If you’re a football fan or someone with an unhealthy knowledge of both football and obscure golf tours, you’re probably familiar with the propositions that pop up during the run-up to the Super Bowl. In addition to trying to predict which team will actually win the game, fans are able to test their powers on just about everything even vaguely related to the championship, from the winner of the coin toss to the identity of the final scorer and whether he’ll have more receptions than Lionel Messi will have shots on goal in his next match.
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I’ve wracked my brain, looked at the numbers and come up with 32 props for the 2020 NFL season. There are no soccer players or golfers involved, but there are plenty of player and team comparisons. I’ve used ESPN’s fantasy projections as well as the projections from the Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 to guide my baselines, although I’ve added plenty of my own opinions as well. The goal is to make each side equally appealing. These props also assume that the season will last 16 games and look something like a typical campaign.
As an example, here’s what a sample prop might look like:
Michael Thomas receiving yards
Alvin Kamara rushing and receiving yards
Let’s compare two Saints stars. According to ESPN’s projections, Thomas is expected to rack up 1,351 receiving yards in 2020. Kamara is pegged for 877 rushing yards and 600 receiving yards, totaling 1,477 total yards. The difference between those two numbers is 126 yards, which helps make up our line.
For the Kamara side to win, he needs to generate 127 more rushing and receiving yards combined than Thomas’ receiving total. Otherwise, Thomas wins. We could also express this line as follows, and it would mean the same thing:
Alvin Kamara rushing and receiving yards
Michael Thomas receiving yards
Got it? Let’s get to all 32, in alphabetical order:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
Kyler Murray passing and rushing yards
Lamar Jackson passing and rushing yards
After seeing Carson Wentz nearly win MVP in 2017 and Jackson take home the trophy in 2019, the hype for a second-year passer to win it in 2020 has naturally turned toward Murray. Last season, Murray racked up 4,266 combined passing and rushing yards in 16 games, narrowly coming in behind Jackson, who had 4,333 yards in 15 games before sitting out Week 17.
ESPN’s fantasy projections for 2020 expect both players to land in similar neighborhoods this season, with Jackson at 4,329 combined passing and rushing yards and Murray at 4,274. In that comparison, I lean slightly toward Murray, who I expect to pass more frequently than Jackson given each team’s projected record. Jackson also has a better chance of sitting out Week 17 than Murray, although Ravens coach John Harbaugh might reconsider his decision to rest his starters heading into the postseason after a disappointing performance against Tennessee.
To me, these two are in a dead heat, even if Murray doesn’t challenge for MVP consideration.
Matt Ryan passer rating
Falcons passer rating allowed
Since their Super Bowl trip in 2016, the Falcons have not been able to land on a consistent formula for an effective pass defense. Atlanta has ranked 20th, 29th and 25th in pass defense DVOA over the past three seasons, struggles that have finally led to changes. General manager Thomas Dimitroff has imported former Rams edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and rebuilt the Atlanta secondary over the past couple of years, but the elder statesman starting at corner for the Falcons is likely to be third-year Colorado product Isaiah Oliver, who allowed a passer rating of 113 in coverage last season. In an offseason in which many players weren’t around their teams until August, it’s not out of the question that a young group of corners could actually get worse.
On the other hand, Ryan has continued to play at a high level, in part because his defense has been a mess. Only Derek Carr has more passing yards over the past three years on drives in which his team had a win expectancy of 5% or less than Ryan, who has a passer rating of 109.5 in those situations. Ryan is surrounded by talent on offense, so if you take his side of the prop, you’re either counting on a big season from the Falcons quarterback and/or some improvement from his pass defense.
Justin Tucker missed field goals
Ravens playoff wins
Is there anybody more reliable in the league than Baltimore’s star kicker? After missing seven field goals on 40 tries in 2015, the former undrafted free agent has missed nine field goals over the ensuing four years … combined. And while Tucker had a huge workload in the days when Joe Flacco was at the helm of the offense, the arrival of Lamar Jackson has lightened things for the Texas product. Tucker attempted a career-low 29 field goals last season, missing only one. ESPN projects Tucker to miss three field goals in 2020.
All of this factors in against the Ravens’ playoff chances. They have been bounced out of the playoffs at home in each of the past two seasons, and while two games isn’t a meaningful sample of anything, there will be some playoff jitters in Baltimore until Jackson wins his first postseason game. If the Ravens either miss the postseason or come up short in their first game for the third consecutive year, the Tucker side can win this prop if he misses as few as two field goals. If Baltimore goes on a run, though, Tucker will need to have an unusually disappointing year.
Combined Giants and Jets wins
In the battle for New York, the one team actually left playing within state lines has the upper hand on its New Jersey brethren. The Bills are slight favorites to win the AFC East this season, a title they haven’t won since the 1995 season. Quarterback Josh Allen, who figures to play a huge role in any such division title, was still six months away from being born when the Bills hosted their last home playoff game.
Here, we’re measuring Buffalo’s success versus that of the Giants and Jets. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) projects the Bills to win 8.7 games in 2020, while the two New Jersey teams are combining to project for 12.8 wins. Do some simple subtraction and you’ll find that the Giants and Jets project for 4.1 more wins than their friends in Western New York. I think this line is somewhat generous toward the Bills, whom I project as more of a nine-win or 10-win team. If this were a Vegas offering, there would be some juice or vig on the Buffalo side of the line.
Christian McCaffrey yards from scrimmage
Any other player’s yards from scrimmage
If you played fantasy football in 2019, you know just how dominant McCaffrey was on a week-to-week basis. Despite the Panthers’ struggles, the third-year back racked up 2,392 yards from scrimmage, 615 more than second-place Ezekiel Elliott. ESPN’s projections peg McCaffrey to regress toward the pack in 2020, but he’s still projected to beat Elliott, again in second, by 87 yards from scrimmage.
Damien Woody explains why Christian McCaffrey’s dynamic abilities on the football field make him such a valuable player.
Of course, this isn’t McCaffrey vs. Elliott; it’s McCaffrey versus any other player in the league. That’s a much tougher challenge. Take 2009, when Chris Johnson led the league with 2,509 yards from scrimmage and was 468 yards ahead of anybody else. The league leader in 2010 was Arian Foster, who had a total of 350 yards as a rookie in 2009 before breaking out with a huge season the following year. McCaffrey would be comfortably favored against any one player, but versus the entire field, it’s a much tougher proposition.
Mitchell Trubisky wins against the NFC North
Deshaun Watson wins against the NFC North
You might have heard that the Bears passed on Watson and Patrick Mahomes to trade up and draft Trubisky with the second pick of the 2017 draft. It hasn’t gone well, but here’s Chicago’s chance to get a bit of revenge. The Bears get six games against the NFC North this season. The Texans and Watson play the NFC North for four games, including one against the Bears.
FPI projects the Bears to win 2.9 of those six games, while the Texans are at 1.9 wins. The problem, of course, is that we don’t know whether Trubisky will be starting any or all of those games. My guess is that Trubisky starts half of the games, owing to Nick Foles’ injury history and the chances that Trubisky wins the job outright at some point during the season. Watson could also get hurt at some point during the season, although he’s not losing the job to backup AJ McCarron.
In all, we’re looking at about a half-win of a difference between Trubisky’s expected wins against the North and Watson’s.
Joe Burrow wins
Andy Dalton passing touchdowns
With the Red Rifle now in Dallas to back up Dak Prescott, there’s a chance that he won’t even see the field this season. ESPN projects Dalton to throw 27 passes and one lone touchdown. His best chance of making an appearance might be in Week 17, given that new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has benched some of his stars when his team has had little to play for in the final week of action. You might remember Matt Flynn’s 480-yard, six-touchdown performance for the 15-1 Packers in Week 17 of the 2011 season.
Even if Dalton doesn’t take a single snap, you could win that side of this prop if the Bengals struggle. FPI projects the Bengals to win 5.7 games in 2020, although there’s always a chance that Burrow could miss time while playing behind a questionable offensive line. I think the Bengals could surprise and approach a .500 record; if they get there, Dalton will need some significant playing time to hold up his end of the bargain.
Nick Chubb rushing yards
Dalvin Cook rushing yards
Let’s take a Kevin Stefanski running back challenge, as the running back Stefanski and Gary Kubiak helped to a career year in 2019 with the Vikings goes up against the Browns coach’s new lead runner in Cleveland. Chubb outgained Cook by 359 rushing yards last season, owing to a heavier workload and an injury that limited Cook to 118 yards over the final five weeks of the year.
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The projections have Chubb as a significant favorite in 2020. ESPN’s projections give Chubb a 225-yard edge on his rival back, while the projections from the Football Outsiders Almanac give the Browns star a 160-yard head start. We’ll come in somewhere between those two figures, with Kareem Hunt taking a larger portion of the workload from Chubb than Alexander Mattison would for Cook. Injuries are also a concern for both players, with Chubb and Cook each suffering serious knee injuries in years past.
Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb receiving yards
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski receiving yards
There are a handful of teams that have a claim to the best three-man receiving crew in the league, and the Cowboys and Bucs are two of them. They were two of three teams with a pair of 1,100-yard receivers last season, and they each added a significant third option this year. Dallas used its first-round pick on Lamb, while the Buccaneers used the leverage of the Tom Brady signing to force the Patriots to ship them Gronkowski.
ESPN’s projections have the Bucs ahead of the pack, with 3,056 receiving yards across those top three weapons. The Cowboys are behind them and a couple of other teams, with the projections figuring 2,743 receiving yards for their three receivers. There’s a 313-yard difference between those two figures. I’ll shade it a little further toward the Cowboys, if only because the Bucs were operating at such an extreme last season in terms of possession opportunities and air yards, neither of which is likely to recur with Brady.
Offensive yards from scrimmage
This one’s a little gimmicky, in part because the elevation in Denver could play a huge role this season. With crowds either limited or missing altogether, teams that rely on crowd noise will lose a significant portion of their home-field advantage. The Broncos have loud fans, but they also derive some portion of their home-field advantage from the elevation. Players will still have to deal with the impact of playing 5,280 feet above sea level, regardless of how many fans there are in the stadium.
Coincidentally, the Broncos also project to come in somewhere around that number for yards from scrimmage. ESPN projects 5,563 yards for Denver without including any sack yardage for Drew Lock. The rookie was sacked only five times for 26 yards across five games, which was a testament to his athleticism, but I suspect his sack rate will be higher over a larger sample. The Broncos could also be forced to start backup Jeff Driskel if Lock is injured or struggles, and Driskel was sacked 9.5% of the time during his starts in Detroit.
My guess was that they will lose about 200 yards on sacks this season, which pushes them to 5,363 yards from scrimmage. With a young, emerging group of offensive weapons, they could wildly disappoint or blow away that total altogether.
Matthew Stafford over/under 4,349 passing yards
How much do you believe in what you saw from Stafford last season? If you think he will keep up his pace from 2019, this would be an easy victory. The former first overall pick racked up 2,499 yards through eight games before missing the rest of the season with a back injury. Over a 16-game season, that number would prorate to 4,998 yards, making this prop a gimme. On a per-game basis, he could miss two games and still top this total.
On the other hand, though, Stafford averaged 4,183 passing yards over his three prior seasons before the 2019 half-season. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell talked about his desire to run the football before the 2019 season. I’m expecting the Lions to improve in 2020, which would mean more rush attempts in the fourth quarter. ESPN projects Stafford to finish with 4,221 yards, which would leave him well short of the over/under. So, which side do you believe?
Any non-Davante Adams receiver receiving yards
Any non-rookie first-round pick’s’s receiving yards
Were the Packers right to pass on a receiver with their first-round pick? Much depends on what happens with quarterback Jordan Love, but let’s put their decision to a test in 2020. On one side, we’re taking the top receiving yardage total for any receiver on the roster who isn’t Adams. At the moment, ESPN’s top projection is for Allen Lazard, who comes in at 618 receiving yards.
Six wideouts came off the board in the 2020 draft before the Packers used the 25th pick on Love, but 28 other wide receivers were drafted afterward, including seven different options in the second round alone. None of them projects to top Lazard’s total, but the chance that one of those players breaks out seems more likely than Lazard or Marquez Valdes-Scantling having a big season. Last year, for comparison, we saw players like A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf and Darius Slayton break out with impressive rookie years despite falling out of the first round.
If one of those 28 rookies does impress and outproduces the non-Adams Packers, I suspect we’ll be hearing about it from Green Bay fans.
You knew we had to go there. The Texans aren’t directly replacing their former star wideout with Cobb and Cooks, but it’s close enough to justify this line. ESPN projects Hopkins to get 1,140 yards in Arizona, which would be a major step down from his peak in Houston and even a slight decline from his 2019 total of 1,165 yards. I don’t think Hopkins has lost much at 28, but the reality is that there are a lot of mouths to feed in Arizona with Kenyan Drake, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk all expecting significant targets.
The other side of this prop probably depends on the availability of Cooks, who is projected for 830 receiving yards after missing the better part of four games last season with concussions. Cobb comes in at 585 yards, in part because he hasn’t completed a 16-game season since 2015. The difference between the Cooks and Cobb side and Hopkins’ total amounts to 275 yards, and the prop line is right at that mark.
Philip Rivers fourth-quarter interceptions
While I think Rivers still has plenty left in his tank, anyone who has watched him over his career knows what the veteran is willing to do when his team is trailing in the fourth quarter. Few quarterbacks take more risks late in the game than Rivers, and while that can lead to dramatic comebacks, it also leads to interceptions. He had nine interceptions in the final quarter last season and has 27 over the past five seasons, trailing category leader Jameis Winston by one in both splits.
Of course, if the Colts are winning in the fourth quarter, they won’t need their 38-year-old quarterback to throw them back into the game. (He has only three interceptions while leading in the fourth over the past five years.) Indy is projected for 8.7 wins this season. If you’re more optimistic than that number, you’ll probably assume they’re winning late in games, which would mean fewer Rivers interceptions in the fourth than usual. And if you think 8.7 wins is too many for Indy, well, you’ll be expecting a lot of anguished Rivers faces at around 4 p.m. ET on Sundays.
Jacksonville’s LSU duo yards from scrimmage
Cleveland’s LSU duo yards from scrimmage
LSU stars are spread around the NFL, but when it comes to offensive weapons, the four most notable stars are on two teams. The Browns have a pair of wideouts and longtime friends in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. The Jags, on the other hand, have running back Leonard Fournette and wideout DJ Chark, who combined to rack up 2,702 yards from scrimmage a year ago. Beckham and Landry ended up at 2,229.
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This year, the competition should be tougher. Each side has a problem. Even if Beckham looks more like his usual self after struggling with a hernia last year, Landry is recovering from hip surgery and is uncertain for Week 1. On the other hand, while Chark should continue to blossom after topping 1,000 yards, Fournette would be on a different team if the Jaguars had found a taker for his $4.2 million base salary.
Since that salary is unguaranteed and the Jaguars declined Fournette’s fifth-year option, it’s no lock that Fournette will be on the 53-man roster when the season starts. ESPN projects that Fournette and Chark will gain 2,277 yards to 2,009 for Beckham and Landry, but this prop considers only yards gained while on the Browns or Jaguars. If Fournette makes it through the entire season on the Jags roster, this is probably a victory for the Jacksonville side. If not …
Travis Kelce receiving yards
George Kittle receiving yards
Since they both signed lucrative contract extensions last week, let’s pit the NFL’s top two tight ends against one another. This one might come down to Kittle’s availability. In 2018, with each tight end playing a full 16-game slate, Kittle came within 41 yards of Kelce’s receiving total. Last year, Kittle missed two games and came up 176 yards short of Kelce’s 1,229 yards. Despite undergoing microfracture surgery after coming out of college, Kelce hasn’t missed a game since 2014.
Naturally, this total comes in somewhere between those 2018 and 2019 marks. ESPN projects Kittle at 998 receiving yards and Kelce at 1,090 yards for a 92-yard gap. There’s some hedging for injury baked into that Kittle number, but I think the likelihood of Deebo Samuel being limited by his foot injury means that the 49ers will rely more heavily on Kittle than his 112-target projection suggests. If that turns out to be true, Kittle could win this one outright.
Raiders offensive TDs
Jaguars offensive TDs
Let’s pit the Gruden brothers against one another. Jon Gruden is the coach and playcaller for the Raiders, while his brother Jay has returned to the league after being fired by Washington, joining the Jaguars as their offensive coordinator. Jay’s track record as an offensive coordinator was remarkably consistent; in three years with the Bengals from 2011 to 2013, his offenses ranked 17th, 17th and … 17th in offensive DVOA. Over that same time frame, Andy Dalton & Co. improved from 18th to sixth in points scored.
Coaxing that production out of Gardner Minshew might be tougher, but the spread here favors Jay. ESPN projects 37 offensive touchdowns for the Raiders and 29 for the Jaguars, which makes sense given their respective talent. I think the Jaguars might be less competitive and have more opportunities to rack up scores in garbage time, which is why I moved the two sides slightly closer.
Sacks by the Bosa brothers
Sacks by any individual player
Last year, both Joey and Nick Bosa played all 16 games. The results were impressive. The duo combined for 20.5 sacks, and by using the 45% rule, they might have even underperformed their respective knockdown totals. With 56 knockdowns, we would have expected the Bosa brothers to rack up 25.2 sacks. As it was, they combined to top Shaq Barrett’s league-leading total of 19.5 sacks.
Can they keep it up in 2020? The biggest worry might be both staying healthy, because they’ve both looked like superstars from the moment they entered the league. Topping the field is tough, and they would be in serious trouble if one of them missed significant time with an injury, but there’s also a chance that one of the Bosa brothers leads the league in sacks himself.
Jared Goff play-action passing yards
Any rusher’s rushing yards
While his efficiency as a passer fell in 2019, Goff continues to rack up plenty of yards off play fakes. The 2016 first overall pick led the league in play-action passing yards in 2017 (1,372) and 2018 (2,026), and while he dropped behind Jimmy Garoppolo last season, his 1,612 passing yards were still the second-best mark. Since Sean McVay arrived in L.A., Goff has 820 more play-action yards than any other quarterback.
This year, ESPN projects Derrick Henry to lead the league with 1,309 rushing yards. Projections are inherently conservative; over the past 10 seasons, the league’s average rusher has racked up 1,616 rushing yards. I don’t think anybody will get to that mark in 2020, so I’m willing to give Goff’s play-action yardage a bit of a cushion.
Sacks by Dolphins players
Interceptions thrown by Dolphins QBs
Last year, owing to both a lack of pass-rushing talent and a team that was often trailing, the Dolphins posted a league-low 23 sacks. They built this offseason around improving their pass defense and creating more pass pressure, both by investing heavily at cornerback (Byron Jones, Noah Igbinoghene) and by adding young players with some track records of pressure on the edge (Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah). ESPN’s projections expect Miami to bounce back, with Brian Flores’ defense pegged to produce 37 sacks.
If you don’t want to back the defense, you might prefer taking a shot on Tua Tagovailoa improving Miami’s pass efficiency. The Dolphins threw 18 interceptions last season, which ranked 27th in the NFL, but five of those picks came on 109 attempts from Josh Rosen. ESPN projects Tagovailoa (12) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (four) to combine for 16 picks in 2020, with no attempts from Rosen. I think the sack projection is a little optimistic, but if Lawson or Ogbah breaks out with more playing time, the Dolphins could surprise.
Adam Thielen targets
Stefon Diggs targets
There’s no feud or anything between these two former teammates, but let’s see how each does in his new role. Thielen has gone from being 1A alongside Diggs to a true No. 1 after Diggs’ trade to Buffalo. While the Vikings used a first-round pick on Justin Jefferson, asking him to reproduce Diggs’ 1,130 yards from 2019 as a rookie would be unfair.
Diggs, of course, will now be catching passes from Josh Allen and splitting targets with John Brown and Cole Beasley in the Buffalo offense. I really liked what I saw from Brown a year ago, but Thielen has been the more productive player over the past few seasons. Diggs probably won’t get to 149 targets like he did in 2018, but it’s difficult to imagine that the Bills traded a first-round pick for the star wide receiver without expecting to use him like a No. 1 wideout.
ESPN’s projections for Diggs are relatively pessimistic, projecting him to tie Brown with 99 targets and finish with 937 receiving yards. Thielen, on the other hand, comes in at 121 targets and 1,112 receiving yards. Most people would suggest that Diggs is downgrading by going from Kirk Cousins to Allen, but all we’re interested in here is how often each player is thrown the football.
Tom Brady combined passing and rushing touchdowns
Cam Newton combined passing and rushing touchdowns
What, you were expecting Matthew Slater special-teams tackles or something? Naturally, we have to do a comparison between the Patriots’ former quarterback and the guy whom we project to take over as their new starter. Obviously, if Newton doesn’t win the job in training camp and Jarrett Stidham is the yearlong starter, Brady needs to throw only 11 touchdown passes to win his side of the prop. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski, Brady might cover that by September.
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ESPN projects Brady to throw 31 touchdown passes and run for two more scores, hopefully on sneaks. (Brady did rack up runs of 13 and 17 yards a year ago, although each of his three rushing touchdowns came from a yard out.) Newton might be an all-or-nothing situation at quarterback, but our projections split the difference and have him taking about 78% of the offensive snaps while racking up 20 touchdowns. If the Newton of old shows up, the combined passing and rushing production and the 11.5-touchdown spread probably get him over the hump. There’s also a chance he gets cut in camp.
Taysom Hill receiving touchdowns
All receiving touchdowns compiled by non-running backs or receivers
OK, this one might take a minute. To be clear, we’re comparing the uniquely gifted Hill against the number of receiving touchdowns compiled by players who don’t normally catch touchdowns. In other words, unless you’re a running back, fullback, wide receiver or tight end, you fit in this category. I’m not including players who take snaps on both sides of the ball like Patrick Ricard or someone like Logan Thomas, who is now a full-time tight end after converting from quarterback years ago. (Hill, who threw just six passes a year ago and is considered a tight end for fantasy purposes at ESPN, would also not be included on the other side of the prop.)
Typically, we’re looking at receiving touchdowns here from quarterbacks on trick plays, offensive linemen near the goal line and the occasional fake field goal or punt. Over the past five years, we’ve seen 20 such touchdowns, so an average of four per season. Hill racked up six touchdowns on just 19 receptions last season, which seems unsustainable, but the one-year, $16 million extension he signed with the Saints hints at a larger role. ESPN projects Hill for just one receiving touchdown on 15 receptions, but if his role expands as expected, he could beat out the pack.
Daniel Jones fantasy points
Kyler Murray fantasy points
Murray is rightfully getting hype as a potential MVP candidate and fantasy superstar this season, but Jones quietly had a similarly productive season in 2020. Murray played the full 16-game season and averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game. Jones started 13 games, coming in late one week as a reserve and missing two games with an injury. Across those 13 games, Jones actually averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game, narrowly topping the first overall pick.
This year, ESPN projects Murray to average 19.9 fantasy points per game and total of 299.1 fantasy points, with Jones coming in at 16.6 points per contest and 249.6 total points. You can understand why, given that the Cardinals added a superstar wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, but Jones didn’t play a single snap last season with all of his weapons — Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton — all on the field at the same time. I’d also project Murray to be the better quarterback, but the difference might not be worth 50 points.
Le’Veon Bell 100-yard rushing games
Jets wins against the NFC West
You don’t need me to tell you that Bell’s first season with the Jets was a nightmare. With an absence of big plays, he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and topped 75 yards once, running for 87 yards on 21 carries against the Ravens. After sitting out 2018 and struggling in 2019, Bell has just one 100-yard game since Halloween of 2017. The Jets have rebuilt their offensive line, but with little practice time before the season, it remains to be seen whether things are significantly better up front in 2020.
Bell will get 16 chances at a 100-yard game, though, and the Jets will get only four games against one of the toughest divisions in football. Sam Darnold & Co. won three of their four games against the NFC East a year ago, with their only loss coming to the Eagles in a game in which Luke Falk was their starting quarterback. The NFC West is a tougher animal, as the Jets will have home games against the 49ers and Cardinals and road trips to play the Rams and Seahawks. Even if they do win a couple of those games, you would figure those victories could include a big game from Bell.
Carson Wentz passing yards
Dak Prescott passing yards
Naturally, we have to compare the two NFC East rivals as they enter what should be a competitive 2020 campaign. Last year, with Wentz losing DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery to injuries during the regular season, it wasn’t much of a passing competition at all. Despite the fact that Wentz threw 11 more passes than Prescott, the Cowboys star racked up 863 more passing yards than Wentz. Prescott averaged 1.5 more yards per pass attempt than the 2016 No. 2 overall pick.
With the Eagles investing in receiving depth this offseason, most projections expect this gap to fall. ESPN’s projections have Prescott at 4,284 yards and Wentz at 3,804, for a difference of 480 passing yards. Football Outsiders’ projections have a 438-yard gap between the two. Our line lands in the middle of those two, although it wouldn’t be shocking if either quarterback has an MVP-caliber campaign.
Defense over/under 26.5 takeaways
Buoyed by the addition of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick early last season, the Steelers nearly rode a string of turnovers to a playoff spot. Despite being stuck in neutral on offense with Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph at quarterback, T.J. Watt & Co. racked up 38 takeaways to lead the league. To put that in context, while the Steelers have had a lot of fantastic defenses, the last time they hit at least 38 takeaways in a season was with Rod Woodson and Carnell Lake leading the way in 1996.
While they didn’t have Fitzpatrick in 2018, consider that a similar defensive core from Pittsburgh had just 15 takeaways two years ago. ESPN expects this team to return to the pack, projecting 25 takeaways this season. I’d understand if Steelers fans see all that young talent and the production from a year ago and expect something in the 30s. Turnovers continue to drop around the league, but in a season in which teams will have less practice time before the year and deal with more uncertainty than ever before, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we saw more turnovers league-wide in 2020.
Jamal Adams over/under 6.5 combined forced fumbles, interceptions and sacks
Leaving aside the budding feud between Pete Carroll and Gregg Williams, let’s see whether the new Seahawks safety can stuff the stat sheet like he did in New York. Adams racked up 6.5 sacks to go with an interception and two forced fumbles last season. That sack total isn’t sustainable, but the prior year, he combined a still-impressive 3.5 sacks with an interception and three forced fumbles.
Nobody can deny that Adams is a playmaker, but can he keep those numbers up for a third consecutive year?
Number of 49ers with a rushing touchdown over/under 6.5
Kyle Shanahan is a mad genius when it comes to getting the ball in his playmakers’ hands. Six different 49ers players scored a rushing touchdown last season, including Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson Jr., Deebo Samuel, Matt Breida and Jimmy Garoppolo. It wasn’t as if most of those guys snuck in for one score, either; Samuel and Wilson scored a combined seven touchdowns on just 41 carries.
Breida is gone, but the 49ers could have even more scorers this season. Jerick McKinnon is back in the fold. George Kittle occasionally gets the ball on jet sweeps near the goal line. Kyle Juszczyk got only three carries in 2019 and could be a goal-line option. It wouldn’t be a surprise if first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk got a few carries, and if Garoppolo were to get injured, backup Nick Mullens could score on a sneak. The chances of all of those guys scoring are really slim, but it’s not difficult to imagine San Francisco getting to seven, which is where ESPN’s projection lands.
Tom Brady interceptions
Jameis Winston interceptions
Only one of these quarterbacks is projected to start in 2020, but there are a couple of ways to break down this prop. Start with the Brady side. ESPN projects him to finish the season with nine interceptions, which is his average over the past three seasons. Moving into a new offense could create more mistakes, but he’s not likely to turn into a 15-interception passer.
The Winston side of the prop is more interesting. He’s projected to throw two picks in 42 pass attempts, but everything there is up for grabs. Would moving to New Orleans and working under Sean Payton help him solve his interception issue? If Drew Brees struggles, would Winston play more? Would the Saints just go with a heavier dose of Taysom Hill and leave Winston on the bench all year? If Winston doesn’t play, Brady would need to have an excellent season — or an abbreviated one — for his side to prevail.
Derrick Henry broken tackles
Ryan Tannehill touchdown passes
According to the advanced stats at Pro Football Reference, Henry broke 29 tackles on rushes last season. It might surprise you to hear that he didn’t lead the league, as Nick Chubb and Aaron Jones tied atop the leaderboard with 32 each, but Henry’s athleticism and physicality are always going to force a lot of whiffs. The newly extended running back led the league with 34 broken tackles in 2018, and that required just 215 carries.
It’s dangerous to ever count on a running back to stay healthy and productive at his prior level, but a healthy Henry should come in around 30 broken tackles in 2020, which brings us to Tannehill. ESPN projects the former Dolphins starter for 23 touchdown passes in 2020, which doesn’t seem like very many after he threw 22 in 10 starts last season. Look closer, though, and you’ll see that Tannehill threw touchdowns on 7.7% of his pass attempts, which was a career high and unsustainable. Tannehill also has a significant injury history. I think he can outperform that projection a little bit, but Henry should still be favored here.
Antonio Gibson touches as a rookie
Antonio Gibson college touches
It’s tough to recall a player who projects to post more offensive touches in his rookie season than he did during his entire major college career, but that’s the case for Gibson, who had just 77 across two seasons at Memphis before Washington used its third-round pick to grab him. Gibson already profiled as a change-of-pace back and part-time receiver heading into the summer, but with Kelvin Harmon tearing his ACL and Derrius Guice cut after being arrested on domestic violence charges, Gibson’s path toward touches continues to clear.
ESPN projects Gibson for 107, and even that might be conservative. If a rebuilding Washington team decides to move on from Adrian Peterson, Gibson could be in line for 12-15 touches per game. With little in the cupboard after star wideout Terry McLaurin and few expectations of contention in 2020, Washington doesn’t have much to lose by seeing what it has with Gibson.
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