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Rookie quarterbacks and the point spread

With No. 1 pick Joe Burrow and the Bengals visiting the Eagles, here's an examination of how first-year QBs have fared against the number over the last five-plus years.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals are 0-2 straight up heading into Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals are 0-2 straight up heading into Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field.Read moreRon Schwane / AP

Ask the guys who bet on sports for a living, and they’ll generally say NFL sides and totals are the toughest to beat regularly.

Take rookie quarterbacks. They would seem to present an easy target to fade. Find the rookie QB, wager on his opponent, collect three hours later.

If only it was that easy.

Last season, the eight rookies to start a game were 37-32-2 against the spread. Pretty admirable, considering they were 28-42-1 straight up. A $100 wager each time against them at traditional -110 odds would have lost $870.

From 2015-18, they were 20 games under .500 ATS, which would have been a $300-a-year profit. But there are too many variables to suggest such a strategy. Still, it’s neat to examine.

The best rookie QB to ride in the last five years was Arizona’s Kyler Murray last season (10-5-1 ATS). The best to fade was the Rams’ Jared Goff in 2016 (0-7) and Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer in 2017 (4-11). Carson Wentz was 8-8 ATS as a rookie. That’s an $80 loss.

Joe Burrow, the rookie QB the Eagles will face on Sunday, is 1-1 against the number, with a bad beat in Week 1 to the Chargers. The Eagles opened as 5.5-point favorites, but the line was down to 4.5 after some initial action on Cincy.

The Eagles have won and covered their last five against rookie quarterbacks, but those defenses weren’t lacking the confidence that the 2020 Birds are. Giving up 64 points in the last six-plus quarters has them reeling a bit.

Starting rookie QBs since 2015

Straight up/Against the spread

2015: Marcus Mariota, 3-9/4-8; Jameis Winston, 6-10/7-9.

2016: Jared Goff, 0-7/0-7; Cody Kessler 0-8/2-6; Dak Prescott, 13-4/10-6-1; Carson Wentz, 7-9/8-8.

2017: C.J. Beathard, 1-4/1-4; DeShone Kizer, 0-15/4-11; Mitch Trubisky, 4-8/6-5-1; Deshaun Watson, 3-3/5-1.

2018: Josh Allen 5-6/6-5; Sam Darnold, 4-9/3-9-1; Jeff Driskel, 1-4/4-1; Lamar Jackson, 6-2/4-3-1; Baker Mayfield, 6-7/7-6; Nick Mullens, 3-5/3-5; Josh Rosen, 3-10/6-6-1.

2019: David Blough 0-5/2-3; Dwayne Haskins, 2-5/3-4; Devlin Hodges, 3-3/3-3; Daniel Jones, 3-9/5-7; Drew Lock, 4-1/3-2; Gardner Minshew, 6-6/6-6; Kyler Murray 5-10-1/10-5-1; Mason Rudolph, 5-3/5-2-1.

2020: Joe Burrow, 0-2/1-1; Justin Herbert, 0-1/1-0.

This & that

  1. Carson Wentz, whose MVP odds opened at 16-1 at Westgate in Las Vegas, are now at 80-1 after two games. DraftKings has him at 66-1. FanDuel is at 50-1. Kyler Murray, 10-1 at Westgate, is 13-1 at the DK & FD. Today’s lesson in the importance of shopping around.

  2. Biggest line move came on the Colts-Jets. Indy opened -7. They were as high as 12 at Westgate, but 11.5 in most other houses.

  3. Villanova’s odds to win the national title in basketball vary from 8-1 at DraftKings to 14-1 at Westgate, whose odds stipulate that the tournament must end by Aug. 1, 2021. God help us if it doesn’t.