One is a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. One is an expected elite defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both are named Josh Allen. Why not make a prop bet out of their combined performances? What could go wrong?
Nothing, dear readers. Nothing could go wrong. In fact, the good folks at MyBookie.ag have even established a common line comparing Josh Allen's expected interceptions in Buffalo and Josh Allen's expected sacks in Jacksonville at 9.5. Both are currently favored to exceed that 9.5 number, with the quarterback hosting a -115 line and the defensive end at -125.
Rather than bet blindly, let's tale a glance at the Quality Stats to see if they can point us in the direction of a wise wager.
Yes, it's highly possible that both players exceed the 9.5 set out for them. But there's little question that the Buffalo quarterback is an even stronger bet to finish with 10 or more interceptions, barring significant individual improvement. Here's why:
— Allen and the Bills passing offense finished dead-last (32nd) in the 2018 Offensive Passer Rating standings. He completed just 53 percent of his passes and had 12 interceptions ... and only started in 11 of Buffalo's games due to injury (he also played significantly in the team's 47-3 Week 1 drubbing, but came off the bench).
— The Bills' Real Quarterback Rating (Real QBR) was better, but only slightly so (31st vs. 32nd), and that improvement was almost completely due to Allen's record-setting year with his legs.
So, a quarterback throws 12 interceptions in 12 games, but is expected to throw fewer than 10 in a full 16-game slate as the starter? He must have some significantly improved weapons out on his wings, huh?"
Not so fast my friends. The Bills' free agency shopping did net both two new wide receivers (in former Cowboys slot man Cole Beasley and ex-Ravens speedster John Brown) as well as a new tight end (Tyler Kroft). Yet of those three, one is injury prone (Kroft) and another provides completely duplicative skills to existing Bills wideout Robert Foster (Brown).
Is Cole Beasley a significant addition for Allen? Sure. Is he capable of carving seven interceptions away from Allen's current interception-per-game resume? That seems like a stretch.
Just think about the math here: Allen averaged an interception per game in 2018. That would put him on pace for 16 in 2019. Can he shave those mistakes down to fewer than 10? It's possible, but it sure doesn't seem likely. Bet the over on Josh Allen's interceptions and, in the process, bet for the other Josh Allen to top the 9.5 sacks.
Is that an endorsement of Josh Allen the defensive end's ability to get to the quarterback. Not necessarily. But it's also asking a lot for a rookie defensive end on a team full of talented defensive linemen to top 10 sacks in his first season out of the chute.
Allen (the defensive end) was a three-year starter at Kentucky, where he took on SEC offensive linemen in the closest competition to the NFL that college football can provide. In those three seasons, only once did he top 10 sacks, with his massive 17 sack senior season.
That's the bad news. The good news? The defensive line he's stepping into should help keep the attention away from him, creating opportunities for him to make an impact (and record a sack).
The Jaguars defensive line finished the 2018 season ranked 11th in the Defensive Hog Index and might be more talented than that ranking. It already features the likes of Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, with the latter at least expected to start in front of Allen as the season kicks off. But Allen is a first round draft pick, so he'll get time on the field. And when he does, Jacksonville's depth should create situations where he sees single coverage up front and can break through for big plays (after all, someone has to stop Marcell Dareus). Ideally, for Jacksonville fans and Josh Allen (the DE) bettors, a lot of those net sacks.
Can he do it? Of course. Will he do it? It's hard to know until we see how the Jaguars utilize him during the regular season.
Still, the factors all add up to a fairly simple calculus: Are you a huge believer in Josh Allen the quarterback and his improvement? Do you feel like the only thing that held him back in 2018 was a lack of a reliable slot option? Unless you're that bettor, placing a wager against the quarterback to stay under 10 picks is a straightforward bet, even if that conversely means putting faith in a rookie to finish with 9.5 or more sacks.