One of the more popular NFL player prop bets is the Over/Under on total passing yards. In 2021, bettors will have to be careful as there will be a twist. Remember, the league adopted the 17-game regular-season schedule for this season.
The addition of a game to the schedule will force bettors to adjust their thinking about this and other prop bets. Through the 2020 season, only eight quarterbacks have ever had a 5,000-yard passing season. That is likely to change.
How much of a difference a single game makes remains to be seen. Here’s a look at the four best NFL passing yards prop bets heading into the 2021 season.
MATT RYAN, ATLANTA OVER 4500.5 (+100)
Since Ryan arrived in Atlanta in 2008, he has been a passing machine. He has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in every single season since 2011. For his career, the Falcons quarterback has totaled 55,767 passing yards for an average of 272 per game.
To hit the magic number of 4,501, Ryan will need to average just under 265 yards per game. That assumes that he plays all 17 Atlanta games this season. Ryan has played every game on the schedule in all but two of his 13 NFL seasons.
Considering Ryan has averaged 286, 297.7, and 307.8 yards per game in each of the last three seasons, it’s a safe bet taking the Over on Ryan. Yes, he does lose WR Julio Jones, but he returns Calvin Ridley, TE Hayden Hurst, and has new rookie TE Kyle Pitts.
The Falcons offense goes as Ryan goes. He will make it go this season to the tune of Over 4500.5 passing yards. This is one of my favorite prop bets this season.
RUSSELL WILSON, SEATTLE UNDER 4300.5 (-115)
For most of the past several seasons, Wilson has toyed with league MVP consideration at least for part of the season. There is no question he is one of the game’s best. Last season, Wilson averaged 263 passing yards per game. Multiplying that by 17, we get to 4,471 which would surpass this year’s total.
Here’s the issue though. Wilson and Seattle play in the NFC West. It is the toughest division in the NFL, but two of the other three teams – San Francisco and Los Angeles – finished in the top five in pass defense. That means the Seahawks will play four games against two of the best pass defenses in the NFL.
Looking at the rest of the schedule, Seattle also plays the other three teams – Pittsburgh, Washington, and New Orleans – that finished in the top five in pass defense. The Seahawks also have two games against Arizona and face the Packers once. Both Arizona and Green Bay were top ten pass defenses.
To go Over 4300.5, Wilson would have to average 250 passing yards per game. Over the course of his career, Wilson has only averaged 235.7 yards per game. He has hit the 4,000-yard mark in each of the past two seasons, but before that, he only hit that mark twice.
BAKER MAYFIELD, CLEVELAND UNDER 3875.5 (-115)
There are two big reasons why Mayfield will not go Over 3875.5 in 2021. The first is related to the Browns offensive philosophy. Head coach Kevin Stefanski understands what wins games – defense and a running game. Cleveland finished third in the NFL last season in rushing averaging 148.4 yards per game.
With running back Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Cleveland will continue to establish the run. That doesn’t mean Mayfield won’t throw, but he may not throw as much as some of the other quarterbacks around the league.
Last season, Mayfield threw for 3,563 yards. He averaged 222.7 yards per game. If you convert that to a 17-game schedule, Mayfield would have finished with 3,786 yards, which is short of this year’s total 3850.5.
Mayfield would have to average over 226 yards per game. Like Wilson, he will have to do it against the best pass defenses in the league. The Browns have seven games against five top ten pass defenses. With a reliance on the ground game, Mayfield may find passing yardage hard to come.
JOSH ALLEN, BUFFALO OVER 4500.5 (-115)
By leading the Bills to the AFC Championship game, Allen proved himself worthy of belonging among the NFL’s best quarterbacks. For the season, Allen threw for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns in the process.
Can he get to 4,500 yards again? Why not? Some regression might occur, but don’t forget that Allen gets the benefit of the extra game. In throwing for over 4,500 last season, Allen average 284 passing yards per game. With the extra game this season, the Bills quarterback only needs to hit an average of 265 yards per game.
If you can still find this prop bet at plus money, it’s one worth taking. Allen will have WR Stefon Diggs back as well as most of his weapons from a year ago.