The 2013 NFL season will be here before you know it, and that means that it’s time to take a look at some of the best and worst players and teams to bet on. No matter how good your team is, you aren’t winning without a good quarterback, and we are going to be looking at some of the best quarterbacks to bet on this year. Keep in mind, the flashiest names aren’t always the best quarterbacks to bet on though, and we are searching for some remarkable value here, not necessarily the best talent. Don’t go looking for Tom Brady and some of the other stars of the NFL on this list. We’re digging deep to find you the best quarterbacks to bet on.
1: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – How is it possible that a Super Bowl-winning quarterback is still underrated? Because most think that the team around him isn’t all that great. Sure, Flacco ended up losing WR Anquan Boldin, but he still has one of the best offensive lines in football, and he has a great deep threat in WR Torrey Smith. Smith can be inconsistent, but there’s no way to take away what Flacco has done over the course of the last few seasons. He has consistently won games, and there’s something to be said about that, and it’s a lot more important than the fact that he hasn’t thrown for more than last season’s 3,817 yards in a campaign. Having RB Ray Rice and RB Bernard Pierce in the backfield is going to help matters out as well.
2: Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – Again, we talk about perception. Cutler is perceived to be a total stiff who pussed out on his team in the biggest game of the season a few years ago. However, he did win 10 games last season and has proven that he can throw for over 4,500 yards in a season. Now, quarterback guru, Marc Trestman is his head coach, and Cutler really could be set to shine. Add in there the fact that WR Brandon Marshall is back with a full offseason to work with and the team has a slew of big bodied receivers like WR Alshon Jeffrey, WR Terrence Toliver, and WR Marquess Wilson, and the chips might finally be stacked in Cutler’s favor this year.
3: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – Manning threw for 4,659 yards and 37 TDs in his first season in Denver, and he did all of that a year removed from neck surgery that cost him an entire season. Now, he has had a full offseason to work with, and he definitively has the best team in the AFC West on his side. Add in the fact that WR Wes Welker was signed to play in the slot, and the opportunity is going to be there to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs. Unlike the aforementioned Brady, whom we think is going to be vastly overrated this season, we don’t know if there is a way to reasonably overestimate what Manning’s potential really is as long as he hasn’t lost it. There’s no reason to believe that he has yet after last season’s display, and this year might be even better.
4: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – Oh my goodness! How could we possibly put Big Ben up here after he had a miserable season last year! He lost WR Mike Walker, and his offensive line is still a wreck, and his defense is getting old. The sky is falling! Wait… That’s exactly what the public has been saying all offseason long. Sure, the Steelers are generally a square team, but Roethlisberger has stayed consistent in spite of the fact that he has gotten literally no help whatsoever. His offensive line should, in fact be better than it has been over the course of the last three seasons, and the running game might have gotten a huge boost with RB Le’Veon Bell in the NFL Draft. It’s not like Roethlisberger was atrocious last season either. He still threw for 3,265 yards and 26 TDs against eight picks in 13 games. Had he played all 16, we’d be talking about a man who threw for right around 4,000 yards and probably just over 30 scores. All of a sudden, Chicken Little might not be apt in the Steel City.
5: Eli Manning, New York Giants – Again, we just don’t see what is fundamentally wrong with the Giants. Sure, they only went 9-7 last season, and sure, they only went 7-8-1 ATS. However, we don’t trust Tony Romo out of principal, we don’t trust a brand new system that is being implemented in Philadelphia, and we certainly don’t trust that Robert Griffin III is going to be anywhere near as good as he was last season when he is coming off of an ACL injury and the rest of the league has gotten a good read on him. Offseason contract disputes with WR Victor Cruz and WR Hakeem Nicks will be taken care of by the time the season rolls around, and as a result, there is no reason not to think that both men won’t get at least 1,200 yards. Manning should throw for at least 4,000 this year, marking the fifth straight season with at least 3,900 yards, and we think he’ll get to 30 TDs as well.
6: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts – We aren’t as high on the second year man out of Stanford as most are, but we do think that he is the only one of last year’s rookies worth betting on consistently this year. Not only is Luck going to have had a full offseason to work with, but he is going to have a full year of working with a now healthy Head Coach Chuck Pagano, and the rest of the youngsters that filled out this offense last year are going to have more work as well. Indy was an unstoppable 11-5 ATS last season, and with Luck perhaps throwing for 4,500 yards and 30+ TDs in his second year with the team, there is a good chance that it could duplicate those numbers again this year, especially with four games coming against Tennessee and Jacksonville.
7: EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills – We’re officially looking out of the box, and we think that we have found ourselves the stud to back on a weekly basis this year. Manuel is likely to be the only starter to be given the keys to the car for their team early on in the campaign, and we think that he has a chance to be just like Russell Wilson from last season. Look at the Buffalo roster. Sure, the defense is vastly overpaid, but on offense, both RB CJ Spiller and RB Fred Jackson could be in for good seasons. WR Stevie Johnson has the ability to be a beast, while the addition of WR Da’Rick Rogers in the NFL Draft this year could prove to be the perfect complement. Remember the fact that Manuel is a dual threat, and he is going to run probably about as often as Wilson did. This is another man that ran a pro-style offense in college, and it could pay off with a lot of covers this season. Remember that Buffalo is considered the butt of every joke about the AFC East this season, and Manuel could make a number of bettors pay.
8: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers – The Niners probably aren’t rolling off 11 or 12 covers this year, especially knowing that they are going to be favored in at least 12 or 13 of their games as long as Kaepernick stays healthy. However, there isn’t much that Kaepernick can’t do. He can run. He can throw. He doesn’t have Alex Smith in front of him anymore. He has a great receiving corps that added WR Anquan Boldin in the offseason. He has a ferocious defense behind him. It’s good to be Colin Kaepernick right now, and we think that he is going to lead the 49ers to a lot more covers than failed attempts at covers this season.
9: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – Just look at the last few seasons for Matty Ice and the Falcons. They went 9-6-1 ATS last year, 7-8-1 ATS the year before, 11-5 ATS in 2010, and then again in 2009. Simply put, Ryan is one of the best ATS quarterbacks in football and no one notices it. He threw for 4,719 yards last season, and he had three TDs in both of his playoff games. What more could you ask for? Ryan also has one of the best receiving tandems in the league in WR Roddy White and WR Julio Jones. With TE Tony Gonzalez giving it one more go as well, Atlanta is poised for a great season, and Matty Ice is going to be right in the midst of it all. Oh, and one more tiny detail… Ryan is in a contract year, just like a certain Super Bowl winning quarterback was in Baltimore… De ja vu? Don’t discount the possibility.
10: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – We’re going out on a bit of a limb here with Rivers, as most have to think that he is basically finished. He threw for 200 yards or less in each of his last four games last year, but he threw for eight TDs and no picks in those games. Now, add in a great pass catching running back (Danny Woodhead) and a new head coach in Mike McCoy, and you might have something working. The Chargers have underachieved for years with Norv Turner calling the shots, and now, this is the one (perhaps last) chance that Rivers has to prove that he can still play ball. Remember, this is a man who will reach the plateaus of 30,000 yards and 200 TDs this season.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.