.
His 500th ?pic.twitter.com/X1z9M72vvi
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 22, 2017
Brees’ numbers indicate that he still has it, just that his usage went down. He threw just 489 passes last season – he has only gone under 600 pass attempts in four seasons since coming to New Orleans in 2005.
Lane Johnson on Carson Wentz on @nflnetwork ??
“I just think he’s really on a different mental state than he’s ever been as far as training and ignoring distractions and really trying to be the best player he is. I see a guy who is about to do some big things this season.” pic.twitter.com/76UllF53Wi
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) July 9, 2019
And injuries always play a factor, but they have done a number on what Carson Wentz’s ceiling really is. He was likely the league MVP in 2017, after tossing 33 TDs in 13 games before a knee injury. A back injury cut short this season, when he had just 21 strikes in 11 games, but was that just him getting a feel for the flow, before going down again?
At +2000, as is Brees, I’d be willing to take a flier to find out.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.