Las Vegas is not a pleasant place to be in July. The temperature routinely soars above 110 degrees – even the nighttime lows are often in the upper 80’s. Many Vegas veterans bolt out of town around this time of year, heading for cooler, more comfortable climates.
But there is one strong advantage to sticking around in Vegas during the hot summer months –first crack at opening numbers. One such opportunity presented itself this past week, as the Venetian posted their 2010 NFL regular season player props.
We’ll see a handful of offshore books following suit in the next few weeks, but the Venetian posted the first true “virgin” numbers, sending wiseguys scurrying to get their bets down.
The Venetian posted Over/Under touchdown passes numbers for 17 quarterbacks. They posted Over/Under combined rushing and receiving touchdowns numbers for 24 running backs. And they posted Over/Under total reception numbers for 29 wide receivers and tight ends. There are 70 Over/Under props in all, giving bettors plenty of options to choose from.
Rather than simply list all the player prop numbers in today’s blog, I thought it would be more interesting to discuss the bets that I personally made. What follows is a list of my personal wagers, with a sentence or two explaining why I made each one.
One Final Note: Sharp bettors generally prefer to bet Unders more than Overs with these player props for one simple reason. Injuries can and do happen every year in the NFL; more than a handful of these players will stay Under their projected numbers due to injury concerns at some point during the season.
Aaron Rodgers Under 29.5 TDs - Rodgers was nearly perfect last year against the single weakest schedule in the NFL, setting a career high with 30 TD passes while throwing only seven interceptions. He’ll be hard-pressed to match that number against a much tougher schedule in 2010. This number has been bet down to 28.5.
Donovan McNabb Under 20.5 TDs - McNabb will turn 34 this November, and he’s only thrown 16, 18, 19, 22 and 23 TDs in the last five years. He’s learning a new offense with a new head coach and a new coordinator, with a weak offensive line in front of him and a relatively limited receiving corps to throw to.
Chad Henne Over 16.5 TDs - The addition of star WR Brandon Marshall won’t hurt. Henne threw 12 TDs last year in his first season as the starter, despite starting only 13 games.
LaDanian Tomlinson Under 7.5 TDs - Shonn Greene is the starter here. An aging, declining Tomlinson is not likely to get all that many goal line carries. This number has been bet down to 6.5.
Ray Rice Over 7.5 TDs - Rice had eight combined rushing and receiving TDs last year, and he’s clearly the feature back ahead of Willis McGahee in 2010. This number has been bet up to 9.
Beanie Wells Over 7.5 TDs - The transition from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart equates nicely with the Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm’s run-first philosophy dating back to their days at Pittsburgh. Wells should get most of the goal line carries, after scoring seven rushing TDs last year in only 176 carries.
Larry Fitzgerald Under 88.5 Receptions - Again, I’m quite willing to bet that the Warner to Leinart transition won’t go without a hitch in Arizona.
Hines Ward Under 80.5 Receptions - Ward is 34 years old, and he won’t have his normal starting QB for at least the first four weeks of the season. He’s caught 81 passes or less in five of the last six years, despite staying relatively healthy during that span. This number got bet UP from 78.5.
Sidney Rice Under 82.5 Receptions - Brett Favre was truly exceptional last year – I’m not convinced that he can come close to those same numbers at 40 years old, coming off ankle surgery behind a declining offensive line in 2010. Rice caught 83 balls last year with everything going right for the Vikings.