It's not completely uncommon to have a pair of players share the top line in a bet on a statistical marker. It is pretty surprising when those shared favorites were separated by more 11 TDs a year earlier.
Therein lies the mystery of the early odds on the 2019 NFL passing touchdowns leader. Pat Mahomes finished the 2018 season with a whopping 50 passing touchdowns en route to his first MVP award, yet he enters 2019 as just a co-favorite to repeat his passing TDs feat. Meanwhile, Luck returns after a resurgent 2018 with 39 passing touchdowns listed right alongside Mahomes; both currently have +450 odds.
In terms of surprising developments in player prop odds, this would have to be pretty high up the list. Yet, as SportsBettingDime broke down, there is some logic to the co-favorites line. In fact, it would be almost historic if Mahomes didn't decline the year after his 50 TD bonanza:
Since the 2010 season, only two pivots have been multiple winners: Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Mahomes will try to become the first repeat winner since Brees completed the double in 2012.
And almost always this decade, a quarterback that has led the league in TD passes has seen a regression the next year.
The outliers? Brady followed up his league-leading 36 TD tosses in 2010 by firing 39 the next year, which was good for fourth. The only other player was Russell Wilson, who led the NFL with a career-high 34 strikes in 2017, and upped his career best to 35 this past year. He needed binoculars to find Mahomes, though, finishing 15 TDs back in a tie for third.
The point? Prior season statistics show it's highly, highly likely that Mahomes will finish with fewer than 50 touchdowns in 2019. Meanwhile, Luck passed for 39 while still re-acclimating himself to NFL speed and his revamped throwing motion, though he sure looked comfortable by the time his 2018 season ended in Arrowhead Stadium.
Yet there are also signs of concern for both players' contention; despite record-setting individual TD seasons, both Mahomes (12 interceptions) and Luck (15 INTs) had high passing turnover totals and ratios. Mahomes finished with 50:12, or (roughly) 4.2:1. Luck's 39:15 ratio breaks down to 2.6:1. By comparison, Matt Ryan (36:7), Russell Wilson (35:7), Drew Brees (33:7) and Aaron Rodgers (25:4) finished with far superior touchdown-to-interception ratios.
The larger question is whether that inefficiency on behalf of Mahomes and Luck is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, it gives both clear room for improvement, as well as a pathway to equal or even more touchdowns in 2019. On the other, it showcases how a number of the touchdowns they did pass for in 2018 could easily have been more interceptions.
It's a classic case of buyer beware. Sure, Mahomes and Luck may be the obvious picks with the best odds because of their 2018 performance, but those same 2018 numbers are also reasons to be concerned that they can't keep up the pace.
Here's the full rundown of the top expected contenders for the 2019 passing touchdown crown. See any particularly attractive dark horse contenders? Needless to say, Vegas seems to see a season of significant regression from Drew Brees coming:
|PLAYER||2018 PASSING TDs||2019 ODDS|