- Ben Roethlisberger led the NFL with 16 interceptions last season
- Deshone Kizer the only rookie this decade to lead league in INT
- What’s the best bet to make?
There’s a reason why quarterback is the highest-paid, highest-profile gig in the NFL.
Many of the best pivots in history have also been at the top of the most interceptions thrown list.
The Ben Roethlisberger INT in the endzone at the end of a big regular season game, just like last season.pic.twitter.com/EDqjbql8hm
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 26, 2018
Last year was no different, as two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger was a big reason why the Steelers were in the playoff mix, with a league-leading 5,129 passing yards, but his NFL-worst 16 interceptions thrown was a big contributor to them missing out in the end.
With training camps kicking off across the league, it’s time again to try to bank on a signal caller’s misfortune.
Don’t worry, it comes with the territory.
2019 NFL Most Interceptions Thrown Odds
|QB||Team||2018 INT (league rank)||Odds at Bovada|
|Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||14 (T5)||+750|
|Ben Roethlisberger||Pittsburgh Steelers||16 (1)||+800|
|Kyler Murray||Arizona Cardinals||Rookie||+1000|
|Sam Darnold||New York Jets||15 (T2)||+1100|
|Josh Allen||Buffalo Bills||12 (T9)||+1200|
|Philip Rivers||LA Chargers||12 (T9)||+1400|
|Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||13 (8)||+1400|
|Baker Mayfield||Cleveland Browns||14 (T5)||+1600|
|Josh Rosen||Miami Dolphins||14 (T5)||+1600|
|Dwayne Haskins||Washington Redskins||Rookie||+1600|
|Eli Manning||New York Giants||11 (T15)||+1800|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City Chiefs||12 (T9)||+2000|
|Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans||9 (T23)||+2200|
|Andy Dalton||Cincinnati Bengals||11 (T15)||+2500|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||Miami Dolphins||12 (T9)||+2500|
|Derek Carr||Oakland Raiders||10 (T20)||+2800|
|Jared Goff||LA Rams||12 (T9)||+2800|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||San Francisco 49ers||3 (T42)||+3000|
|Joe Flacco||Denver Broncos||6 (32)||+3300|
|Daniel Jones||New York Giants||Rookie||+3300|
*Odds taken 08/01/19. For the full list of odds, click the link in the table
Picking an interception leader is an inexact science. Since 2002, there have been only four players who have more than one season led, and it’s a mostly accomplished group: Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Big Ben just joined the list. Eli Manning is the only player in the 2000s that has done it three times.
Make or Break Year for Winston
If there was ever a head coach that could determine if Jameis Winston, the first overall pick of the 2015 draft, is a worthy of a team commitment, it’s Bruce Arians.
His offensive philosophy of “no risk it, no biscuit” means that his quarterbacks must be willing to stand in the pocket and take shots down the field.
Jameis Winston throws an INTpic.twitter.com/dsOX376GeJ
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
That same sort of philosophy seemed to be set for him last year, when he was suspended and forced to watch Ryan Fitzpatrick blow the lid off of defenses in the first four games of the season. It was the birth of FitzMagic and it was nuts.
Jameis Winston generated his highest passer rating by far when targeting TEs. pic.twitter.com/3TRBOCfR9d
— PFF (@PFF) July 25, 2019
But as Fitzpatrick pumpkined back to mortality, Winston grabbed the wheel and subsequently crashed out. In 11 starts, he was tied for fifth in the league in interceptions with 14. The good news? He has a great group of receiving weapons – even with the loss of DeSean Jackson – led by Mike Evans and tight end OJ Howard. The bad news? There’s nowhere to hide.
NFL Interception Leaders 2014-2018
* tied for league lead with Philip Rivers
Can the Kids get Enough Reps?
DeShone Kizer is a stark reminder of just how fast the NFL shifts. Just the year prior to this one, Kizer was a rookie leading the Browns to the second 0-16 season in the 2000s, adding an NFL-best 22 picks as a nice cherry on top.
— FA Hoje (@FAHoje) October 15, 2017
Baker Mayfield and the Browns are this year’s “it’ team. And Kizer is an outlier. Because pulling a struggling rookie is commonplace, very few can lead the league in interceptions: in fact, since 1998, only the immortal Geno Smith joined Kizer as rookies throwing more than 20 picks in a season.
So while that should lead you away from Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, there are a couple of second-year pivots which teams are prepared to live and die with.
4 INT day for Sam Darnold. pic.twitter.com/qmprOnEEmy
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 4, 2018
Sam Darnold started just 13 games and managed to throw 15 interceptions. A new offensive arsenal and offensive-minded head coach in Adam Gase might be able to mitigate that, or it could be another year of development.
OH MY GOODNESS 😱😱😱
— LFL (@LiveFeedLville) September 30, 2018
Ditto Josh Allen. While the kid showed he could run with the best of them, he struggled doing the throwing thing at times. Twelve picks in 12 games is not a good sign, especially since the Bills didn’t surround him with A-level talent this next go around.
What’s the Best Bet to Make?
If you don’t believe Winston is the real deal, then definitely bet on him. I’d move away from Roethlisberger, as no one has gone back-to-back INT leader in the 2000s.
I’m leaning towards a few of the veterans further down the board for value.
Chidobe Awuzie's INT of Eli Manning: pic.twitter.com/VulRryQ9PZ
— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) December 30, 2018
Eli Manning (+1800) has been anointed starter on the strength of his sub par play for the last five years, backed up by the drafting of an unready Daniel Jones. With nowhere to turn to, that’s a recipe for piling up picks.
Andy Dalton throws an INTpic.twitter.com/bhz392AtHN
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 30, 2018
And Andy Dalton (+2500) could be without a fully healthy AJ Green for weeks to start the year, and he’s coming off a year where he was on pace to match Big Ben’s INT total, piling up 11 in 11 games before going down with injury.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.