NFL rookie quarterbacks playing ball like veterans

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For my very first weekly entry discussing NFL Football from a betting perspective, I decided to focus on a theme that certainly has changed in the modern day NFL and that is the success rate of the first year and/or rookie starting QB.

For many decades, the widespread belief among NFL bettors was that first time, first year starting QB’s required plenty of practice, game reps and most importantly lots of time and seasoning before they were ready to have any sort of positive impact with their team and specifically before they could become “bet on” QB’s worthy of support.

We are seeing a paradigm shift in that regard so far in the 2016 NFL season. So far this season, there have been six QB’s that have made their first-ever start in the NFL. Trevor Siemian (Denver), Carson Wentz (Philadelphia), Dak Prescott (Dallas), Jimmy Garoppolo (New England), Jacoby Brissett (New England) and Cody Kessler (Cleveland).

Siemien and Wentz appear to be the only two of these first year starters poised to be the top guy for their respective teams at the QB position for the duration of the season while the others are simply keeping the seat warm until the No. 1 QB’s on those teams return to the field.

Nevertheless, the collective amount of success from that group of QB’s through three weeks of the season, specifically from a pointspread perspective, is quite staggering.

Denver is 3-0 SU and ATS with Siemian at the controls. New England is 3-0 SU and ATS despite two different first-time starting QB’s getting the snaps. Philadelphia is 3-0 SU and ATS behind their rookie QB Carson Wentz, who has looked like a poised veteran in each game. Dak Prescott has led the Dallas Cowboys to a solid 2-1 SU and ATS.

Even Cody Kessler out of USC, who looked lost in the preseason for the Cleveland Browns and was walking into a horrible situation on Sunday making his first-ever start as a rookie on the road against a desperate Miami Dolphins team, managed to be serviceable in a spread-covering defeat, 30-24 in OT, against Miami as 9.5 point underdogs. He completed 21-of-33 passes for 244 yards without an INT despite no TD’s.

Those QB’s have a combined 65.7% completion rate, which is fairly impressive for a group entering this season with no previous starting experience at the pro level. They have a tremendous ratio of 15 TD passes to just 3 INT’s (all three picks came from Siemian) through the first three weeks.

This first year starting QB group is winning games and covering pointspreads for their teams entering Week 4 action with a combined 11-2 SU, 12-1 ATS mark in 13 games. The theory that you can’t bet on and make $$ with first year and/or rookie QB’s in the NFL has been “debunked” by the early results we’ve seen here in 2016.

Part of my column each week is going to be about not just what we’ve learned and what we know but how we can use what we know to make informed betting decisions moving forward. The key is to find out which of these QB’s will continue to bring us value in the betting markets and remain steady profit producers for their backers in the weeks to come and which ones are likely to see at least some sort of decline and/or regression in the near future.

I can’t help but believe in Wentz at this point. I was unsure of how much to make of beating Cleveland and Chicago for his first two wins but his performance against a much better Pittsburgh team was dominating. Wentz has displayed an aura of poise and calmness in the pocket and has made one great read after another in the passing game despite playing with a middling receiving corps.

He has looked wise beyond his years with a 64.7% completion rate, 5-0 TD-INT ratio and a 103.8 QBR. He’s also backed by a Philly defense that has clearly bought in to Jim Schwartz’s aggressive schemes that completely shut down Ben Roethlisberger and a potent Pittsburgh offense on Sunday. That is why I think Wentz and the Eagles have potential to remain money makers moving forward.

Prescott should have some ATS value in the weeks ahead. He is a dual threat QB that can make plays with his feet when the pocket collapses. He has a strong offensive line in front of him as the Cowboys possess one of the best OL’s in the NFL.

Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott continues to get better and look stronger each week carrying the football, which will lend support to Prescott, and he has several quality weapons to throw at a receiver. Dallas is dealing with secondary injuries and struggles as evidenced by their 24th ranked pass defense in the NFL after Week 3.

Still, the fact remains, with Prescott at the controls the Cowboys have the offense to never be out of a football game and could be a good betting option, specifically in the underdog role in the weeks to come.

It’s not as easy to evaluate the future success of New England QB’s Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett because: a) they won’t be starters much longer with Tom Brady returning after this weekend and b) how much does the relentless and thorough coaching and preparation of Bill Belichick have to do with their success?

Garoppolo looked outstanding in leading the Pats to a win in Arizona and a brilliant first half against Miami before getting injured and leaving that game.

Brissett played a clean, mistake-free game for New England against Houston while the defense took care of the rest. It’s in Denver and Cleveland where I believe the biggest new starting QB question marks still reside.

I’m not sold on Kessler despite a solid outing without any critical mistakes against Miami. He still panicked at times on Sunday and got away with at least a couple questionable throws.

We’ll see how he fares moving forward when defenses become more familiar with him and learn how to game plan to shut him down; it’s worth noting the defense supporting Kessler in Cleveland is bottom tier.

In Denver, Siemian has shown the ability to throw the deep ball, which he put on display in Sunday’s win against Cincinnati tossing a pair of 40-plus yard TD strikes to Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas but he is still throwing into traffic too often and has missed on some of the easier short to intermediate throws he’s had.

His accuracy on shorter passes must improve as well as his decision making, as he’s the only first year starting QB this season to have thrown an INT and he has three of them so far.

This is another example of the changing betting world we live in with the NFL.

First time starting QB’s can have immediate success and it has been proven through three weeks this season with that gaudy 11-2 SU, 12-1 ATS record involving this collection of first-year starting pivots.

Now it becomes a question of which gunslingers have what it takes to keep their teams on the winning track and their betting supporters piling up the profits as the NFL season rolls along.

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