2015 NFL Preview: Week 1 QB Battles

The NFL regular season kicks off in three weeks, but we will see a lot of roster turnover before that date. Coaches and managers still need to trim their rosters down to 53 players, and many teams are still trying to determine which quarterback will start their Week 1 game.

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Right now there are four teams with serious questions about their signal caller and, using a variety of prop bets from across the sports betting marketplace, we have been able to track the ever-changing favorites.


Player CRIS (8/25) CRIS (8/19) CRIS (8/18) CRIS (8/14) CRIS (8/7) CRIS (8/4) 5Dimes (7/29)
Tyrod Taylor -180 -147 +232 +208 +187 N/A N/A
Matt Cassel +115 +106 -322 -216 +128 N/A N/A
EJ Manuel +2500 +3538 +1521 N/A +229 +220 +120
Field N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A -260 -150

EJ Manuel, who was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, entered the offseason with a tenuous grasp on the starting job. Since this prop bet was first posted on July 29th, Manuel has seen his odds drop from +120 to +3538. Based on the implied probabilities, that’s essentially a decline of 40%.

It’s interesting to note that Cassel has been the favorite since the start of the preseason; however, yesterday we saw Tyrod Taylor’s stock improve significantly. This was largely due to a comment from Bills GM Doug Whaley who said that Taylor has “everything you’re looking for.”


Player CRIS (8/25) CRIS (8/19) CRIS (8/13) CRIS (8/11) CRIS (8/7) 5Dimes (7/29) BetOnline (1/2)
Josh McCown -2000 -1500 -900 -1000 -628 -400 N/A
Johnny Manziel +850 +750 +500 +600 +390 N/A +250
Field N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A +310 -325

Last season Johnny Manziel looked largely over matched in his limited time as the Browns starting quarterback, completing just 51% of his passed while recording two interceptions, losing a fumble and posting a paltry 42.0 QB rating. He entered the offseason as a +250 long shot to start the Browns opener against the Jets, and has seen his stock consistently decline throughout the offseason.

At the time of publication the newly acquired Josh McCown is a -1500 favorite to be named the opening week starter, however, Manziel is currently listed at -325 to start at least three games during the 2015-16 regular season.


Player CRIS (8/19) CRIS (8/7) 5Dimes (7/29)
Brian Hoyer -216 -170 -140
Ryan Mallett +170 +140 N/A
Field N/A N/A +110

In perhaps the tightest competition, former Browns QB Brian Hoyer (-216) has a narrow advantage over the incumbent, Ryan Mallett (+170). This contest will play out in front of our eyes since the Texans are currently starring in the current season of HBO’s Hard Knocks.

Although Hoyer’s odds have been consistently improving since late July, his implied probability of being named the Week 1 starter is still only 65.87%.


Player CRIS (8/25) CRIS (8/19) CRIS (8/13) 5Dimes (8/7) 5Dimes (7/29) 5Dimes (7/2) 5Dimes (6/30)
Sam Bradford -5220 -1800 -1575 -900 -475 -300 -120
Mark Sanchez +1208 +900 +708 +500 +325 +240 -120

Most of the NFL was stunned when Chip Kelly and the Eagles acquired Sam Bradford from the Rams earlier this offseason. The former number one overall pick has been largely viewed as a bust, so the trade package (including former starter Nick Foles, a 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick) was viewed by many as an overpay — especially with Kelly rumored to be enamored with his former college QB — Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

Bradford and new teammate Mark Sanchez, who impressed many by passing for over 2,400 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, opened as -120 co-favorites to win the starting job. Since that date, Bradford’s odds have improved exponentially and he’s currently listed as an overwhelming favorite at -1800. Assuming he stays healthy for the next three weeks (and that’s hardly a guarantee given his track record) Bradford is a lock to start the Eagles Week 1 game against the Falcons.

Do you think any of these prop bets are offering value? Is there a quarterback controversy that oddsmakers are overlooking? Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comment section below.

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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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