NFL quarterbacks have been and always will be the most recognizable players in the league. They are the highest-paid players in the game, and in most cases, they serve as the face of their respective franchises. It’s easy to see why, given the massive role NFL quarterbacks play in game outcomes in today’s pass-happy, offense-centric league.
One of the main reasons for the increased focus on offensive football within fanbases and the media is the growing popularity of fantasy sports. In fact, as a direct result, everyone from casual fans to NFL diehards are now paying closer attention to offensive statistics than ever before. With the money that is on the line in some daily and season-long fantasy football leagues, it’s easy to see why. But that’s a story for another day.
Another reason sports fans are enamored with statistics involves the gambling opportunities available. With training camps underway all around the league, the oddsmakers for the sportsbooks in Las Vegas have started updating their odds on which teams and which players they believe will experience the best, most successful seasons this fall. Here’s a look at the five quarterbacks who have the best odds to be the NFL passing yards leader in 2016 — according to Vegas.
5. Eli Manning, New York Giants – 10/1
If the 2015 season taught us anything about the Giants’ offense under Ben McAdoo (the team’s offensive coordinator turned head coach), it’s that we can safely expect Eli Manning to be near the top of the league in pass attempts. Last year they ranked sixth in the NFL in points scored per game (26.3); eighth in the league in total offensive yards per game (372.3); and seventh in the league in passing yards per game (271.7).
While the Giants surely hope to have more offensive balance in 2016, there is no denying that the passing attack is their offensive strength. With guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz available to receive the ball, we expect to see Manning put up huge numbers in 2016 (and he’ll surely have at least one big fan rooting for him).
4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – 8.5/1
The Atlanta Falcons may have struggled in the win/loss column over the last three seasons, but Matt Ryan has consistently put up impressive statistics. Over the last four years, he has thrown for an average of 4,630 yards per season. With one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the league (Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu) to throw to, we expect Ryan to exceed that number in 2016.
3. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – 7/1
In 2015, Philip Rivers led the league in pass attempts with 661, and finished second in the league in passing yards with 4,792. To be fair, those numbers came in large part due to the Chargers having zero semblances of a competent rushing attack and spending so much time playing from behind. In reality, things may not be much different for Rivers and his San Diego teammates in 2016.
However, on a more positive note, Rivers will have an excellent group of pass-catchers to throw to in wide receivers Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, Stevie Johnson, and tight end Antonio Gates, which leads us to believe he will throw for close to 5,000 yards again in 2016.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – 5.5/1
Simply put, 2016 is shaping up to be a huge year for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense. As it stands (even with Le’Veon Bell’s potential suspension), Pittsburgh has the best all-around offense in the league. They will be headlined by (what we believe) is the top quarterback-wide receiver duo in the game in Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
In 2015, Roethlisberger threw for 328.2 yards per game, which was the best per-game average in the league. With the combination of the Steelers’ plans to run an up-tempo offense, and the arsenal of pass catchers he has at his disposal, Roethlisberger should post similar numbers in 2016. If he stays healthy, expect to see Big Ben contend for the title of NFL passing yards leader this fall.
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – 5/1
As long as Drew Brees is paired with New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, it’s safe to assume that the nine-time Pro Bowler will be among the league leaders in passing yards. Over his 10 seasons with the Saints, Brees has yet to throw for less than 4,418 yards in a single season.
No matter who the team has at wide receiver or tight end, the four-time All-Pro has the ability to pick defenses apart with his arm at a Hall of Fame-caliber level. While Brees may be 37 years old, his ability to rack up passing yards shouldn’t change in 2016.