One of the most intriguing and compelling storylines of every new NFL season centers around quarterback battles. The vast majority of teams have clear-cut starters at the most important position on the field. But not everyone is lucky enough to have Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson to lean on. For teams devoid of franchise signal-callers, the uncertainty creates opportunity, not only for the players competing for the job but for bettors as well.
Betting on "Who will start Week 1?" has become an increasingly popular offseason prop bet in recent years. For bettors who do their homework and read the tea leaves correctly, these props can help pad bankrolls and get the season started off on a winning note.
Entering 2020, we are looking at four teams with quarterback competitions: The Bears, Patriots, Dolphins and Chargers. Without OTA's and less time at the facility to evaluate the players in person, do coaches lean on incumbents who have more experience in the system over newly acquired players who joined the team during the pandemic? We may not get these answers until late in the summer or during the preseason, but now is the time to start placing bets before the odds start to move and value is gone (or they're taken off the board).
Here's a quick look at the contestants and odds for each quarterback battle.
FanDuel: Nick Foles -300, Mitchell Trubisky + 195
DraftKings: Nick Foles -250, Mitchell Trubisky + 170, Tyler Bray + 6000
Trubisky showed noticeable improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, raising his quarterback rating from 77.5 in 2017 to an impressive 95.4 in 2018. But last year, the former 2nd overall pick took a big step backward when his rating dropped to 83. In the process, Chicago fell from a 12-4 team to an 8-8 team. The Bears were clearly disappointed in Trubisky and, as a result, GM Ryan Pace traded for former Eagles Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles this offseason.
According to the oddsmakers, Foles is expected to be the starter. However, he is coming off an up and down season in Jacksonville in which he was limited to just four games due to a shoulder injury and then lost the job to Gardner Minshew once he was healthy again. Now he must change teams in a tumultuous offseason and learn a new system on the fly. This makes the plus-money payout for Trubisky appealing. He has more experience in the system and, who knows, maybe the acquisition of Foles lights a fire under him. If you like Trubisky, grab the + 195 at FanDuel. If you like the chalk, grab Foles at -250 at DraftKings.
New England Patriots
FanDuel: Jarret Stidham -330, Brian Hoyer + 300, Cam Newton + 850, Brian Lewerke + 6000
No quarterback battle will be more closely monitored than this one. You can cross off Lewerke, an undrafted rookie out of Michigan State, along with Cam (at least until he signs with the team). It's all about Stidham vs Hoyer. The youth, talent and upside rests with Stidham, the 2nd-year pro and former 4th-round pick out of Auburn. Although unproven and lacking experience, he had a year to backup and learn from Tom Brady in 2019. Interestingly, Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe in Brady's 2nd season in the NFL, the same spot Stidham now finds himself in. Hoyer, however, has the advantage in terms of veteran experience and familiarity with the system. Belichick isn't one to anoint a young kid like Stidham without proving it first. As of now, oddsmakers like his chances.
FanDuel: Ryan Fitzpatrick -550, Tua Tagovailoa + 370, Josh Rosen + 2500
DraftKings: Ryan Fitzpatrick -278, Tua Tagovailoa + 235, Josh Rosen + 2500
This battle is all about Fitzpatrick vs Tua. You can cross Rosen off the list. Fitzpatrick, 37, is the ultimate grizzled veteran. He's coming off a nice season in which he threw 20 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. Fitzmagic also has a year in the system under his belt. Tua, drafted 5th overall this year, is the future but not exactly the present. The former Alabama star is at a disadvantage with the short offseason and, although he was given a clean bill of health, Tua is still recovering from a hip injury. With such a long-term investment at play you would imagine Miami would be extra cautious with the rookie. Plus, the Dolphins play the Patriots in Week 1. Will Brian Flores throw Tua to the wolves against Belichick in the season opener? Doubtful. Plus, Fitzpatrick threw for 320 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a Week 17 win at Foxboro last year. Despite the chalky price, Fitzpatrick at -278 at DraftKings seems appetizing. If you like Tua to win the job in camp, grab the + 370 at FanDuel.
Los Angeles Chargers
FanDuel: Tyrod Taylor -370, Justin Herbert + 260, Easton Stick + 3200
DraftKings: Tyrod Taylor -335, Justin Herbert + 300, Cam Newton + 2500, Easton Stick + 5000
Luckily for bettors, we'll be able to gain unparalleled access into this quarterback battle later this summer when the Chargers (and Rams) will be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks. With Philip Rivers now in Indianapolis, the Chargers have an opening at quarterback. The favorite to takeover is former Bills signal caller Tyrod Taylor. The 30-year-old has a year in the system, backing up Rivers in 2019. Last year, Taylor appeared in 8 games but only threw six passes. The last time he started was in 2017 when he led Buffalo to a 9-7 record and a postseason berth. Herbert, drafted 6th overall this year, represents the future. But is he ready to step in Week 1 when the Chargers visit the Bengals? Giving Herbert some time to hold the clipboard and get acclimated to the Pro game seems the prudent move. According to reports, head coach Anthony Lynn is "bullish" on Taylor. Despite the expensive price, laying the -335 at DraftKings has merit.