Odds and Ends

NFL 2021 Player Props: Matthew Stafford O/U 26.5 Passing TDs

by Vaughn Dalzell
Updated On: July 18, 2021, 11:09 pm ET

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Matthew Stafford Over 26.5 Passing Touchdowns (-150)

"Bro, this dude's a bad (expletive)." That's what Rams' head coach Sean McVay told Albert Breer of the MMQB about his new quarterback in Los Angeles, Matthew Stafford

The Rams enter the NFL season with the second-best odds behind the Bucs to win the NFC (+600) and the fourth-best odds to win the Super Bowl (+1200), all because of Stafford's arrival.

Let the hype begin!

One of the NFL's few ironmen, Stafford started 136 games between 2011 and 2019. Stafford dealt with a Hip sprain, Ankle sprain and Upper thoracic vertebral fractures in 2019.

Last season, in 2020 with the Detroit Lions, Stafford recorded 26 passing touchdowns on 528 passing attempts and 4,084 yards in all 16 games. 

I have to admit those are impressive stats with Detroit, but they could be much better with the Rams. Detroit did not have the arsenal that Los Angeles has, starting with coaching and playcalling.

With Sean McVay as the leader of the offense, Stafford could finally reach his full potential. If McVay can take the Rams to the Super Bowl with Jared Goff as the quarterback, the possibilities for this season are endless with Stafford.

McVay likes his offense to play fast and uptempo. Last season, L.A. ranked fifth for most plays run on offense, and Stafford's numbers should rise if that's the case again.

For a podcast breakdown of what A Good Football Show thinks, here is what they thought when Stafford signed.

Stafford's top receiver the past few seasons has been Kenny Golladay. Last season, Golladay missed 11 games, forcing Stafford to rely on T.J. Hockenson, D'Andre Swift, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola. I bet Stafford's stats sound better now.

Over his career, Stafford has thrown 27 or more touchdown passes in four of his last nine seasons, playing 16 games. In the five Unders, Stafford tossed 20, 22, 24, 21 and 26 scores in Detroit.

Stafford fb reference

The Rams' top two receivers alone should have Stafford excited. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp combined for 43 touchdowns in the past four years with Goff -- that's more than Goff had in the past two seasons and 31 games combined.

Thrown in tight end Tyler Higbee, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Van Jefferson, plus running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. and Stafford has an offense. 

Last season, per NFL NextGen Stats, Stafford ranked top 11 in average completed air yards (6.8) and average intended air yards (9.0). I expect the offense to become more dynamic off that alone. 

Goff ranked bottom seven in both categories with 4.8 average completed air yards and 6.5 average intended air yards. Not to mention he averaged the sixth-lowest aggressiveness percentage, failing to take chances.

Comparing him to Goff again, Stafford is much more accurate and strong-armed for the offense. Stafford attempted 61 deep balls and recorded 36 danger plays. Goff posted 48 deep balls and 34 danger plays, per PlayerProfiler.

Here is an example of a Goff danger play and how it ended up as you would expect it. 

Stafford will take chances down the field, unlike Goff. On this play specifically, Stafford would have likely thrown the ball away and avoided the danger altogether or forced a pass down the sideline -- not the middle of the field.

On those 48 deep passes, Goff posted a 27.1% completion percentage, good enough for 32nd. Stafford finished 14th with 42.6% on 61 passes.

Another important factor is the offensive line. The Rams posted an 86.7% protection rate for Goff last season, a career-high for him. He was sacked 23 times, the second-fewest of his career (22 in 2019). 

Stafford had no protection in Detroit. His protection rate was 77.8%, ranking 36th, worse than some backups' protection. Stafford has been sacked 37 or more times in his last six healthy seasons, including 38 times in 2020, the seventh-most in the NFL.

Quarterback protection will be critical not only for Stafford's health, but his production. If he stays healthy in 2021, Stafford could be in for a 30-plus touchdown season behind an almost 10% improvement in protection rate.

The schedule and defense are the last points to hit on. The Rams Defense will a top-five unit once again and arguably giving Stafford his best defense of all time -- ok, it's actually not an argument. It is the best.

The schedule, per FantasyPros, ranks seventh in terms of easiest for the Rams quarterbacks (Stafford). At home, the Rams will host the Bears, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Lions, Titans, Jaguars, Seahawks and 49ers. 

Fantasy QB list

That is a beautiful slate of home games. The Seahawks (31st), Lions (30th), Titans (29th) and Jaguars (27th) all ranked sixth or worse in passing yards allowed last season. The Lions, Titans and Jaguars all allowed the most passing touchdowns last season with 34 or more.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, October 24th. 

Stafford and the Rams will host the Lions for his first meeting with the team he spent his entire career with. Unfortunately, a return to Detroit will have to wait.

While his career touchdown passes do not scream or indicate the Over strongly, I think this will be his third year of 30-plus touchdowns with the schedule, weapons and coaching. 

McVay will take good care of Stafford and allow him time to make plays and extend where Goff couldn't, specifically on the bootleg, play-action and deep shots. 

Back Stafford up to Over 27.5 passing touchdowns this season on the prop market. Stafford had seven double-digit touchdown games with Detroit last season -- as did Goff with the Rams.

Stafford should be able to toss two or more scores in eight or more games next season -- I am thinking more like 10-plus.

With 17 games on the schedule, Stafford only needs 1.58 touchdown passes per game to hit the Over 26.5.

Pick: Matthew Stafford Over 26.5 Passing Touchdowns (2u)


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