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Odds Favor Jameis Winston to Lead NFL in Interceptions Thrown in 2019, Big Ben Listed at 8-1

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston is learning a new offense under Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay. Photo from @fantasysportsso (Twitter).
  • 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.

Along with the glory, like leading the league in passing yards, or touchdown tosses, come the goat horns.

Many of the best pivots in history have also been at the top of the most interceptions thrown list.

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.

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.

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

Year QB Team Total
2018 Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 16
2017 Deshone Kizer Browns 22
2016 Philip Rivers Chargers 21
2015 Blake Bortles Jaguars 18
2014 Jay Cutler Bears 18*

* 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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