The revolving door that is the Cleveland Browns quarterback job and props predicated on whether brilliant but sometimes brittle superstars Rob Gronkowski and J.J. Watt can stay healthy comprise some of the best NFL preseason betting props.
With the Browns holding what is tantamount to an open competition for their quarterback job, Cody Kessler is the -165 favorite on a prop based on who will be Cleveland’s Week 1 starter at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Kessler started eight games in 2016 before his season was cut short by a brain injury, and he’s been demoted in practice. Brock Osweiler (+130), whom the Houston Texans essentially paid the Browns to take off their hands, does have starting experience and has started so far in the preseason. Osweiler might be the safe pick for Cleveland coach Hue Jackson and bettors alike.
However, rookie DeShone Kizer (+800) out of Notre Dame offers the best value and has been splitting first-team reps at practice. But most teams are loath to start a rookie right away unless forced to by injury, like the Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott after Tony Romo got hurt in 2016.
Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt (+250) is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year after an injury-shortened season that led to two back surgeries. Two other pass rushers extraordinaire, the Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack (+400) and Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller (+400), are also high on the board.
If Watt is able to play a full season, he’s a reasonable chalk pick, especially since he should have a lot of sack opportunities going against some weak pass blocking groups in the AFC South, as well as the NFC West, the division’s cross-over opponent.
Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (+1200) will likely sign at some point and join what is a very strong D. While only three interior linemen have won DPOY in the last 40 years, Donald is just that good, though. No player on a losing team has won since recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor (2006 Miami Dolphins).
The total on how many games Gronkowski will play is 10.5, with over at -150 and the under pegged at +120. Gronkowski has played half the regular season or less twice in the last four years. The law of averages would push one toward the over; “Gronk” has never had two shortened seasons in a row.
Last but not least, the Washington Redskins’ failure to lock down QB Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal has led to oddsmakers taking bets on where Cousins will play in 2018. The San Francisco 49ers (+175) are favored, with Washington (+300) high on the board. The Miami Dolphins (+2000) might be in play as a darkhorse with starter Ryan Tannehill out for the season with a torn ACL.
The New York Jets (+2500) have the highest available price, but chances are they will look for their next QB in the 2018 draft.