Quarterback Clarity: Know Before You Bet

Written by:
C Costigan
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None of what has come out of Carolina Panthers’ camp this week is a surprise, other than that it came out with a week to go in the preseason. Coach Matt Rhule said his starting quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season is Baker Mayfield. 


That was the assumption since Carolina traded for the former No. 1 overall pick, especially since that Week 1 game is against his old team, the Cleveland Browns. Now, it is official. The experiment of starting Sam Darnold is over after one very disappointing season. It leaves one to speculate that, barring injury, Darnold as a starter in the NFL is likely not happening.

Rhule, when announcing the decision, gave his rationale.

“We were looking at three things, mastery of the offense, situational football excellence and moving the ball and getting guys involved. Baker has made a lot of improvement, growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.”

This decision is based on what Rhule has seen in practice. In preseason action, there’s nothing to distinguish one player from the other. Neither of them played in the Week 2 game against New England, and in their first preseason game, Mayfield was 4-of-7, Darnold 2-of-3.

Mayfield is currently paying +1400 to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award, ranks tied for ninth in the wagering. This, per NFL odds 

Steelers’ Quarterback Job Still Unsettled 

The starting quarterback picture in Pittsburgh remains a muddled affair, with the play of rookie Kenny Pickett forcing the Steelers coaching staff to consider him for the opening-game gig.

Since veteran Mitchell Trubisky was signed, he’s been the favorite to win the job, but Pickett has played very well in the preseason, and the former Pitt Panther is a huge favorite with the locals.

“A lot of spots are going to come down to this work. This work is weighted differently, and appropriately so,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “The in-stadium work is significant, and increasingly so with the more stadium exposure you get.”

Translating Tomlin’s coachspeak, the concern about Pickett a month ago was experience, but since he’s been in stadiums and playing in games, he has proven to be far more advanced than anyone had expected. With another good game from Pickett, he’s likely to unseat Trubisky.

In the preseason, Trubisky is 9-of-15 for 123 yards and one touchdown. Pickett is 19-of-22 for 171 yards (three touchdowns).

At +900, Pickett is the current betting favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

Mariota the Starter in Atlanta 

When Marcus Mariota was signed this offseason by the Atlanta Falcons, he was designated the 2022 starter. When the Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder with the 74th overall pick in the draft, coach Arthur Smith reiterated that Mariota was still starting. 

Even though Ridder looked excellent Monday night against the New York Jets, Mariota’s still the Falcons starter for Week 1. Mariota did look excellent against the Jets as well, He finished the game 6-of-10 for 132 yards, a touchdown and a 52-yard completion to tight end Kyle Pitts. Ridder was 10-of-13 for 143 yards.

Mariota, of course, layed for Smith in Tennessee, and he knows the offense quite well. However, Ridder is learning faster than expected, giving the Falcons a ‘good’ problem there. With a capable quarterback in Mariota, and a rookie who you’re not afraid to play in Ridder, are the Birds going to be somewhat noisy this season?

According to NFL odds, the Falcons’ projected win total is just 4½.  

Rosen Not in the Cleveland Mix 

With Deshaun Watson out until December and Jacoby Brissett a career losing quarterback, former Arizona Cardinals’ (2018) first-round pick Josh Rosen had a chance this preseason to get into the mix. It didn’t go that well. He was just 7-of-20 for 88 yards, and was thoroughly outplayed by Joshua Dobbs (249 yards and a touchdown).

Rosen was an Atlanta Falcon last season, throwing 11 passes with two interceptions. Prior to that, three miserable starts for the Dolphins in 2019. 

Rosen was a member of the Buccaneers and 49ers, but didn’t play for either team. 

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